Searching over 5,500,000 cases.


searching
Buy This Entire Record For $7.95

Download the entire decision to receive the complete text, official citation,
docket number, dissents and concurrences, and footnotes for this case.

Learn more about what you receive with purchase of this case.

Nortley v. Hurst

Court of Appeals of Michigan

October 10, 2017

SARAH LYNN NORTLEY, Plaintiff-Appellant,
v.
DENNIS HURST, DENNIS HURST & ASSOCIATES, and MICHAEL ROSENTHAL, Defendants-Appellees.

         Jackson Circuit Court LC No. 16-000110-NM

          Before: Talbot, C.J., and O'Connell and O'Brien, JJ.

          O'CONNELL, J.

         Plaintiff, Sarah Lynn Nortley, appeals as of right the trial court's grant of defendants' motion for summary disposition pursuant to MCR 2.116(C)(7) (statute of limitations). Nortley challenges the trial court's conclusion that the six-year statutory period of repose barred her claim because the statute of repose went into effect after her claim accrued. We affirm.

         I. FACTUAL AND PROCEDURAL BACKGROUND

         Nortley retained Dennis Hurst, of the law firm Dennis Hurst & Associates, in August 2008 to represent her in a divorce proceeding. The judgment of divorce, entered on June 12, 2009, contained a provision terminating representation 21 days after the date of entry of the judgment.

         The divorce became final 11 days before the tenth anniversary of the marriage. A person can claim social security benefits through a former spouse if the marriage lasted ten years or more.[1] Nortley alleged that she learned about this rule on September 5, 2015, during a conversation with her mother.

         Nortley brought a legal malpractice claim against defendants on January 15, 2016. Nortley contended that defendants failed to advise her that social security benefits were only available to a former spouse if the marriage lasted ten years or more.

         Defendants Hurst and the law firm denied the allegations of malpractice, maintaining that they fully advised Nortley about all aspects of the divorce. Defendant Michael Rosenthal answered separately to deny the allegations because he only attended one court hearing on behalf of Hurst and did not participate in advising Nortley about the divorce.

         Defendants moved for summary disposition under MCR 2.116(C)(7), arguing that two statutes of limitations, MCL 600.5805(1) and (6) and MCL 600.5838(2), and a statute of repose, MCL 600.5838b, barred Nortley's malpractice claim. Nortley opposed the motion, arguing that she brought the action within the statutory period of limitations because she filed it within six months of discovering the basis for the claim. Nortley contested defendants' invocation of the statute of repose because it went into effect after the cause of action accrued and did not apply retroactively. Finally, Nortley argued, retroactive application of the statute of repose violated her right to due process because the statutory period expired before she knew about the basis of the malpractice claim. The trial court concluded that the statute of repose barred Nortley's claim and granted defendants' motion for summary disposition.

         II. STANDARD OF REVIEW

         We review de novo a trial court's decision to grant summary disposition. Nuculovic v Hill, 287 Mich.App. 58, 61; 783 N.W.2d 124 (2010). This Court also reviews de novo the trial court's application of a statute of limitations, Stephens v Worden Ins Agency, LLC, 307 Mich.App. 220, 227; 859 N.W.2d 723 (2014), and the constitutionality of a statute, Stevenson v Reese, 239 Mich.App. 513, 516; 609 N.W.2d 195 (2000).

         Summary disposition under MCR 2.116(C)(7) is appropriate when a statute of limitations bars the claim. This Court accepts plaintiff's allegations as true and considers all admissible evidence to decide whether it presents a genuine issue of material fact. Nuculovic, 287 Mich.App. at 61.

         The primary goal of statutory interpretation is to effectuate the Legislature's intent by applying the plain language of the statute. Klooster v City of Charlevoix, 488 Mich. 289, 296; 795 N.W.2d 578 (2011). If the statute is clear and unambiguous, we apply it as written. USAA Ins Co v Houston Gen Ins Co, 220 Mich.App. 386; 389; 559 N.W.2d 98 (1996). Otherwise, if the statute is ambiguous, "judicial construction is appropriate." Id. at 389-390. This Court construes statutes of limitations and repose to promote the policy of ...


Buy This Entire Record For $7.95

Download the entire decision to receive the complete text, official citation,
docket number, dissents and concurrences, and footnotes for this case.

Learn more about what you receive with purchase of this case.