The Michigan Supreme Court, by Order dated December 2, 2021, eliminated the mandatory case evaluation requirement for all tort cases in Michigan courts, effective January 1, 2022. This change, and others, are reflected in amendments to Michigan Court Rule 2.403.
Under the amended rule, the parties may stipulate to, and the court may approve, an alternative dispute resolution process, such as mediation or facilitation in the discovery plan. However, case evaluation remains the default method of dispute resolution.
The Supreme Court also did away with Michigan Court Rule 2.403(O), which outlines a party’s potential liability for costs to the extent it rejects a case evaluation award. According to the soon-to-be-deleted rule:
“If a party has rejected an evaluation and the action proceeds to verdict, that party must pay the opposing party’s actual costs unless the verdict is more favorable to the rejecting party than the case evaluation. However, if the opposing party has also rejected the evaluation, a party is entitled to costs only if the verdict is more favorable to that party than the case evaluation.”
As of January 1, 2022, there will be no liability for an opposing party’s costs when a party rejects the case evaluation and proceeds to trial, even if they do not prevail at trial or by way of motion.
The new rule also reduces the number of days in advance the parties must submit case evaluation materials from fourteen (14) to seven (7).
These changes will give parties to litigation and their legal counsel more control and flexibility over how they develop and execute their litigation strategies.
If you have any questions about these issues, please contact your Fraser Trebilcock attorney.
Thaddeus E. Morgan is a shareholder with Fraser Trebilcock and formerly served as President of the firm. Thad is the firm’s Litigation Department Chair and serves as the firm’s State Capital Group voting representative. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or (517) 377-0877.