Circuit Court Decision Consistent With Supreme Court Ruling
In Hino Motors Manufacturing USA v. Naftaly, Michigan Court of Appeals, No. 292527, September 13, 2011, the Court of Appeals ruled consistent with the Michigan Supreme Court's decision in Midland Cogeneration Venture Limited Partnership v. Naftaly, 489 Mich. 83 (2011), where the Michigan Court of Appeals held that a circuit court had subject matter jurisdiction over a property tax appeal from a State Tax Commission (STC) property classification decision because it constituted a final decision that was quasi-judicial and affected private rights and, therefore, it fell within the ambit of Art. 6, §28 of the Michigan Constitution, which guaranteed judicial review. In addition, because the STC's reclassification decision was a discretionary act, the circuit court abused its discretion by issuing a writ of mandamus directing members of the STC to reclassify the taxpayer's property.
The taxpayer argued that because there was only one correct outcome in making the classification in this case, the STC's reclassification decision was ministerial and not discretionary. However, a ministerial versus discretionary distinction could not rest on the fact that there was only one correct outcome. The fact that a person, board, or entity was empowered to make a decision was enough to categorize the act as discretionary, and the applicable statute clearly empowered the STC to decide property classification disputes. Therefore, assuming that the STC was in fact presented with a situation in which there was only one correct outcome, its act in deciding the matter was nevertheless discretionary, thereby removing it from the realm of a writ of mandamus.