Hirzel Wins Court of Appeals Case for Homeowner Clients

Kevin Hirzel_8x10@300Kevin Hirzel, a partner in our Livonia and Clinton Township offices, recently won a Court of Appeals case in which he represented the homeowner defendants.

In December 2010, plaintiff purchased three adjacent parcels of vacant property in Northville. When plaintiff attempted to sell the property, it was discovered that improvements to defendants’ adjacent property encroached onto the plaintiff’s property.

A portion of defendants’ garage, which had been extended from a two-car garage to a three-car garage in 1978, and the accompanying driveway both encroached onto plaintiff’s property (the “disputed area”). In addition, defendants had removed a shed that their predecessors had constructed in the disputed area, but continued to use the location for a sitting area. Defendants and their predecessors had continuously maintained and landscaped the disputed area since at least 1978.

Plaintiff brought this action to quiet title to the disputed area, along with seeking monetary damages of more than $350,000, and defendants brought a counter-complaint asserting ownership to the disputed area pursuant to the doctrines of adverse possession and acquiescence. Defendants filed motions for summary disposition with respect to plaintiff’s claims and their counterclaim. The trial court granted the motions pursuant to MCR 2.116(C)(10), and quieted title to the disputed area in favor of defendants pursuant to the doctrine of adverse possession. Defendants also requested sanctions under MCR 2.114(E) and MCL 600.2591, on the ground that plaintiff’s claims for conversion, tortious interference with a contract or business expectancy, and trespass were frivolous. The trial court summarily denied defendants’ request for sanctions.

The case was brought before the Court of Appeals who affirmed the trial court’s summary disposition orders; ruled that two of plaintiff’s claims, conversion and tortious interference, were frivolous; and therefore remand for determination of an appropriate award of sanctions.

Mr. Hirzel is a partner at CMDA and practices out of both our Livonia and Clinton Township office locations.  He concentrates his practice on commercial litigation, community association, condominium law, construction law and real estate law.  He may be reached at (734) 261-2400 or khirzel@cmda-law.com.  

Case Law Update: Silk v. Board of Trustees, Moraine Valley Community College


college-classroom-photoSilk v. Board of Trustees, Moraine Valley Community College

795 F.3d 678 (July 30, 2015)

Mr. Silk was an adjunct professor at the College and he began working there in 1986. As an adjunct professor he was non-tenured and an at-will employee. Mr. Silk’s typical teaching load included four courses during the fall and spring semester and two or three classes during the summer.

In March of 2010, the Dean of the Liberal Arts Department sent Mr. Silk an offer to teach two Sociology courses in the summer term and Silk accepted. In April, however, Silk had triple bypass surgery. Silk was on medical leave through the remainder of the spring semester and did not inform the College of an anticipated return to work date. Other faculty members had to cover Silk’s course load during his absence. During visits with the classes, the Dean discovered troubling information about Silk’s teaching including low student turn out, problems with course syllabi and the textbook listed was not the textbook used for the course. Silk’s summer courses were transferred to other instructors because the College did not receive a return to work date from him. Following his return from medical leave the College met with Mr. Silk and his union representative regarding problems with his course syllabi, course objectives and lack of contact information. Silk was only assigned two courses for the fall 2010 semester. In the fall of 2010, the College began to monitor more closely Silk’s classroom performance and they found many instances of poor instruction, but this was not shared with Silk. In December of 2010, several students filed complaints against Silk. Silk was informed that no further courses would be available to him in Liberal Arts.

Silk sued the College in February of 2012 alleging Age and Disability Discrimination and Retaliation. The trial court dismissed Mr. Silk’s case and he appealed to the Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals. The Court of Appeals affirmed in part and reversed in part the findings of the trial court. The Court found that there was a question of fact on the issue of whether the department chair said Mr. Silk’s course load should be reduced because they did not think he was physically capable of handling his work following his bypass surgery. The Court of Appeals upheld the dismissal of Silk’s age discrimination claim finding that he had not articulated a claim for relief under the ADEA. Finally, the Court of Appeals found that Silk had presented an insufficient case of retaliation under the ADA and the ADEA. The case was remanded for further proceedings on the issue of whether the College reduced Silk’s fall course load as a result of a perceived impairment in violation of the ADA.

Patrick R. Sturdy is a partner in our Livonia office where he concentrates his practice on intellectual property, business law, education law, and employment and labor law. He may be reached at (734) 261-2400 or psturdy@cmda-law.com.

Hirzel Attends CAI Advocacy Summit in Washington, D.C.

Kevin Hirzel (right) with Rep. David Trott

Kevin Hirzel (right) with Rep. David Trott

Kevin Hirzel, a partner who practices out of both our Livonia and Clinton Township office locations, recently attended the Community Association Institute (CAI) Legislative Summit in Washington, D.C.

CAI members from around the country met to discuss important community association issues with Congressional leaders and their staff.  The Summit focused on the legislation that would restrict a community association’s ability to ban radio antennas, gaining access to FEMA disaster relief for community associations and relaxing the requirements for community associations to obtain FHA Certification.

Mr. Hirzel enjoyed attending the Legislative Summit and having the opportunity to meet with the Michigan Congressional Delegation and other CAI members to investigate effective solutions to best serve the Firm’s community association clients.

Mr. Hirzel is a partner at CMDA and practices out of both our Livonia and Clinton Township office locations.  He concentrates his practice on commercial litigation, community association, condominium law, construction law and real estate law.  He may be reached at (734) 261-2400 or khirzel@cmda-law.com.  

Attorneys Attend Salute to the Justice System Event

BethLarsenSeveral CMDA attorneys attended the 4th Annual Salute to the Justice System held on October 29. This year’s Honoree was Melvin L. Larsen, Co-Author of the Elliot-Larsen Civil Rights Act, Former Member of the Michigan House of Representatives and Former Chairman of the Michigan Republican Party.

Mr. Larsen is pictured here with Elizabeth Rae-O’Donnell, an attorney in our Livonia office.