Advocacy Update

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAWritten by Forrest Wall, CAE, Staff Vice President and Industry Relations

Supreme Court Delivers Important Decision

On June 10, the Michigan Supreme Court issued a ruling favorable to the rental property industry in a case of great importance. The case arose out of a fatal vehicular accident where an individual was killed when her car struck a horse that had escaped from a farm. The estate of the deceased driver sued the resident of the farm, as well as the property owners, who did not live at the farm or have possession or control of the horse. The estate alleged negligence, common law nuisance, and violation of the Equine Activity Liability Act. The property owners prevailed in the trial court, but upon appeal the Court of Appeals reversed part of the decision relating to liability for a public nuisance. If the Court of Appeals decision were left to stand, it would have greatly expanded nuisance law, from what had been limited to a remedy against the individual who created the nuisance. For apartment owners, this could have meant liability for a nuisance created by the tenant of a property. Given the potential ramifications for the industry, the Apartment Association of Michigan and two other rental property owner associations joined together last fall to file an amicus brief in the case. Thankfully, the Supreme Court agreed with the position of the rental property industry on this issue and reversed the Court of Appeals’ opinion.

AAM Joins In Tax Tribunal Amicus Briefs

The Apartment Association has joined the Michigan Chamber of Commerce, the Michigan Retailers Association, and the Building Owners & Managers Association in filing amicus briefs requesting clarification and/or reversal of orders in two Tax Tribunal appeal cases. The orders, in the cases Meijer Inc. v City of Grandville and Target Corporation v City of Grandville, could establish a terrible precedent for all taxpayers by allowing expanded permissible discovery, making discovery in tax appeal cases much more onerous for taxpayers. Specifically, in the Meijer case the Tribunal ordered the production of documents relating to the cost to construct a store nine years ago at a different location. Previously, information such as this was viewed by the Tribunal as irrelevant, but if allowed here it could follow that taxpayers would need to produce this information in future cases. The Tribunal has scheduled an August hearing for each taxpayer and hopefully the arguments made by the amici will help the Tribunal to see it should reverse its orders.

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