Litigation is our most extensive practice area, involving every attorney at our firm. We tailor our approach to every case, taking into account each specific client's needs and goals. While we excel in the courtroom, we are always looking for creative resolutions that achieve our clients' goals in a cost-effective manner. We view litigation as an art, rather than a checklist.
Commercial and Business
In our commercial and business litigation practice, we have successfully represented both plaintiffs and defendants in a wide variety of disputes arising out of, among other things, contract disputes, business torts, real estate and leasing matters, banking and lending, employment relationships, and various commercial transactions.
Our philosophy is to lay the groundwork for trial successes even before we file a Complaint, and to begin planning for summary disposition before we ever file an Answer. Through our relentless and detail-oriented discovery strategies, we have leveraged highly favorable settlements in some cases with minimal time in the courtroom. In other cases, our expert motion practice has led to dismissals that have saved our clients from exposure to significant potential liability. Further, we have tried several of our cases in recent years, and obtained several significant jury verdicts. Most recently, we obtained a jury verdict and $1.5 million judgment for one of our clients in a breach of contract matter.
We pursue our clients’ interests in a variety of forums, including state courts, federal courts, probate courts and arbitrations, and we are also experienced in alternative methods of dispute resolution including mediation and facilitation. While our courtroom representation is vigorous, we recognize the value of certainty that arises out of carefully negotiated, well-considered and fair settlement of claims.
Corporate and Shareholder
Within the context of our litigation practice, our attorneys have spent years developing a highly specialized practice representing shareholders, and members or partners in closely held businesses. With the lack of any ready market for such ownership interests, and the frequency with which the sale of such interests is restricted, disputes among owners of closely held businesses present unique problems. Our attorneys have substantial experience representing minority ownership interests that have been treated unfairly. The firm has achieved a large number of favorable results in favor of minority shareholders in recent years, including recoveries of $2.7 million and $705,000. In 2005, the firm published Minority Shareholder Oppression: From Estes to Franchino, 84 Mich BJ 8 (2005) in the Michigan Bar Journal, in response to key developments in judicial treatment of minority shareholder claims.
We also represent majority ownership interests faced with obstruction or revolt by unreasonable minority shareholders. Our attorneys are experienced at assisting directors and officers in achieving corporate objectives through methods that do not infringe on the rights of minority ownership interests.
Our attorneys within this practice area have also developed significant expertise regarding corporate governance. Because owners of closely held businesses tend also to be directors, officers and employees, they may be subject to strict fiduciary duties, the violation of which often permeates disputes among business owners. We have substantial experience in holding corporate fiduciaries to the strict level of responsibility inherent in their roles as officers, directors, and managing members of business entities. In 2008, the firm published a comprehensive article in the Michigan Bar Journal discussing these issues. See Partnership and the Fiduciary Component; Duties, Obligations, Rights, and Remedies 87 Mich BJ 12 (2008).
Construction and Real Estate
Our attorneys have a broad range of experience in construction and real estate litigation. We have represented parties in large-scale construction defect actions, real property ownership disputes, commercial foreclosures, construction lien actions, zoning disputes, and other real property actions. In 2006, the firm obtained a significant settlement (terms confidential) in a construction defect action on behalf of over 50 homeowners in an Oakland County Subdivision. In 2009, the firm obtained a $1.8 million dollar settlement from a title insurer on behalf of a client whose real property was fraudulently converted.
We have significant experience representing financial institutions in loan workouts, litigation, and foreclosure involving commercial and residential real estate developers. We have also represented clients in mold and other environmental cases involving allegations of building contamination.
When large groups are affected by common injuries that cannot be individually litigated in a cost-effective or efficient manner, class action litigation can be the only means to redress wide-reaching wrongful conduct. Our attorneys are experienced in managing large-scale and complex class action litigation, often proceeding concurrently in multiple states across the country. We bring class action litigation in situations where numerous individuals have experienced real suffering, and we do not settle cases unless responsible parties take meaningful action to address improper or wrongful conduct. We also defend companies wrongfully targeted by unfair or inappropriate class action litigation.
In 2008, the firm prevailed in the United States Supreme Court against big tobacco in the case of Altria v. Good, in which the high Court held that the plaintiff’s claims were not preempted by FTC regulations. In 2009, the firm obtained a $1 million settlement against Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan, for the insurer’s wrongful refusal to pay for the care of autistic children. And in 2010, the firm obtained court approval for an $18 million settlement against the largest waste disposal company in North America, Waste Management, and significant injunctive relief requiring it to remediate odor at a landfill in Lenox Township (see the video).
Patent and Intellectual Property Litigation
In today's marketplace, intellectual property is more important than ever before. We represent inventors and licensees whose intellectual property rights have been infringed upon by others, and we also defend businesses that have been wrongfully accused of patent or trademark infringement. If you or your business become involved in a dispute over intellectual property rights, our trial attorneys can assist you in obtaining an excellent result.