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Michigan Court of Appeals Rules that Plaintiff Could Sue on Contract Despite Different Name on Invoice

In J&N Koets, Inc. d/b/a Advanced Restorations, v. Onemarket Properties Lake Point LLC, et al., case no. 324007 (Mich. Ct. App. January 12, 2016), the owners of a condominium complex asked the plaintiff restoration company to address water damage within the building. The owners signed a contract listing the “Client” as the condominium but the space labeled “Company” was left blank. The restoration company issued an invoice afterwards that stated a different name than the plaintiff. The owners argued that the plaintiff was not the real party in interest because of this name difference, but the Court disagreed, stating, “A real party in interest is the one who is vested with the right of action on a given claim, although the beneficial interest may be in another.” The Court noted that there was uncontroverted evidence that only the plaintiff’s employees were involved in the formation of the contract and the relevant services. Moreover, the entity that the owners claimed was the real party in interest assigned their claims to the plaintiff. The opinion is further evidence that courts may look beyond documents’ labels when the substantive facts of the dispute are clear.

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