In a prior article, we discussed the implementation of the new Oakland County business court under the business court act – MCL 600.8031, et seq. (the “Act). We also discussed the types of cases that are, and are not, “business or commercial disputes” that must be filed in the business court. Since our last article, we have filed several new cases in the business court, one of which bears mention here.
We recently filed an accounting malpractice case for a corporation client against a corporation accounting firm and one of its owners/employees/professionals. We filed the action in the business court as it was (i) an action between a business enterprise and one of its suppliers and (ii) an action involving the finances of a business enterprise, both of which fall within the Act’s definition of a “business or commercial dispute.” See MCL 600.8031(1)(c)(ii) and (iv); see also MCL 600.8031(2) (providing that business or commercial disputes include cases “arising out of contractual agreements or other business dealings” and “arising out of commercial transactions”). Further, while the act excludes from the definition of “business or commercial dispute” any “personal injury” claim arising out of professional malpractice, the act contains no similar carve-out for legal or accounting malpractice claims that involve no “personal injury.” See MCL 600.8031(3).
In accordance with the business court’s procedures, the parties filed a joint discovery plan with the court, which included a section addressing the basis for jurisdiction in the business court and whether jurisdiction was contested, which it was not. Thereafter, we appeared for an initial scheduling conference. At the conference, the Judge indicated that a professional malpractice case such as ours was not a “business or commercial dispute” within the definition of MCL 600.8031(1)(c). As such, the Judge issued an order removing the case from the business court docket to the general civil docket for reassignment. The case was later assigned to a non-business court judge in the general civil docket.
The moral of the story?
Accounting malpractice claims (and presumably other professional malpractice claims) are not “business or commercial disputes” that are required to be filed in the business court. Hopefully, our experience will provide guidance for others filing cases in the new business court.
The case referenced in this article is Allied National, Inc. v. Stein Rouff & Associates, P.C., Oakland County Circuit Court Case No. 2013-134903-NM.
Effective October 11, 2017, two amendments to Michigan’s Business Court Statute clarified the definitions and jurisdictional requirements under that statute for claims to be filed in the Business Court. The...
As the use of Business Court expands, the issue of their jurisdiction continues to play out between those courts and practitioners. In a previous blog update, we discussed how Business Courts were taking...