Vandeveer Garzia attorneys prevail on a Motion for Summary Disposition
Holland v Citizens
Sarah Gordon and Tina Battle obtained a dismissal, with prejudice, on behalf of their clients, Citizens Insurance Company of America and Citizens Insurance Company of the Midwest, on a cause of action for uninsured/underinsured motorist benefits under a personal auto policy and uninsured/underinsured motorist benefits under a separate umbrella policy in a wrongful death action pending in the Wayne County Circuit Court. The cause of action arose out of a motor vehicle vs. motorcycle accident in which the owner and operator of the motorcycle died when struck by the defendant driver who turned left in front of the motorcycle. The potential exposure to their clients was 1.5 million dollars.
Ms. Gordon and Ms. Battle filed a Motion for Summary Disposition arguing that uninsured/underinsured motorist benefits were excluded under the personal auto policy because coverage was not provided to an insured who was occupying a motor vehicle owned by that insured which was not insured for coverage under the personal auto policy. The term motor vehicle was not defined within the UM/UIM portion of the policy and accordingly Defense counsel argued that the dictionary or common meaning of the term applied which included a motorcycle. Plaintiff’s counsel argued that the policy was ambiguous because it contained definitions of a motor vehicle which excluded motorcycles in other portions of the policy, specifically in the Accidental Death portion of the Policy and the Personal Injury Protection portion of the Policy. The Honorable Annette J. Berry agreed with the argument that the policy was not ambiguous and when given its commonly used meaning, the term motor vehicle included a motorcycle. Accordingly, UIM benefits were excluded. Ms. Gordon and Ms. Battle also successfully argued that the umbrella policy excluded any claim for uninsured/underinsured motorist benefits unless a special endorsement was added to the policy.
Two new associates join our firm
Thamara E. Sordo-Vieira and Dena M. Auraha have joined our firm as Associate Attorneys. Thamara is a graduate of the University of Detroit Mercy School of Law and has been licensed to practice in Michigan since 2017. Dena also graduated from the University of Detroit Mercy School of Law. She has been licensed to practice in Michigan since 2016. Thamara and Dena specialize in first and third party automobile liability as well as general negligence matters.
Sajid Islam obtains a favorable result in a complex property dispute
Ikle v Fritts, et al
Sajid Islam obtained a favorable result arguing against a plaintiff’s motion for preliminary injunction in a property dispute involving lot owners in a neighborhood. With respect to a park, waterfront and lake located within the neighborhood, the plaintiff was seeking a preliminary injunction to prevent defendants from erecting docks, mooring devices, or other semi-permanent or permanent structures; maintaining picnic tables; hosting large gatherings, parties, or bonfires; or driving or parking motor vehicles, golf carts or ATVs. Sajid and Co-Counsel argued that the plaintiff had not demonstrated any ownership of the park or any riparian rights with respect to the waterfront and lake. In addition, Sajid and Co-Counsel argued that the plaintiff had not demonstrated a likelihood to prevail on the merits or that the plaintiff would suffer irreparable harm without the entry of a preliminary injunction. It was also argued that the harm to the public interest was great because the plat dedication expressly stated that all lot owners could use the parks and canals in the neighborhood and the relief being requested by the plaintiff was contrary to that express intent. After extensive arguments, the court stated that it would not grant the plaintiff’s motion. However, in order to maintain the status quo until a final decision on the merits, the court entered an order preventing loud music or fireworks on the park area, and preventing the use of golf carts and ATVs on the park area in such a way as would disturb the peace.
Well-crafted Motion for Summary Disposition results in dismissal of lawsuit
Ames v Allstate Insurance Company
Sajid Islam obtained a dismissal with prejudice of Allstate Insurance Company in a lawsuit for First-Party No-Fault benefits. Sajid filed a Motion for Summary Disposition and a Supplemental Brief in Support of the Motion arguing that the plaintiff was not entitled to First-Party benefits from Allstate because she was not domiciled in the same household as her mother, the Allstate named insured, on the date of the accident at issue. Prior to the filing, Sajid obtained deposition testimony and admissions from the plaintiff and her mother indicating that the plaintiff did not reside with her mother or intend to live with her mother on the date of the accident. In addition, Sajid obtained testimony and admissions that the plaintiff did not have a bedroom or belongings at her mother’s home, and that the plaintiff was not financially dependent on her mother on the date of the accident. The plaintiff and opposing insurance company stipulated to the dismissal of Allstate with prejudice prior to the hearing on the Motion for Summary Disposition.
Vandeveer Garzia associate recognized for his volunteerism
Associate James McCoy is active in the Big Brothers Big Sisters of Metropolitan Detroit’s community based program as a “big brother.” On June 22, 2018, James and his little brother, Semaj, were featured as a “Premier Match” at the Great Big Auction, which was a fundraiser to benefit the Big Brothers Big Sisters of Metropolitan Detroit. James has seen, first-hand, the benefits that the Big Brothers Big Sisters of Metropolitan Detroit provides to our region’s youth and we are honored to have him serve as a mentor. The funds raised at the Great Big Auction will allow this incredible program to continue to provide these important services to our children in Metro Detroit.
Adam Gordon and Ashley Slaght prevail on Motion for Summary Disposition
Meghan Mair v Bristol West, et. al.
Adam Gordon and Ashley Slaght successfully obtained a summary disposition in Oakland County Circuit Court on a first-party No Fault benefits claim filed by Plaintiff. The Motion for Summary Disposition sought to dismiss Plaintiff’s claim for first-party No Fault benefits on the basis that Plaintiff, the sole owner of the subject motor vehicle, failed to maintain the requisite security as required by MCL 500.3101. As such, pursuant to MCL 500.3113(b), Plaintiff was precluded from recovering benefits.
During oral argument on the Motion for Summary Disposition, Ashley Slaght highlighted the Michigan Court of Appeal’s opinion in Barnes v Farmers Ins Exchange, 308 Mich App (2014), and successfully distinguished those unpublished opinions cited by Plaintiff. Ultimately, the Hon. Shalina Kumar granted the Motion for Summary Disposition and dismissed Plaintiff’s claims against Bristol West with prejudice.
Roger Smith and Ashley Slaght obtain Dismissal of PPI Benefits Suit
Massachusetts Bay Insurance Company v Frankenmuth Insurance Co., et. al.
Roger Smith and Ashley Slaght successfully obtained a voluntary dismissal of a Property Protection Insurance (PPI) Benefits suit filed by Plaintiff. Plaintiff filed suit claiming entitlement to damages arising out of a motor vehicle accident involving a road grinder insured by Plaintiff. Ashley Slaght prepared the Motion for Summary Disposition, which sought to dismiss Plaintiff’s claims on the basis that the road grinder in question met the definition of a vehicle and benefits were properly excluded under MCL 500.3123(1)(a). Ultimately, upon reviewing the Motion for Summary Disposition, Plaintiff acquiesced and agreed to dismiss its claims against Defendant.
Preparation pays off in very favorable settlement
Communicare Michigan, LLC v. Citizens Insurance Company.
Sarah L. Gordon and Andrew E. Barrett recently mediated a large provider claim involving a semi-independent day program in which the provider was claiming entitlement to over $380,000 in damages, and the patient claimed over $70,000 in agency-provided attendant care and additional medical expenses. In order to better negotiate this claim, three Motions for Summary Disposition were filed setting forth various arguments that the day program facility was operating as an unlicensed adult foster care facility, that the facility lacked standing to bring suit, and that the medical expenses and attendant care were unreasonable and not medically necessary. Ultimately, Sarah and Andrew were able to negotiate a very reasonable resolution to the past and present damages, and also negotiate a future agreement which will result in a savings to their client of well over $1,000,000.
Four new attorneys join Vandeveer Garzia
Darren Legato, Alex Grapentin, Melissa Mezin and Guy Silvasi have joined our firm as associate attorneys. Darren received his license to practice law in Michigan in June 2013. He has also been licensed to practice in Florida since October 2012. His areas of practice include automobile negligence and premises liability litigation. Alex became licensed in Michigan in November 2016. His practice areas include first-party and third-party automobile negligence, premises liability and general negligence matters. Melissa received her Michigan license in November 2012 and her California license in December 2014. Melissa’s background is in commercial and construction litigation as well as warranty defense litigation representing large automotive manufacturers. Guy was admitted to the Michigan bar in June 2013. Prior to joining our firm, Guy worked in-house for a major insurance carrier handling all aspects of first and third party no-fault litigation.
Vandeveer Garzia attorney receives prestigious Frances R. Avandenka Memorial Award from the Oakland County Bar Association
At the 84th Annual Oakland County Bar Association Meeting on June 4, 2018, attorney Deb Bricely received the Frances R. Avandenka Memorial Award for outstanding community service and volunteerism. In addition to being an attorney with our law firm, Deb is also a registered nurse. In 2017, as part of the National Disaster Medical Assistance Team, Deb spent two weeks providing medical assistance in field hospitals in Houston following Hurricane Harvey and several weeks in Puerto Rico working in a damaged hospital and MASH like field hospital providing medical care to those injured as a result of Hurricane Maria. We are extremely proud of the commitment to humanity demonstrated by one of our own. We congratulate her on an award well deserved.
Samantha Boyd and Anthony McEachern prevail on Appeal
Insight Anesthesia, PLLC, et al v Allstate Insurance Company
Samantha Boyd and Anthony McEachern represented Allstate Insurance Company on a First-Party provider suit, in a lawsuit pending in 67th District Court, Flint, MI. Plaintiff’s claims against Allstate purportedly arose from an alleged assignment that it obtained after filing the Complaint, and not from the services Plaintiff provided to Ms. Leinaar as alleged in the original Complaint. In addition, the Assignment at issue clearly stated that it was for medical benefits and could not be read to assign the right to payment in direct violation of MCL 500.3143. The purported assignment indicated that it was executed by Ms. Leinaar on July 7, 2015. Ms. Leinaar was provided with treatment by the Plaintiff on December 4, 2015 and March 18, 2016. As such, the Assignment was executed before the services were rendered making it invalid due to its incorporation of future dates of services.
A Motion for Summary Disposition was filed under Covenant which the District Court Judge denied. Allstate filed an Application for Leave to Appeal, which Circuit Court Judge Joseph Farah of Genesee County Circuit Court reviewed. Samantha Boyd’s exceptionally well-written Appeal paved the way for Circuit Court Judge Joseph Farah of Genesee County Circuit Court to reverse the Trial Court’s denial of Allstate’s Motion in lieu of granting leave to appeal. Judge Farah held that, “Insight has no enforceable claim against Allstate except stated as below.” Judge Farah went on to state “however Insight may maintain a cause of action if it has received an Enforcement Assignment from its patient Sally Leinaar.” He then remanded the case back to Judge Marabele in 67th District Court, Flint, Michigan to determine whether the assignment from Ms. Leinaar to Insight was a valid assignment.
Trial victory for Vandeveer Garzia attorneys
Deloney v Rishmawi
Peter O’Toole and Samantha Boyd obtained a no cause of action in a jury trial seeking automobile negligence damages. The trial was conducted at the Genesee County Circuit Court before Judge David J. Newblatt. This case arose out of a pedestrian versus motor vehicle accident that occurred on January 5, 2016, in Flint, Michigan. As a result of being struck by Defendant’s vehicle Plaintiff alleged to have sustained several injuries that were present since day of the accident. Plaintiff alleged that he sustained a permanent disfigurement to his lip and face due to cuts that resulted from being thrown to the ground. Additionally, Plaintiff claimed to have sustained in a closed head injury that resulted in memory loss and headaches in addition to injuries to his shoulder, knee, and lower back. During the course of the trial we were able to demonstrate that Plaintiff’s medical treatment and testimony from his own physicians failed to show that Plaintiff complained of the numerous injuries. During the cross-examination of the Plaintiff we were able to obtain testimony that showed Plaintiff had continued living his life as he was prior to the accident. A thorough examination of Plaintiff’s ability to continue in school and obtain several occupations following the accident demonstrated that Plaintiff was not entitled to damages. The trial lasted for three days and on May 23, 2018, the jury returned a verdict of no cause of action after a very short deliberation finding that Plaintiff did not sustain a serious impairment of an important body function or have a serious permanent disfigurement.
Summary Disposition for Tim Connaughton and Matt Chapin
Morton v Theta Chis Fraternity
Tim Connaughton and Matt Chapin successfully defended a wrongful death case by obtaining a summary disposition from Judge Daniel J. Kelley in St. Clair County Circuit Court. We represented the President of the Zeta Tau Chapter of Theta Chi at the University of Michigan-Flint. The case arose out of a social outing at the Port Huron Float Down, in which some members and non-members of the fraternity attended. An attendee within the group, who was a minor, became intoxicated and unfortunately drowned. The Estate brought suit against our client, the national and local chapter of the fraternity, and another individual member. Plaintiff was seeking $7,000,000 in damages. Plaintiff alleged that as the President of Zeta Tau our client owed a duty of care to the decedent to not allow the furnishing of alcohol to a minor and had an obligation to uphold the fraternity’s policies and procedures regarding the furnishing of alcohol to minors.
Through discovery and extensive research we were able to establish that our client did not owe a duty of care because the Port Huron Float Down was not a sanctioned fraternity event, there was no evidence our client furnished alcohol to the decedent and there was no evidence that he allowed the furnishing of alcohol to the decedent. Furthermore, we were able to establish that our client had no involvement in the planning of the event. The judge agreed that our client did not owe a duty of care to the decedent and granted our Motion for Summary Disposition.
Tony McEachern and Samantha Boyd prevail on their Motion for Summary Disposition
Colonel Lee v Sandra Guiles v The Lange Agency, LLC
Tony McEachern and Samantha Boyd represented Third-Party Defendant, The Lange Agency, an Allstate Insurance Agency in a lawsuit pending in Genesee County. The Third-Party Plaintiff claimed that our client was negligent in failing to provide coverage for a vehicle that was involved in a motor vehicle accident. The Third-Party Plaintiff claimed that she had the vehicle taken out of storage and had instructed The Lange Agency to have the vehicle covered under a policy she alleged was still active. In discovery, we were able to proof that the Third-Party Plaintiff had placed the car in storage and never had it covered again under an Allstate policy. We obtained email communications, phone records, information on how customer communications were stored, as well as Affidavits from the agency employees that dealt with the Third-Party Plaintiff confirming she never had the car taken out of storage and in fact admitted in an email she was driving it without insurance.
Samantha Boyd prepared a Motion for Summary Disposition which was argued before Judge Judith Fullerton by Tony McEachern. At the motion hearing, Tony also argued that Plaintiff had violated the Michigan Court Rules by failing to file a proper Response in Opposition along with supportive affidavits under MCR 2.116 and 2.119. Judge Fullerton granted our Motion for Summary Disposition dismissing the claim against our client with prejudice.
William L. Kiriazis and Adam K. Gordon obtain summary disposition in $10 million construction case
Metro Hospital v Premier Caulking, Inc.
Bill Kiriazis and Adam Gordon successfully defended a $10 million construction lawsuit by obtaining a summary disposition from Judge Christopher P. Yates in Kent County Circuit Court. Our client, Premier Caulking, Inc., completed certain construction work on the hospital construction project in 2008 which included interior and exterior window caulking. According to Plaintiff’s Complaint, subsequent to completion of the construction project, the windows began to leak causing substantial damage to the building itself as well as contents within the building. Suit was filed by Metro Hospital in March 2017 against Premier Caulking, Inc. and four other parties. Plaintiff alleged gross negligence, breach of implied warranty, fraudulent misrepresentation, breach of third party beneficiary, silent fraud and fraudulent concealment and civil conspiracy. On April 6, 2018, in a lengthy and well-reasoned Opinion and Order, Judge Yates granted summary disposition as to four of the five Defendants including Premier Caulking, Inc., on the basis that the claims were time-barred by the applicable statutes of limitation for each claim and the Statute of Repose, MCL 600.5839.
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.
Muhammad v Moore.
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.
Summary Disposition for Defendants
Fritz v Millennia Housing Management, Ltd.
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.”
Dismissal of lawsuit by Plaintiff
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.
Partial Summary Disposition for our client
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.