Five Stories That Matter in Michigan This Week – January 26, 2024

  1. Michigan Amendment Imposes Reporting Requirement for Broker-Dealers and Investment Advisers to Report Financial Exploitation of Vulnerable Adults

Effective March 13, 2024, an amendment to the Michigan Uniform Securities Act (new Section 451.2533) will take effect that is intended to protect elder and vulnerable adults from financial exploitation. Among other things, the law requires broker-dealers and state-registered investment advisers to report suspected financial exploitation to a law enforcement agency or adult protective services.

Why it Matters: According to the Michigan Department of Attorney General website, more than 73,000 older adults in Michigan are victims of elder abuse, including financial exploitation.

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  1. The DOL Issues Final Rule Creating New Standard for Classifying Workers as Employees vs. Independent Contractors

On January 9, 2024, the United States Department of Labor released its final rule on worker classification under the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA).

Why it Matters: This new rule, effective as of March 11, 2024, signals a return to a standard more likely to classify workers as employees than contractors. Thus, it is more likely that employers will be determined to have misclassified workers as contractors, resulting in liability. Learn more from your Fraser Trebilcock attorney.

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  1. Michigan Federal Judge Dismisses Complaint Against Firm Client

A Michigan federal judge recently dismissed a complaint against the firm’s client represented by attorneys Thaddeus E. Morgan and Ryan K. Kauffman, for lack of subject matter jurisdiction.

Why it Matters: The complaint alleged that the firm’s client, together with another state bar, illegally conspired to prevent the plaintiff from practicing law in their respective states. However, the Eleventh Amendment prohibits a suit brought in federal court against a state, its agencies and officials, unless the state has waived its sovereign immunity or consented to being sued. The Eleventh Amendment limits federal subject matter jurisdiction, and as a result of the state bar functioning as an extension of the state’s Supreme Court, it is a state agency that possesses Eleventh Amendment immunity. Read more.

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  1. Michigan Cannabis Sales Eclipse $3 Billion in 2023

Michigan cannabis sales total $3,057,161,285.85, via the collection of monthly reports from the Michigan Cannabis Regulatory Agency. This is a 30% increase from 2022, which saw total sales at $2,293,823,890.11.

Why it Matters: Marijuana sales remain strong in Michigan, particularly for recreational use. However, there still are significant concerns about profitability and market oversaturation that the industry is contending with.

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  1. Client Alert: PCORI Fees Due by July 31, 2024!

In Notice 2023-70, the Internal Revenue Service set forth the PCORI amount imposed on insured and self-funded health plans for policy and plan years that end on or after October 1, 2023, and before October 1, 2024.

Why it Matters: Notice 2023-70 sets the adjusted applicable dollar amount used to calculate the fee at $3.22. Specifically, this fee is imposed per average number of covered lives for plan years that end on or after October 1, 2023, and before October 1, 2024. For self-funded plans, the average number of covered lives is calculated by one of three methods: (1) the actual count method; (2) the snapshot method; or (3) the Form 5500 method. Learn more from your Fraser Trebilcock attorney.

Related Practice Groups and Professionals

Labor, Employment & Civil Rights | David Houston
Litigation | Ryan Kauffman
Litigation | Thaddeus Morgan
Cannabis Law | Sean Gallagher
Employee Benefits | Bob Burgee
Employee Benefits | Sharon Goldzweig

Five Stories That Matter in Michigan This Week – January 19, 2024

  1. New Michigan Law Mandates Compulsory Arbitration for Higher Education Police Officers

Michigan’s law regarding compulsory arbitration of public labor disputed has been amended to include higher education institution police officers. The change takes effect on January 22, 2024.

Why it Matters: Higher education institutions should assess the impact the new law may have on their workforce.

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  1. Fraser Trebilcock Welcomes Phyllis Dahl to the Firm

We are pleased to announce the hiring of Phyllis Dahl as the firm’s new Office Manager.

Why it Matters: Ms. Dahl has over three decades of experience in the legal industry, having worked at two private law firms before joining Fraser Trebilcock. She has a bachelor’s degree in public administration from Central Michigan University. Read more.

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  1. Client Alert: PCORI Fees Due by July 31, 2024!

In Notice 2023-70, the Internal Revenue Service set forth the PCORI amount imposed on insured and self-funded health plans for policy and plan years that end on or after October 1, 2023, and before October 1, 2024.

Why it Matters: Notice 2023-70 sets the adjusted applicable dollar amount used to calculate the fee at $3.22. Specifically, this fee is imposed per average number of covered lives for plan years that end on or after October 1, 2023, and before October 1, 2024. For self-funded plans, the average number of covered lives is calculated by one of three methods: (1) the actual count method; (2) the snapshot method; or (3) the Form 5500 method. Learn more from your Fraser Trebilcock attorney.

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  1. Michigan Cannabis Pulls in Nearly $280 Million in December

Cannabis sales are just below $280 million in December, via the monthly report from the Michigan Cannabis Regulatory Agency. Michigan adult-use sales came in at $276,732,645.94, while medical sales came in at $3,177,042.62, totaling $279,909,688.56.

Why it Matters: Marijuana sales remain strong in Michigan, particularly for recreational use. However, there still are significant concerns about profitability and market oversaturation that the industry is contending with.

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  1. CRA Publishes December 2023 Data: Average Price Decreases

Per data released by the Cannabis Regulatory Agency (CRA), the average retail price for adult-use sales of an ounce of cannabis in December was $95.08, a small decrease from $97.51 in November. For the second time, this is an increase to the average price when compared to the year prior, when in December 2022, the average price was $90.68.

Why it Matters: While the prices of cannabis and cannabis-related products continue to decrease and make consumers happy, growers on the other hand are seeing profits decrease resulting in them seeking ways to halt new licenses to be granted in an effort to steady prices. Contact our cannabis law attorneys if you have any questions.

Related Practice Groups and Professionals

Higher Education | Ryan Kauffman
Phyllis Dahl
Employee Benefits | Bob Burgee
Employee Benefits | Sharon Goldzweig
Cannabis Law | Sean Gallagher

Five Stories That Matter in Michigan This Week – January 12, 2024

  1. Cannabis Regulatory Agency Announces $1 Million Social Equity Grant Program

Michigan’s Cannabis Regulatory Agency (CRA) announced a $1 million grant program to applicants who have a recreational marijuana license, have eligible Social Equity Program participants, and participate in the CRA’s “Social Equity All-Star Program.”

Why it Matters: The program is intended to encourage participation in the industry by people from communities that have been disproportionately impacted by marijuana prohibition and enforcement.

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  1. Fraser Trebilcock Welcomes Danielle Lofton to the Firm

We are pleased to announce the hiring of attorney Danielle Lofton who will work primarily in the firm’s Lansing office, focusing her practice on insurance defense.

Why it Matters: Ms. Lofton represents clients with personal injury claims including no-fault cases for several years. She has routinely secured early dismissals through successful motions and negotiated favorable settlements for her clients. Learn more.

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  1. Department of Labor Issues New Rule on Independent Contractors

This week, the US Department of Labor issued a new rule modifying its analysis for determining whether a worker is an employee, or an independent contractor under the Fair Labor Standards Act. The final rule is effective on March 11, 2024.

Why it Matters: We previously reported on the Department of Labor publishing a Notice of Proposed Rulemaking regarding classification of employee or independent contractor under the FLSA. Under this final rule effective on March 11, 2024, it will provide clearer guidance for employers and how they determine their workers’ classifications, and further protect employees from misclassification.

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  1. Fraser Trebilcock Attorney Andrew J. Moore Elected to Board of Directors of Catholic Bar Association

We are pleased to announce that attorney ​Andrew J. Moore has been elected to the Board of Directors for the Catholic Bar Association, a national bar association with members in all 50 states. “I am honored to be elected to the Board of Directors, and I look forward to continuing the mission of the Catholic Bar Association,” said Andrew Moore.

Why it Matters: Andrew focuses his practice on general litigation matters, insurance defense, estate and trust administration, real estate transactions, family law, and criminal defense. His experience covers a range of practice areas, from out of court matters such as assisting clients in estate planning and business and tax matters to representing clients at trial in insurance, divorce, and criminal defense proceedings. He also serves on the Board of Directors of the Lansing Catholic Lawyers Guild. Read more.

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  1. Independent Citizens Redistricting Commission Required to Redraw Seven House Districts

A three-judge panel ordered this week that the Independent Citizens Redistricting Commission redraw seven state House districts by February 2nd, after it was ruled unconstitutional.

Why it Matters: Last year, a group of voters sued the Independent Citizens Redistricting Commission alleging that the Commission had violated the federal Voting Rights Act by drawing maps that impacted black voters’ opportunity to elect their preferred candidates.

Related Practice Groups and Professionals

Cannabis Law | Sean Gallagher
Insurance Law | Danielle Lofton
Labor, Employment & Civil Rights | David Houston
Litigation | Andrew Moore
Election Law

Five Stories That Matter in Michigan This Week – January 5, 2024

  1. Reminder: Michigan LLCs Must File Annual Report by February 15

With the new year upon us, we want to remind you that limited liability companies formed with the Michigan Department of Licensing and Regulatory Affairs must file their annual report (called an Annual Statement) by February 15.

Why it Matters: LLCs that fail to file are subject to fines. More importantly, failure to file an annual report after two consecutive years results in an LLC falling out of good standing with the state of Michigan, which may lead to the dissolution of the entity. Contact a Fraser Trebilcock lawyer if you require help with corporate filing and reporting requirements.

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  1. Michigan Minimum Wage Increased After New Year

Now that we’re into calendar year 2024, Michigan’s minimum wage has increased per the Improved Workforce Opportunity Wage Act of 2018 which establishes the annual schedule of increases. The minimum hourly wage increased to $10.33 per hour; the 85% rate for minors aged 16 and 17 increased to $8.78 per hour; the tipped employee rate of hourly pay increased to $3.93 per hour; and the training wage of $4.25 per hour for newly hired employees ages 16 to 19 for their first 90 days of employment remains unchanged.

Why it Matters: It’s important to be aware of new laws, and changes to existing laws, that have taken effect as of January 1, 2024. Contact us with any questions.

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  1. Fraser Trebilcock Announces Department Chairs for 2024

Fraser Trebilcock announces new Department Chairs for 2024: Sean P. GallagherAdministrative LawRobert D. Burgee and Paul V. McCordBusiness & TaxRobert D. BurgeeEmployee Benefits: Welfare/HealthDavid J. HoustonLabor, Employment, and Civil RightsMichael P. DonnellyLitigationJared A. RobertsReal Estate; and Marlaine C. Teahan and Mark E. KelloggTrusts and Estates.

Why it Matters: A new year brings a renewed commitment to leadership within our firm. When it matters in Michigan, we are the trusted advisor for businesses and individuals requiring planning and consulting services, or facing legal and regulatory challenges, and our capabilities extend to wherever clients require counsel. Read more.

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  1. Reminder: Prevailing Wage Act Being Reinstated in Michigan in 2024

It’s important for businesses to be aware of laws that will take effect in 2024. One is the reinstatement of Michigan’s Prevailing Wage Act (the “Act”), which will require contractors and subcontractors in Michigan to pay the prevailing wage and benefit rates to employees working on most state funded construction projects.

Why it Matters: A prevailing wage law was in effect in Michigan from 1965 until 2018 when the law was repealed. On March 24, 2023, Governor Whitmer signed the Act into law. It will take effect in March of 2024.

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  1. How do you Defend an Amazon Neutral Patent Evaluation?

Amazon’s Neutral Patent Infringement Program (NPE) is Amazon’s version of a quasi-judicial court to resolve patent infringement disputes between sellers. It is akin to an arbitration or mediation overseen by an experienced and vetted patent practitioner. NPE is not a court of law, so any of the rulings are not prejudicial on any platform or marketplace other than Amazon.com. However, it aims to provide a more cost-effective method to resolve patent disputes between sellers.

Why it Matters: The program is initiated once a patent holder submits a complaint to Amazon through Amazon’s seller portal. The accused product is immediately removed from its Amazon listing and the accused infringer is notified. The accused infringer then may negotiate a settlement directly with the rights holder or agree to participate in the NPE program. Learn more from your Fraser Trebilcock attorney.

Related Practice Groups and Professionals 

Business & Tax | Robert Burgee
Labor, Employment & Civil Rights | David Houston
Intellectual Property | Andrew Martin

Five Stories That Matter in Michigan This Week – December 22, 2023

  1. Reminder: Prevailing Wage Act Being Reinstated in Michigan in 2024

As we prepare for the calendar to turn to 2024, it’s important for businesses to be aware of laws that will take effect in the new year. One is the reinstatement of Michigan’s Prevailing Wage Act (the “Act”), which will require contractors and subcontractors in Michigan to pay the prevailing wage and benefit rates to employees working on most state funded construction projects.

Why it Matters: A prevailing wage law was in effect in Michigan from 1965 until 2018 when the law was repealed. On March 24, 2023, Governor Whitmer signed the Act into law. It will take effect in March of 2024.

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  1. How do you Defend an Amazon Neutral Patent Evaluation?

Amazon’s Neutral Patent Infringement Program (NPE) is Amazon’s version of a quasi-judicial court to resolve patent infringement disputes between sellers. It is akin to an arbitration or mediation overseen by an experienced and vetted patent practitioner. NPE is not a court of law, so any of the rulings are not prejudicial on any platform or marketplace other than Amazon.com. However, it aims to provide a more cost-effective method to resolve patent disputes between sellers.

Why it Matters: The program is initiated once a patent holder submits a complaint to Amazon through Amazon’s seller portal. The accused product is immediately removed from its Amazon listing and the accused infringer is notified. The accused infringer then may negotiate a settlement directly with the rights holder or agree to participate in the NPE program. Learn more from your Fraser Trebilcock attorney.

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  1. Fraser Trebilcock Announces 2024 Board of Directors

The Shareholders of Fraser Trebilcock, one of Michigan’s long-established full-service law firms, have elected Thaddeus E. Morgan as President of the firm. Shareholders H. Kirby Albright and Ryan K. Kauffman were re-elected to the Board of Directors. Mr. Albright will serve as Vice President & Treasurer, and Mr. Kauffman will serve as Secretary.

Why it Matters: When it matters in Michigan, we are the trusted advisor for businesses and individuals requiring planning and consulting services, or facing legal and regulatory challenges, and our capabilities extend to wherever clients require counsel. The annual election of the Board of Directors allows Fraser Trebilcock to continue its tradition of exceptional client service, dedicated community involvement and professional excellence. Read more.

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  1. Michigan Cannabis Exceeds $260 Million in November

Cannabis sales surpassed $260 million in November, via the monthly report from the Michigan Cannabis Regulatory Agency. Michigan adult-use sales came in at $256,677,143.52, while medical sales came in at $3,808,138.68, totaling $260,485,282.20.

Why it Matters: Marijuana sales remain strong in Michigan, particularly for recreational use. However, there still are significant concerns about profitability and market oversaturation that the industry is contending with.

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  1. Cass County Circuit Court Rules that Growing Cannabis is an “Agricultural Operation” Under Michigan’s General Property Tax Act

HRP Cassopolis, LLC (“HRP”) owns real property located in LaGrange Township, located in Cass County, Michigan. The property, which consists of two parcels, is leased to a cannabis grower and retailer. LaGrange Township’s assessor classified both parcels as “Commercial” under the Michigan General Property Tax Act (“GPTA”). In response to the classification, HRP submitted a petition to the board of review, which denied the petition. HRP then appealed to the State Tax Commission, which also upheld the decision to classify the parcels as commercial. HRP then filed a Claim of Appeal with the Cass County Circuit Court.

Why it Matters: On appeal, the appellee argued that the assessor properly classified the property as commercial because HRP did not establish that growing cannabis is an “agricultural operation” under the GPTA. The GPTA defines an agricultural operation as “growing and harvesting any agricultural, horticultural, or floricultural commodity.” The Circuit Court rejected the appellee’s arguments and ruled in favor of HRP. The court explained that caselaw requires it to give the words in a statute their plain and ordinary meaning, and in this case, according to the court, “cannabis cultivation falls squarely within [GPTA’s] definition of an agricultural operation.”

Related Practice Groups and Professionals

Labor, Employment & Civil Rights | David Houston
Intellectual Property | Andrew Martin
Cannabis Law | Sean Gallagher

Fraser Web Week: Find Us Friday!

Monday Blog CP
 

One of the most exciting features of our new website is our enhanced search functionality. Although our website navigation was designed to be user friendly and easy to maneuver, we understand that sometimes you are in a hurry and need to find very specific information in a short amount of time.

With this in mind, you can now jump to the top of any page and use our entire “site search” tool to find information relevant to the topic you’re looking for. To use the full website search function, simply select the magnifying glass icon in the top right of the screen.

FRIDAY - SEARCH
 

We’ve also built in specific search bars on pages where you may want to narrow information more quickly: practice pages, attorney bios, and blogs. By giving you the option of navigating the site based on your own preference, each user can find answers efficiently and easily.

As we wrap up our #FraserWebWeek, we’d like to thank the team at Moncur Associates for helping us bring this new website to life! They helped us pull together the many pieces of this design and development with much creativity, expertise, and professionalism.

 

Fraser Web Week: Throwback Thursday

Thursday Blog
If the walls of the Boji Tower could talk, they would have more than 130 years-worth of stories to share about Fraser Trebilcock lawyers. Since these walls can’t speak, we’ll share a few #ThrowbackThursday photos of our own – each worth a thousand words! Continue reading Fraser Web Week: Throwback Thursday

Fraser Web Week: ‘Why Us’ Wednesday

 

Whether you’re seeking legal services or looking to join our Fraser family, our new website delivers a beautiful snapshot of why you should choose us. And in some cases, we do literally mean a beautiful snapshot! Continue reading Fraser Web Week: ‘Why Us’ Wednesday

Fraser Web Week: Manic Monday

Monday Blog CP
Dealing with Monday morning email inboxes can be difficult. A whole weekend worth of email has piled up and it’s hard to know where to start. The same can be said for your news source – there are many ways to get up-to-date news and information. But what if you don’t have time to check it all, or need specific information right away on a complex legal matter?

All week, we’ll showcase our new website and its many features designed to simplify and enhance your experience with Fraser Treblicock – starting with a great way to help ease some of the pain of your manic Mondays!

Our redesigned blog provides immediate updates on legal proceedings and changes that may affect you. From client alerts to breaking news on major case rulings, our blog is designed to keep you informed on important legal updates. Outside of legal updates, we share opportunities and news that is important to our communities and clients. We are your one-stop-shop for legal updates as well as interesting community information.

Take a peek at current postings on our blog, by clicking on the side navigation of various legal topics:

And learn more about our redesigned website in THIS press release just published under our website’s News section:

Lunch and Learn: Fraser Trebilcock Associates Mentor Next Generation of Lawyers

Associates Lunch and LearnFraser Trebilcock’s associate attorneys welcomed 12 summer interns from the Ingham County Probate Court for a Lunch and Learn at the firm’s Lansing office last week. The interns ranged from recent college graduates, to current law school students, to recent law school graduates. During the meeting, the associates shared insight from their career paths, as well as ideas on how to get ahead and set yourself apart from the rest of the professional legal pack.

The interns asked excellent questions about how choices made now would help to mold their futures in law. For instance, all of the associates agreed: find a specialty of law that you love to practice.

“It was very helpful to be on the business side of the law firm relationship,” said associate J.J. Burchman, who explained that being in both private practice and in-house counsel helped him provide better service to clients. “I was able to figure out what a business wanted from its law firm and better provide that service to clients.”

Work ethic and tips to working efficiently were also addressed. “One of the most important things I learned was to know when to say, ‘I don’t know’ to a senior partner,” added Melisa Mysliwiec. “It’s worse to give an incorrect answer than to ask for time to get the right one.”

Other topics included advice on which extracurricular groups were most helpful in practical legal experience, the importance of community involvement, and tips on networking.