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Court can't require security bond because injured teenager is evasive in identifying friends

Rachael Venzuch underwent several spinal surgeries after severe injuries in a car accident.  She was left with significant permanent restrictions as a result and filed a lawsuit against the at-fault driver. In defending her case, the insurance attorneys apparently took some photographs from her social networking site (a common practice today) and attempted to use them to cross examine the girl.  She was allegedly evasive in replying to the attorneys, supposedly failing to forthrightly provide last names of companions and failing to assist in making them available for depositions.  At the insurer's request, the trial court ordered that she supply a $10,000.00 bond before going forward with her case; her attorneys appealed this order.

In a unanimous decision, the Court of Appeals held that the trial court abused its discretion in requiring Venzuch to file a bond.  It noted that a bond may be required of a litigant only if there is "substantial reason" for doing so, in that her legal theory is tenuous and there is good reason to believe that the allegations in her suit are "groundless and unwarranted."  The higher court also noted that other remedies are available in the event that a party fails to provide reasonable discovery responses, and that the Defendant had not properly sought summary disposition of Venzuch's case on its merits. 

Given that her claim appeared to have merit on its face (Venzuch suffered injuries that would appear to meet the "serious impairment" threshold) it was an abuse of the judge's discretion to require a bond without complying with the pertinent court rule, MCR 2.109.  the case is Venzuch v. LaCrosse.

Thompson O’Neil, P.C.
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Traverse City, Michigan 49684
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