Authored By: Matt Smith and Dave Mollicone
On January 1, 2022, the Michigan Supreme Court’s amendments to the long-standing case evaluation rule, MCR 2.403, took effect. Most notable among them is the elimination of sanctions against a rejecting party. But unclear is the timing of the amended rule’s application to cases filed, ordered, or evaluated relative to the effective date of the amendment.
Oakland County Circuit Court Judge Michael Warren has provided some guidance on this issue. In a February 15, 2022 Order in Allan Steinmetz v. IMMY, Inc., Judge Warren addressed whether the elimination of sanctions in the amended MCR 2.403 “applies to [a] case which was filed before the amendment, but where case evaluation occurred after the amendment.” (Emphasis added). Citing Prosoli v Mullins, 111 Mich App 8, 14 (1981), the Court reasoned that “[t]he rule in Michigan is that changes in judicial procedure apply to all further proceedings in actions then pending.” Furthermore, “[t]he general rule is that a new court rule or an amendment thereto may be applied only to cases which are pending at the time the rule is adopted or which are filed subsequent to the adoption of the rule.” Lindsey v Raymond, 34 Mich App 656, 658 (1971). Consequently, “[t]he norm is to apply the newly adopted court rules to pending actions unless there is reason to continue applying the old rules.” Davis v O’Brien, 152 Mich App 495, 500 (1986). Applying this authority, Judge Warren concluded “[t]he amended court rule was in effect at the time the parties conducted case evaluation and apply to any award issued now.”
Judge Warren’s analysis provides early and reasoned insight on at least one of the murky issues arising in the wake of the amendments to MCR 2.403. Would the result be the same for a case evaluated shortly before the January 1, 2022 amendment? The above reasoning suggests that it might, provided that the action remained “pending” as of the effective date of the amendment. Lindsey, supra; Davis, supra.