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Michigan Court of Appeals Rules Circuit Court Did Not Have Jurisdiction Over Claim and Delivery Action

The Michigan Court of Appeals recently held that the circuit court did not have jurisdiction over a claim and delivery action because the complaint included allegations of a failure to follow procedures for abandoned vehicle reporting. In Ford Motor Credit Company v. Haggen, case no. 325889 (Mich. Ct. App. March 15, 2016), Ford Credit filed a complaint in Wayne County Circuit Court alleging a claim and delivery action and claim for conversion regarding a vehicle in a towing company’s possession. Ford Credit later amended the complaint to include other counts and defendants. The court granted Ford Credit’s motion for partial summary disposition, but the Court of Appeals reversed the decision on the grounds that the circuit court did not have subject-matter jurisdiction. Despite the fact that the original complaint never alleged that the vehicle was “abandoned,” the Court of Appeals found that all claims stemmed from the contention that the towing company failed to comply with abandoned vehicle processing requirements under MCL 257.252e(1). That statute indicates that the district court, not circuit court, has jurisdiction over such claims. Ford Credit argued that the statute’s requirements were not at issue because the towing company admitted that it failed to allow Ford Credit to redeem the car, but the Court of Appeals found those admissions irrelevant for jurisdictional purposes. “[T]he issue of whether the circuit court had subject-matter jurisdiction over the case was based on the pleadings in the case, rather than subsequent admissions of the opposing party.” The opinion is a strong reminder to plaintiffs that a single allegation can change the location where a complaint may be filed.

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