Newsletters & Publications Archive
As I discussed in the first article in this series addressing property tax exemption issues in Michigan, property taxes account for billions of dollars for essential community services such as schools, public safety departments, transportation, infrastructure, and governance for local residents and businesses.
Public libraries play an important academic, cultural, and social role in communities across Michigan. Public Libraries are governed by elected or appointed boards that meet regularly to make important decisions and provide oversight and direction for a library. The role of a board is to set policy, and to leave implementation of policy to the library’s director and staff.
While every solar land use agreement can be unique, there are some considerations that are common to many of the agreements.
The U.S. Department of Labor (“DOL”) recently announced that its final rule (the “Final Rule”) on disability claims procedures for employer-provided disability benefits will go into effect on April 1, 2018.
In the last three years, growth of foreign expats working in Shanghai has declined to only about 1/10 the average annual growth of the last twelve year. Businesses are leaving and expats are being replaced by low-cost local staff alternatives.
In a recent opinion, the U.S. Supreme Court emphatically reaffirmed the requirement that collective bargaining agreements (“CBAs”) must be interpreted according to “ordinary principles of contract law” when deciding whether retired employees are entitled to health care benefits. CNH Industrial N.V. v. Reese, No. 17-515, 2018 WL 942419 (U.S. Feb. 20, 2018).
By most measures the economy is strong. Unemployment is low. The stock market is roaring. Gross domestic product is rising. Under these circumstances, bankruptcy is on few people’s minds.
Criminals have increasingly targeted the information necessary to fraudulently obtain tax refunds in recent years. While this goal remains a constant, thieves are constantly developing new ways to obtain this information.
Following fierce debate, extensive negotiations, and votes - then re-votes - in Congress, on December 20, 2017, the U.S. Senate and U.S. House of Representatives approved the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act (“Tax Reform”), and sent a final bill to President Trump for his signature.
On February 6, 2018, Governor Snyder signed Public Act 16 of 2018, which creates a Uniform Commercial Real Estate Receivership Act (the “Act”) in Michigan. The bill was sponsored by State Representative Brandt Iden, of the 61st District. PA 16 can be viewed here.
Since 2008, when the Michigan Medical Marihuana Act (the “MMMA”) went into effect, employers in Michigan have been presented with new and nuanced issues related to how the new marijuana law would impact employment-related decisions.
Many people spend more time working at their jobs than they do engaging in any other activity during waking hours. It’s inevitable, therefore, that workers will get hurt on the job.
We have written about the significant increase in the usage of drones for both recreational and commercial purposes.
Even as the rest of the world seems to require everything in writing, it remains an article of faith in farming communities throughout Michigan that business can still be conducted with a handshake.
Sexual harassment is at the top of minds in workplaces across the country. It is up to employers to maintain a safe and secure workplace. This includes stopping sexual harassment from occurring in the first place and taking swift action to mitigate its consequences when it does.
The current prolonged downturn of the Chinese economy is the worst experienced by any of today’s Chinese business managers.
Did you know you can form a valid contract for the sale of goods without ever discussing the price?
A recent Michigan Supreme Court decision has caused concern among many local taxing units as it potentially opens the door to more properties receiving exemptions as “charitable institutions.”
The IRS has made changes to the process for amending and receiving approval for qualified retirement plans like 401(k) plans. The changes affected both "individually designed plans" and "pre-approved plans".
On December 22, 2017, the President signed into law the "Tax Cuts and Jobs Act" commonly referred to as "Tax Reform."
H.R.1, described as the “Tax Cuts and Jobs Act” (the “Act”) and commonly referred to as "Tax Reform", was signed into law by the President on December 22, 2017.
As Americans become ever more reliant upon the Internet to obtain information and perform everyday tasks, companies' websites are increasingly being scrutinized to determine whether they are accessible to people with disabilities.
Following fierce debate, extensive negotiations, and votes - then re-votes - in Congress, on December 20, 2017, the U.S. Senate and U.S. House of Representatives approved the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act (“Tax Reform”), and sent a final bill to President Trump for his signature.
After many months of new releases and public discussion of the Court of Appeals’ "big box" decision in Menard Inc. v City of Escanaba, 315 Mich App 512 (2016), the Michigan Supreme Court ended some of the speculation on October 20, 2017 by determining not to hear Menard Inc.’s appeal.
Property tax revenue is the most important source of funds for operations in most Michigan municipalities. It generates billions of dollars a year to pay for things like schools, public safety departments, transportation, infrastructure, and governance for local residents and businesses.
With the increased interest over the creation of wind energy conversion facilities in Michigan, townships throughout the state are being required to make decisions regarding land use and zoning of such facilities within their jurisdictions.
Meet with your tax advisors
There may be last minute planning possibilities for 2017. Be proactive. Consult with your tax advisors while you still have time to act in 2017.
I was sent to Singapore to fix a US Fortune 500’s businesses in Asia. The Chinese business, in particular, was losing money, and had failed to make any significant inroads into the market.
No one enters into a contract expecting it to go sour, but sometimes they do. While it is not possible at the time of contracting to anticipate and avoid every potential risk, strategies exist to help minimize exposure and avoid costs down the road.
Employees and employers are often of the mistaken belief that an employee cannot be fired while on Family and Medical Leave Act (“FMLA”) leave. The truth is that an employee on FMLA leave can be fired, but employers need to be very thoughtful and diligent when taking such action because terminating an employee on FMLA often invites litigation.
In an Order dated October 20, 2017, the Michigan Supreme Court denied an application for leave to appeal filed by Menard, Inc. in a closely watched “dark store” property tax appeal.
When doing business overseas, people often become so entangled in the language and cultural differences, they forget about all of the fundamental business similarities. When it comes down to signing new distribution, for example, it is pretty much the same all over the world.
A “firm offer" is an offer to buy or sell goods at a certain price that is guaranteed not to change for a certain period of time.
The article discusses the trio of church plan cases decided by the U.S. Supreme Court regarding whether plans that were established and maintained by a religiously-affiliated hospital, but not a church, were permitted to use the exemption.
Two weeks after one of the largest data breaches in history was announced, Equifax has come under fire for its breach response.
Credit reporting agency Equifax announced that the personal information for over a 140 million U.S. consumers was potentially compromised.
The Internal Revenue Service ("IRS") issued Revenue Procedure 2017-13 ("Rev. Proc. 2017-13"), which provides updated safe harbors from private business use for management contracts. Rev. Proc. 2017-13 clarifies, modifies, amplifies, and supersedes certain provisions of Revenue Procedure 2016-44 ("Rev. Proc. 2016-44").
In our last installment of the UCC Corner, we questioned whether parties can form binding contracts if many of the terms of their written communications are inconsistent. We learned that the answer to that question is generally “yes.”
It's 4:00 p.m. on a Friday afternoon when I receive a call from a company 's legal director. The director tells me that a company executive was traveling when the executive received an urgent email that appeared to be from the company's CEO, asking for a document containing sensitive information of all the organization's employees. After forwarding the requested document, the executive realized that the email was not from the CEO's email address, but from a similar address- now a criminal holds sensitive information.
Across the state of Michigan, local property tax revenue is being drained by the property tax appeals filed by "Big Box" retail stores.
In October and November of 1992, an insurance company called AXA Equitable Life Insurance Company issued a health insurance policy that provided coverage for certain individuals. The U.S. Department of Treasury’s Office of Foreign Assets Control (“OFAC”), later in 2009, added parties to the list of Specially Designated Nationals and Blocked Persons (the “SDN List”).
While most businesses and business owners have developed a healthy fear of IRS tax audits, the U.S. Department of Labor's (DOL) authority to audit 401(k) plans has not drawn the same attention. For the sake of your small business, and your personal finances, this lack of awareness of the DOL's 401(k) money grab must change immediately!
With the proliferation of online home rental resources like Airbnb and HomeAway, the business of renting homes on a short-term basis has grown significantly in Michigan and other states across the country.
Over the last decade, social media has evolved from a fun distraction for young people, to a pervasive part of people’s lives - regardless of age.
Defamation in the age of social networking websites.
On June 12, 2017, the Supreme Court decided Henson v. Santander Consumer USA Inc., No. 16–349, a case that considered the issue of whether a party that holds debt should be held to the same standards as a party that seeks to collect the debt owed to another party under the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act (the “FDCPA”).
In an Opinion issued on June 28, 2017, in Baruch SLS, Inc v Tittabawassee Township (Sup. Ct. No. 152047), the Michigan Supreme Court clarified the third prong of the six-part test set forth in Wexford Medical Group v City of Cadillac, 474 Mich 192; 713 NW2d 734 (2006), which governs charitable institutions seeking an exemption from real and personal property taxes under MCL 211.7o and MCL 211.79.
Businesses receive online orders from international entities through their websites all of the time. It is important to have your team in place to investigate these offers and make sure they are legitimate requests and that you can legally fulfill the order, before too much time and too many resources are expended.
Generally, an S corporation election is chosen to reduce exposure for federal self-employment tax and state entity-level tax. However, the benefits of an S corporation election can be accompanied by some unanticipated drawbacks.
Will your standard terms and conditions win in a battle of forms? Do you have standard terms and conditions at all?
On July 16, 2014, the Uniform Law Commission (the “Commission”) approved a series of changes to the Uniform Fraudulent Transfer Act (the “UFTA”). The UFTA had previously been adopted by most states in the country, including Michigan. The Commission’s amendments included changing the name of the law from the UFTA to the Uniform Voidable Transactions Act (the “UVTA”).
At some point, a municipality and its leaders likely will be forced to grapple with the following question: Does a landowner have any rights if the landowner builds a home or other obstruction in a road right of way or other property dedicated to the public?
In November 2016, I co-authored an article which discussed technologies available to employers for monitoring employee conduct, as well as some legal limitations on doing so. On the flip-side of that issue, employees may want to use technology, such as audio and video recorders on their cell phones, to record fellow employees, supervisors and events in the workplace.
The Uniform Commercial Code (“UCC”) was drafted in 1958 and contains a series of articles that aim to govern commercial transactions. Nearly every state has adopted its own version of the UCC, including Michigan.
If you have an ordinance that regulates gun shops or the sale of firearms, it may be subject to scrutiny under the Second Amendment.
In the recent decade, governments have begun to utilize a public-private partnership (P3) which by its definition usually requires a design-build methodology of delivery. The design-build concept places the designer and contractor on one team in answer to the government’s request.
Michigan minors - at least those who sneak a drink from time to time - recently caught a break. In December, Governor Snyder signed bills that will reduce penalties for minors caught with alcohol starting in 2018.
Last September, Gov. Snyder signed HB 4209 (now called the Medical Marihuana Facilities Licensing Act). The relevant portion of the Act to townships is Section 205. Marijuana facilities may not operate in a township, and will not be able to obtain a license from the state, unless the township has adopted an ordinance (zoning or otherwise) that authorizes that type of facility.
The United States Supreme Court sent a case involving a Virginia transgender student who sued his high school over restroom access back to the lower appellate court for further consideration.
On February 22, 2017, the U.S. Departments of Justice and Education withdrew two statements of policy and guidance, issued during President Obama’s administration, concerning transgender students’ access to bathrooms and locker rooms.
As of noon on February 10, 2017 spring weight restrictions are in effect and enforced on Michigan roads. The spring weight restrictions protect the roads as the ground begins to thaw and the surface of our roads becomes unstable.
In a case involving a complex set of facts, the Michigan Court of Appeals (the “Court”) recently published an opinion concerning a priority dispute between mortgage lenders involving the doctrine of equitable subrogation (Wells Fargo Bank, N.A. Trustee v. SBC IV REO, LLC and Capitol National Bank, No. 328186, November 29, 2016).
On December 28, 2016, Governor Rick Snyder signed into law Public Act 378 of 2016 (the “Act”), which abolishes all statutory or common law rights of dower in Michigan, except in the case of a widow whose husband dies before the Act’s effective date.
Governor Rick Snyder signed into law two bills, Public Acts 330 and 331, that modernize Michigan’s trust laws by allowing domestic asset protection trusts (“DAPTs”) for the first time in the state. With its adoption of the Qualified Dispositions in Trusts Act (the “Act”) last month, Michigan joined 16 other states that allow for the creation of DAPTs. The new laws go into effect on March 8, 2017.
What happens when: (i) a mortgagor, who has defaulted, assigns her rights to any surplus proceeds from the foreclosure sale to a third party, (ii) the mortgagee submits a partial credit bid, and (iii) the property sells for more than the credit bid, but less than the amount due under the mortgage? Is the assignee entitled to the proceeds in excess of the partial credit bid, or should those excess funds go to the mortgagee?
Last year, the American Farm Bureau Federation conducted a survey of farmers with respect to Farm Data. The results of the survey revealed that many farmers are still uncertain about how their Farm Data is used and whether their data is protected. Fifty-five percent of farmers surveyed did not know whether the agreements they signed with agricultural technology providers (“ATPs”) addressed who owns collected data. Similarly, 59 percent of farmers did not know whether ATPs could use collected data to market products or services back to them.
Information technology is becoming increasingly important for agribusinesses looking to improve productivity, efficiency and effectiveness. From monitoring crops, to managing workforces, agribusinesses are adopting technological solutions to gather, analyze and use information to make decisions and optimize performance.
Citizens and visitors to Michigan have many opportunities to pursue recreational activities in natural settings. Thanks to the Natural Resources and Environmental Protection Act (“NREPA”), the owners, tenants, and lessees of Michigan agricultural and farm properties enjoy certain protections from liability whenever members of the public come onto their land to engage in such activities.
As a general matter, the Fair Labor Standards Act requires that an employer pay an employee the federal minimum wage plus one-and-a-half times the employee’s standard pay rate for time worked over 40 hours in a work week. The Act also creates an “agricultural exemption” from this general rule.
Governor Snyder approved a new law on Tuesday that gives municipalities a stronger defense in sidewalk-injury lawsuits. PA 419 of 2016 amends Section 2a of the Governmental Liability for Negligence Act (Act 170 of 1964), which sets forth the extent of a municipality’s duties and liability in property and personal injury claims related to sidewalk maintenance.
A new law signed by Lt. Governor Brian Calley will prohibit counties, townships, cities and villages in Michigan from adopting or enforcing ordinances that regulate in any way the use, disposition or sale of certain containers, most notably, plastic bags.
This installment discusses bonus depreciation and other tax deductions specific to farms that are available in addition to Section 179.
In an opinion released December 15, 2016, the Michigan Court of Appeals (the “Court”) ruled that Michigan state law does not preempt policies created by a Michigan school district banning the possession of firearms in schools and at school sponsored events.
Claims under the Whistleblowers Protection Act have become increasingly common. This may be because people can make the claim without exhibiting any of the characteristics at issue in other employment statutes: age is irrelevant; a showing of a disability is not necessary; nor are a person's race, sex, gender or religious beliefs relevant.
As municipal attorneys, the Michigan Campaign Finance Act (“Act”) may seem far removed from the daily business of our township, city, and county clients. But the Act applies to political activities at the local level, and our clients can violate its provisions, and face potentially serious consequences, even when acting with innocent motives.
Meet with your tax advisors
There may be last minute planning possibilities for 2016. Consult with your tax advisors while you still have time to act in 2016. You don't want to be scrambling on Dec. 31 (which is a Saturday this year).
This is a two-part series discussing year-end tax strategies available to reduce the tax liability of your business. This installment discusses the de minimis safe harbor election and bonus depreciation as two tax savings opportunities available in addition to Section 179.
Intellectual property (“IP”) rights can be the cornerstone of a business's value and competitive edge. IP rights are generally grouped into four categories: trademarks, copyrights, patents, and trade secrets.
This article is the first of a two-part series and discusses the deduction available under Code Section 179. Part 2 addresses ways the bonus depreciation rules and other farm-specific deductions can be paired with Section 179 for effective and powerful year-end tax planning.
The Persons With Disabilities Civil Rights Act protects against disability discrimination in the workplace. The Act prohibits, among other things, an employer from discriminating in hiring, recruiting, promoting, discharging, or unfairly impacting the terms, conditions, or privileges of employment on the basis of a person's disability.
The Workers' Compensation Health Care Services Rules were amended to include provisions placing limitations on physicians’ ability to receive reimbursement for opioid treatment beyond 90 days if certain requirements are not met. The requirements were implemented to address the problems associated with long-term opioid use and limit potential addiction issues.
In the not too distant past, employers and employees had a clearer idea of what was, and was not, part of the workplace. In the past two decades, both employers and employees have blurred that distinction through changing technologies and work habits. At the same time, technological leaps have made it increasingly cheap and easy for employers to electronically monitor employee conduct. Employers must consider both the benefits and risks of electronic monitoring, and respect the legal limits on such monitoring.
There are four basic statutory approaches to workers' compensation - the impairment rating approach; the loss of earning capacity approach; the bifurcated or hybrid approach, which has attributes of both the impairment rating and the loss of earning capacity systems; and, the wage loss approach.
Can Michigan voters choose to vote a "straight ticket" this November? The answer remains yes, despite litigation that recently made its way to the Supreme Court of the United States.
After devoting tremendous time, money, and effort to a political campaign, coming in second place - particularly by a close margin - is disappointing, to say the least. While the nation's eyes are on the race for the White House or any of the hotly contested Senate and House seats, candidates for local office, such as school board or library board candidates, may face even closer election results, where a mere handful of votes determine the outcome. This leads to the question: can I demand a recount?
It's not too late to join the November general election ballot in Michigan as a write-in candidate!
The list of acronyms in the law is long. For employers, some acronyms are more important than others. And in the context of employment litigation, some are crucial. In this and our next two newsletters, we discuss three state statutes that create the potential for expensive lawsuits against employers: The Elliott-Larsen Civil Rights Act; the Persons With Disabilities Civil Rights Act; and the Whistleblower Protection Act. These statutes are identified by the acronyms ELCRA, PDCRA, and WPA.
Design-build methodology minimizes change orders and cost overruns. When the design-build methodology is coupled with the private sector’s obligation to finance, operate, and maintain the structure, the issues of risk related to best-value procurement and optimum building durability are obtained. When design-build is coupled with private sector obligation to finance, operate, and maintain the project, it is usually described as a public private partnership (P3).
While there is no “magic bullet” available to fix a large anticipated tax bill, there are several strategies available to businesses and entrepreneurs to turn ordinary purchases into tax saving deductions.
Recently, the U.S. Supreme Court considered the issue of how freedom of speech impacts the municipal regulation of signs. Review your regulations in light of this new Supreme Court decision.
A recent decision by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit (the “Sixth Circuit”) may make it easier for plaintiffs to bring costly lawsuits against companies that allow sensitive data to fall into the wrong hands.
The United States is a party to a number of trade treaties with foreign countries. The E visa category was created to give effect to those treaties by providing reciprocal benefits to nationals of a treaty country.
The State of Michigan filed an emergency appeal to the U.S. Supreme Court, seeking a decision upholding the ban on the straight-ticket voting in time for the November election.
The Michigan Supreme Court has rejected Gov. Snyder’s request to issue an advisory opinion on the constitutionality of Section 152b of 2016 PA 249, which allows general fund money (up to $2.5 million) to be allocated to nonpublic schools.
A good warranty can also be good advertising, and the difference between customers buying your product or your competitor’s may come down to who has the better warranty. It can be tempting to give your warranty a label that sounds better than your competitors, but did you know that how you label your warranties is governed by federal law?
Two studies conducted recently resulted in data-driven articles that shed greater light on the issue of when, and why, courts accept veil piercing arguments.
On September 21, Gov. Snyder signed HB 4209 (now called the Medical Marihuana Facilities Licensing Act, Public Act 281 of 2016). The Act imposes a licensure mandate and authorizes a regulatory scheme for certain medical marijuana facilities including growers, transporters, processors and dispensaries.
Julie Fershtman, our Equine Law practitioner, is speaking at the 31st Annual National Conference on Equine Law in Lexington, Kentucky, on the topic of liability releases in equine activities.
In equine-related lawsuits, parties often hire expert witnesses to testify at trial. Experts are sometimes called upon to testify about a party's compliance (or lack of compliance) with a standard of care.
Attorney Seth Drucker co-authored a Q & A guide to drafting, issuing and enforcing a subpoena in Michigan. To view the full text you must subscribe to Practical Law.
A panel of the Michigan Court of Appeals has welcomed a challenge to the availability of the open and obvious defense to self-service retail stores on the theory that merchandise displays intentionally distract shoppers from hazards. In the first published appellate decision in over a year discussing the open and obvious defense, the court questioned whether the open and obvious defense applies in the retail store setting, and requested that the Court of Appeals convene a special panel of appellate judges to resolve the issue.
A recent federal case may have a big impact on wind projects in Michigan. Very recently, a large wind turbine company (Duke Energy Renewables Inc.) pleaded guilty in federal court in Wyoming to violating a federal law that protects migratory birds (the Migratory Bird Treaty Act [Bird Act]) in connection with the deaths of over 160 protected birds, including golden eagles, at the company’s wind projects in Wyoming. It is believed that this case represents the first ever criminal enforcement of the Bird Act for unpermitted bird killings at a wind farm.
Townships have a state constitutional right to "reasonable control" over roads. Townships also have the statutory right to adopt truck route ordinances. What happens if one township’s truck route ordinance effectively pushes commercial traffic into a neighboring township?
One of the main concerns that healthcare providers have regarding clinical integration is whether there is an issue with anti-trust law.
On July 2, 2013, Governor Snyder signed key wetland legislation (S.B. 163) into law (Public Act 98 of 2013).
Public Act 317 was designed to control the spread of infectious diseases of livestock and animals in Michigan.
The Agricultural Guestworker Act, a bill to provide American farmers with a revised temporary guestworker program, was introduced into the House of Representatives in late April.
Article includes easy and straightforward practices that make negotiating contracts via e-mail more efficient.
Tuomey Healthcare System faces up to $237 million in fines and penalties after a jury found it liable for submitting $39 million worth of claims to Medicare in violation of both the Stark Law and the False Claims Act.
Featuring several remarks from her presentation at the National Conference on Equine Law, Fershtman discusses the topic of recoverability of attorney fees in equine litigation.
The Michigan Court of Appeals has issued recent opinions on the "motor vehicle exception" to governmental immunity. These cases will be of interest to any municipality that owns vehicles.
The Michigan Construction Lien Act limits a contractor's right to a construction lien in regard to work performed on residential structures.
The term "Ag Exemption" is frequently used, yet because there are actually three separate and distinct types of tax-related "Ag Exemptions," they are often combined or confused in discussion.
Effective March 14, 2013, the FMCSA adopted a rule that expands an hours-of-service (HOS) exemption that has been in effect since 1995 for farm-related operations during the planting and harvesting season.
Immigration reform is a hot-button, important issue. Recently, both the Senate and House have introduced legislation regarding immigration and agriculture.
Changes in Technology and the Law Require Some Employers to Revise Internet and Social Media Policies.
With the passage of the HITECH Act in 2010 and the publication of final rules related to the HITECH Act in January of 2013, parts of HIPAA now apply to entities besides health care organizations.
Check fraud can harm your business by causing cash flow problems, burdensome fraud investigations, and even unreimbursed financial losses.
The IRS now automatically revokes an organization’s tax exempt status if the organization fails to timely file an annual information return for three consecutive years.
A motorcyclist's spinal cord injury following a crash caused by a seizure did not arise out of the motor vehicle accident that originally caused the seizure disorder. The Michigan Supreme Court held that the connection between the auto accident and the spinal cord injury was "too attenuated" for no-fault.
A selection of new cases, legislation, and regulations from the last quarter which may affect Michigan's road commissions both as governmental entities and as employers.
Lenders who place a full credit bid can’t recover a deficiency based on unpaid taxes incurred prior to a foreclosure sale according to the decision in Citizens Bank v Boggs.
The foreclosure of a mortgage is “debt collection” under the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act according to the Sixth Circuit Federal Court of Appeals in Glazer v Chase Home Finance, LLC.
That 10,000-year-old industry, agriculture, is making a comeback in the State of Michigan, and the new Agricultural Law Section of the State Bar of Michigan (SBM) reflects its newly-regained star status.
Employment related issues can be sensitive. How do municipalities balance the requirements of the OMA and handling difficult personnel matters?
Michigan has joined the growing number of states that have enacted the Revised Uniform Arbitration Act. The RUAA includes many important provisions that are intended to improve the efficiencies, and lower the costs, of arbitration. Read about the updates.
This article discusses the unique situation when the purchaser actually benefits from the past seller’s breach - - and the potential legal consequences that might surprise you.
For decades, Michigan law has prohibited construction contract language that made one party indemnify or be responsible for another party’s sole negligence. The legislature recently amended this statute.
President Obama signed the American Taxpayer Relief Act of 2012. The Act made other lesser-known but important changes to the tax law that could affect you and your business. This article summarizes those changes.
In 2008, the Michigan Supreme Court concluded that domestic partnership policies intended to provide health care benefits to same sex couples violated Michigan law. Recently, in Attorney General v Civil Service Commission, the Michigan Court of Appeals upheld a policy providing health care benefits to state employees and "other eligible adult individuals."
Michigan has been struggling with the issue of how to eliminate the personal property tax and recently has passed a package of legislation in an attempt to solve this issue. The legislature’s tentative solution is to create a Metropolitan Area Metropolitan Authority.
The Michigan Supreme Court issued an opinion which will make it more difficult for employers to defeat whistleblower claims before trial. Debano-Griffin v Lake County and Lake County Board of Commissioners.
The United States Supreme Court is poised to make a decision that may affect how the federal courts treat Michigan employers sued for violations of Title VII, the federal law that prohibits race and gender discrimination and harassment.
An overview of important legislation, issues, and cases from 2012 that affect Michigan county road commissions.
Effective on March 28, 2013, 2012 PA 529 amends the Motor Vehicle Code to state that an authorized agent of a county road commission (e.g. a weigh master) may act as a police officer.
The "Michigan Agriculture Exporter of the Year" application requests background information on the company and its products, the percentage growth of company exports, and the company's export destinations.
The United States Bankruptcy Court for the Western District of Michigan entered an order approving the sale of substantially all of the assets of Stamp Farms to Boersen Farms, Inc.
Michigan FFA continues to grow and help young people in the agricultural industry. Find out how you can help the future of agriculture.
Property owners have limited time to appeal to the Michigan Tax Tribunal if they are unsatisfied with the Board of Review’s decision. Make sure your presentation is effective by following these 5 easy tips.
Michigan's highly successful Clean Corporate Citizen program has received new and added emphasis. The Michigan Legislature passed legislation to organize and enlarge benefits provided to Michigan businesses that exercise environmental stewardship.
In today’s economy, businesses often find it necessary to adjust the labor force within a relatively short period of time to remain competitive. In Michigan, this can be accomplished because the law presumes that all employment relationships are at-will.
A new Michigan law allows some municipalities to issue bonds to fund unfunded pension liabilities or unfunded liabilities for retiree health care benefits. Before, Michigan municipalities had no power to issue bonds for those purposes.
Governor Snyder signed into law right-to-work legislation covering both private and public sector employment in Michigan. Employees will have the right to refrain from paying any portion of assessed dues or an agency fee.
Municipalities often put great care and effort into deciding whether to amend their zoning or regulatory ordinances. While the substance of those amendments is important, so too is the form of the amendments.
A federal court in Michigan struck down part of the Michigan Liquor Control Act that requires the Michigan Liquor Control Commission and local municipal approval to get a dance-entertainment permit for dancing and live entertainment at an on-premises liquor-licensed business.
With March Board of Reviews quickly approaching, it is an important time for a municipality to review its poverty exemption guidelines in light of the State Tax Commission’s latest guidance on the subject.
The Michigan Court of Appeals struck down a district library’s policy which banned weapons from library premises. The Court stated that the Library's "no weapons" policy was preempted by the state law.
The federal estate, gift, and generation-skipping transfer taxes have faced an uncertain future in recent years. As part of the "fiscal cliff," these transfer taxes were scheduled to revert to their 2001 levels, but were avoided following the enactment of the American Taxpayer Relief Act of 2012 on January 2, 2013.
On January 4, 2013, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration announced its proposal of new food safety rules. The public may submit online or written comments on the proposed rules by May 16, 2013.
I-9 enforcement is not primarily concerned with locating illegal workers with the goal of deporting them. Instead, I-9 enforcement is heavily focused on Form I-9 itself, and the employer’s strict accuracy in completing the form and complying with related regulations in assembling its workforce.
The Michigan Legislature in late December passed clean corporate citizenship legislation which was signed by Lt. Governor Calley in early January for execution.
On December 20, 2012, the U.S. Department of Agriculture announced the publication of a final rule regarding animal disease traceability. This rule requires livestock moved interstate to be officially identified and accompanied by an interstate certificate of veterinary inspection or other documentation.
Planning for the future of your ag business is critical. Advanced planning allows the family to transfer management and ownership how they want and to address legal, tax, and family relationship issues sooner rather than being forced to react after the death of a family member.
If you are considering an acquisition, here are a few suggestions based upon my experience for you to consider in selecting an alliance or merger partner.
We have seen how Ponzi schemes have become common place. Be prepared for embezzlement next.
Any public body, especially those maintaining a website, should be aware of the amendment to the Michigan Open Meetings Act that became effective on December 31, 2012.
Governor Snyder signed House Bill 4003 and Senate Bill 116, making Michigan the 24th state to enact "freedom-to-work"/ “right-to-work” laws. House Bill 4003 applies to the public sector and Senate Bill 116 applies to the private sector.
In Kalkman, the Court found in favor of a property owner who relied on a building permit issued by the City of the Village of Douglas, even though the building permit was improperly issued.
The Dodd-Frank Deposit Insurance Provision affords noninterest-bearing transaction accounts unlimited deposit insurance coverage. Absent an extension or further legislation, that provision is scheduled to expire on December 31, 2012.
The CFPB is tasked with regulating and enforcing a list of consumer protection laws including: RESPA, TILA, HOEPA, SAFE Act, HMDA, Fair Credit Reporting, Truth-in-Savings, the Consumer Financial Protection Act and Mortgage reforms, among others.
Many hospitals and groups of physicians are forming Accountable Care Organizations to cover Medicare fee for service beneficiaries under the Medicare Shared Savings Program. What issues must new ACOs keep in mind in its proceeding to qualify for the MSSP program? This article discusses that question.
The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Office of Inspector General released its Work Plan for Fiscal Year 2013. Corporate compliance officers should carefully review the portions of the Work Plan applicable to their businesses.
The IRS has announced the cost-of-living adjustments applicable to pension plan limitations for 2013.
As President Obama moves into his second term, health care reform moves forward with him. Foster Swift has developed guides to aid employers with their preparation efforts. Download these guides here.
The Court of Appeals has held that a no-fault insurer was not required to reimburse its insured for medical expenses the insured repaid to his health care insurer out of the proceeds of a tort settlement.
The Michigan Court of Appeals affirmed the trial court's decision to deny first-party no-fault benefits to an injured driver who had been specifically named on the subject insurance policy as an excluded driver.
Michigan law has long criminalized "begging in a public place." Recently, however, a federal court struck down Michigan’s anti-begging law, and another federal court struck down an Ohio city’s anti-solicitation policy.
It is important for health care providers to understand the litigation process. This article outlines what happens in a lawsuit.
The chart below provides important upcoming dates for employers to consider.
Recently, the Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals held that the Workers’ Disability Compensation Act does not preempt the Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act.
Through the Branded Program, qualified companies may obtain reimbursement for a percentage of their international marketing expenses for Michigan agriculture and food exports.
The Michigan Court of Appeals and the Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals issued decisions regarding Michigan’s Right to Farm Act.
The Legislature has changed the rules on how receiving boards are established.
As part of the 2010 Healthcare Reform Act, Code Section 501(r) of the Internal Revenue Code was added to provide that a hospital would lose its tax exemption unless the hospital meets five requirements.
Summary of the proposed changes that HB 5879 would make to the Freedom of Information Act, 1976 PA 442, if enacted. Many of these changes would directly impact litigation fees and costs for defending FOIA violations.
Every employer should understand and appreciate the value of having a handbook that is tailored to its operations, as well as having policies that reflect their current circumstances, and current law.
Effective July 1, 2012, the Michigan Liquor Control Commission changed its procedure for submitting applications to the Commission and obtaining approvals for certain licenses.
The Michigan Supreme Court recently confirmed, and expanded, Michigan’s rule that an entity who submits a bid on a municipal project but who does not receive the award may not sue over that award decision.
If I disinherit this child, I am afraid that this might impact her relationship with my other children. Is there any way to avoid this? Is there a right way to disinherit a child?
LARA has issued a warning regarding a letter being sent to Michigan corporations asking for an Annual Minutes Disclosure Statement.
Under the JOBS Act the SEC is required to issue new rules that permit general solicitation of investors in Rule 506 offerings that are sold only to accredited investors. The SEC has issued proposed regulations to address this issue.
Attorney Liza Moore sits down with the Oakland County Legal News to discuss the Agricultural Law Section.
In order to qualify for the agricultural use tax exemption, an entity claiming the exemption must satisfy two requirements. Read about the requirements here.
The U.S. Department of Agriculture announced that four counties in Michigan were designated as primary natural disaster areas due to this summer’s drought.
The Internal Revenue Service, Department of Labor and Department of Health and Human Services published final regulations describing the summary of benefits and coverage requirement of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act.
The Internal Revenue Service recently released the 2013 health savings account contribution limits, out-of-pocket maximums and high deductible health plan deductibles.
The Internal Revenue Service recently issued guidance regarding the $2,500 limit on salary reduction contributions to a health flexible spending account under the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act.
The U.S. Department of Labor published the final Service Provider Fee Disclosure Regulation. The Final Regulation requires that certain retirement plan vendors who supply services to a "covered plan" disclose certain information to the employer sponsor with regard to the compensation that is received by the vendor for the performance of those services.
A participant who misses the 60-day rollover window may be eligible for an automatic waiver of the 60-day rollover rule if certain requirements are met.
What happens if my uncle dies without having made a will or trust? Also, will I still be able to act on his behalf under his power of attorney after he has passed away?
"General Assignment:" Can I use this document to avoid having to probate his estate?
Our June 2012 Municipal Law News noted that the Michigan Public Service Commission was investigating electric utility’s intent to deploy "smart meters." This article provides an update on that investigation.
In our January 2012 Municipal Law News, we notified you of the then-pending fight between Comcast and the City of Detroit over the validity of Michigan’s 2006 Uniform Video Services Local Franchise Act. The parties argued their positions in December 2011, and the Court issued its decision on July 10, 2012.
The City of Wyoming, like many Michigan municipalities, adopted a zoning ordinance that barred any land uses that are contrary to federal law. A medical marijuana patient sued to have the court declare that the ordinance is invalid as conflicting with the Act.
The Michigan No Fault Insurance Act provides that an injured person is entitled to PIP benefits for “allowable expenses,” including attendant care. Some claimants have argued that family members should be paid at the rates charged by caregiving agencies.
The Michigan Supreme Court has held that replacement services incurred more than three years after the date of a motor vehicle accident are not recoverable under MCL 500.3135(3)(c).
On June 25, 2012, Governor Snyder announced the appointment of Jamie Clover Adams as the new Michigan Department of Agriculture and Rural Development (MDARD) Director.
On June 26, 2012, Governor Snyder signed the Agricultural Disaster Loan Origination Program Act of 2012 into law. The law requires a one-time $15-million appropriation to cover some costs for banks that offer agricultural loans to farmers and processors affected by the severe weather this spring.
On July 2, 2012, the USDA announced the designation of 72 counties in Michigan as primary disaster areas due to damages and losses caused by severe weather in January 1 – May 11, 2012.
On July 15, 2012, Under Secretary for Farm and Foreign Agricultural Services Michael Scuse began a tour of Michigan, Ohio, and Indiana—states affected by spring severe frosts and freezes and now increasing drought. According to the USDA’s press release, the purpose of the visits is to "show support to farmers and ranchers affected by a string of extreme weather in 2012."
My husband died recently. Since my daughter lives in a different state, I have decided to move there to be close to her. Prior to my husband's death, we had just recently updated our estate planning documents. Do I need to do this again now that I am moving to another state?
Although existing federal law requires medical providers to report and return Medicare overpayments, the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act imposed a new requirement on the timing for doing so.
The Michigan Legislature recently increased the small claims jurisdictional limit from $3,000 to $5,000 effective September 1, 2012.
Senior adults facing an incapacity need specialized estate planning. Many senior adults also have concerns about financial security, preserving their independence and dignity, having enough money to pay for good quality care, and taking care of loved ones.
Federal estate tax is imposed on virtually all assets in which a decedent has any interest, including life insurance proceeds, after the assets exceed an exemption amount.
It is unclear at this point whether the revamped Michigan Fireworks Safety Act preempts a municipality's ability to regulate traditional concerns such as noise and public safety.
The United States Supreme Court issued its long awaited ruling regarding the constitutionality of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act. The Supreme Court upheld PPACA, including the individual mandate that requires individuals to obtain health care insurance coverage or pay a penalty.
No two employers are exactly the same; neither are two employee handbooks. Every employer should understand and appreciate the value of having a handbook that is tailored to their business, as well as policies that reflect their current circumstances, as well as current law.
On June 6, 2012, the Michigan House Standing Committee on Agriculture approved HB 5717. Committee minutes show that representatives of Michigan Farm Bureau, the Michigan Department of Agriculture and Rural Development, and many other producers, processors, and trade organizations spoke in favor of the bill.
On June 21, 2012, the U.S. Senate voted 64-35 to pass the Farm Bill, as amended. Earlier in the week, on June 18, 2012, the U.S. Senate had reached a unanimous-consent-time agreement providing that certain amendments would be considered beginning on June 19, 2012.
A recent decision addressed the validity of the Michigan Public Service Commission's (MPSC) decision to allow Detroit Edison to increase its rates to pay for smart meters. There, the MPSC approved funding for Detroit Edison to pursue a plan to upgrade its meters.
The Michigan Court of Appeals recently ruled in Coloma Emergency Medical Service, Inc v Dep't of Community Health, that damages against a governmental entity may be pursued despite governmental immunity laws.
You might save on your employment taxes if your business is taxed as an "S Corporation."
Noncompetition agreements typically prohibit an employee or seller of a business to own or work for a competitor of the protected party, and often are of substantial value. However, a Michigan court will only enforce these agreements if they comply with the following four requirements.
The Michigan Supreme Court ruled that the principles set forth in the 1959 Supreme Court decision of Keys v Pace allow an insurer to avail itself of the defense of fraud in the application for insurance, even if the claimant is an injured third party and the fraud could have been easily ascertainable.
The following is a summary of the types of estate planning documents all individuals should consider implementing regardless of their age, the size of their estate, or whether they are married or single.
Two years ago, the Michigan Supreme Court found that the minority/insanity tolling statute applied to both the no-fault statute of limitations and the one year back rule. More recently, the Supreme Court issued its opinion in Joseph v Auto Club Insurance Association overruling the previous decision.
The Michigan Court of Appeals released its published opinion in Westfield v Ken’s Service, which clarifies the meaning of “occupying” a covered auto.
The "exclusive remedy" provision of Michigan's Worker's Disability Compensation Act does not prevent an individual from bringing a federal Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Act ("RICO") lawsuit.
Michigan has revamped its fireworks law by adopting Public Act 256 of 2011, which amends the Michigan Fireworks Safety Act. The Act allows consumers to legally buy and use more powerful "consumer fireworks" without obtaining a permit.
On April 11, 2012, the director of the MSU Product Center, Chris Peterson, announced that a MSU study on 2010 data showed that agriculture contributes around $91.4 billion to the Michigan economy.
On April 26, 2012, the proposed Agriculture Reform, Food and Jobs Act of 2012 passed the Senate Committee on Agriculture, Nutrition and Forestry by a vote of 16-5. The bill now awaits consideration on the Senate Floor.
On May 8, 2012, Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack and USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service Chief Dave White announced a new National Water Quality Initiative.
On May 14, 2012, a federal district court ruled that the NLRB failed to assemble a quorum for its final vote on changes in the board's representation case rules, so the changes that went into effect April 30 are invalid and unenforceable.
With an election year comes questions on municipal election matters. This month, we answer a few commonly asked questions about municipal elections, qualifications for office, events that disqualify one from running for office, and receipt of donations.
In a recent opinion, the Michigan Court of Appeals issued a key decision regarding foreclosing by advertisement while concurrently suing guarantors.
I only have one child and she is already listed on all of my bank and investments accounts; why can't I just deed my home over to her now?
Michigan small businesses with 500 employees or less can apply for reimbursement of up to $25,000 of export costs pursuant to an initiative called the Michigan State Trade and Export Promotion (STEP) Grant Program.
Michigan companies are required to file annual reports with the Michigan Department of Licensing and Regulatory Affairs.
On April 5, 2012, President Obama signed into law the "Jump Start Our Business Startups Act", commonly known as the JOBS Act. This Act has five key parts intended to improve access to capital for small businesses. Here is a brief description of each part.
The Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act ("Dodd-Frank") modified the definition of "accredited investor" to establish an exemption from registration under Regulation D.
In a recent complaint filed in Minnesota against Accretive Health, a business associate was implicated for breach of the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act.
One costly problem for Medicaid and Medicare is the inordinate amount of money spent on individuals who are dually eligible for both Medicare and Medicaid. Michigan introduced its solution to this problem in the form of its proposal to "Integrate Care for People Who Are Medicare - Medicaid Eligible ("MMEs")".
In re-credentialing and granting staff privileges to a surgeon with a history of 17 medical malpractice suits, a hospital, through its credentialing committee, could not be found to have proximately caused a patient’s claimed injuries.
Should I name all three children as fiduciaries, and if not, how do I determine who should act in what capacity and ultimately how do I avoid hurt feelings?
Back in September 2, 2011 the DOL published a Notice of Proposed Rulemaking to revise child labor regulations in agriculture. Now the DOL has decided not to go forward with the hotly contested regulations.
How do you avoid having the person you name as your agent ripping you off?
The Michigan Legislature has moved forward on a new bill that would pre-empt local zoning when it comes to handling request to co-locate wireless telecommunications equipment on an existing tower.
The appellate court rejected the NLRB’s argument that the rule should take effect during the pendency of the court’s review, noting the NLRB had previously postponed the effective date of the rule because of pending litigation.
I recently received some troubling news regarding my health, which got me thinking about estate planning and death taxes which are topics I have been avoiding for years now. What types of planning do you think I should engage in?
The Michigan Liquor Control Commission has recently issued an official notice about the "local approval" part of the liquor license application process.
On February 17, 2012, Congress passed the "Middle Class Tax Relief and Job Creation Act of 2012." Though most of the attention given the Act highlights its extension of unemployment benefits and tax cuts, the Act also impacts municipalities.
A flurry of House and Senate hearings beginning in October and ending in November led to the first major overhaul of the Workers' Compensation Act in 42 years.
What was the purpose of setting up our trust five years ago when my husband's estate has to be probated anyway?
The USDA designated 45 Michigan Counties as natural disaster areas for certain time periods in 2011. This designation makes qualified farm operators eligible for low interest emergency loans from USDA's Farm Service Agency.
On February 16, 2012, USDA's Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service announced that it was improving its Phytosanitary Certificate and Issuance Tracking System.
On March 5, 2012, Governor Rick Snyder announced the appointments to the Michigan Dairy Market Program Committee. This Committee develops and controls the dairy producer marketing program. This program promotes Michigan's $5.9 billion (annually) dairy industry.
More often than not these days, farmers are filing Chapter 11 or Chapter 12 bankruptcy cases. Generally Chapter 11 and 12 bankruptcies are reorganizational, which means the debtor (farmer) will file a plan and pay back creditors.
On February 28, 2012, the House passed HB 5335, an amendment that will change an over 25 year old Open Meetings Act interpretation by the Michigan Court of Appeals about telephone participation at public meetings.
In February, 2012, Gov. Rick Snyder signed into law legislation that allows Michigan cities, townships, and villages to prosecute "super drunk drivers"—drivers whose blood alcohol levels exceed .17. Generally, local ordinances may not impose penalties beyond 93 days in jail or a $500 fine.
Given recent rulemaking activity, most private sector employers will be required to post a new notice advising employees of their rights under the National Labor Relations Act.
In Michigan, it is generally common knowledge that contractors may file a construction lien to secure payment for their labor or material costs provided on a project. This article examines whether a contractor’s construction lien will have priority over interests, such as a mortgage, that a bank or another entity has recorded prior to the construction lien.
How should a medical provider handle a situation where a minor's parent is unavailable to consent to treatment? Several "best practices" in dealing with this situation are covered in this article.
The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act requires employers to report the aggregate cost of "applicable employer-sponsored health coverage" on each employee's Form W-2 beginning with the 2012 tax year. The Internal Revenue Service has released new guidance regarding this reporting requirement.
Michigan Medical Marijuana case of People v Koon involves the intersection of the Michigan Medical Marijuana Act and laws against driving with marijuana in one's system.
On February 1, 2012, the U.S. Senate Committee on Agriculture, Nutrition and Forestry announced the schedule of several hearings for the Farm Bill.
This article provides a general overview of different litigation stages to help with basic understanding of what happens in a lawsuit.
The Michigan Department of Agriculture and Rural Development is accepting applications for the Michigan Agriculture Exporter of the Year Award.
Every provision of an oil and gas lease is negotiable, including the royalty to be paid to the landowner in the event of a successful well. If, however, we are successful in negotiating for a one-sixth royalty (which is the same royalty required on all leases with the State of Michigan) what difference would this small change make to a typical landowner?
Last fall's Department of Labor (DOL) publication of a Notice of Proposed Rulemaking affecting child labor regulations in agriculture grabbed nearly everyone's attention in the agriculture sector. On February 1, 2012, the DOL reacted to the public response by announcing that the DOL will re-propose the portion of its regulation interpreting the "parental exemption" in summer 2012.
On January 9, 2012, the USDA announced a "Blueprint for Stronger Service" aimed at streamlining the USDA. According to the news release, the USDA will close 259 domestic offices, facilities and labs across the country.
Many municipalities in Michigan have recently received requests from their cable operators to start formal cable franchise renewal procedures under the Federal Cable Act, 47 USC § 521 et seq. Although federal law sets renewal procedures that provide for extensive local review of franchise agreements, Michigan law prohibits such local review.
Governor Snyder recently signed into law several new laws, 2011 PA 258 to 263, that aim to remove confusion some felt existed in the current inter-governmental agreement laws and streamline how municipalities can work together to share services. They are designed to give municipal officials improved options when deciding how to spend their limited resources and in collaborating to provide desired services.
A summary of Foster Swift's events in 2011
Verizon Wireless sued the Town of Irondequoit (New York) in federal court in Buffalo over alleged inaction and unreasonable delays in deciding a wireless facilities application.
The Michigan legislature was active in 2011, passing or amending several laws that will impact public sector labor relations.
The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act requires that the aggregate cost of "applicable employer-sponsored health coverage" be reported on an employee's Form W-2 beginning with the 2012 tax year.
Cities and villages have the power to legislate—that is, to make laws. Cities and villages exercise their legislative power by adopting or amending ordinances.
Selling property by land contract is often a viable option where conventional financing is not available. However, there can be risks associated with a land contract that are completely unrelated to the financial considerations.
The use of hydraulic fracturing in oil and gas exploration has recently generated significant public debate.
The last few years have witnessed significant increases in workforce audits and raids by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement ("ICE") at all levels. Therefore, while proper I-9 compliance has always been important, it has never been more essential.
The current national focus on developing alternative sources of energy has resulted in a dramatic increase in efforts to obtain leases and/or easements for the development of wind farms.
Most oil and gas leases proposed by oil companies provide for long primary terms and options that can double the primary term of a lease. The primary term is the initial period during which a well may be drilled.
The Michigan Supreme Court held in an opinion that the door of an automobile is not "equipment permanently mounted on the vehicle" for purposes of MCL 500.3106(1)(b) and clarified the meaning of "alighting" for MCL 500.3106(1)(c).
Documenting employee discipline is as important from a litigation defense perspective, as is counseling the employee in the first place to try to correct or improve job performance.
In response to political controversy surrounding the proposed new rules, a bill has been introduced in Congress (H.R. 3094) that would set minimum time periods for NLRB representation hearings and a 35-day minimum interval before balloting that are inconsistent with the board’s rulemaking proposal.
Companies that maintain ESOPs are legally required to provide enough cash to the ESOP to meet the distribution and diversification requirements of the ESOP (referred to as "Repurchase Obligation").
The IRS recently issued guidance that addresses the tax-free treatment of employer-provided cell phones.
All qualified retirement plans that are categorized as "Cycle A" plans must be restated and submitted to the IRS for approval on or before January 31, 2012.
For plan years prior to January 1, 2009, qualified retirement plans were required to attach Schedule SSA to Form 5500 to report information relating to terminated employees who had deferred vested benefits payable from the plan.
The Internal Revenue Service (IRS) and the Department of Labor (DOL) recently signed a memorandum of understanding, agreeing that they will share information and coordinate law enforcement to end the practice of misclassifying employees as independent contractors.
In most instances absent an agreement with its secured creditors, the debtor will petition the court for permission to use cash collateral at the same time it files for bankruptcy.
On September 14, 2011, USDA APHIS announced that it would amend the boundaries of the bovine tuberculosis risk classification zones for Michigan.
On September 2, 2011, the Department of Labor (DOL) published a Notice of Proposed Rulemaking to revise child labor regulations in agriculture.
On October 14, 2011, leaders of the Senate and House Agriculture Committees sent a letter to the Joint Select Committee on Deficit Reduction (better known as the "Supercommittee") recommending a $23 billion cut to mandatory spending within the committees’ jurisdiction.
There have been recent developments on SB 34 – and it’s good news for municipalities. But watch out for SB 618.
The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit has ruled that Medicare is not limited to the portion of a settlement or verdict designated as for medical losses when seeking reimbursement under the Medicare Secondary Payer Act.
The Michigan Court of Appeals once again affirmed that an action may not be maintained under the common work area doctrine when the alleged danger does not expose a significant number of workers to a high degree of risk.
A recent decision by the Michigan Court of Appeals provides caution for contractors, subcontractors, laborers or suppliers seeking to file claims of lien on site condominium developments.
The Michigan Court of Appeals has provided guidance for use in calculating the amount to be paid for family-provided attendant care services in a No Fault case.
On October 20, 2011, the IRS issued a new Fact Sheet that provided additional information for exempt organizations on how their participation in the MSSP through an ACO would be treated by the IRS.
On November 10, 2011, the USDA announced that the Calhoun Conservation District was one of the 10 recipients of the USDA’s People’s Garden Grant Program.
EPA Administrator Lisa Jackson - "Based on my consideration of the scientific record, analysis provided by EPA scientists, and advice from the Clean Air Science Advisory Council, I am prepared to propose the retention--with no revision--of the current PM10 standard and form when it is sent to OMB for interagency review."
The U.S. Department of Agriculture Natural Resources Conservation Service prepared a study showing that farmers using combinations of erosion-control and nutrient-management practices on cultivated cropland are reducing the movement of sediment, nitrogen, and phosphorus from farm fields to the Great Lakes.
The U.S. Department of Agriculture announced the grant recipients for fiscal year 2011 for the Farmers Market Promotion Program.
Green Meadow Farms, Inc. and Scenic View Dairy, LLC in Michigan both received funding for anaerobic digesters from the USDA’s Bioenergy Program for Advanced Biofuels Program.
Effective December 1, 2011, the Federal Rules of Bankruptcy Procedure (FRBP) that govern filing a proof of claim will change dramatically.
On October 11, 2011, the U.S. Department of Agriculture Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service produced a draft Environmental Impact Statement considering alternatives in response to Monsanto/KWS SAAT AG request for a determination of non-regulated status of its event H7-1 sugar beets.
The U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Michigan granted summary judgment against a no-fault insurer's defense that it needed the taxpayer identification number of the attendant care provider in order to have "reasonable proof" under MCL 500.5142(2).
Michigan's Health Insurance Claims Assessment Act was approved by Governor Snyder on September 20, 2011 and given immediate effect.
Michigan's legislature, like 15 other state legislatures, has proposed legislation to create its own insurance exchange.
The Michigan House Judiciary Committee approved a package of bills that would allow cities, townships, and villages to enforce the 2010 Super Drunk Law.
This case illustrates Michigan's leniency in regard to enforcement of releases.
Earlier this year, both Texas and Iowa amended their Equine Activity Liability Acts to broaden their scope beyond “equine activity” to “farm animal activity.”
The interesting new Michigan case of Price v. High Pointe Oil Company, could make you wonder whether the law is heading for change.
The IRS has announced the cost-of-living adjustments applicable to pension plan limitations for 2012.
Bond issuers should be aware that activities in the U.S. Congress may limit the value of tax-exempt interest to bondholders, with significant ramifications for municipal issuers.
Many municipalities rely heavily on personal property taxes for operating purposes. This bill would exempt all personal property from tax collection under the General Property Tax Act.
What do you do when an employee says he needs leave to care for his "significant other’s kids?"
The Department of Labor recently issued a final regulation that extends the applicability dates for the Service Provider Fee Disclosure and the Participant-Level Fee Disclosure Regulations.
The National Labor Relations Board published a controversial final rule requiring that all employers covered by the National Labor Relations Act post a notice detailing employees’ rights under the Act.
The U.S. Supreme Court has held that equitable relief may be available to employees under ERISA Sec. 502(a)(3) to reform the terms of a pension plan in the event of a fiduciary breach.
Effective for the first plan year that begins on or after August 1, 2012 (January 1, 2013 for a calendar year plan), a non-grandfathered group health plan is required to provide certain preventive health services for women.
An I-9 audit can be triggered for a number of reasons, including random samples and reporting by disgruntled employees. Every employer should have a formal internal I-9 Compliance Policy detailing the employer’s exact policies and procedures.
The U.S. Department of Labor recently issued an interim policy regarding how an employer can electronically disclose to plan participants information that must be provided pursuant to the DOL’s Final Participant Level Fee Disclosure Regulation.
On September 24, 2011, Governor Snyder signed into law the Publicly Funded Health Insurance Contribution Act.
On September 24, 2011, Governor Snyder signed into law the Publicly Funded Health Insurance Contribution Act.
From commodity prices to the weather, uncertainty is a fact of life in agriculture. There is one essential factor for long term success, however, that a family farm can control – careful estate and succession planning.
Imagine the shock of returning to your farm from out of town only to learn that your prize bull became ill and died soon after you left.
The Michigan Department of Agriculture & Rural Development announced that the Michigan Wheat Program was approved by wheat producers.
To be protected by the Michigan Right to Farm Act, farm operations must conform to GAAMPs.
The Michigan USDA Farm Service Agency recently posted a reminder about the Agriculture Foreign Investment Disclosure Act.
Is Social Media a viable substitute for a municipality having an official website?
Hospitals are required to create a community health needs assessment in order to be recognized, or continue being recognized, as a 501(c)(3) entity.
The federal government, through the Health Information Technology for Economic and Clinical Health Act (“HITECH”) is pushing physicians and other health care professionals towards EHR by offering financial incentives and eventually imposing financial penalties.
When it has been appropriately implemented, the Michigan Exchange will play a vital role in opening health care access and insurance coverage for hundreds of thousands of Michigan citizens and their families.
In Henry Ford Health System v. Department of Health and Human Services, the Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals upheld a regulation promulgated by the Secretary of Health and Human Services which excluded from hospitals' Medicare reimbursements the time residents spent conducting pure research.
The Michigan Court of Appeals recently came through for employers, confirming that accessing inappropriate websites is misconduct that makes a former employee ineligible for unemployment insurance benefits.
Michigan Supreme Court held that a No Fault insured must show by "objective and verifiable medical evidence" that an experimental medical procedure is efficacious before the procedure can be found to be "reasonably necessary."
The Michigan Court of Appeals held that the Michigan Department of Education lacks authority to promulgate the State Aid Rules, which impose new conditions on public libraries' eligibility to receive critical state funding.
Facebook, MySpace, LinkedIn, and Twitter have become commonplace – not only on employees’ personal computers, but also on employers’ computers.
On July 20, 2011, Gov. Rick Snyder signed legislation that changes the arbitration process and should result in more realistic agreements.
The Michigan Legislature has legislatively overruled Kyser and reinstated the "very serious consequences" rule.
The Act makes many changes, including taxing income from pensions and other types of retirement plans. This articles summarizes those changes.
On July 20, 2011, Gov. Rick Snyder signed legislation that changes the arbitration process and should result in more realistic agreements. This legislation amends Act 312 to do the following...
In the last few years, immigration reforms and increased enforcement have been the topics of extensive debate.
In many cases, disputes between insurance companies and the businesses they insure can be avoided. Consider discussing these topics with your agent.
Entering into contracts is an important part of every agribusiness. No one enters into a contract expecting it to go sour but sometimes they do...
The tumultuous world economic and political climate has had a profound effect on oil and gas exploration activities in Michigan.
Did you know that the Michigan Department of Agriculture and the Food Export Association of the Midwest offer a 50 percent cost reimbursement on certain pre-approved eligible international marketing and promotional activities for Michigan small to medium sized businesses?
Succession planning is the process of formally transitioning management and ownership of an agricultural business from one generation to the next.
Blogging has become a tool for companies that are marketing, as well as for employees who are bent on revenge.
The Genetic Information Nondiscrimination Act of 2008 (GINA) took effect for employers on Nov. 21, 2009.
The DOL recently issued guidance that extends the grace period for amending non-grandfathered group health plans to comply with certain provisions of the new internal claims and appeals procedures.
Senators Herb Kohl and Mike Enzi introduce new legislation to the Senate Finance Committee designed to protect retirement savings in 401(k) plans.
Group health plans that offer prescription coverage to Medicare eligible participants must provide notices to participants advising them whether their drug coverage is creditable or non-creditable.
As employers work to evaluate the impact of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act on their workers, insurance needs and balance sheet, many are wondering if and when the PPACA will apply to them.
The IRS requires that qualified plans report certain information relating to participants with deferred vested benefits in a qualified deferred compensation plan.
The United States Supreme Court recently held that for purposes of ERISA Sec. 502(a)(1)(b), the terms of a summary plan description cannot be enforced as terms of the plan it summarizes.
The IRS has recently identified compliance with the universal availability requirement as a recurring problem during its audits of Code Section 403(b) tax deferred annuity plans.
Foster Swift is pleased to announce our new "PA 4 Team." - a team focused on helping financially challenged municipalities and school districts, emergency managers, bond trustees, and others understand and use Michigan’s recently enacted Public Act 4.
Another month, another slew of activity on the medical marijuana front across Michigan. This article highlights two recent events from the Michigan Attorney General’s office.
The Michigan Court of Appeals recently handed down a decision that is important for any municipality that holds special meetings or goes into closed session to discuss pending litigation.
This article is a follow-up to an earlier article in April where we discussed various issues facing three likely entities that might take the lead in creating an ACO.
More than $8 million in disaster assistance will be issued to livestock, honeybee, and farm-raised fish producers that suffered losses in 2010 because of disease, adverse weather, or other conditions.
On April 27, 2011, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) issued draft guidance for the Clean Water Act.
Increased urbanization puts livestock farms closer than ever to highways and population centers, heightening the risk of accidents and resulting liabilities.
The Michigan Department of Agriculture & Rural Development authorized a referendum to establish a Michigan Wheat Program, to be conducted June 20, 2011 through July 1, 2011.
Certain cafeteria and health care reimbursement plan amendments must be adopted by June 30, 2011.
A municipality may not condition providing utility services to tax-foreclosed property by demanding that a buyer of tax-foreclosed property pay delinquent utility-service charges that the former owners of the foreclosed property incurred.
On June 4, 2011, a federal district court ruled that the Michigan Department of Community Health must give over documents that the federal drug enforcement agency asked for involving 7 persons who applied for medical marijuana caregiver and patient cards.
GINA prohibits the use of genetic information in making employment decisions, restricts employers from asking for, requiring, or buying genetic information, and strictly limits the disclosure of genetic information.
Answer to an intriguing question that involves the intersection of employer rights and medical marijuana patient rights.
Recent federal court decisions have held that purchasing a competitor's trademark as a Google Adword tag can constitute trademark infringement.
Brazil should be part of your international growth strategy. Brazil is the fifth largest country in the world in terms of population and size.
As with many U.S. Visas, the H-1B's availability is limited by a quota system, subject to certain exceptions. As of the last cap count dated May 5, 2011, 54,800 visas remain available.
There are significant legal restrictions on how you can solicit investors.
The amount of money invested in Michigan companies in 2010 was higher than in any other year except 2008.
The IRS has published guidance that might exempt your business from the new requirement to report the cost of health care on your employees' Forms W-2.
Effective January 1, 2012, the Corporate Income Tax will impose a flat 6% tax on the Michigan apportioned income of businesses that are taxed as C corporations for federal income tax purposes.
Small employers may soon expect to see provisions in their health plan policies requiring them to make minimum contributions to their employees' premiums as a result of a recent Michigan Supreme Court decision.
The Michigan Court of Appeals upholds Administrative Rule 2196 issued by Department of Environmental Quality.
Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals vacates portions of the EPA’s 2008 Rule that required Concentrated Animal Feeding Operations that propose to discharge to apply for a National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System permit, and the provisions imposing liability for failure to apply for a permit.
USDA’s Natural Resources Conservation Service announced that funding is available for certified organic producers and those transitioning to organic production to implement resource conservation practices.
135 projects in 40 states, Puerto Rico, and the Western Pacific will be financed through $234 million in USDA Rural Development’s Community Facilities Program loans and grants.
Authorized by the 2008 Farm Bill, BCAP provides incentives to eligible farmers, ranchers, and forest landowners for producing biomass corps for heat, power, bio-based products and biofuels.
Under the H-2A program, agricultural employers who anticipate a shortage of domestic workers can petition the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Service to bring foreign workers to the U.S. to perform agricultural labor or services of a temporary or seasonal nature.
Municipalities should take note of a recent federal agency decision to levy a large fine – just over $4.3 million dollars.
Most employers, including municipalities, recognize that once an employee is hired, there are many factors to consider before terminating even an at-will employee.
Unanimous panel of the Michigan Court of Appeals hands down a published opinion that a no-fault insurer is liable under MCL 500.3107(1)(a) for conservator fees incurred for the management of an accident victim’s affairs.
Attorney General Bill Schuette has chimed in to support a county prosecutor’s decision to prosecute a medical marijuana user for driving with the presence of marijuana in the user’s system.
The Federal Trade Commission and the Department of Justice's response to Accountable Care Organizations is not surprising: more regulation.
Many are concerned that current fraud and abuse laws would prevent the development of ACOs and their benefits of higher quality medicine and lower costs.
When Section 3022 of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act was passed it became clear that in order to establish a Medicare Shared Savings Program, it would take health care practitioners to combine in networks, partnerships or joint ventures with tax-exempt hospitals or health systems to obtain the coverage necessary to achieve the government's goals: higher quality and health care savings.
While the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act may be a year old, one of the provisions that may have the greatest impact on the health care industry has received hardly any attention from the media or lawmakers.
Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack announced that $15 million is available to United States asparagus producers.
General sign-up 41 for the Conservation Reserve Program (CRP) began on March 14, 2011 and will end on April 15, 2011.
On March 3, 2011, the Dairy Industry Advisory Committee voted to approve a final report to submit to Secretary Vilsack.
Governor Rick Snyder’s first bill signings turned the Michigan Agriculture Environmental Assurance Program (MAEAP) into law.
The Michigan "Animal Running at Large" Act imposes absolute or strict liability on the "owner" of cattle, horses, sheep, swine, mules, burros, or goats that trespass onto the property of another and cause property damage.
Michigan Governor Rick Snyder has proposed a replacement for the largely unpopular and complex Michigan Business Tax.
Governor Rick Snyder’s proposed budget for fiscal years 2012 and 2013 includes cuts to Michigan agriculture programs.
Many plans, in particular 401(k) plans, allow the participants to direct the investment of the amounts allocated to their respective accounts.
The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services’ Office for Civil Rights recently imposed a civil monetary penalty of just over $4.3 million against Cignet Health of Prince George’s County in Maryland.
The WPA makes it illegal for an employer to discharge, threaten, or otherwise discriminate against an employee regarding the employee’s compensation, terms, conditions, location, or privileges of employment because the employee reports or is about to report a violation or a suspected violation of a law or regulation to a public body.
Many governmental and nongovernmental nonprofit employers maintain retirement plans that are described as "403(b) Plans."
In late December, the EEOC issued a news release confirming that it has filed a nationwide suit against Kaplan Higher Education Corporation.
Qualified retirement plans, such as 401(k) Plans, ESOPs, Profit Sharing Plans and other retirement plans, virtually always provide a benefit payable to a beneficiary following the participant’s death.
Staub v Proctor Hospital reminds us that job protections for military personnel are not limited to leave issues or re-employment rights under the Uniformed Services Employment and Reemployment Rights Act of 1994.
Any individual or business with a potential claim for damages against the state or a state agency must pay careful attention to the deadline for filing claims or notices of intent.
The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit found that a municipal employer did not violate its employees’ legal rights by requiring workers returning from sick leave or restricted duty to submit a doctor’s note disclosing the "nature of the illness" to their immediate supervisors.
Municipalities should note a new law just passed that might provide for a workable, creative option to help get funding for public projects.
The Michigan Court of Appeals held that a contractor’s construction lien was invalid because the contractor failed to record the lien within 90 days after the last furnishing of labor or material for the improvement.
In a published opinion issued on March 10, 2011, the Michigan Court of Appeals applied the "Koski" rule.
Investing in your business in 2011 may afford additional tax benefits.
Foreign investors who may not satisfy the requirements for an EB-5 Immigrant Visa (, should consider applying for an E-2 Treaty Investor Visa.
Companies should exercise considerable care before making sales to purchasers based in certain foreign countries.
State tax laws have not kept pace with the rapid growth of cloud computing.
Your venture capital investment may qualify for a new Michigan tax credit that is designed to encourage participation in venture capital funds and angel investor groups.
Recent changes to Michigan's Limited Liability Company Act made by Public Act No. 290 of 2010 may affect your limited liability company.
On February 17, 2011, Governor Rick Snyder proposed restructuring Michigan's tax system.
A federal judge ruled on February 11, 2011, that the Michigan Medical Marijuana Act does not preclude private employers from terminating employees for use of the drug.
In a published case handed down on February 15, 2011, the Michigan Court of Appeals unanimously affirmed the trial court's grant of summary disposition in favor of a teacher who was injured in an automobile accident and sought wage loss benefits.
In his State of the State address January 19th, Governor Rick Snyder called for legislative changes to the statute governing the appointment and powers of emergency financial managers for financially distressed Michigan local governments and school districts.
Another month, another flurry of activity on the Medical Marijuana Act front.
There are two noteworthy developments in February 2011 regarding a possible revival of the federal Build America Bonds (BABs) program, as anticipated in our January 2011 Bond Counsel Corner article, "Updates on Federal Tax Laws Affecting Municipal Bonds."
Many municipalities employ drivers to perform safety-sensitive functions. What if one of these drivers arrives at work and appears to be under the influence of alcohol or a controlled substance?
Most claims for damages against the state or its departments, commissions, boards, institutions, arms or agencies must be filed in the Court of Claims in Ingham County.
On January 21, 2011, the City of Pontiac filed a class action lawsuit against Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan and 21 hospitals and health systems.
The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services ("CMS") has recently proposed the much anticipated Long Term Care regulations related to Hospice Services.
In conjunction with a step-up in other fraud and abuse enforcement activities, CMS recently announced new screening procedures, which will be applicable to newly enrolling providers and suppliers as well as to providers and suppliers who are currently enrolled in Medicare, Medicaid and CHIP who revalidate their enrollment information.
Registration for the electronic health record ("EHR") incentive programs with Medicare and Medicaid in Michigan began on January 3, 2011.
The Red Flags Rule requires "creditors" to address the risk of identity theft by implementing and updating identity theft programs that identify, detect, and respond to potential identity theft problems.
Unions can demonstrate majority status either through voluntary recognition or an election.
For decades, Michigan courts have held that a zoning ordinance that prevents extraction of natural resources is invalid unless "very serious consequences" would result from the proposed extraction.
The bill encountered controversy, did not progress, and died in the 2009-2010 session of the Legislature that ended in December.
The Court of Appeals rejected a claim that a township was excluding commercial uses where there are many commercial uses in the neighboring city and some of those uses were formerly in the township before the city annexed the land on which they exist.
Michigan’s recently enacted Property Assessed Clean Energy (PACE) Act made Michigan one of the 22 states that allow municipal units to fund loans to commercial and industrial property owners for energy efficiency projects.
A new law signed by Governor Granholm in December 2010 – Public Act 321 – may provide some relief for Michigan municipalities facing severe budgetary challenges meeting their payment obligations on outstanding bonds.
Municipalities frequently are asked to determine if a landowner is eligible for a hardship or poverty exemption from property taxes.
A listing of noteworthy federal income tax-related bond provisions that were enacted in the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 (ARRA) or other past federal tax legislation.
For thirty years, anyone forming a corporate insurance agency in Michigan had to include "agency" in its name if it wanted to also use "insurance" in its name.
The recently passed Tax Relief, Unemployment Insurance Reauthorization, and Job Creation Act of 2010 ("2010 Tax Relief Act") reduced the employee-share of the Old-Age, Survivors, and Disability Insurance Program ("OASDI") portion of social security taxes from 6.2% to 4.2% of wages earned in 2011 up to the taxable wage base of $106,800.
The Regulations Under the Genetic Information Nondiscrimination Act of 2008 (GINA) became effective January 10, 2011 for private employers (and certain other entities) with 15 or more employees.
Recently published IRS Notice 2011-1 delays the effective date of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act's (PPACA) nondiscrimination provisions.
In a recent published opinion, the Michigan Court of Appeals emphatically confirmed the protection against disclosure for credentialing and privileging files maintained by hospitals.
Basic liability insurance policies, such as homeowner’s liability insurance policies, are generally designed to protect people against claims brought by others who have suffered personal injury or property damage.
When a loose horse collides with a car or truck, legal battles can follow.
On Friday, December 17, 2010, President Obama signed into law the "Tax Relief, Unemployment Insurance Reauthorization, and Job Creation Act of 2010."
Three separate bills introduced in the Michigan House of Representatives propose changes to Michigan’s Statewide Smoking Ban that became effective May 1, 2010.
Social media is proliferating in the workplace. Facebook, My Space, Linked In, and Twitter have become commonplace on employees’ cell phones and computers. Blogging has become a tool for marketing, as well as for revenge.
The Drug Enforcement Administration recently issued a policy statement intended to provide guidance regarding the proper role of a duly authorized agent of a DEA-registered individual practitioner in connection with the communication of controlled substance prescriptions to a pharmacy.
On October 20, 2010, the U.S. Department of Labor published a final regulation implementing new disclosure requirements for participant-directed individual account plans.
Employer-provided cell phones and other similar telecommunications devices are no longer subject to heightened substantiation requirements under Internal Revenue Code Section 280F(d)(4) in order to be excluded from an employee’s taxable income as a working condition fringe benefit under Code Section 132(d).
Due to several recent changes in employment law, we highly recommend that all employers update their employee handbooks as soon as possible.
All long term care facilities that work with hospices: consider yourselves warned. Surveyors will be coming, scrutinizing your agreements with hospices, and handing out citations for non-compliance.
Sponsors of qualified retirement plans should note certain approaching deadlines for amending their plans.
In late November, Governor Granholm approved of HB 6224 making it law.
On November 26, 2010, the IRS issued guidance for 401(k) and 403(b) plans that permit "in-plan Roth rollovers."
For the first time since the legislature amended the overweight truck law in Michigan in 2006, the Court of Appeals issued a ruling interpreting the proper manner in which to weigh a vehicle that had its axles raised in order to negotiate a turn.
The grandfathered health plan regulations issued this past summer contained rules for determining when changes to a group health plan would cause the plan to lose its grandfathered status.
It is improper and an abuse of a trial court's discretion to require that a plaintiff or his/her attorneys be notified and allowed to attend a defense attorney's meeting with a plaintiff's treating healthcare providers during personal injury litigation.
The Final Regulations of Title II of the Genetic Information Nondiscrimination Act (GINA) were issued on November 9, 2010 and become effective 60 days later on January 10, 2011.
In what has become an increasing trend, a plaintiff in a personal injury suit has been ordered to produce otherwise "private" postings on her Facebook and MySpace social networking profiles.
Municipal boards, commissions, Zoning Board of Appeals and many municipal committees are subject to the Open Meetings Act.
The IRS has announced the cost-of-living adjustments applicable to pension plan limitations for 2011.
Many Michigan municipalities with outstanding bonds are subject to continuing disclosure agreements (CDAs) they entered into at the closing of their bond issues.
Since the issuance of our Fall 2010 Employment, Labor & Benefits Quarterly, the IRS, on October 12, 2011, announced that it will postpone until 2012 the new reporting requirement that employers report the cost of coverage under an employer-sponsored group health plan.
Beginning January 1, 2011, face-to-face certification and recertification visits with home health and hospice patients will no longer be simply good practice.
On July 19, 2010, Michigan Senate Bills 026, 027, and 028 were enacted to allow physician assistants to join professional service corporations and professional limited liability companies with physicians or podiatrists who perform the same professional services that the PA performs.
Michigan’s new "Super Drunk" law takes effect October 31, 2010.
Municipalities across the state are considering how, if at all, they can – or should – regulate marijuana use and distribution centers.
On September 28, 2010, the Michigan Court of Appeals extended the "Koski" rule to hold that an insurer must show actual prejudice from an insured's failure to join uninsured parties in her suit against the insurer for uninsured motorist (UM) benefits in order to enforce the policy provision requiring such joinder.
In estate planning, clients sometimes overlook the difficulties and conflicts their children may face in dealing with their tangible personal property after their death.
Even the most well-laid plans can go awry. Once your estate plan is in place, avoid these common pitfalls.
There is no federal estate tax for decedents dying in 2010 unless Congress enacts legislation to reinstate the tax.
Parents are becoming increasingly concerned with what will happen to assets they leave to their children through trusts, wills, and beneficiary designations.
The Herrick District Library has succeeded in its circuit court action challenging the State Aid Rules enacted by the Department of History, Arts and Libraries and the Library of Michigan.
Nonqualified deferred compensation arrangements were required to comply, in writing, with the highly technical rules of Internal Revenue Code Section 409A ("Section 409A") effective as of January 1, 2009.
The Uniformed Services Employment and Reemployment Rights Act of 1994 applies to all public and private employers in the United States, regardless of size.
The U.S.’s “Greatest” Utility Business Visa, Typically Oversubscribed and the Subject of Scarcity, Remains Available
For employers interested in hiring a foreign worker for a "specialty occupation", an H-1B Employment Visa is an option with a number of very attractive features:
The IRS recently issued guidance regarding whether paid time off ("PTO") credits donated under an employer-sponsored leave-sharing program are taxable to the donor employee if the donation is made by waiving the PTO credits before the PTO is earned.
Thousands of Americans lose health care coverage each year due to rescissions.
The Sixth Circuit recently broke precedent and joined a number of other U.S. circuit courts by preventing an ERISA plan administrator from correcting an inaccurate benefit calculation.
Each participant in a retirement plan is often given the opportunity to invest his or her plan account balance in various investment vehicles.
The Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals, the federal appeals court that governs Michigan, recently addressed the ability to transfer a pregnant employee to a light duty position without the transfer constituting an adverse employment action.
The IRS recently issued IRS Notice 2010-59 clarifying the definition of a qualified "medical expense" under the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act.
The USERRA applies to all public and private employers in the United States. So it applies to counties, cities, townships, and villages.
In an unpublished opinion, the Court of Appeals held that a deficient notice of intent, filed before the 2004 amendment of MCL 600.5856, may be amended.
The U.S. Department of Labor recently published new regulations that affect 401(k) plans and 403(b) plans that are subject to ERISA.
Generally, when a physician terminates a relationship with a patient, he or she must be careful to avoid patient abandonment and discriminatory termination claims.
Now, the attainment of these goals is to be the primary focus of so-called state sponsored "Exchanges" administered by a state government agency or non-profit organization.
The MDEQ lacks the power to require a township to install a sanitary sewer system where there is widespread failure of private septic systems resulting in contamination of lake waters.
In published national rankings for 2009, Foster Swift ranked 40th in the "Top 100 Bond Counsel: Short Term Issues"
Navigating through the risks of credit card processing
In the much-anticipated decision in Regents of the University of Michigan v Titan Insurance Company, the Michigan Supreme Court overturned Liptow v State Farm and Cameron v ACIA...
A new land-grab is occurring on the World Wide Web.
For employers interested in hiring a foreign worker for a "specialty occupation", an H-1B Employment Visa is an option with a number of very attractive features...
Companies should exercise considerable care before transferring potentially hazardous materials, such as paints, solvents, chemical agents and empty storage drums, to third parties.
U.S. exporters may be able to reduce their U.S. effective tax rate by establishing an IC-DISC.
In a 4-3 decision handed down on July 31, 2010, the Michigan Supreme Court has held that "Kreiner v Fischer, was wrongly decided because it departed from the plain language of MCL 500.3135, and is therefore overruled."
The new health care reform law, the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, makes numerous changes to the tax law, including creating new taxes and credits, increasing other taxes, making insured health benefits taxable to the extent that they are discriminatory, modifying certain deductions, and changing the tax rules that apply to health savings accounts and spending arrangements.
As you likely know, Michigan's new texting ban went into effect July 1, 2010. The new law prohibits...
The Patient Protection Portability Care Act requires the distribution of certain notices describing changes that take effect for plan years beginning on or after September 23, 2010.
In a recent decision, the Michigan Supreme Court held that the federal HIPAA medical privacy law does not prohibit ex parte interviews of treating physicians by defense counsel as long as reasonable efforts have been made to secure a qualified protective order.
PPACA provides that certain group health plans and health insurance coverage in existence on March 23, 2010 are subject to only certain provisions of the PPACA.
In a 4-3 decision handed down on July 8, 2010, the Michigan Supreme Court has ruled that the Commissioner of Insurance does not have the authority to promulgate rules that ban the use of credit reports to establish discounted premiums for automobile and homeowner's insurance policies.
In recent months, bankruptcy filings have increased dramatically. Though some economic indicators show improvement, data suggests more bankruptcy filings will occur in 2010 than in 2009.
Public employee unions have existed in Michigan since the 1930s, but beginning in 1947, were prohibited from striking upon passage of the Hutchinson Act, which imposed serious penalties on strikers.
The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, as amended, ushers in a new, much larger dimension of meaning for terms such as "Compliance", "Compliance Plan", "Compliance Program", and the like.
The Affordable Care Act provides that certain group health plans and health insurance coverage existing as of March 23, 2010, are subject only to certain provisions of the Affordable Care Act.
As you may know, Michigan’s new texting ban went into effect July 1, 2010.
A pending bill in the Michigan Legislature may offer some relief to municipalities with outstanding bonds payable from special assessments that have not been paid.
Family-owned companies make up eighty-nine percent of all business and employ sixty percent of all U.S. employees.
A zoning ordinance that merely lists uses eligible for a special use permit (SUP) generally does not comply with Michigan zoning laws.
On June 22, 2010, the Michigan Court of Appeals unanimously affirming the trial court's decision that the MCCA is not required to indemnify a No Fault insurer for PIP benefits paid over the statutory threshold.
Michigan’s smoking ban became effective on May 1, 2010...this new law will impact municipalities directly.
In 2006, Henry Ford Hospital provided medical services to Travion Hamilton for severe injuries that he sustained when a stolen Jeep Cherokee in which he was a passenger struck a utility pole.
A very small section of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (PPACA) makes some major changes in Form W-2 reporting which will impact employers in the near future.
HHS recently issued its first guidance on the topic of drafting a "Risk Analysis."
Effective May 11, 2010, the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) began issuing a new, redesigned Permanent Resident Card, commonly known as the "Green Card."
Bankruptcies involving individuals and companies are up in 2010. Though some economic indicators show improvement, data suggests more private bankruptcy filings will occur in 2010 than in 2009.
Pursuant to EPA federal regulations, beginning on April 22, 2010 individuals and contractors performing renovations, repairs, or painting activities in homes, child-occupied facilities, and schools built before 1978 must be certified and follow specific work practices to prevent lead-based paint contamination.
Early retirees are individuals age 55 and older who are enrolled in a certified employment-based plan, and not eligible for coverage under Medicare.
On April 26, 2010, our Sixth Circuit issued a decision in the case of Alonso v Huron Valley Ambulance, Incorporated.
Section 1558 of PPACA amends the Fair Labor Standards Act by prohibiting discrimination against an employee who...
The recently enacted healthcare reform act signed into law by President Obama on March 23 amends the Fair Labor Standards Act to require employers to provide "reasonable" breaks for nursing mothers to express milk for their infants for one year from the child’s birth.
Do you need a written Handbook policy about GINA? How does GINA affect your wellness program?
The IRS has just announced that during the week of May 17, 2010, a letter was sent by its Employee Plans Compliance Unit (EPCU) to 1,200 sponsors of 401(k) plans.
Build America Bonds (BABs) are taxable municipal bonds, authorized under the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA) on February 17, 2009.
In Robinson v City of Lansing, __ NW2d __ (2010), the Michigan Supreme Court examined the issue of whether MCL 691.1402a(2)...applies to sidewalks adjacent to state highways or only to sidewalks adjacent to county highways.
In Briggs Tax Serv, LLC v Detroit Public Sch, __ NW2d __; __ Mich __ (2010), the Michigan Supreme Court examined the meaning of MCL 211.53a.
The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act as amended ("PPACA") made several changes to cafeteria plans. Some of the most significant changes are summarized below.
While much of the discussion concerning the Health Care Reform Act has addressed private health insurance reforms, there have been significant changes to the Medicare and Medicaid statutes concerning fraud and abuse.
Section 6003 of the health care reform act amends the in-office ancillary service exception under Stark.
On March 30, 2010 the Michigan Court of Appeals clarified the relationship between Notices of Intent and the allegations later allowed in a complaint and eventually presented to a jury.
In U.S. ex rel. Radcliffe v. Purdue Pharma, the Fourth Circuit for the U.S. Court of Appeals enforced a release barring a qui tam action where the government had declined intervention.
If you were wondering whether the COBRA subsidy obligation expired on March 31, 2010, Congress has rather belatedly decided that it hasn't.
The Worker, Homeownership, and Business Assistance Act of 2009 allows businesses that had a net operating loss in 2008 or 2009 to use those losses to recoup taxes paid in the prior five years.
Effective May 1, 2010, smoking will be banned in all public places, including places of employment.
If your company is considering a merger, acquisition or internal corporate restructuring, it is important that intellectual property contracts (such as software licenses) be carefully reviewed to determine if the merger may have an effect on the surviving company’s ability to use the software or other intellectual property.
The recently enacted Hiring Incentives to Restore Employment (HIRE) Act may benefit your business with tax savings.
On March 30, 2010 the Michigan Court of Appeals held that a medical malpractice Notice of Intent ("NOI"), which is mandated by statute as a means to encourage pre-litigation settlement, need not be as detailed and specific as the allegations in the complaint.
Since 1969, hospitals have been able to claim an exemption from federal income taxes under § 501(c)(3) of the Internal Revenue Code ("Code") based upon meeting the "community benefit" standard articulated by Revenue Ruling 69-545.
The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) just set new rules that directly impact how a municipality can act on a request to locate wireless cellular facilities in the municipality.
In a published opinion issued March 16, 2010, the Michigan Court of Appeals held that an injured person cannot be denied work loss benefits based on an employer's failure to provide a sworn statement of the injured person's earnings, nor does the injured person's failure to file tax returns preclude work loss benefits.
The Michigan Court of Appeals approved for publication its per curiam January 26, 2010 decision in Doe v Citizens Insurance Company of America, et al (Court of Appeals No. 288776).
The court held that the statute mandated that the required language must appear on both the declarations page and the certificate of insurance.
Congress recently approved an additional extension of the COBRA subsidy eligibility period for certain involuntarily terminated employees.
Nonqualified deferred compensation arrangements are required to comply, in writing, with the highly technical rules of Internal Revenue Code Section 409A ("Section 409A") effective as of January 1, 2009.
In a recent published opinion, the Michigan Court of Appeals held that a condominium project developer’s convertible property (property that the developer retained the right to convert, contract, or otherwise develop for a six year period) could not be separately valued and assessed for taxation purposes.
Federal law requires that participant contributions to a 401(k) plan be promptly deposited into a qualified trust that is established to hold qualified plan assets.
On February 17, 2010, most of the Health Information Technology for Economic and Clinical Health Act ("HITECH") became binding on the health care industry.
ESOP fiduciaries, generally the ESOP committee or the ESOP trustees, must make several decisions on behalf of the ESOP and may be subject to legal exposure if their decisions are not consistent with ERISA.
On January 29, 2010, the Department of Labor, the Department of the Treasury, and the Department of Health and Human Services jointly issued interim final regulations for the Mental Health Parity and Addiction Equity Act ("MHPAEA").
Effective May 1, 2010, smoking will be banned in all public places, including places of employment.
For the first time in Michigan, the Court addressed whether e-mails sent by public employees on the public body’s e-mail systems were automatically considered "public records" under the FOIA.
Employers who wish to review social media or employees’ personal web sites should have a policy in place informing employees that the company has a right to monitor employee use of the systems.
Social media platforms such as Facebook and Twitter can be great ways to promote a public body’s activities, inform about services offered, connect with the community and share information.
The most costly mistakes union employers make are all avoidable.
On February 2, 2010, the Michigan Court of Appeals handed down an unpublished opinion affirming the trial court's award of $57,690 in attorney fees and $9,651.67 in costs on a jury verdict of $1,235 and $218.94 in penalty interest. Tinnin v Farmers Insurance Exchange (No. 286141).
On February 17, 2010, most of the Health Information Technology for Economic and Clinical Health Act ("HITECH") becomes binding on the health care industry.
Your patient/client has been accused of child abuse or neglect, and YOU have been served with a subpoena. What do you do now?
On January 21, 2010, the United States Supreme Court ruling in Citizens United v Federal Election Commission ("FEC") reinforced the free speech rights of corporations and labor unions to participate in the political process through independent communications expressly advocating the election or defeat of clearly identified candidates.
Beginning on March 1, 2010, new rules will significantly expand the reporting of adverse information about health care practitioners and entities to the National Practitioner Data Bank.
On December 1, 2009, the Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals upheld a jury's conviction of anesthesiologist Dr. Jorge A. Martinez for mail fraud, wire fraud, health care fraud (including two counts that resulted in the death of patients), and illegally distributing controlled substances.
The Department of Defense Appropriations Act of 2010 (DOD) extends the COBRA subsidy previously created by the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009.
The Michigan Court of Appeals has affirmed a trial court's denial of a landlord's motion for summary disposition, holding that black ice on an apartment complex stairway created a question of fact whether the landlord breached its statutory duty to keep the premises fit for their intended use.
Although this has not historically been the case, it has been over 10 years since the patent office started to allow software companies to file patents on their software inventions.
The beginning of 2010 marked the first time in 94 years that the United States has been without a federal estate tax.
With regard to health care compliance plans, there are those providers who have done a plan; those who have been forced by the government to have a plan; and those who should have a plan.
A recent Michigan Court of Appeals decision further explained the meaning of "transfer of ownership" within the context of a joint tenancy.
The Michigan Department of Treasury’s Michigan Municipal Bond Authority (MMBA) offers a variety of financing programs to Michigan municipalities.
The Michigan Tax Tribunal recently addressed the issue of whether it was proper for an appraiser to use Internet sources to determine the value of personal property.
In a case of significance handled by this firm on behalf of Leelanau Township, the Court of Appeals recently affirmed an opinion of the Tax Tribunal regarding the valuation of real property encumbered by a conservation easement.
The Department of Treasury (State Tax Commission) has begun the filing of nearly 10,000 appeals with the Michigan Tax Tribunal to address the issue of property that is improperly classified as Industrial Real or Industrial Personal.
Currently, the federal estate tax is set to expire on December 31, 2009 but return in 2011 with a $1 million federal estate tax exclusion.
Governor Jennifer Granholm recently signed into law legislation enacting the Michigan Trust Code effective April 1, 2010.
Multiple marriages have become increasingly common. More than 50% of divorced men and 43% of divorced women are remarried.
Beginning in year 2010, for the first time, an individual with adjusted gross income greater that $100,000 may convert a traditional IRA to a Roth IRA.
On December 19, 2009, President Obama signed the Department of Defense Appropriations Act (DDAA) which contains some major expansions and extensions relating to COBRA premium assistance.
On December 1, 2009, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency issued a final rule establishing Clean Water Act technology-based Effluent Limitations Guidelines and New Source Performance Standards for the Construction and Development Point Source Category.
Effective for plan years beginning on or after October 9, 2009, Michelle’s Law protects certain dependent children whose eligibility for coverage under a group health plan is based on the child’s full-time student status.
The trial court in Metro. Life Insurance Company v. Hanson, held that a qualified domestic relations order (QDRO), which awarded benefits under an ERISA welfare benefit plan to the participant’s children, was enforceable with respect to a welfare benefit plan.
Qualified retirement plans that are maintained by governmental employers must comply with various tax law changes.
For the second time in the last year, Congress has expanded the scope of the Family Medical Leave Act (FMLA).
The IRS has announced the cost-of-living adjustments applicable to pension plan limitations for 2010.
New Section 402(c)(11) of the Internal Revenue Code was added by the Pension Protection Act of 2006.
The IRS recently published Notice 2009-82. The Notice provides some relief from the age 70½ "required minimum distribution" (RMD) rules for 2009.
On October 28, 2009, President Obama signed into law the Fiscal Year 2010 National Defense Authorization Act (2010 NDAA).
The Federal Trade Commission ("FTC") has further delayed enforcement of the Red Flags Rule until June 1, 2010.
Blended families currently outnumber traditional nuclear families. Based on current statistics and trends, the number is growing.
On October 7, 2008 Foster, Swift's Energy and Sustainability Team members traveled by bus with clients and friends of the firm to visit the John Deere Wind Park located in Ubly, Michigan.
The administrator of a qualified retirement plan is required to provide each recipient of an eligible rollover distribution a written explanation of the tax treatment of that distribution.
One of the "high cap" exceptions to the non-economic damage limitations in medical malpractice cases...was recently explained by the Michigan Court of Appeals.
The U.S. Department of Labor has issued guidance on the Form 5500 annual reporting requirements for tax-deferred annuity programs described in Section 403(b)...
On September 15, 2009, the Michigan Court of Appeals struck down a MDEQ rule which had broadened challenges to MDEQ decisions approving or denying permit requests to install new major sources of air emissions.
Important changes to Michigan’s securities laws will become effective on October 1, 2009.
E-Verify is a free Internet-based system operated by the Department of Homeland Security (DHS), U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) that allows employers to verify the employment eligibility of their employees, regardless of citizenship.
Under the Employee Retirement Income Security Act ("ERISA"), an employer who adopts or agrees to participate in a qualified pension plan is required to make ongoing pension contributions to the pension fund.
The Michigan Court of Appeals recently struck down a city ordinance that required a person suspected of being a minor who has possessed or consumed alcohol (MIP) to submit to a preliminary breath test (PBT) upon request of a police officer.
Employees may be denied unemployment benefits between seasons if the Employer is designated a "seasonal employer" under the law.
Under the new rule, R 436.1107, a licensee who wishes to keep a liquor license in escrow for longer than 5 years may now ask the Liquor Control Commission for an extension.
The State Tax Commission has announced that the inflation rate to be used in calculating the 2010 taxable value for property tax purposes will be a negative .03%.
The proposed new rule would amend R436.1107 to grant authority to MLCC to extend the period that a liquor license may be held in escrow beyond the 5-year period currently allowed.
A recent case decided by the United States Tax Court might help investors in limited liability partnerships (LLPs) and limited liability companies (LLCs) to deduct losses incurred by the LLPs and LLCs against income from other sources.
Most Michigan employers pay a 6.2% Federal Unemployment Tax (FUTA) on the first $7,000 of each employee’s wages during a calendar year.
The IRS recently illustrated two situations in Rev. Rul. 2009-31 in which the dollar equivalent of an employee’s unused paid time off (PTO) can be contributed to an employer’s profit-sharing plan without negatively affecting the plan’s qualified status.
As the economy remains volatile and technology advances often faster than governing law or management can respond, employers should be aware of variables that affect the enforceability of employee non-compete agreements.
Sponsors of qualified retirement plans should also be aware of approaching EGTRRA restatement deadlines.
The Michigan Medical Marijuana Act was passed into law in the fall of 2008, with administrative rules issued April 4, 2009.
As of January 1, 2010, many facilities and suppliers must collect GHG data, and initial emissions reports of 2010 emissions are due March 31, 2011.
One municipality adopted an ordinance to require secondhand merchants to electronically report transactions involving secondhand or used personal property to the chief of police within 48 hours, and to pay a $2 fee per transaction reported.
In this case, a township ZBA denied a variance request to build a single-family home on a lot within a critical dune zone.
On August 25, 2009, the Michigan Court of Appeals published an opinion reversing a trial court ruling that the black ice on which plaintiff fell was an open and obvious danger...
As many of you know, the Michigan Township Association (MTA) has issued a Memorandum regarding the employment versus possible independent contractor status of township assessors who are individuals and not entities.
The ultimate goal of trademark protection is to avoid consumer confusion.
Building Information Modeling (BIM) refers to software capable of creating "live" virtual three-dimensional, "intelligent" parametric models.
Operating a construction company in Michigan’s current business and economic climate is challenging enough without the additional burden of dealing with contractors who fail to pay subcontractors and materialmen promptly...
On Wednesday, August 19, 2009, the Department of Health and Human Services ("DHHS") issued new regulations requiring HIPAA covered entities to notify individuals when their health information is breached.
On July 29, 2009 the Michigan Supreme Court overruled portions of previous rulings in Roberts v Mecosta County General Hospital and Boodt v Borgess Medical Center...
Most lawyers, and their clients have historically viewed assets in a retirement plan as “safe” from all but the most highly protected creditors.
The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services ("CMS") on July 8, 2009 issued a press release that stated that The Joint Commission has been granted deeming authority for the accreditation of critical access hospitals.
Recent amendments to the State of Michigan False Claims Statute make it more likely for employees (relators) to decline dealing with the federal government and opt towards dealing directly with the State's Attorney General's office.
Michigan does not have a policy or statute prohibiting the modification of periods of limitation by contract.
A recent decision by the Michigan Court of Appeals emphasizes the need for health care professionals and facilities to diligently comply with the statutory duty to report suspected child abuse or neglect.
The US Immigration and Customs Enforcement bureau of the Department of Homeland Security announced, on July 1, 2009, an initiative to step up audits of employers’ Employment Eligibility Verification Form I-9 and related employment records
The Pension Protection Act of 2006 (“PPA”) and the Heroes Earnings Assistance and Relief Tax Act of 2008 (“HEART Act”) made significant changes to the rules governing qualified retirement plans.
The Federal Reserve System approved final rules that amend the regulations implementing the Truth in Lending Act of 1968 (“TILA”), widely known as “Regulation Z.”
Representative Rosa DeLauro (D-CT) and Senator Edward Kennedy (D-MA) are expected to reintroduce the Healthy Families Act in both houses.
The Supreme Court’s December 2008 decision in Chambers determined that an internal incident report that a municipality’s employee prepares – without more – does not satisfy the plaintiff’s duty to give notice of its upcoming lawsuit.
More than 250 new investigators are set to be hired in Michigan’s Department of Labor (DOL) Wage & Hour Division.
There has been much discussion during the past several months about the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act ("ARRA") and its impact on COBRA continuation health coverage.
Under current law, a 401(k) plan that adopts a 3% safe harbor nonelective contribution to avoid ADP and ACP testing must do so before the beginning of the plan year; the contribution must remain in effect throughout the full 12-month plan year.
“Card Check” (the “Employee Free Choice Act”) would eliminate an employee’s private election of union representation and replace it with automatic unionization if more than 50% of the employee’s election cards support unionization.
For plan years beginning after 2009, all qualified plans must allow a nonspouse beneficiary to elect a direct rollover to an individual retirement account or annuity.
The American Reinvestment and Recovery Act (stimulus legislation) has offered Michigan $138.9 million dollars to be used to expand unemployment compensation.
Several years ago, Congress permitted S corporations to sponsor employee stock ownership plans ("ESOPs").
The Sixth Circuit’s decision in Barrett, Melton, Nickens v Whirlpool Corp, Case No. 08-5307 focused on hostile work environment and race discrimination claims under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and 42 U.S.C. § 1981
The American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 contained provisions requiring health care covered entities and business associates regulated by the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act to notify certain parties in the event of a breach of unsecured protected health information.
There have been three recent developments in the health care fraud area, one locally and two nationally, that significantly impact enforcement.
Facebook, the leading social networking website, is now allowing users to register their own personalized Facebook URL (web address) by selecting a unique "username" for their Facebook profile page.
On June 16, 2009, the Michigan Court of Appeals held in a published opinion that a car dealership's insurer was the priority insurer in a third-party action brought against a customer who was test driving the dealership's vehicle.
It may come as a surprise that certain civil rights laws, like Michigan's Elliott-Larsen Civil Rights Act, apply to employers with only one (1) employee.
On May 20, President Obama signed into law the Fraud Enforcement and Recovery Act ("FERA") of 2009.
Recently, the Liquor Control Commission has issued a “Request for Rulemaking.”
A team of Foster Swift lawyers headed by Bob McFarland and Paul Millenbach prevailed in a five-year effort...
It has long been the case that cities would force township residents to pay more for water service than city residents, despite the fact that it may not cost any more to provide the service.
Has your company received a ticket for an overweight vehicle lately? If so, Foster Swift can help.
The use of e-mail has also caused additional issues with respect to recordkeeping and responding to the Freedom of Information Act requests.
The United States District Court for the Western District of Michigan recently granted judgment in favor of our client against its insurer for a claim involving defective gravel.
As a first step in its quest to control greenhouse gases ("GHG"), the United States Environmental Protection Agency has proposed Rules for the reporting of certain GHG emissions within all sectors of the U.S. economy.
The Court of Appeals held that the one-year back rule applies to a fraud claim if the plaintiff cannot establish reasonable reliance on the insurer's representations.
In light of the Chrysler bankruptcy and the instability of the U.S. auto industry, commercial lenders are increasingly unwilling to extend credit based upon these receivables.
If you own a trademark, you may prevent Google from selling your name and directing web traffic to your competitors' websites.
In 2008, Michigan became the 13th state to legalize medical marijuana.
The number of creditor lawsuits, foreclosures, and bankruptcies are exponentially increasing.
The Federal Trade Commission ("FTC") announced on April 30, 2009, that it will delay enforcement of the new “Red Flags Rule” until August 1, 2009.
The American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 (ARRA) provides for a 65% reduction in the premium otherwise payable by certain involuntarily terminated individuals and their families who elect COBRA continuation coverage.
Most exempt organizations must file an annual return (Form 990, Form 990-PF or Form 990-EZ) or an annual electronic notice (Form 990-N) depending on the organization's gross receipts and total assets.
The 2009 American Recovery and Reinvestment Act requires a temporary reduction of COBRA premiums for all group health plans that are subject to COBRA.
The 2009 year brought increases in both the federal estate tax exclusion amount and the annual gift tax exclusion amount.
A township is generally immune from tort (i.e., negligence) liability when engaged in a governmental function. But under MCL 691.1406, that immunity does not apply to cases alleging failure to maintain or repair a public building.
If you wish to participate in such a meeting, HIPAA requires you to ensure certain precautions are in place before you discuss a patient's protected health information.
President Obama recently signed into law Title III of the Children's Health Insurance Program (CHIP), which expands state CHIP (SCHIP) programs.
The Michigan Court of Appeals held that black ice did not constitute an open and obvious danger.
Employers are required to use a new Employment Eligibility Verification form (I-9 Form) to verify an employee's identity and authorization to work in the United States.
Claims for breach of confidence arising when a healthcare provider discloses confidential patient information without consent or other authority, are medical malpractice claims, not independent causes of action in Michigan.
Governor Jennifer M. Granholm has unveiled Michigan Business One Stop, a new program that will provide businesses in Michigan with a single source for business services.
On January 30, 2009, President Barack Obama issued a series of Executive Orders that he contends should “level the playing field” for labor unions in their struggles with management.
Municipalities have been permitted by statute for many years to purchase real and personal property through installment purchase agreements (“IPAs”).
The Department of Health and Human Services issued a final rule with the stated goal of ensuring that federally funded health care providers may safely decline to participate in certain health services because of their religious, moral, ethical, or other beliefs.
The American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 was enacted on February 17, 2009.
President Barack Obama signed the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act into law on January 29, 2009.
The IRS opened its determination letter program for all qualified retirement plans that are categorized as “Cycle D Plans.”
As most of you know, the Michigan Supreme Court recently held that when determining whether a medical facility is exempt from property tax assessment pursuant to the charitable exemption provided by MCL 211.7o...
Congress passed the Worker, Retiree and Employer Recovery Act of 2008 on December 23, 2008.
Is your company complying with the United States Export laws when transmitting information?
The State Tax Commission has recently issued a notice informing assessors of various issues relating to 2009 Personal Property Statements filed by taxpayers.
For the first year of construction, the assessor determined the improvement to be 50% complete and determined the assessed value and taxable value of the property on that basis
Many employers are increasingly concerned about potential fiduciary liability relating to poor performance of 401(k) plan investment alternatives.
On February 24, 2009, the Michigan Court of Appeals held that a no-fault insurer must pay attendant care benefits to an insured, even when the insurer is entitled to seek reimbursement of those benefits from the person providing the services.
Employees whose employment was involuntarily terminated on or after September 1, 2008, and who failed to elect COBRA following the termination, must be given a second chance to elect COBRA coverage.
The Michigan Court of Appeals published an opinion holding that a driver was not entitled to no-fault benefits because she unlawfully took a motor vehicle without a reasonable belief that she was entitled to both take and use it.
In the fall of 2007, the Associated General Contractors of America (AGC), along with twenty other construction and trade organizations, created and endorsed the new ConsensusDOCS documents to be used as contracts for construction projects.
The Michigan Use Tax Statute provides an exemption for “rolling stock used in interstate commerce and purchased, rented or leased outside of this state by an interstate motor carrier . . .”
In 2008, the Michigan Legislature revised Michigan's Medical Records Access Act to include "heirs at law" in the Act's definition of an authorized representative entitled to obtain copies of a deceased patient's medical records or autopsy reports.
New revisions to the Mental Health Parity Act of 1996 ("Act") take effect on January 1, 2010, for most group health plans.
Medicare oversees a variety of payment systems and a network of contractors that process over 1.2 billion claims each year.
The Michigan Legislature has enacted Public Act 496 to revise the rules on dissolving a park commission.
The term sheet has been issued for banks and bank/financial holding companies who have elected tax status under Subchapter S of the Internal Revenue Code.
On Friday, December 19, 2008, the Department of Health and Human Services issued a final rule to ensure that federally funded health care providers, including individual physicians and institutional providers, may safely decline to participate in certain health services because of their religious, moral, ethical, or other beliefs.
The Michigan Supreme Court has held that No Fault attorney fees cannot be awarded on PIP benefits that are not overdue...
In December 2007, the federal government enacted the Energy Independence and Security Act (EISA).
In October, 2008, the United States Environmental Protection Agency adopted new regulations that may increase recycling opportunities for firms that would otherwise dispose of certain materials as hazardous waste.
The Michigan Department of Treasury has recently announced a program to assist municipalities in defending appeals of public utility property assessments.
The year 2008 was financially turbulent. The major stock market indexes recorded a decline of over 40%.
In a 4-3 decision issued on December 29, 2008, the Michigan Supreme Court held that the Michigan Catastrophic Claims Association may refuse to indemnify no-fault insurers who make payments for expenses that the MCCA deems "unreasonable."
The Michigan Supreme Court has reversed the decision of the Court of Appeals and remanded for determination whether the Plaintiff's injuries, suffered in his second car accident in a single year, caused a serious impairment of body function.
The economic value of household services provided by a decedent to her minor children is an allowable element of damages under Michigan's Wrongful Death Act...
In a published decision issued December 11, 2008, the Michigan Court of Appeals narrowed the range of homecare living expenses recoverable after a motor vehicle accident.
The State of Michigan will invest up to $150 million in six (6) month and twelve (12) month certificates of deposit (CD) from Michigan financial institutions at below market rates.
Michigan Court of Appeals applied the judicially created "family member joyriding" exception in a no-fault case, but it explicitly stated that it was doing so only because of the requirements of precedent and MCR 7.215.
Advisory Opinion 08-15, issued by the Office of Inspector General...
On October 30, 2008, CMS released the Medicare Physician Fee Schedule Final Rule effective January 1, 2009.
All qualified retirements plans categorized as "Cycle C" plans must be restated and submitted to the IRS for approval on or before January 31, 2009.
Generally, meetings of public bodies must be open to the public pursuant to the requirements of the Open Meetings Act (“OMA”), MCL 15.261 et seq.
Many Union contracts have a “traveling contractor’s” clause that requires the signatory contractor to follow whatever “sister” local Union contract exists where the job is located.
For 25 years now, employee stock ownership plans (ESOPs) have played an important role in assisting a company with its ownership and management transition strategy
The Michigan Court of Appeals in a 3-0 published opinion ruled that if a qualified protective order consistent with the HIPAA regulations was obtained, ex parte discussions with healthcare providers would be acceptable.
At long last, the United States Department of Labor’s Wage & Hour Division has issued its final rule under the Family and Medical Leave Act.
In J & J Plumbing and Heating v Tate, J & J sued Foster Swift clients Tate and VanBeelen for an alleged breach of an oral contract to purchase its plumbing business for $400,000.
At long last, the Department of Labor’s Wage & Hour Division has issued the Final Rule under the Family and Medical Leave Act.
The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) issued regulations, as part of the Fair and Accurate Credit Transactions Act of 2003...
First introduced in March 2007, the Employee Free Choice Act aims to drastically change to the National Labor Relations Act...
Since Treasury took the TARP out of TARP, the impetus has been on the Capital Purchase Plan for the United States Treasury (UST) to invest in qualified financial institutions (QFIs).
Michigan Court of Appeals held in a published opinion that (1) no-fault insurers may utilize a household exclusion to limit liability coverage to the statutory minimum; and (2) an insurer does not have a duty to investigate a policy applicant's (mis)representations.
The Michigan Court of Appeals denied summary disposition for Defendant in a premises liability case, holding without dissent that it was a question of fact whether the "black ice" on which Plaintiff slipped and fell was an open and obvious danger.
In Johnson v State Farm Fire and Casualty Co, the Michigan Court of Appeals addressed for the first time in Michigan whether a vandalism exclusion in a property insurance policy encompasses a claim arising from an arson fire.
In early October, the Michigan Court of Appeals struck down a township zoning ordinance that regulated the sale and distribution of agricultural pesticides and fertilizers.
Michigan Court of Appeals has upheld a township’s decision to reject an application by a religious organization for a variance to construct a building for worship purposes – even though that building would be used for other uses
It has recently come to our attention that many municipalities are unaware of the requirements of the Michigan Contractor’s Bond for Public Buildings or Works Act.
Two real estate agents (owners) formed a limited liability company to purchase vacant property.
The Federal Trade Commission issued a statement announcing that it will delay enforcement of the Red Flag Rules for those entities under the FTC’s jurisdiction by six months.
The Michigan Court of Appeals held that the trial court did not err in allowing a jury to consider agency rates for health care professionals in its determination of hourly rates for attendant care by an unlicensed family member.
The credit crunch has affected everyone, but few as hard as the real estate market.
Under federal tax law each individual can transfer a certain value of property free from federal estate tax at death. This is commonly referred to as the "estate tax exclusion amount."
The FACT Act stands for the Fair and Accurate Credit Transactions Act of 2003.
The Federal Trade Commission ("FTC") issued new rules requiring creditors with certain "covered accounts" to have policies and procedures in place by November 1, 2008, to detect, prevent and mitigate identity theft.
At their September meeting, the State Tax Commission adopted the position that every city and township should levy and collect the one percent administration fee as authorized under Michigan statute.
Michigan Court of Appeals reversed the trial court and held that a "dishonest and criminal acts" exclusion in Secura's fire insurance policy was not inconsistent with MCL 500.2833 or former MCL 500.2832...
Many employers maintain a non-qualified, unfunded, deferred compensation plan (the "Plan") for certain select management and highly-compensated employees.
Many employees operate under the mistaken belief that text messages sent through employer-provided cellular devices are private.
Traditionally, 403(b) plans have been subject to minimal governmental scrutiny.
On May 7, 2008, the Michigan Supreme Court held that the marriage amendment prohibits public employers from providing health insurance benefits to their employees’ qualified same-sex domestic partners.
The HEART Act was signed into law on June 17, 2008.
In two cases decided this year, the United States Supreme Court determined that two federal statutes provide a basis for retaliation claims by employees against their employers, although the statutes themselves do not on their face prohibit retaliation.
Many employers routinely pay severance in exchange for a release of claims embodied within a separation agreement.
In a published opinion, the Michigan Court of Appeals enforced the pre-filing requirement of a sufficient notice of intent in medical malpractice cases.
The Michigan Court of Appeals has unanimously reversed summary disposition for Defendant...
The following 16 conditions have to be met for the hospital and the physicians to fit within the new Stark gainsharing exception:
In a very significant March 31, 2008 opinion, a divided Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals panel in Thompson v North American Stainless, LP, expanded the class of persons protected from retaliation under Title VII.
The Michigan Court of Appeals recently struck down an attempt by voters to dissolve by local election a township parks commission that township voters previously created.
Intellectual Property rights are commercially valuable products of the human mind and include copyrightable works, trademarks, patentable inventions and trade secrets.
In a much-anticipated case, the Michigan Supreme Court issued a decision with three separate opinions that does not clearly define the legal standards governing "lost-opportunity" medical malpractice cases.
The Michigan Supreme Court held that the location where the "original injury" occurs for purposes of determining venue under MCL 600.1629(1)(a) and (b) is "where the first actual injury occurs that results from an act or omission of another, not where a plaintiff contends that it first relied on the act or omission that caused the injury."
On July 2, 2008, the Michigan Supreme Court held that a Plaintiff’s Notice of Intent (NOI) to sue for medical malpractice was insufficient under MCL 600.2912b(4)(e)...
On July 2, 2008, the Supreme Court held that an irrebuttable presumption of lawful incorporation exists when a company is formed under the Business Corporations Act.
In an unpublished decision decided June 26, 2008, plaintiff Proto-Cam ("P-C") purchased a parcel of real estate and, with it, an owner’s title insurance policy from defendant Transamerica.
When a patient dies leaving unpaid medical expenses, a health care provider may discover that the patient owned most or all of his or her assets jointly with another individual.
On July 3, 2008 the United States Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit held that ordinance enforcement officers conducting warrantless searches may face personal liability under the Civil Rights Act for violating the Fourth Amendment.
On April 29, 2008, the Michigan Court of Appeals issued the unpublished decision in the business insurance/no-fault case of Christina Sisk-Rathburn v Farm Bureau General Insurance Company of Michigan
On March 13, 2008, Governor Granholm signed into law Senate Bill 206, creating the Michigan Planning Enabling Act, which takes effect on September 1, 2008.
On June 19, 2008, the United State Supreme Court held that an ERISA plan administrator that both evaluates benefit claims and pays the benefits has a conflict of interest that affects judicial review of benefits decisions.
On June 25, 2008, the Supreme Court held that the one-year back rule of MCL 500.3145(1) does not apply to a fraud action seeking damages for a No Fault insurer’s allegedly fraudulent conduct.
On June 19, 2008, the Court of Appeals held in a published opinion that services might be lawfully rendered under MCL 500.3157...
In 2004 Congress enacted Internal Revenue Code ("Code") Section 409A, which dramatically changes the requirements for maintaining nonqualified deferred compensation arrangements.
Ever since the Supreme Court’s decision in Arizona v Maricopa County Medical Society, 457 US 332 (1982), it has been clear that price fixing by competitors is a per se violation of the federal antitrust law.
On May 28, 2008, the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services ("CMS") issued an advisory opinion regarding a proposed arrangement where a hospital system would pay a third-party vendor to develop a physician practice interface customized to each affiliated physician practice’s existing electronic health records software.
Any time a patient is treated for injuries suffered in a motor vehicle accident, more likely than not a no-fault automobile insurance company has some obligation to pay related bills.
On May 21, 2008 President Bush signed the Genetic Information Nondiscrimination Act (GINA), a law that prohibits discrimination by employers or insurers based on an individual’s genetic information.
On July 1, 2008, the last of the three minimum wage increases that began back in October 2006 will go into effect.
The Michigan Court of Appeals issued a published opinion on May 22, 2008, which held in a case of first impression that the "ministerial exception" exists in Michigan, and is a bar to inquiry into a religious institution’s motivation for a contested employment decision.
In May 2008, the Court of Appeals for the State of Michigan allowed a plaintiff to override a township zoning ordinance prohibiting gravel mining on the plaintiff’s property.
Employers that administer 401(k) plans may be held liable to individual participants for fiduciary violations.
The IRS recently published regulations regarding distributions from a qualified pension plan upon attainment of normal retirement age, but prior to the employee’s separation from service.
The Sixth Circuit recently decided that Title VII prohibits employers from taking retaliatory action against employees not directly involved in protected activity...
In June 2008, the Michigan Supreme Court held that a county must comply with a township’s ordinances when the county sited an outdoor shooting range...
The new proposed Treasury regulations governing automatic contribution arrangements under Internal Revenue Code Sections 414(k)(13) and 414(w) require that plan sponsors comply with certain notice requirements.
The Michigan Court of Appeals held that the insurer of an automobile that was allegedly borrowed from another and involved in fatal accident owed the driver a duty to defend but not necessarily to indemnify pending jury resolution of whether the owner consented to the use.
The Michigan State House and Senate have been considering several pieces of legislation pertaining to Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan and individual health insurance contracts.
On April 14, 2008, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services issued proposed changes to the Hospital Inpatient Prospective Payment Systems and Fiscal Year 2009 Rates.
The Michigan Court of Appeals very recently issued a perhaps-controversial opinion that highlights the importance of municipalities identifying sound rationales when enacting new zoning ordinances so as to avoid infringing citizens’ Constitutional rights.
The Department of Health and Human Services Office of Inspector General recently refined its Provider Self Disclosure Protocol for voluntary disclosure of noncompliance with federal health care program requirements.
Earlier this month, the Governor signed into law a series of bills, the purpose of which is to improve the efficiency, accessibility and effectiveness of the Michigan Tax Tribunal.
On April 23, 2008, the Michigan Supreme Court held that a contractual claim limitations clause in an underinsured motorist insurance (UIM) policy is not subject to judicial tolling.
In Michigan, nearly all property is zoned by the local government, more commonly known as either the city, village or township.
Current U.S. Department of Labor (DOL) regulations govern the deadline by which amounts withheld from a participant’s wages must be deposited into a qualified plan.
Earlier this year, President Bush signed into law the National Defense Authorization Act.
The rapid growth of information technology in health care has transformed medical practice in the past decade.
In Roberts v Farmers Ins Exchange, plaintiff, a 12 year old girl involved in a motor vehicle accident, repeatedly cancelled or missed physical and neuropsychological independent medical examinations.
The Pension Protection Act of 2006 imposes a new filing requirement on certain small tax-exempt organizations (i.e., those with annual gross receipts normally totaling $25,000 or less).
The Pension Protection Act of 2006 (PPA) imposes new distribution requirements on certain retirement plans.
A recent Michigan Supreme Court decision has held as unconstitutional a provision of Michigan statute which allowed assessors to treat public-service improvements, such as water, sewer or utility services, as "additions" for purposes of calculating taxable value.
The Governor recently signed Senate Bill 206 unifying the three current planning acts for municipalities, townships, and counties into a single Michigan Planning Enabling Act.
In July 2007, the IRS finalized comprehensive regulations under Section 403(b) of the Internal Revenue Code.
On February 28, 2008, the Michigan Court of Appeals reversed a grant of summary disposition entered by the Wayne County Circuit Court in favor of the insured (Vernor’s Dollars Discount, Inc.) and, instead, entered judgment in favor of Fremont Insurance Company.
On February 26, 2008, the Michigan Court of Appeals held in an unpublished opinion that summary disposition should have been granted for Defendant in an Uninsured Motorist (UM) dispute where Plaintiff could not show that there was contact with the unidentified vehicle.
On February 26, 2008, the Michigan Court of Appeals held that summary disposition should have been granted for Defendant in an Uninsured Motorist (UM) dispute where Plaintiff could not show that there was contact with the unidentified vehicle.
To avoid this unexpected expense and exposure in any construction project, it is important for clients to evaluate a construction site for regulated wetlands before commencing work and obtain the necessary permits from the MDEQ before commencing activities in or around wetlands.
In a recent case before the Michigan Supreme Court, Houdini Properties, LLC v City of Romulus, a landowner had requested a use variance to erect a billboard on its property.
Last month, the State Legislature enacted Public Act 12 of 2008, which amended the Zoning Enabling Act.
In January, 2008, a series of three bills were introduced that would substantially change the means by which a township could establish certain special assessment districts.
A recent published Michigan Court of Appeals case narrowed the State Tax Commission’s interpretation of when the transfer of a joint tenancy ownership interest results in the uncapping of a property’s taxable value.
"...the plaintiff claimed he suffered a back injury as a result of a motor vehicle accident and presented evidence that he had to subcontract his work at his granite fabricating and installing business."
Defendant’s vehicle crossed the center line and collided head-on with plaintiff’s vehicle.
With a Presidential election occurring this year, many Townships are in the process of determining whether to ask voters to approve extra-voted millages or bond proposals.
Contractors and subcontractors must always remain cautious of every single detail of a project.
Once upon a time, property owners and general contractors could not be held liable for the negligence of independent subcontractors or their employees.
Since the Whistleblower Office was created in December 2006, the IRS has reported that it has received about 80 claims, half of which were submitted in just the last two and a half months of 2007.
Congress, Centers for Medicare and Medicaid services ("CMS") and the Office of the Inspector General have developed and are providing new mantras for quality.
On December 28, 2007, the Office of Inspector General ("OIG") issued Advisory Opinion No. 07 21 involving a group of cardiac surgeons and Advisory Opinion No. 07 22 involving a group of anesthesiologists.
On January 22, 2008, the Michigan Court of Appeals issued an unpublished opinion in Kerr v Citizens Insurance Company of America, Docket No. 273319.
On January 15, 2008, the Michigan Court of Appeals issued a published opinion in Hill v L.F. Transportation and Auto-Owners Insurance Co., Docket No. 267959.
In July 2007, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services ("CMS") issued proposed changes to the 2008 Medicare Fee Schedule.
The American Institute of Architects recently published revised versions of some of its key contract documents, many of which had not been revised since 1997.
The Joint Municipal Planning Act allows Townships and other municipalities to engage in joint planning.
The Michigan Legislature recently adopted the Public Employees Health Benefit Act...
The Copyright Act generally provides that the person who creates the software initially owns its copyright.
How recent Michigan Supreme Court decisions have affecte the Defense of Constructuion Premises Liability Cases, Michigan Trial Defense Journal Quarterly.