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150029 - Ronnisch Construction Group v Lofts on the Nine

Ronnisch Construction Group, Inc.,
Mark D. Sassak
(Appeal from Ct of Appeals)
(Oakland – Kumar, S.)
Lofts on the Nine, LLC,
Ronald L. Cornell, Jr.
Lofts on the Nine Condominium Association, Hotline Electric, Inc., Ram Construction Services of Michigan, Inc., EAM Engineers, Inc., Michigan Air Products Co., Stock Building Supply LLC, Williams Distributing Co., North Star Partners, LLC, and The State Bank,   


Defendant Lofts on the Nine contracted with plaintiff Ronnisch Construction Group to build a condominium building. When the project was completed, Ronnisch filed a lien pursuant to the Construction Lien Act (CLA), contending that it had not been paid in full. Ronnisch then sued, alleging breach of contract, foreclosure of lien, and unjust enrichment. As required by the parties’ contract, the contract claim was submitted to arbitration, which ended with a judgment in Ronnisch’s favor. Lofts on the Nine paid the judgment.  Ronnisch sought attorney fees under the CLA, but the circuit court held that Ronnisch was not a “prevailing lien claimant,” and the court did not have authority to award attorney fees under the CLA. In a published opinion, the Court of Appeals reversed this ruling. At issue is whether Ronnisch was entitled to an award of attorney fees as a “prevailing party” under MCL 570.1118(2) of the CLA, when it prevailed in binding arbitration on its contract claim, but neither the arbitrator nor the circuit court resolved its foreclosure of lien claim.