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156262 - Paulette Stenzel v Best Buy Co, Inc

Paulette Stenzel,

 

 

 

Plaintiff-Appellee,

Lawrence Nolan

v

(Appeal from Ct of Appeals)

 

 

(Ingham – Aqulina, R.)

 

Best Buy Company, Inc.,

 

 

 

Defendant,

 

and

 

 

Samsung Electronics America, Inc.,

 

Jill Wheaton

  

Defendant-Appellant.

 

Summary

Plaintiff purchased a Samsung refrigerator from defendant Best Buy, which handled the installation. Within days, the refrigerator leaked. While cleaning up, plaintiff fell and was injured. She sued Best Buy, which filed a notice of nonparty fault, naming Samsung. Best Buy moved for summary disposition, arguing that plaintiff could not establish causation. The trial court granted the motion. Plaintiff amended her complaint pursuant to MCR 2.112(K) to name Samsung. The trial court granted summary disposition to Samsung because plaintiff did not file a motion to amend before amending her complaint and also due to lack of causation. Plaintiff appealed. In a published opinion, the Court of Appeals reversed Best Buy’s dismissal on causation grounds. The court also would have reversed Samsung’s dismissal, but it concluded that it was required to affirm by Williams v Arbor Home, Inc, 254 Mich App 439 (2002). The court declared a conflict with Williams and a special conflict resolution panel was convened. In a published opinion, the special panel held that Williams was wrongly decided. The four judges in the majority concluded that there was a conflict between MCL 600.2957(2) and MCR 2.112(K), and that the court rule prevailed because the conflict related to a procedural question. As a result, it was not necessary for plaintiff to file a motion before amending her complaint because MCR 2.112(K) has no such requirement. The majority also held that the relation-back provision of MCL 600.2957(2) applied. The three judges who concurred did not find a conflict between the statute and the court rule but agreed that it was unnecessary for plaintiff to file a motion to amend. The concurring judges also agreed that the relation-back rule applied. The special panel reversed the trial court’s order granting summary disposition to Samsung, and remanded the case for further proceedings. The Supreme Court has granted Samsung’s application for leave to appeal to address: (1) whether the Court of Appeals special panel correctly held that there is a conflict between MCL 600.2957(2) and MCR 2.112(K); (2) whether, in any event, a party may amend a complaint upon receipt of a notice of nonparty fault without first filing a motion to amend; and (3) if so, whether the amendment relates back to the date the complaint was filed. ​