The Michigan Court of Appeals has held that unpaid discovery sanctions imposed against a party prior to the case evaluation hearing are still enforceable despite the parties’ acceptance of the case evaluation award. Brown v Farm Bureau Ins, unpublished opinion per curiam of the Court of Appeals, issued March 28, 2018 (Docket 331893).
Relying on the Supreme Court’s opinion in CAM Constr v Lake Edgewood Condo Ass’n, 465 Mich 549; 640 NW2d 256 (2000), the defendant argued that once the parties accepted the case evaluation award, all claims in the action were resolved, which defendant interpreted as including the pending discovery sanctions. The plaintiff argued, however, that the sanctions were not a part of the “claims” presented in the case, but rather were a punishment to defendant for violating the court’s discovery order, and were not disposed of upon acceptance of the case evaluation award. For that reason, argued plaintiff, the pre-CAM Construction case of Merit Mfg & Die v ITT Higbie Mfg Co, 204 Mich App 16; 514 NW2d 192 (1994) (holding that court-ordered discovery sanctions awarded prior to mediation are distinct from the mediation award), was controlling.In agreeing with plaintiff, the Court of Appeals made an important distinction between sanctions sought pursuant to the no-fault act (such as an award of attorney fees under MCL 500.3148) and Section 2591 of the Revised Judicature Act of 1961 (regarding frivolous actions or defenses), which would not be permitted once the parties resolved the case via case evaluation, see Larson v Auto-Owners Insurance Company, 194 Mich App 329; 486 NW2d 128 (1992), and sanctions imposed to vindicate the authority of the court.