From our desk . . .
How Michigan’s New Dog Law Affects You
On September 7, 2016, the Michigan Senate passed Bill No. 727. This Bill permits dogs in specific outdoor areas of Michigan restaurants. In order to facilitate this change, both restaurant and dog owners must meet several health and safety requirements. Along with these requirements, the statute also provides strict liability against owners of a dog that causes damage or injury in relation to the dog’s presence in the restaurant.
Restaurants that wish to allow dogs in their outdoor areas must adhere to certain guidelines. A separate and accessible entrance must be provided so that dogs do not pass through the interior of the restaurant, which includes any playground areas that might exist. The outdoor area must be kept clean, and “free of visible dog hair, dander, and other dog-related waste and debris.” Any waste that results from a dog’s ordinary bodily function must be immediately cleaned and disinfected, and any equipment used to clean such waste must be stored separate from all other cleaning equipment. As expected, any employee that comes into contact with a dog or its waste products must immediately wash his or her hands, and may not serve food or beverages until they do so.
Dogs are not allowed access to a seat, chair, or customer’s lap, and no dog may contact a tabletop, countertop, or similar surface. Dogs are also prohibited from contact with reusable tableware unless the tableware is specifically dedicated to use by dogs and is “readily distinguishable” from other tableware. As can be anticipated, this task may prove difficult to enforce. Accordingly, restaurant owners are permitted to refused service to any customer with a dog.
Restaurant owners may limit the size and type of dog a customer may bring, and has the right to “deny entry to or eject” a customer and his or her dog. The restaurant has broad discretion when setting its limitations pertaining to a customer’s dog. Moreover, a restaurant may not accept a customer with a dog unless the customer is 18 years or older, maintains the dog on a leash at all times, and does not leave the dog unattended.
Senate Bill 727 also provides protection for restaurant patrons. Each restaurant must notify the local health department, in writing, that they intend to allow dogs in the outdoor dining area. They must establish written procedures that will ensure compliance with the requirements, above. Any customer may submit a written request to see these procedures, and the restaurant must comply with said request. Finally, the Bill provides liability against any dog owner whose dog causes damage or injury while in the outdoor dining area.
According to section (2), “the owner of a dog brought into a food service establishment . . . is liable for any damage or injury to the food service establishment, an employee of the food service establishment, or a customer of the food service establishment caused by the dog.” This strict liability statute is similar to Michigan’s current dog bite statute, MCL 287.351, which provides that an owner of a dog is strictly liable for the damage caused to a person on public property, or lawfully on private property, regardless of the dog’s previous record of viciousness or owner’s previous knowledge of the same.
While the Bill and statute are similar, there is one major difference; Senate Bill 727 seems to provide strict liability in all cases, whereas MCL 287.351 only provides strict liability in cases where the dog is not provoked prior to causing damage or injury. If this is the intention of the legislature, it provides additional protection for restaurant patrons by providing a cause of action against the owner of a dog regardless of whether the dog was provoked.
Whether your favorite dining area is converted into a dog-welcomed establishment will be entirely up to the establishment owner. Regardless, if you are damaged or injured by a dog in the outdoor area of a restaurant, remember that while Senate Bill 727 did allow the dog on the property, it also provides you with a specific remedy against its owner.
Our condolences go out to Berrien County
We’re sad to hear about the Bailiffs that were shot and killed yesterday in Berrien County. Whether we were in Jolliet, Chicago, Naples, Bowling Green, or in any courtroom in Michigan — you might not get along with the Judge, or the prosecutor or opposing counsel — but you better get along with the Bailiff. They can definitely make your day go one way or another. Most know whether you are doing a good job or a bad one, and most have a pretty good sense of humor. I gave an opening statement one time up in St. John’s and after I finished I asked the Bailiff how I did and he said “looks like you won your case.” After a week of trial the Bailiff was right, jury returned a verdict of not guilty. Similarly, while trying a case in Eaton County a Bailiff came up to me after I called an expert to the stand and advised “just so you know, juries hate that expert you called.” Unfortunately, the verdict reflected his sage advice as well. Bailiff’s take clients in and out of the courtroom if the client is not out and bond. We always advise our clients to treat the Bailiff’s well, they are just doing their jobs. I can’t say I knew these two Bailiff’s personally, but I suspect I know exactly the type of people they were. Our condolences go out to Berrien County.
–Andrew Abood, president of the Abood Law Firm
Andrew Abood discusses the Celebration Ordinance in East Lansing with WILS
From our desk….
Lawyers refer to their profession as the “practice of law.” When pressed with what the term means, most would answer that it means that you never reach perfection. No matter how long you are a member of the bar, a lawyer is always practicing. At the Abood Law Firm, we understand the phrase the “practice of law”, we prefer to think of what we do more as a discipline. Any discipline requires routine, like yoga or conducting a pre-flight inspection. With any discipline, there are certain fundamental principles, and with the law, that is no different. One of the fundamental principles with this discipline is that lawyers should go to the original source. Whether it is a court’s written decision, a statute, or a witness, it is too easy to rely on a summary as opposed to looking and analyzing the written decision, statute or interviewing the witness for yourself. Facts are checked and double-checked by multiple people from different perspectives.
Nowhere was this more evident than on a case in which the Abood Law Firm was retained in Naples, Florida. Our client was charged with 2nd degree murder for the death of her husband. We became involved in the case hours after the death. Under such circumstances, strategy and fundamentals are important aspects early on to preserve and assure a good result. In this case, we were fortunate that the police turned over the house hours after the death. The Abood Law Firm spent the better part f the day inspecting the scene to attempt to determine what objective facts could be obtained.
During our inspection, it was determined that critical evidence was not secured by the scene investigators for the State, including a one pass box which appeared to have been shredded by a bullet, as well as a .38 caliber handgun. Not only did the Abood Law Firm conduct a detailed examination of the death scene, but the firm was also able to get the client out on bond, which also allowed the client to travel to and stay in Michigan where her family resided.
From the outset, it was clear that the State’s theory was that there was a lone gunman who fired the fatal shot — which the State theorized was our client. Various bullet fragments were secured by the State, but not all. Some fragments had pierced the through the drywall and had fallen into the crevice. Our defense team was able to secure the fragments behind the wall, which ultimately appeared to be manufactured differently than the fatal shot.
Additionally, as the case progressed, on several occasions the Abood Law Firm went to the Sheriff’s Department to inspect the evidence seized by the State. Included within the inventory were several bullet fragments of various shapes and sizes. Using digital calipers, the Abood Law Firm measured the fragments to determine whether any of the fragments could substantiate that a second gun was fired. Taking photos of the measurements, and in consultation with a firearms expert, it was concluded that at least one of the fragments could not have been fired from the gun suspected of causing the fatal shot.
Armed with this information, we then asked the State to send the particular bullet fragment to the State lab for testing including a determination as to caliber and whether the fragment could have come from the same gun that had fired the fatal shot. Ultimately, the State’s expert concluded that the bullet fragment was not fired from the same gun that fired the fatal shot, which told us that more than one weapon was fired inside the residence.
But we did not rest there. We pressed the State to disclose the results of the gunshot residue testing from both the Defendant’s and the deceased’s hands. Although the State delayed significantly in producing the test results, once it was produced, the defense’s theory gained more ground. It turned out that the deceased had more gunshot residue on his hands than the Defendant had on her hands.
Given the overwhelming evidence contrary to the State’s theory that the Defendant was the lone gunman, the State concluded that the best it could do was to offer the Defendant a probationary offense, which did not include any additional jail time.
Love Has No Boundaries
In Michigan, by statute and as standard boilerplate language in all Judgments of Divorce, a custodial parent cannot move more than 100 miles away with the minor children without getting the court’s or the non- custodial parent’s permission. With today’s modern romance, it is common for love to cross-significant boundaries. Whether it is an old high school sweetheart or a chance encounter on social media. Strong, healthy and committed relationships can occur over great distances. As such, courts are being asked more and more to grant a custodial parents Motion to move outside the 100 mile radius. Such was the case in Ingham County this month, when an Abood Law Firm client, living in Howell, Michigan, became engaged to her boyfriend of two years, who lives in Texas. As the custodial parent, she wanted to move to Texas and get married to her fiancé, in order to begin their lives together. But her ex-husband objected.
Last week, the Abood Law Firm brought the issue before the Judge who granted the divorce requesting that the custodial parent be allowed to change domicile. An evidentiary hearing was held in which our client and her fiancé testified in support of the Motion, and her ex-husband testified against the motion. With almost any post-judgment motion, the court generally is required to focus on certain criteria. The party seeking the move has the burden of establishing by a preponderance of the evidence that the change in domicile is warranted. Further, if the court finds in favor of allowing the move, it must then address whether the change of domicile will affect an established custodial environment with the other parent. If so, then the moving party must also prove by clear and convincing evidence that the custodial change is in the child’s best interests as defined by statute in Michigan.
In this particular case, the court was attuned to the factors required to be assessed to determine whether to grant or deny the motion and limited the proofs to those factors. In its ruling, the court granted our client permission to move with her children to Texas. Being able to move to another state with your children for love and to begin a new life together, gives real meaning to the term: “Love has no boundaries.”
Our client and her fiancé were grateful, and look forward to planning the rest of their life together.
Hear about the O.J. story and an update on the Bill Cosby sexual assault case as Andrew Abood, Parter of Abood Law Firm, joins MPS.
Help Flint With The Recovery Effort
As we know, Flint is in need of all the donations they can get we have come across a great opportunity for people to volunteer with The Michigan Community Service Commission.
Currently, there is a Community Volunteer Reception Center set up at the Red Cross of America, 1401 Grand Traverse St, Flint. This is the location you would go to register to volunteer.
We have had a tremendous response to assist with this recovery effort! Jobs change day-to-day and upon demand. The current opportunities for spontaneous volunteering right now are listed below:
- Warehouse: Out between 8am and 4pm (multiple shifts)
- Dock: Out between 8am and 4pm (multiple shifts)
- Data Entry: 2 shifts of 9am – 1pm and 2pm – 6pm. Varies upon demand
- Testing kit assembly: Times continuous and vary upon demand
If you are part of a team or group, you could also participate in mobile distribution (going to door-to-door). Please schedule in advance of the day your group wants to volunteer by contacting Victoria Fryer: firstname.lastname@example.org. She will need to plan out how to engage your efforts for this work.