As a mainstay of our practice and the foundation upon which we were built, we are proud to count among our clients many of the world’s largest insurers. Our clients not only look to us to represent their insureds’ interests in litigation, but also look to us to present in-house seminars, where we gladly provide information aimed at improving all aspects of claims handling. Our insurance defense expertise includes:
- General negligence claims
- Employment practices liability
- Wrongful death
- All aspects of no-fault litigation
- Premises liability
- Commercial general liability coverage and litigation
- Motor carrier defense
- Group home and adult foster care defense
- Product liability
- Property loss and fire
Ford v Architectural Door & Millwork
This case involved the defective manufacture and sale of custom wood trim and molding. Prior to trial, Plaintiff’s last settlement demand was $500,000. The case evaluated against our client for an award of $50,000. After a two-week trial, the jury returned a no cause verdict in favor of our client. As Plaintiff rejected the case evaluation award, a Motion for Taxation of Costs and Case Evaluation Sanctions returned $50,000 in attorney fees to our client.
Roberts v Bennett Enterprises, Inc.
We represented a national hotel accused of maintaining excessively hot water in its jacuzzi. Plaintiff’s 10-month-old baby burned to death. Against one of the nation’s most prominent lawyers, Geoffrey Fieger, we received a defense verdict on behalf of our client. Plaintiff’s last demand was $5 million.
BFC Management v Jani-King of Michigan
In September, 2008, BFC Management, Plaintiff’s strip club, was intentionally torched by an employee/independent contractor of our client, Jani-King. Judge Gillis denied numerous Motions for Summary Disposition. After two weeks in trial, the jury returned a verdict of No Cause of Action in favor of our client. Thereafter, the Court ordered Plaintiff pay costs and attorney fees to Defendant in the amount of $117,000.
Rhodes v Adkins
Our client, Ms. Rhodes, was the passenger in her friend’s vehicle, which was attempting a left-hand turn at an intersection. Midway through the left-hand turn, Ms. Rhodes’ vehicle was struck broadside by Defendant. The Defendant claimed she entered the intersection on a green light. As a result of this accident, Ms. Rhodes suffered a mild scar on her forehead, which did not require surgery. The case mediated for $60,000. After a three-day trial in Wayne County Circuit Court, the jury returned a verdict in favor of Plaintiff for $500,000, with only 5% of the negligence being attributed to Plaintiff’s driver, who settled for policy limits before trial.
Estate Development v Road Commission of Oakland County
We tried a plaintiff’s case wherein Plaintiff owned property on Mirror Lake, located in Orchard Lake Village, Michigan. Defendant initiated an extensive road construction project on Pontiac Trial. During the project, Defendant blocked the only drain pipe for Mirror Lake, causing Estate Development's land to flood. Estate Development repeatedly asked Defendant to clear the pipe to relieve the flood waters, but these requests were ignored. As a result of this flood, which was directly caused by Defendant's road construction project, the wetlands surrounding Mirror Lake significantly expanded. Michigan law prohibits any construction within close proximity of a wetland. Unfortunately, the wetlands expanded so significantly that Estate Development's proposed development around Mirror Lake, which was previously approved by Orchard Lake Village, was destroyed. Following a two-week trial against no less than six defense attorneys and a very demanding Judge, we obtained a jury verdict of $1.7 million. With interest and case evaluation sanctions, however, the total recovery exceeded $2 million.
Zeidman v Psciuk
The Zeidman case involved a class action including 82 Plaintiff school teachers, who originally filed their Complaint in 1980. Plaintiffs were allegedly defrauded by our client, who sold them annuities. Plaintiffs claimed the annuities were actually worthless life insurance policies. The case was originally tried in 1985, resulting in a jury verdict in excess of $2.3 million. Plaintiffs’ attorney was Geoffrey Feiger. Judge Prentis Edwards ruled in favor of Plaintiffs on everything, including over 25 trial motions. The $493,066.00 verdict for unfulfilled reasonable expectations was reduced by $380,000.00 for a settlement entered into with other Defendants prior to trial, netting a remainder of $113,066.
Norris v Slatkin Corporation
A premises liability case, where liability was essentially admitted. The trial focused on damages. After refusing to accept a settlement offer of $60,000, Plaintiff requested over $400,000 in closing argument. The jury returned a verdict of less than $10,000. The verdict included no pain and suffering damages.
Ruffini v Pardon Company
Achieved a net arbitration award of $8,000 in a case Plaintiff was claiming approximately $200,000 in damages arising from the replacement cost of trees lost as a result of construction activity.
Hunt/Lulko v Beacon Brake
A wheel fell off Plaintiffs’ truck, causing a rollover accident. The Defendant, a tire company, was the last known entity to touch the wheels. Mr. Hunt suffered a broken neck and Mr. Lulko suffered a broken pelvis and had surgery for a torn rotator cuff. The case evaluated for $200,000 and all motions regarding the issue of causation and expert testimony were denied by Judge Colombo. The matter went to trial. After three days of trial testimony, the matter settled for $67,500, which was less than the authority provided at the Settlement Conference six months earlier. In placing the settlement on the record, Plaintiffs’ attorney reviewed his costs and the ultimate settlement for Plaintiffs. After extensive costs, Mr. Lulko received none of the settlement proceeds for his broken pelvis, shoulder surgery, etc. Mr. Hunt received only $10,000 for his broken neck and permanent, cervical fusion. In the end, Plaintiffs feared they were losing the case, risking extensive case evaluation sanctions. In fact, a post-trial discussion with the jury revealed unanimous support for the defense in the case.
Cole v JSC Corp.
The case involved claims Plaintiff was falsely imprisoned by a gas station, while he was purchasing gas. Plaintiff’s last demand before trial was $7,500. Defendant’s last offer was $1,000. After a two-day trial, the jury returned a verdict of no cause of action in favor of Defendant.
Bolton, et al. v Eastside Transition Center
Represented Defendant in the first Michigan bed bug trial involving several Plaintiffs. The trials were separated by apartment. After a five-day trial with the first set of Plaintiffs, the jury returned a verdict of No Cause of Action in favor of our client. Thereafter, Plaintiffs' attorney immediately settled the remaining Plaintiffs' claims. This lead to quick settlements and, to a large extent, the end of bed bug litigation in Michigan.
Broderick v Pittsburgh Tank & Tower
Case involved disabling injuries received on a construction site. The case went to trial in Wayne County Circuit Court. On the first day of trial, the case settled as to all Defendants. Although the case evaluated against our client for $130,000, we secured dismissal as to our client for $10,000.
Werner v Expert Diesel
This smaller case involved the negligent installation of an engine in our client's, the Plaintiff's, sweeper truck. Prior to trial, Defendant made no attempt to settle this case. After a three-day trial in District Court, the jury returned a verdict in favor of the Plaintiff in excess of $13,000. Because the engine was installed for a cost of $8,000, our client was incredibly happy with the verdict, which included damages for loss of business income.
Lisiecki v Wet Seal
Defendant’s last offer was $7,500. Plaintiff’s last demand was $30,000. After a successful jury verdict and mediation sanctions, the case resolved for $0.
ICW v SMART
In short, our client, ICW, paid a settlement on behalf of its insured, SMART bus company, of approximately $3.25 million. Despite a $1 million SIR, SMART refused to tender its SIR citing bad faith on behalf of ICW in settling the underlying matter. Due to a contractual glitch, this matter was forced into arbitration and SMART was allowed to select two of the three arbitrators to serve on the arbitration panel. Despite what appeared to be insurmountable odds, we persevered to secure an arbitration award of not only the $1 million owed, but we were also able to recover costs, interest and attorney fees on behalf of our client. ($1,157,264.10 owed).
Fath v Fairway
Case involved major home reconstruction. Allegations included defective workmanship resulting in mold infiltration. Plaintiffs alleged the $500,000 house had to be destroyed. After three weeks of trial, the case settled for nuisance value at the close of Plaintiffs’ proofs.
Thomas v Stamper
This case involved an automobile/bicycle accident, where our client allegedly disregarded a stop sign, crossed over a sidewalk, and hit plaintiff. As a result, Plaintiff claimed soft tissue injuries. Following a two-day trial and 10 minutes of deliberation, the jury returned a No Cause. Although a No Cause was somewhat expected, it was surprising in that the jury determined our client was not negligent. We successfully argued that an adjacent building obscured our client’s view of the sidewalk so that she could not reasonably be expected to see approaching bicycle traffic.
Opalewski v Allied Waste Systems, Inc., et al.
This was a unique case wherein Co Defendants ultimately agreed to settle with Plaintiff for an agreed upon amount, leaving the only issue for trial an apportionment of fault amongst Co-Defendants. This unique approach to trial capped the potential damage claim, dramatically reduced trial costs and expenses and resulted in a successful jury verdict for our clients.
Mikowski v Allied Waste
This admitted liability case against a garbage truck, which killed a 4-year-old girl was settled pre-suit. There were also injuries claimed by the deceased’s mother and sister, who were also in the vehicle. Ultimately, the driver of the garbage truck pled guilty to involuntary manslaughter. During a pre-suit facilitation, the matter was settled for $925,000, which was well below our authority.
Konstantinov v Gnida
High-profile case involving serious injuries to numerous Red Wing hockey players. The case concluded with a confidential Arbitration Award.
Hesse v Allied Waste, et al.
We initially evaluated the Hesse case with a verdict potential of $350,000 and estimated a 10% liability defense. We never wavered from this evaluation. The Case Evaluation Award in Hesse was $750,000, which the Third-Party Administrator recommended for settlement. The self-insured client authorized settlement up to $500,000 and wanted to admit liability. The jury returned a verdict of approximately $330,000 and assessed plaintiff with 10% comparative negligence. The client was thrilled.
Edinger v Allied Waste
This garbage truck case involved the death of a 50-year-old husband/father/grandfather. Plaintiff could blackboard over $7 million in economic damages. Liability was contested. The case evaluated for $1.5 million. On the eve of a trial date certain, the matter settled for $357,000.
Durham v Mattox
Our client attempted a U-turn from the far, right lane. In doing so, she turned directly in front of Plaintiff’s vehicle, which was traveling in the same direction, resulting in a T-bone collision. As a result, the 27- year-old plaintiff endured a comminuted fracture of his calcaneus, necessitating open reduction, internal fixation and plating, and a wrist fracture, which required percutaneous pinning. The case mediated for $65,000, which was consistent with the firm’s suit evaluation of $75,000. Before trial, Defendant offered $75,000 to plaintiff. In Durham, the jury determined our client was negligent and plaintiff had suffered a serious impairment. Unbelievably, the jury awarded plaintiff only $3,500 in damages. Even more amazing, the jury found plaintiff 47% comparatively negligent based on our argument he failed to keep a proper lookout. As such, the verdict was reduced to approximately $1,800. After mediation sanctions, however, plaintiff received nothing and owed our insurance client a rather significant sum.