UPDATE ON MICHIGAN AND INDIANA – ANSWER TO COMPLAINT AND DEFAULT ENTRY DEADLINES

Simon PLC Attorneys & Counselors – August 2020 Memorandum

UPDATE ON MICHIGAN AND INDIANA – ANSWER TO COMPLAINT AND DEFAULT ENTRY DEADLINES

Bloomfield Hills, Michigan – When we rang in 2020 seven months ago, few of us predicted the year it would turn out to be.  And who knows what the next five months will bring?  Despite the effect that the COVID-19 pandemic has had on just about everything around us, Simon PLC Attorneys & Counselors has remained open for business, and our attorneys have seamlessly continued to practice in the several states where we have a footprint.  We are experienced at hearings by Zoom videoconference and in other ways to leverage technology for the benefit of our clients.

In our April memorandum, we informed you that yes, lawsuits can still be commenced and prosecuted in Michigan during the COVID-19 pandemic.  The issue was computing the time in which defendants had to answer or otherwise responsively plead to a complaint.

The Michigan Supreme Court, in Administrative Order 2020-3, provided that all deadlines for initial responsive pleadings were tolled during the Governor’s state of emergency, which took effect on March 10, 2020.  Basically, the number of days a party had to file any initial responsive pleading was suspended on March 10, with the counting to resume after the emergency was over.  The order was amended to clarify that it did not toll statutes of limitations.  If your deadline to file a lawsuit occurs during the emergency, you still have to file it timely.

As of the writing of this article, the Michigan state of emergency remains in effect and is scheduled to expire, unless extended, on August 11, 2020 at 11:59 p.m.  However, the tolling of responsive pleading deadlines is no longer in effect.  On June 12, 2020, the Michigan Supreme Court entered Administrative Order 2020-18, which rescinded Administrative Order 2020-3 and established June 20, 2020 as the effective date for the counting of days to resume.  Sufficient time has now passed that non-responsive defendants affected by the tolling should all be subject to default.

In Indiana, litigants have similarly been able to commence and prosecute new lawsuits throughout the pandemic.  The Indiana Supreme Court began by tolling deadlines in the Court of Appeals and Supreme Court, while considering trial courts’ individual petitions and requiring plans to handle their emergencies.  Virtually every county petitioned the Court and obtained an order tolling the deadlines, but the effective date varies by a few days (generally between March 16 and 20), depending on the county.

On May 29, 2020, the Indiana Supreme Court entered its Order Extending Trial Courts’ Emergency Tolling Authority and Setting Expiration of Other Emergency Orders in In the Matter of Administrative Rule 17 Emergency Relief for Indiana Trial Courts Relating to the 2019 Novel Coronavirus (COVID-19), 20S-CB-123. This Order authorizes the tolling through August 14, 2020 of “all laws, rules, and procedures setting time limits for speedy trials in criminal and juvenile proceedings; public health and mental health matters; all judgments, support, and other orders; and in all other civil and criminal matters before Indiana trial courts.  (emphasis added)  This tolling period expires at 12:01 a.m. on August 15, 2020, unless further extended by the Supreme Court.   Just as June 20, 2020 became the date to resume counting in Michigan, August 15 becomes the date to resume counting in Indiana.

One key difference between Michigan and Indiana on these particular issues:  Indiana has also tolled any interest from accruing or being charged during this time.  That appears to include both pre-judgment and post-judgment interest.

Please contact Simon PLC Attorneys and Counselors if you are owed money in Michigan or Indiana and would like advice on effective tools to collect it.   We will be happy to discuss how the pandemic-related orders affect your case and the defendant’s response deadline.

N.B. Not Legal Advice: Please contact us if you would like to discuss the facts and circumstances of your specific matter. Simon PLC Attorneys & Counselors expressly disclaims all liability in respect to actions taken or not taken based on any or all the contents of this memorandum. The information contained herein may not reflect current legal developments and is provided without any knowledge as to the recipient’s location, industry, identity or specific circumstances. No recipients of this content, clients or otherwise, should act, or refrain from acting, on the basis of any content included in this memorandum without seeking the appropriate legal or other professional advice on the particular facts and circumstances at issue from an attorney licensed in the jurisdiction for which the recipient’s legal issue(s) involve. The application and impact of relevant laws varies from jurisdiction to jurisdiction, and our attorneys do not seek to practice law in states, territories and foreign countries where they are not properly authorized to do so.

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