Numerous questions and concerns have been generated since the pandemic. Many have related to the calculation of time periods for plaintiffs to file claims and file actions with the courts and for defendants to respond in to complaints and civil actions.
On June 12, 2020 the Michigan Supreme Court issued administrative order 2020-18 that determined the tolling period during the Covid-19 emergency that spans from March 10 through June 20, 2020. This is a period of 102 days.
But the tolling period varies depending on the circumstances. The administrative order is difficult to read and not particularly well drafted, but if we look at particular scenarios, the language of the order can be broken down and make some sense in a given situation.
If the deadline to file a civil action or answer a complaint was before March 10, the order does not apply. That makes sense; why would there be a stay after the end of the limitations period?
For claims or matters that accrued or tortious events that happened before March 10, 2020 the periods of limitations is extended an additional 102 days. This is the number of days between March 10, 2020 and June 20, 2020. Perhaps this was unintended, because a person who has an injury on March 1, 2020 just before the pandemic, really doesn’t need an additional three plus months to file a lawsuit or other claim or notice that may be required before a civil lawsuit is filed.
This means that for a number of events, torts or causes of action that occurred shortly before the start of the pandemic, the parties seeking redress in those cases will get an additional three months plus to bring an action. The impact of this will go on for a few years and would affect tort cases, contract cases and other causes of action that may be filed long after (hopefully) the pandemic is a distant memory.
For events, torts or causes of action that occur after June 20, 2020 those parties do not get any additional time to file their claims in the proper forum.
For the cases where the period of limitations would have expired between March 10, 2020 and June 10, 2020, the tolling period may vary significantly.
Those parties of persons get an additional amount of days after June 20, 2020 equal to the number of days that were left in the period of limitations as of March 10, 2020. Thus, if a limitations period were to have expired on April 10, 2020 (31 days after March 10, 2020), that period of limitations would not expire until July 21, 2020, which is 31 days after June 20, 2020.
The foregoing analysis does not take into account Saturdays, Sundays and holidays that could impact the period of limitations under administrative order 2020-18 depending on the circumstances.
Michigan courts are adopting remote hearings. While there is no clear cut answer in terms of cases going to trial, many practitioners and judges believe that it is unlikely there will be any jury or nonjury civil trials, even in the less populated counties, until after the first of the year. This is primarily because criminal actions take priority and domestic cases where there are immediate threats are taking priority over the civil docket. Once the circumstances begin to normalize we can expect trial judges to aggressively push their dockets to resolve cases that have not been resolved because of the Covid pandemic.
Please contact a Kerr Russell attorney for questions or more information regarding case evaluation.
Daniel G. Beyer is a seasoned trial attorney with nearly 40 years of experience. He focuses his practice on personal injury matters related to medical malpractice, motor vehicle claims and general negligence; lender’s and owner’s title claims; insurance coverage; physician licensing and administrative complaints; commercial matters and consumer claims; and general liability.
Kevin A. McQuillan concentrates his practice on litigation, appellate matters, and malpractice defense. He also represents medical providers and hospitals in medical malpractice and professional licensing matters. Kevin has successfully sought dismissal before trial on more than two dozen occasions in the past five years. Moreover, his appellate advocacy led to multiple published opinions favorable to his clients.
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