In Vulaj v Vulaj, the Court of Appeals held that the plaintiff-husband waived his right to challenge the arbitrator's failure to comply with the Domestic Relations Arbitration Act, MCL 600.5070. When the defendant filed a motion for entry of judgment based on the arbitration award, the plaintiff's attorney, speaking of the arbitration award, simply stated, "my client just didn't like the arbitration," without formally objecting to it.
Plaintiff waited to challenge errors in the arbitration procedure on appeal. The COA held that plaintiff had expressly waived his right to challenge the arbitration errors at the hearing on the motion for entry of the arbitration award. Although the COA noted that preservation rules are discretionary, it reasoned that failure to apply them to cases like this encourages parties to sit on their objections. The COA stated, "there is nothing to stop a trial lawyers from either holding back on issues for use in a subsequent appellate attack on an unfavorable judgment, or to stop newly retained appellate counsel from sifting through the record and presenting issues to our Court for the first time. Under either approach, not only will there be a limited finality to any judgment of divorce entered after an arbitration award......but it will aslo result in unfettered gamesmanship in our appellate courts."
What can attorneys take from the Court's admonishment? When it comes to trial court objections, flaunt em' if you've got em' or "waive" them goodbye on appeal!