JOANNE D. DAWLEY, individually and as personal representative of the ESTATE OF JAMES ARMOUR II, Plaintiff-Appellant,
RODNEY W. HALL, Defendant-Appellee.
Circuit Court LC No. 15-000189-NI
Before: Borrello, P.J., and Wilder and Swartzle, JJ.
limited liability company owns a business located in a
Michigan county. A member of the limited liability company is
active in the operation of the business during certain months
of the year, but the member otherwise resides out-of-state.
Are the facts of (1) membership and (2) active operation
sufficient to establish that the member personally
"conducts business" in the county for purposes of
short answer is No.
2013, defendant-appellee Rodney Hall and James Armour II were
in a motor vehicle collision in Lake County. Police ticketed
Hall for failing to yield at a stop sign. Armour was injured
during the collision, and he subsequently died, allegedly as
a result of the injuries. Armour's wife,
plaintiff-appellant Joanne Dawley, sued Hall for various tort
claims on her own behalf as well as on behalf of Armour's
respect to where to file the lawsuit, neither Dawley nor Hall
was a resident of Lake County-Dawley resided in Wayne County
with her husband and Hall resided in New Mexico. Apparently
concluding that Hall neither had a place of business nor
conducted business in a Michigan county, Dawley sued Hall in
Wayne County under MCL 600.1621(b). Hall immediately moved to
transfer venue to Lake County, as the site of the collision,
or Mason County, purportedly where he conducted business on
behalf of Barothy Lodge, a resort property in that county.
Wayne Circuit Court transferred venue to Mason County.
parties engaged in discovery after the lawsuit was
transferred to Mason County. Information exchanged in
discovery made clear that Hall did not personally own Barothy
Lodge. Instead, the resort is owned by Hall Investments, LLC,
a Michigan limited liability company, and Hall is a member of
the company along with two brothers and six grandchildren.
(The company also owns an aluminum factory in Hastings,
Michigan.) Hall testified that he "runs" the resort
during five to six months a year, but that the resort also
has full-time managers who live and work there year round.
When at the resort, Hall's normal daily routine is to
check the mail at the office, to see if there are any
"fires to put out, " and to deal with any
contractors on-site as well as "guest-related
issues." When he got into the collision with Armour,
Hall was returning from a musical festival that he attended
on behalf of Barothy Lodge. Thus, the record shows that,
while Hall did not personally own any part of Barothy Lodge,
he was a member of the limited liability company that owned
the resort and he was involved in the operations of the
resort during part of the year.
moved to return the lawsuit to Wayne County, arguing that
Hall did not conduct business in Mason County. (Dawley did
not seek alternative relief via a transfer to Lake County.)
Mason Circuit Court denied the motion, concluding that
Hall's actions on behalf of Hall Investments, LLC
constituted his conducting business within the county for
purposes of MCL 600.1621(a). We granted Dawley's request
for an interlocutory appeal, and Mason Circuit Court stayed
the action pending our decision.
Mason Circuit Court Had Jurisdiction on the Motion to
clear the brush, we first address Hall's argument that
Mason Circuit Court did not have jurisdiction to hear
Dawley's motion to transfer. According to Hall, Dawley
instead should have moved for reconsideration before Wayne
Circuit Court of the original order transferring the lawsuit
to Mason Circuit Court. The argument is without merit.
action is transferred from one circuit court to another, the
transferee court has "full jurisdiction of the action as
though the action had been originally commenced therein,
" MCL 600.1651, and, as a consequence, "the
transferor court has none, " Frankfurth v Detroit
Med Ctr, 297 Mich.App. 654, 658; 825 N.W.2d 353 (2012).
"Any motion for rehearing or reconsideration would have
to be heard by whichever court has jurisdiction over the
action at the time the motion ...