Vandeveer Garzia employees volunteer at Gleaners Community Food Bank
On Saturday, April 7, 2018, a group of Vandeveer Garzia employees and their family and friends volunteered for the afternoon at Gleaners Community Food Bank/Pontiac Distribution Center in Pontiac, Michigan. The group sorted 9,000 pounds of donated food and personal care items, including: canned goods, dry goods, beverages, snacks, pet care/food, clothing, and personal hygiene products. In addition to sorting the food and other items, each item had to be inspected to make sure the packaging was still sealed. The expiration date on each item was also checked to make sure that the product had not expired. These items will be distributed to various food pantries and will benefit over 7,200 individuals in the community.
Adam Gordon and Ashley Slaght prevail in defending a civil complaint alleging assault and battery.
Adam Gordon and Ashley Slaght obtained a summary disposition on a wrongful death claim in Kent County Circuit Court in a claim alleging an assault and battery by our client. In addition to a summary disposition, they were successful in obtaining sanctions against the Plaintiff’s estate and its counsel. The case arose out of a social outing between co-workers at Muskegon Lake. While boating, one of the co-workers drowned while attempting to swim back to the boat. Plaintiff’s decedent was a member of the Nation of Islam and his death was immediately investigated by representatives of the Nation. It was argued that representatives of the Nation of Islam tried to direct the official investigation in such a manner as to cast blame on decedent’s co-workers. Despite the fact that two independent forensic examiners determined that the decedent had died from an accidental drowning, the estate hired experts to opine that the injuries suffered by the decedent were caused by a blunt force impact by one, some, or all of the co-workers working in concert. Plaintiff’s estate then brought claims against the seven co-workers alleging assault and battery and wanton and willful misconduct. During more than a year of extensive discovery, more than 40 depositions were taken and more than 100 motions were filed by the various parties. Chris Hildebrandt assisted in writing the motion for summary disposition which was argued before Judge Joseph Rossi by Adam Gordon. Judge Rossi granted the motion dismissing all claims by plaintiff against all of the defendants. We also filed a motion for sanctions arguing that the Plaintiff estate had not filed the claim in good faith. Judge Rossi granted the motion and awarded sanctions against the Plaintiff estate and its attorneys in the amount of $379,693.
William Kiriazis and Jeffrey Murray received a summary disposition from Judge James Maceroni in a case pending in the Macomb County Circuit Court. Bill and Jeff represented a landlord and management company who were sued by a resident after having been allegedly sexually assaulted by another resident in an elevator of the apartment building. In a written Opinion citing Bailey v Schaaf, 494 Mich 595 (2013), Judge Maceroni ruled that the defendant landlord and management company owed no duty to plaintiff to anticipate and prevent the criminal acts of a third party and that the defendants’ duty was limited to “reasonably expediting the involvement of the police.”
Bell v Citizens
Alicia Siefer LaBeau, Sarah Gordon and Andrew Barrett recently filed a Motion for Summary Disposition on a case in which Plaintiff was claiming entitlement to first-party No Fault benefits and uninsured motorist benefits. The Motion for Summary Disposition sought to dismiss Plaintiff’s claim for first-party benefits because the defendant insurer was not in order of priority pursuant to MCL 500.3114. Further, it was requested that the uninsured motorist claim be dismissed on the basis that the plaintiff was not an insured based on the terms and definitions as set forth in the uninsured motorist policy, and therefore, coverage did not extend to the subject loss. Ultimately, upon reviewing the Motion for Summary Disposition, plaintiff acquiesced and agreed to dismiss his claims as to our defendant in their entirety.
Attorney Deb Bricely was deployed as part of the National Disaster Medical System to provide support to the State of the Union, a National Special Security Event. She trained all day Monday, January 29, and then, as one of the health medical task forces, went through intense screening and security. Her health medical task force was in place in the Capitol during the State of Union Address and remained in the building until all occupants, including the President, had exited the building later that evening. As she was going through screening in the Hubert Humphry building on Monday, Alex Azar, the newly appointed Secretary of Health and Human Services, shook her hand. In addition to being an attorney, Deb is a Registered Nurse.
Vandeveer Garzia is pleased to announce the addition of two experienced trial attorneys, Roger A. Smith and Beth A. Andrews. Roger previously worked at Garan Lucow Miller, P.C. where for several decades he successfully litigated just about every type of tort action including municipal liability, general negligence, dram shop, construction, Section 1983, product liability and automobile negligence. Beth also worked at Garan Lucow for several decades primarily handling insurance defense law, litigating a wide range of tort and insurance coverage issues encompassing general negligence, construction, premises liability, municipal, Section 1983, product liability and automobile negligence.
Williams v Allstate
Armin Halilovic and Matt Chapin successfully obtained a Partial Summary Disposition in Wayne County Circuit Court. In representing a no-fault insurer in a consolidated action, they filed and argued a Motion for Partial Summary Disposition relative to Plaintiffs’ claims for attendant care and replacement services. Based on testimony stating there was no expectation of payment, and arguing there was a lack of reasonable proof, the court granted the Motion for Partial Summary Disposition. In winning this Motion, Armin and Matt were able to minimize potential liability.
Carlton D. Watson was recently elected to the Board of Directors of the D. Augustus Straker Bar Association and currently serves as Treasurer. The D. Augustus Straker Bar Association was formed October 4, 1990, as a special purpose bar association recognized by the State Bar of Michigan. It was founded as a proactive organization of diverse attorneys, with a mission of promoting legal practice opportunities for minorities and women and to facilitate equal justice for all citizens in Oakland County. Membership includes a racially diverse coalition of lawyers, judges, and other legal professionals.
Vandeveer Garzia received a Certificate of Appreciation from the National Disaster Medical System signed by the Acting Director, thanking our law firm for affording Deborah Bricely the opportunity to deploy in support of Hurricane Harvey and Hurricane Maria. Deborah Bricely, an associate attorney with the firm is also a registered nurse. As part a Disaster Medical Assistance Team she spent two weeks helping provide care in a field hospital the team set up inside the George R. Brown convention center which housed 10,000 storm evacuees in Houston. In Puerto Rico, she and the team had to be transported via Black Hawk helicopters to an area with no water or electricity. They helped inside the damaged hospital and set up a MASH like field hospital outside as well as provided outreach strike teams to outlying devastated areas.
Karolina McGovern joined our firm as an Associate Attorney. Her practice focuses on defense litigation in the areas of first and third-party automobile negligence and premises liability. She is a graduate of the University of Detroit Mercy School of Law.
Carlton Watson recently succeeded in the Michigan Court of Appeals and the Michigan Supreme Court. In a Catastrophic First Party No-Fault Action, with over $2 Million in PIP benefits paid, Carlton represented the insurance carrier which insured Plaintiff’s mother. Carlton argued that Plaintiff was not a resident relative of her mother, notwithstanding the fact that Plaintiff, and her son, lived with her mother for approximately three months prior to the motor vehicle accident. Competing Motions for Summary Disposition were filed (by both carriers) in the Trial Court. Each was denied, finding a question of fact as to Plaintiff's domicile. On Appeal, the Court of Appeals reversed the Trial Court and fully adopted the position and arguments advanced by Carlton on behalf of the mother’s carrier. Specifically, the Court of Appeals found that that that there was insufficient evidence to show that Plaintiff intended to reside permanently with her mother and that the mother’s carrier was not liable for payment of Plaintiff’s PIP benefits. Subsequently, the ruling of the Court of Appeals was upheld by the Supreme Court.
Daniel R. Siefer along with attorney Wayne Miller were presenters at the November 2017 meeting of the Association of the Defense Trial Counsel in Troy, Michigan. The topic presented was “Provider Litigation.” Dan Siefer is also a contributing editor for Michigan No-Fault Automobile Cases; Law and Practice, Fourth edition. Institute of Continuing Legal Education.
Donald C. Brownell was elected President of Vandeveer Garzia. He took over from William L. Kiriazis who had served in that capacity for 20 years. Bill Kiriazis remains an officer and a co-Managing Partner of the firm along with Don Brownell.