The Kagen case was before the trial court because Father wanted to have the children vaccinated and Mother opposed. The Court of Appeals remanded this matter to the circuit court for reconsideration of whether securing vaccinations for the parties’ minor children was in the children’s best interests. (Kagen I). The COA opinion in Kagen I described in considerable detail the circuit court’s several legal errors and clearly erroneous factual findings. The COA remanded with a specific recommended course of action to be undertaken by the trial court on remand. The Court of Appeals decisions provide clear guidelines for all parents and their lawyers about what is required when two parents sharing joint legal custody disagree about a medical issue such as immunization.
(1) The circuit court was directed by the COA to verify that the vaccination decision would not affect the children’s established custodial environment. The court complied.
(2) The COA instructed that trial court on Mr. Kagen's burden of proof regarding the issue that updating the children’s vaccinations would serve their best interests, sting that it was by a preponderance of the evidence.
(3) The COA instructed the circuit court to consider on the record the statutory best-interest factors of MCL 722.23 as is required by binding precedent of both the COA and the Michigan Supreme Court, identifying and applying all relevant factors.
(4) The COA instructed the circuit court on the evidentiary principles governing the admissibility of vaccine-related evidence.
Unfortunately, the trial court failed to comply with the COA instructions on remand, thus this case came before the COA again. (Kagen II)
In Kagen II, the COA reversed and remanded holding that
(1) On remand, the circuit court again determined that Mr. Kagen had not met his burden of proving that vaccination was in the children’s best interests, but this decision was, unfortunately, based upon patently inadmissible evidence.
(2) Because the admissible evidence before the court established by more than a preponderance that updating the children’s standard vaccinations would be in their best interests, the COA reversed and remanded for entry of an order consistent with this opinion.
Kagen v Kagen, unpublished opinion per curiam of the Court of Appeals, issued July 14, 2015 (Docket No. 318459) (Kagen II). Download Kagen II
Kagen v Kagen, unpublished opinion per curiam of the Court of Appeals, issued December 18, 2014 (Docket No. 318459) (Kagen I). Download Kagen I