Vinson Participates in Real Men Read Program

e.vinsonAs part of March is Reading Month, Ethan Vinson, a partner in our Livonia office, was asked to be a guest reader at the Highland Park Renaissance Academy as part of the school’s “Real Men Read” program. He enjoyed reading to the students and answering their questions about his career as a lawyer.

Ethan Vinson focuses his practice on employment and labor law, municipal law, and law enforcement defense and litigation.  He may be reached at (734) 261-2400 or evinson@cmda-law.com

Case Law Update: LCC-MAHE v LCC Board of Trustees

CASE LAW UPDATE

higher-education-photoThe following Case Law Update summarizes a recent important case.  It is provide to help clients stay up-to-date on recent case law developments in education law. For further information, please contact Patrick Sturdy.

Lansing Community College Chapter of Michigan Association for Higher Education v. Lansing Community College Board of Trustees
January 21, 2016;  2016 WL 300954

This case concerns the applicability of the Michigan Uniform Arbitration Act (MUAA), MCL 691.1681 et seq.  The MUAA became effective July 1, 2013 and repealed the Michigan Arbitration Act (MAA), MCL 600.5001 et seq.  The trial court found that the plaintiff association failed to comply with the MUAA and granted summary disposition to the College.  However, the LCC Board of Trustees filed their claim for arbitration before July 1, 2013, making the MUAA inapplicable.  The Court of Appeals found that the trial court erred when it found the MUAA applied and it vacated the award of the trial court in favor of the College.

Patrick Sturdy 2016Patrick R. Sturdy is a partner in our Livonia office where he concentrates his practice on education law, intellectual property, business law, and employment and labor law. He may be reached at (734) 261-2400 or psturdy@cmda-law.com.

Receptionist Joins Livonia Office

BeccaIf you called CMDA this week, you might have heard a new voice answering your call.  Please join us in welcoming our new receptionist Becca to our Livonia office.  Dezaray, our previous receptionist, is still with the Firm but in a different capacity as general office clerk.  Becca is extremely friendly and is looking forward to greeting clients both in person and over the phone.

Case Law Update: Cass v. Michigan State University and Coalition of Labor Organization at MSU

CASE LAW UPDATE

breach-of-contract-photoThe following Case Law Update summarizes a recent important case.  It is provide to help clients stay up-to-date on recent case law developments in education law. For further information, please contact Patrick Sturdy.

Cass v. Michigan State University and Coalition of Labor Organization at MSU
(February 18, 2016; 2016 WL 683145)

This was a breach of contract action between plaintiff Cass, a former employee and member of the union making up part of the coalition/labor organization, the labor organization, and Michigan State University (MSU).  The plaintiff’s claim was that he, a former employee, accrued certain benefits under a contract between MSU and the coalition, and that the coalition’s decision to disburse those benefits to a group of employees that did not include him, improperly divested him of this benefit.  The Court of Claims dismissed Cass’s breach of contract claims and Cass appealed.

The gravamen of Cass’s complaint concerned healthcare benefits.  During the 2011-12 plan year, when the plaintiff was still employed, it was agreed that the coalition would pay, on a pro rata basis, any costs that exceeded the annual 5% increase in the health care plan cost.  It was also agreed that any amount of healthcare cost less than 5% would accrue to the benefit of the employees represented by the coalition, but in no case would employees receive a cash benefit for the 2011-12 plan year.  The plaintiff retired in August of 2012.  During the plan year, the employees successfully kept healthcare plan increases below 5%.  Effective January 1, 2014 through December 31, 2017, a successor memorandum of understanding (MOU) provided that two distributions would be made to employees under savings realized with the earlier agreement.  The first distribution occurred on January 1, 2014 and the second distribution occurred on January 1, 2015.  The plaintiff, who retired in 2012, stated he helped negotiate the prior agreement and that he had a vested right to the healthcare savings that accrued under the prior agreement.  The Court of Appeals affirmed the dismissal of Cass’s complaint.  The Court found that Cass failed to establish any type of promise that breached his right to receive disbursements and that the contract clearly specified that employees, under the prior agreement, were not entitled to cash payments.

Patrick Sturdy 2016Patrick R. Sturdy is a partner in our Livonia office where he concentrates his practice on education law, intellectual property, business law, and employment and labor law. He may be reached at (734) 261-2400 or psturdy@cmda-law.com.

CBS Detroit Article Highlights Acho’s Involvement in Helping Retired NFL Players

Jim Acho 2016Jim Acho, a partner in our Livonia office, was featured in the CBS Detroit article, “Livonia Attorney Fighting for Concussion Settlement from the NFL.”  The article highlights his involvement in the upcoming class action settlement against the NFL and his desire to help retired NFL players struggling with chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE) and other neurological disorders.

Additionally, Mr. Acho delivered taped opening remarks to current players at the recent NFL Players Association’s annual meeting.  His message to players stressed the importance of planning for their post-football lives now, including annual visits to their doctor.

To read the entire article, click here.

Jim Acho is a partner in our Livonia office where he concentrates his practice on sports and entertainment law, plaintiff’s personal injury, labor and employment law, and law enforcement defense.  He may be reached at (734) 261-2400 or jacho@cmda-law.com.

Land Owner has a Higher Duty than an Injured Party

Bob Blamer 2016In a recent case, a woman fell and injured her back when brick and mortar steps beneath her crumbled.  The land owner brought, and was awarded, a summary disposition dismissing the case at the trial level.

Upon appeal, the Court of Appeals held that the land owner has an actual duty to take reasonable steps to prevent dangerous conditions, which could include the duty to inspect.  However, an injured party’s duty is only to use ordinary intelligence and casual observation while walking across a parking lot or store’s floor.  The success of an injured party in these types of cases requires an attorney to be well versed in this area of law and know how to educate and prepare a client so as to defeat the Defendant’s attempt to have the case dismissed.

Robert L. Blamer is an equity partner in our Livonia office where he focuses his practice on plaintiff’s personal injury and litigation.  He assists clients with many types of negligence actions, workers’ compensation claims, and social security disability claims.  He has handled, resolved and taken to trial many cases with tremendous success not only in Michigan but throughout the country.  His trial experience includes automobile negligence, complex professional negligence, products liability and complicated plane crash matters.

Employers Face More Compliance Challenges

Gerald DavisThis past January, the Michigan Unemployment Insurance Agency (MUI) mailed a new determination to employers – Form UIA 6367, Notice of Determination of Employer Charging (Notice). The MUI uses this form to notify employers that they have the potential to be charged for (unemployment) claims for which the employer does not provide timely or adequate information in the calendar year.

Michigan law provides that if an employer or its agent has demonstrated a pattern of failing to timely or adequately respond to Agency requests for information, then benefits paid to a claimant will be charged to that employer’s account. State law defines what constitutes a “pattern” in this context as the following:
MCL 421.20(a) states that “pattern” means that the number of failures must be more than four in number and constitute two percent (2%) or more of all the requests directed to the employer during the prior calendar year.

In order to determine a pattern, the Agency established a baseline date to ensure that an employer’s failure to timely or adequately respond does not meet the requirements imposed by State law. The Agency then gathers, tracks, and analyzes the response data to determine, on an annual basis, which employers will be charged.

The Notice contains the information necessary for the employer to protest if they believe they were timely and designated as unresponsive in error. The Notice also includes a list of the cases (claimants) upon which the Notice was based and the criteria applied. Having established a pattern does not automatically indicate that the employer will be charged. The provision is only applied if the employer has established a pattern AND is not timely or adequate in responding on the current claim.

The rule from this new procedure is that, even if an employer does not wish to contest a claim, it is important that the employer responds to a request for information from the Agency. If, for example, the former employee voluntarily quit employment, that employee would not qualify for unemployment compensation benefits, but sometimes the employer would not respond if the employer agrees with the Agency’s determination. However, failing to respond is counted as an untimely or inadequate response and will impact the annual evaluation.

In the current version of the Notice, the Agency recites that the employer’s account will not be credited for any claims filed during the calendar year for which the employer does not provide timely or adequate information. In my opinion, this qualification is temporary. Why else would the Agency create this elaborate procedure to identify employers who have failed to timely respond to Michigan Unemployment Insurance Agency inquiries?

The American system of jurisprudence strongly disfavors imposing liability or guilt legislatively without a formal adjudication on a case-by-case basis. A Bill of Attainder is defined as a special legislative enactment that imposes penalty without a judicial trial upon a particular person or class of persons. A Bill of Attainder is thus an act of the legislature finding a person guilty without a trial, contrary to the United States Constitution, Article I, Section 9, Paragraph 3, that provides no “Bill of Attainder or ex post facto law will be passed.” An ex post facto law is a law that retroactively changes the legal consequences or status or actions that were committed, or relationships that existed, before the enactment of the law. In other words, it is a law that makes illegal an act that was legal when committed, or increasing the penalties for an infraction after it has been committed, or otherwise changes the rules of evidence or makes conviction easier. Interpretation of the ex post facto provision is therefore liberally interpreted.

The Notice constitutes a new Agency form and a new process, which undoubtedly will be court-tested to determine its efficiency, fairness, legality and, perhaps, its constitutionality, but in the interim, all employers are advised to respond to each Notice received from the MUI and requests for information, whether they agree with the decision, statement or conclusion or not.

Gerald C. Davis is a partner in our Livonia office where he concentrates his practice on corporate and business law, leveraged buy-outs, company reorganization and refinancing, analyzing investments for joint ventures, intellectual property, and drafting loan agreements. He may be reached at (734) 261-2400 or gdavis@cmda-law.com.

Acho Gives Opening Remarks at NFLPA Annual Meeting

JAchoCMDA_NFLPAJim Acho, a partner in our Livonia office and finalist last year for the position of Executive Director of the NFL Players Association, was invited back by NFLPA President Eric Winston to give the opening remarks at the 2016 meeting. Winston said the players wanted to hear from Acho again.

Mr. Acho delivered his remarks via teleconference from Detroit to the players in Hawaii. “Eric and George Atallah were very gracious to ask me back and I was honored to do it.” Due to the request, and Jim’s obvious popularity with the players, he has been asked if he will run again for the position in 2018. Jim’s response is this: “I’m grateful the players think highly of me, but I learned last year that the time required to campaign for the position of Executive Director the way it needs to be done is not likely something I’d want to put my family through. I will always remain a champion for retiree benefits and well-being however, and I am happy to always work with the good people at the NFLPA.” Look for an upcoming piece on Jim and his work with retired player concussion cases in CBS Sports this month.

Jim Acho is a partner in our Livonia office where he concentrates his practice on sports and entertainment law, labor and employment law, law enforcement defense and plaintiff’s personal injury.  He may be reached at (734) 261-2400 or jacho@cmda-law.com.

Plaintiffs May be Able to Recover on a Slip and Fall on a Foreign Substance on Floor

Bob BlamerAs in all premises liability cases, a dangerous condition is open & obvious if “an average user with ordinary intelligence would have been able to discover the hazard and risk presented upon casual inspection.”  The Court of Appeals and Supreme Court have been using this defense to have cases tossed out of court and many Plaintiffs’ attorneys will not take such cases.

However, inroads have been made against this open & obvious defense at the Court of Appeals level.  In Bialick v. Megan Mary, Inc., the plaintiff stopped at a gas station, entered the store to pay for gas, and fell.  Although she couldn’t see anything on the ground before she fell, such as water, her hands were wet after she fell.

The Court rejected the Defendant’s argument that Plaintiff should have been aware of a potentially hazardous condition inside the building based on the drizzly or misty weather conditions outside, and Plaintiff was allowed to proceed.

Robert L. Blamer is an equity partner in our Livonia office where he focuses his practice on plaintiff’s personal injury and litigation.  He assists clients with many types of negligence actions, workers’ compensation claims, and social security disability claims.  He has handled, resolved and taken to trial many cases with tremendous success not only in Michigan but throughout the country.  His trial experience includes automobile negligence, complex professional negligence, products liability and complicated plane crash matters.

CMDA Announces Newest Partner

Brian Goldstein UpdatedWe are pleased to announce that Brian Goldstein has been named a general partner at CMDA.

Mr. Goldstein joined CMDA in 2014 and works out of our Kansas City office. He focuses his practice on business law, municipal law, insurance defense, and litigation. He represents clients in civil litigation matters in both state and federal courts throughout Kansas and Missouri, as well as serving as coverage counsel for numerous insurance companies.

Mr. Goldstein has been involved in representing clients in a wide spectrum of cases, from routine personal injury cases to complex damage cases in the fields of professional malpractice, products liability, employment discrimination, defective construction, and wrongful death. He received a Juris Doctor degree from the University of Kansas School Of Law and a Bachelor’s degree from University of Kansas.

Chris Schultz, managing partner of the Firm, explains, “Brian has displayed exceptional leadership qualities since joining CMDA. He tirelessly promotes the best interests of the Firm and is dedicated to obtaining the best possible outcome for every client.”

Brian Goldstein may be reached at (816) 842-1880 or bgoldstein@cmda-law.com.