327504. Macomb CC: 2014-003832-AV.
P. Young, Jr., Chief Justice. Stephen J. Markman, Brian K.
Zahra, Bridget M. McCormack, David F. Viviano, Richard H.
Bernstein, Joan L. Larsen, Justices. ZAHRA, J. (dissenting).
VIVIANO, J., not participating.
order of the Court, the motion for immediate consideration is
GRANTED. The application for leave to appeal the November 12,
2015 order of the Court of
Appeals is considered, and it is DENIED, because we are not
persuaded that the question presented should be reviewed by
J. ( dissenting ).
remand this case to the Court of Appeals for consideration as
on leave granted. Plaintiff law firm (Victor) filed this
collection action in the district court to collect $4,560 in
attorney fees from its former clients, defendants William and
Marilyn Froling. The Frolings had hired Victor to represent
them in a federal lawsuit in the United States District Court
for the Eastern District of Michigan. The litigation involved
the Frolings' longstanding dispute with the city of
Bloomfield Hills (City) regarding flooding of their property.
Victor filed a federal lawsuit on the Frolings' behalf
and successfully defended against a motion to dismiss the
complaint. However, the federal court ordered the Frolings to
file an amended complaint. Upon reviewing the amended
complaint, the attorney representing the City, William
Hampton, left a voicemail for Cindy Victor, requesting
concurrence in a motion to strike ¶ ¶ 5 through 74
of the [499 Mich. 900] amended complaint. When the City filed
an answer to the amended complaint, it stated in answer to
¶ ¶ 5 through 74 of the complaint as follows:
Inasmuch as purported factual allegations Paragraphs 5
through 74 inclusive set forth historical background prior to
claims at issue in this Complaint, the parties agree no
answer is required as to said paragraphs. Simultaneously
herein, [the City] has sought concurrence of [the Frolings]
in a Motion to Strike and in lieu of filing such a Motion, a
Stipulation has been agreed to between the parties.
denied having agreed to the stipulation, but the Frolings
believed that Victor had " secretly stipulated"
with Hampton in violation of a " Memorandum of
Understanding" between Victor and the Frolings
purporting to impose special conditions on Victor's
representation. According to the Frolings, Victor accepted
these special conditions and accepted a $20,000 retainer.
William Froling states in his affidavit as follows:
Prior to hiring Ms. Victor to perform legal services, I
explained that she would be hired only on the condition that
certain promises were made. First, Ms. Victor would have to
agree that I would be an unusual client who would closely
monitor the litigation and who must be informed of any and
all litigation developments, including all communications
with the opposing side. Second, I required Ms. Victor to
consent to allowing me to decide legal strategy, including
stipulations that might ordinarily in any other case be
handled exclusively between attorneys. I explained to Ms.
Victor some bad experiences that I had with other attorneys
when I allowed them to exclusively dictate legal strategy.
These prior bad experiences formed the basis for the
requirement that Ms. Victor agree to allow me to control
strategy, within legal and ethical boundaries.
hearing before the district court, the Frolings' attorney
acknowledged that the memorandum had not been signed, but
claimed that Victor had nevertheless agreed to its terms.
Victor denied signing the memorandum and noted that the
unsigned memorandum provides that
[t]he following items listed below constitute this memorandum
made between Greenstone Development, LLC ...