Decisions – Ct. of App. – May 6, 2014

Miller v. Johnson Controls – After years of working on an assembly line, Miller was diagnosed with spondylosis. Her doctors claimed that her condition was aggravated by her work,  The Workers Compensation Commission disagreed relying on an examination conducted at the behest of the employer before the cause of Miller’s condition was diagnosed.  For this reason, the Commission’s decision is not supported by substantial evidence and the case is remanded for a determination of the extent of her disability and benefits.

Rickman v. State – Rickman was convicted of aggravated assault after beating a jailer with a sock full of bars of soap and then repeatedly kicking him while he was unconscious.  On appeal he challenges the sufficiency of the evidence.  Inasmuch as he admitted beating the officer and there was a videotape of the beating, this issue fails.  While Rickman contests the extent of the injuries based on a lack of medical testimony, the officer suffered broken bones and was out of work for five months.  This was sufficient to prove that Rickman inflicted serious bodily injury.  

Belton v. State – PCR from plea – Belton plead guilty to car theft after taking a truck belonging to his employer and disabling the gps so it could not be located.  Two years later he filed a motion for post conviction relief arguing the charges were invalid, the evidence was insufficient and that his attorney was ineffective.  The Court of Appeals is underwhelmed given that the plea petition  and the plea colloquy pretty much eviscerate all his claims (as they are designed to do).  Apparently schools need to spend more time teaching the meaning of the word “waiver.”  

Crown Communication v. T6 Unison Site Management – Crown entered into a lease agreement with Sammie and Nora Orm,an for the purpose of erecting a wireless communications facility on a portion of their land.  When the Ormans died, their sons inherited the land and they entered into an agreement with Unison assigning Unison their rights under the lease agreement with Crown along with an easement.  When Crown ceased making rental payments, Unison sued.  Crown counterclaimed arguing that the assignment did not convey an easement but rather a property interest which triggered a right of first refusal clause in the lease agreement.  Crown filed a third party complaint against the Orman sons.   The court granted summary judgment in favor of Unison finding that the easement was an easement and did not trigger the right of first refusal. It then ordered that if the parties could not come to an agreement regarding past due rent, the rent money should be placed in the court’s registry until there was a hearing.  The court did not rule on the motion for summary judgment filed by the Ormans.  Crown appealed and the appeal was dismissed because the order from which Crown appealed was not a final judgment pursuant to MRCP 54(b).     

Hooghe v. State – PCR from plea – Hooghe pleaded guilty as an habitual to car theft and was sentenced to ten years. A few months later he filed a motion for post-conviction relief arguing that  there was no factual basis to support his plea, he was prejudiced because the state was allowed to amend the indictment, the superceding indictment was the result of prosecutorial vindictiveness and ineffective assistance.    The trial court denied the petition and Hooghe appeals.  The court of Appeals finds no merit in any of Hooghe’s claims. The state set forth a recitation of the facts it would expect to show at trial and Hooghe agreed to them during the plea colloquy.  The indictment was amended by way of a grand jury so it was not a matter of the prosecution improperly amending the indictment substantively by way of a mere motion.  


Robey v. Cleveland School District – principal fired from job for several reasons including the failure to follow school policy on out-of-state travel and school activity requests . He claims his non-renewal notice was received a day late, that his firing was not supported by substantial evidence and violation of equal protection.  The Court of APpeals agrees with the chancellor that the one-day delay was harmless.  The notice was mailed to Robey several days before March 1 and the district planned to deliver a copy to him by hand when he returned to work March 1 but was unable to do so when Robey was not there that day. Attempts to deliver it to his home were unavailing when no one came to the door. Furthermore, the decision not to renew was supported by the evidence.


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