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Snyder Signs Bill Shifting Court of Claims to Court of Appeals

November 14, 2013

On November 12, 2013, Governor Snyder signed into law Public Act 164 of 2013, which transferred the Michigan Court of Claims from the Ingham County Circuit to the Michigan Court of Appeals. Although this Act garnered some attention for the political theater attached to its passage, the details of the Act and its effects on the Court of Claims have been somewhat overlooked. In addition to this restructuring of judicial responsibilities, the new law significantly expands the types of lawsuits that must be filed with the Court of Claims.

Before these changes, the Court of Claims was a function of the Ingham County Circuit Court, with applicable claims filed and heard in Ingham County. The Act restructures the Court of Claims and transfers all cases to a newly restructured Court of Claims consisting of four Court of Appeals judges. A plaintiff may file a cause of action in any Court of Appeals district, and the clerk of the Court of Claims will assign cases by blind draw.

In addition to the structural changes, the Act also revamps the Court of Claims’ jurisdiction. The Court of Claims previously had exclusive jurisdiction of all claims ex contractu and ex delicto (contract and tort claims) against the State and any of its departments, commissions, boards, institutions, arms or agencies. The Court of Claims also had concurrent jurisdiction with the circuit courts over claims for declaratory and/or injunctive relief, meaning actions against the State and its various political subdivisions seeking only declaratory and/or equitable relief could be filed and adjudicated in the circuit courts.

The Act eliminates the concurrent jurisdiction of the circuit courts and provides that the new Court of Claims will have exclusive jurisdiction with regard to all claims against the State and its various political subdivisions for:

  • all claims or demands “statutory or constitutional”;
  • demands for monetary, equitable, or declaratory relief; and
  • demands for issuance of extraordinary writs.

The Act also expands the Court of Claims’ jurisdiction to include all such claims brought against any individual officers, employees or volunteers of the state or its enumerated bodies and agencies. Circuit courts no longer can hear actions against the State, individual officers, employees, or volunteers of the state or its political subdivisions.

In light of these changes, the Michigan Supreme Court has assigned four new Court of Appeals judges to hear Court of Claims cases. These judges—whose terms expire May 1, 2015—are:

Judge Michael J. Talbot (Court of Appeals District 1)
Judge Pat M. Donofrio (Court of Appeals District 2)
Judge Deborah A. Servitto (Court of Appeals District 2)
Judge Amy Ronayne Krause (Court of Appeals District 4)

The Michigan Supreme Court has designated Talbot as the Court of Claims chief judge, for a term ending May 1, 2015.

Because the Act has been given immediate effect, the changes will take effect immediately upon filing with the Secretary of State. Cases presently pending in the Court of Claims will have to be immediately transferred to a newly-selected Court of Appeals judge. In addition, pending circuit court actions falling within the expanded jurisdiction of the Court of Claims will also have to be transferred to a Court of Appeals judge appointed to the Court of Claims if a transfer is requested by the State or a State officer or department.

Although some have raised questions regarding the consequences and constitutionality of the new law, the Michigan Supreme Court is expected to expeditiously implement the changes. All affected litigants should begin evaluating how pending and future cases will be impacted by these new changes. If you have any questions regarding the Court of Claims, please contact Jason Hanselman at 517-374-9181 or Gary Gordon at 517-374-9133.


As part of our service to you, we regularly compile short reports on new and interesting developments in our business services program. Please recognize that these reports do not constitute legal advice and that we do not attempt t cover all such developments. Rules of certain state supreme courts may consider this advertising and require us to advise you of such designation. Your comments on this newsletter, or any Dykema publication, are always welcome. © 2013 Dykema Gossett PLLC.

As part of our service to you, we regularly compile short reports on new and interesting developments and the issues the developments raise. Please recognize that these reports do not constitute legal advice and that we do not attempt to cover all such developments. Rules of certain state supreme courts may consider this advertising and require us to advise you of such designation. Your comments are always welcome. © 2017 Dykema Gossett PLLC.