Civil Litigation Blog
Three Rivers - Civil Litigation Law Blog

What is a Case Evaluation and is it necessary?

Posted December 5, 2018

Any civil action in which the relief sought is primarily money damages or division of property may be submitted to case evaluation under MCR 2.403(A)(1). Case evaluation is mandatory for tort cases filed in circuit court after October 1, 1986. A court may exempt claims seeking equitable relief from case evaluation for good cause shown on motion or by stipulation of the parties if the court finds that case evaluation of such claims would be inappropriate. The judge to whom an action is assigned or the chief judge may select it for case evaluation by written order after the filing of the answer:

  • on written stipulation by the parties;
  • on written motion by a party; or
  • on the judge’s own initiative.”MCR 2.403(B)(1)(a)–(c).


To object to case evaluation, a written motion and notice of hearing must be filed and served within 14 days after notice of the order assigning the case to case evaluation. MCR 2.403(C)(1). The motion must be set for hearing within 14 days after it is filed, unless the court orders otherwise. A timely motion must be heard before the case is submitted to case evaluation. The panel’s case evaluation must be in writing and made within 14 days after the case evaluation hearing. Except as indicated in MCR 2.403(H)(3) (derivative claims), the panel’s case evaluation must include a separate award as to each plaintiff’s claim against each defendant and as to each crossclaim, counterclaim, or thirdparty claim that has been filed in the action under MCR 2.403(K)(2).

The evaluation must indicate if it is not a unanimous award. Costs shall not be awarded if the case evaluation aware was not unanimous. If case evaluation results in a nonunanimous award, a case may be ordered to a subsequent case evaluation hearing conducted without reference to the prior case evaluation award, or other alternative dispute resolution process, at the expense of the parties, pursuant to MCR 2.410(C)(1). In certain tort cases, if the panel unanimously finds that a party’s action or defense as to any other party is frivolous the panel shall so indicate on the evaluation. An experienced attorney can help you to navigate civil litigation and tort laws in Michigan.


Federal Motions and Trials:

Posted November 11, 2018

Parties may try to end a case expeditiously through a dispositive motion, such as a motion for a default judgment, a motion to dismiss, a motion for judgment on the pleadings, or a summary judgment motion. Such motions – especially summary judgment motions – may themselves be costly and time-consuming. Apart from default motions, most dispositive motions are contested, and parties may file cross-motions that further complicate the proceedings and drive up litigation costs. While these motions can remove vexatious claims from court, at least some lawyers believe that dispositive motions – such as those for summary judgment, which are frequently denied so that the litigation continues on – are not proportionately beneficial compared to their cost.

If the parties forego dispositive motions or the motions are denied, and the case is not settled, the parties proceed to trial, adding another layer of expense. Trial can be a daunting experience for lawyers, much less inexperienced litigants. Before the trial begins, parties typically must exchange exhibit and witness lists, prepare proposed exhibits, furnish evidentiary objections and replies, prepare to examine and cross-examine witnesses, prepare and object to opposing jury instructions if a jury is involved, and create demonstrative exhibits, among many other things.

Trial materials and testimony generally must abide by the Federal Rules of Evidence, with which litigants must be familiar in order to lodge and respond to objections during the proceedings. Litigants also must be prepared to offer procedural and substantive legal arguments in response to the plethora of issues that inevitably arise during a trial.

United States Copyright Office Copyright Small Claims


Default Judgment

Posted October 12, 2018

A party may be found in default for either failing to plead or answer, or for improper conduct (in which case, default is used as a sanction). In a recent civil case the court stated, "These two circumstances under which a default may be entered are fundamentally different. Failing to plead or answer bespeaks an implied concession that the party is liable, or perhaps an indifference to the outcome of the litigation. In contrast, a default entered as a sanction is a means to penalize a party for failure to comply with the trial court’s directives and . . . should be entered only in the most egregious circumstances.”

The purpose of the default procedure is to keep the docketscurrent, to expedite the disposal of causes so as to prevent a dilatory or procrastinating defendant from impeding the plaintiff in the establishment of his [or her] claim. MCR 2.603(A)(1) governs entry of default: If a party against whom a judgment for affirmative relief is sought has failed to plead or otherwise defend as provided by these rules, and that fact is made to appear by affidavit or otherwise, the clerk must enter the default of that party. MCR 2.603(A)(1) has been interpreted to mean that “a party must not be defaulted if the party pleads or, as an alternative to filing a responsive pleading, otherwise defends the action.

Kalamazoo Oil Co v Boerman, 242 Mich App 75, 87, (2000).



Understanding your rights is essential when someone you love suffers a wrongful death. The Southwest Michigan Civil Litigation Attorneys at Hettinger & Hettinger, P.C. have experience in nearly every facet of civil litigation and personal injury..