Moving Weekend is Here!

Schoolcraft Move DayMoving Weekend has arrived.  As we say goodbye to a building that many of us have called “home” for several decades, there is a mixture of emotions, ranging from some trepidation and sadness to lots of enthusiasm and excitement.  We will be in our new location at 17436 College Parkway in Livonia at 8 a.m. on Monday.

Please note our phone system will be completely shut down from around 2-4 p.m. this afternoon.  You can still reach us by e-mail at all times.  We look forward to greeting everyone in our new location soon!

CMDA is Moving!

17436 college parkway photoCummings, McClorey, Davis & Acho, P.L.C. (CMDA) is pleased to announce the relocation of our Livonia office. Effective September 25, CMDA will be located in Livonia’s College Park Development at 17436 College Parkway.

“This is the perfect time for us to relocate. We were outgrowing our space, and the new location will enable us to accommodate our clients more effectively and efficiently,” said Bob Blamer, an Equity Partner of the Firm who is overseeing the move.

The move, designed to punctuate the Firm’s growth and wide-ranging legal services, provides a “modern, broad, open space” that can embrace additional staff members and attorneys, explained Chris Schultz, Managing Partner of the Firm. In addition to increased space, high-tech advantages and room for growth, the Firm’s new building is conveniently located just west of I-275 and north of Six Mile Road and is easily accessible to our clients and professionals.

The move from the familiar brown building at the northwest corner of Schoolcraft and Stark is bittersweet for many attorneys and staff as it holds countless special memories. Founders Owen Cummings and Bernie McClorey built the large three-level building in 1973. When CMDA first moved into the building just a couple attorneys were working there. The Firm occupied one small corner of the building, with other tenants occupying the rest. Over time, CMDA took over the entire building and occupied all three levels.

The continuous and steady growth of CMDA, in its over 50 years of existence, is a true testament to the hard work attorneys and support staff put into our Firm and the superb level of service we offer clients. This growth and longevity only occurred because of the outstanding clients that we have been blessed to serve. We look forward to greeting clients at our new location.

Cummings, McClorey, Davis & Acho, P.L.C.
17436 College Parkway
Livonia, Michigan 48152
Telephone: (734) 261-2400
Fax: (734) 261-4510
www.cmda-law.com

Acho Featured on Sports Radio/Quoted in Article Regarding Ezekiel Elliott Suspension

Jim Acho 2016Jim Acho, a partner in our Livonia office, was recently featured on sports radio in Dallas and quoted in the latest issue of the New York Times’ publication Law360 Magazine regarding Dallas Cowboys star Ezekiel Elliott, who was suspended by the NFL following a domestic violence incident.  The article and interview focused on the fairness of the NFL’s disciplinary process.

Please click here to read the full article.

 

 

Attorneys Selected as 2017 Michigan Super Lawyers and Rising Stars

super lawyers 2017We are pleased to announce that several CMDA attorneys have been selected for inclusion in the 2017 Michigan Super Lawyers & Rising Stars List.  Please join us in congratulating the following attorneys:

2017 Michigan Super Lawyers
Jim Acho, Top Rated Civil Litigation Attorney
Jeff Clark, Top Rated State, Local and Municipal Attorney
Haider Kazim, Top Rated State, Local and Municipal Attorney
Jim Schuster, Top Rated Elder Law Attorney
Allan Vander Laan, Top Rated State, Local and Municipal Attorney
The Super Lawyers List recognizes no more than five percent of attorneys in Michigan.

2017 Michigan Rising Stars
Kevin Hirzel, Top Rated Real Estate Attorney
Larry Opalewski, Top Rated General Litigation Attorney
Joe Wloszek, Top Rated Real Estate Attorney
The Rising Stars List recognizes no more than 2.5 percent of attorneys in Michigan.

Christopher Schultz, managing partner of the Firm, explains, “Having several attorneys from CMDA selected as 2017 Michigan Super Lawyers and Michigan Rising Stars is validation for the hard work they put into the Firm and the superb level of service they offer clients.  Congratulations to each of them on their well-deserved title.”

Prohibiting and Handling “Dangerous Animals” in an Association

Joe Wloszek_8x10@300Pet restrictions are a perennial topic of interest in Michigan and consistently one of the most discussed, debated and reviewed provisions in the condominium bylaws.  For example, some condominium bylaws prohibit “dangerous animals” from being brought to the condominium or kept on the condominium premises.  A sample provision may look like this:

No dangerous animal shall be brought to or kept on the condominium premises.  Any Co-owner, invitee, tenant, or guest who causes any dangerous animal to be brought to or kept on the condominium premises shall indemnify and hold harmless the Association for any loss, damage or liability which the Association may sustain as the result of the presence of such animal on the premises regardless of whether the Association gave its permission previously.

Often, we are asked the following questions:

  1. What constitutes a “dangerous animal” and how is the Board to know?
  2. Are specific dog breeds considered dangerous animals?  i.e. Pit Bulls, Rottweilers, German Shepherds
  3. Can the size of a dog make it a dangerous animal?

The Michigan Dangerous Animals Statute, MCL 287.321

If the condominium bylaws do not define the term “dangerous animal,” we often look to the dictionary to define the term or whether the Michigan legislature has defined the term.  Under Michigan’s Dangerous Animals statute, specifically MCL 287.321, a “dangerous animal” is defined as:

(a) “Dangerous animal” means a dog or other animal that bites or attacks a person, or a dog that bites or attacks and causes serious injury or death to another dog while the other dog is on the property or under the control of its owner. However, a dangerous animal does not include any of the following:

(i) An animal that bites or attacks a person who is knowingly trespassing on the property of the animal’s owner.
(ii) An animal that bites or attacks a person who provokes or torments the animal.
(iii) An animal that is responding in a manner that an ordinary and reasonable person would conclude was designed to protect a person if that person is engaged in a lawful activity or is the subject of an assault.
(iv) Livestock.

(b) “Livestock” means animals used for human food and fiber or animals used for service to human beings. Livestock includes, but is not limited to, cattle, swine, sheep, llamas, goats, bison, equine, poultry, and rabbits. Livestock does not include animals that are human companions, such as dogs and cats.

Thus, when the condominium bylaws are silent as to what constitutes a “dangerous animal,” we look to a dictionary definition or how Michigan statute(s) define the term to offer guidance.  If the Board of Directors becomes aware of an issue, the Board will need to be aware of not only the definition of a dangerous animal if it is not defined in the condominium bylaws, but also the four exceptions above.

To be clear, the term “dangerous animal” (as defined by the Dangerous Animals statute above) does not refer to breeds of dogs in Michigan.  If an Association wants to outright ban specific types of animals or breeds of animals, an amendment to the condominium bylaws may be in order.  In addition, and also under the statute, the term “dangerous animal” does not apply to the size or weight of a dog.

Conclusion

Boards of Directors and Co-owners should be aware of Michigan’s Dangerous Animals statute and the potential impact it may have helping define what constitutes a dangerous animal.  If the definition above does not comport with your Association’s view of dangerous animals, you may wish to consider amending your condominium bylaws to more clearly articulate what your association considers a dangerous animal.

Joe Wloszek is an attorney in our Livonia office where he focuses his practice on condominium law, commercial litigation, commercial real estate, large contractual disputes, and title litigation.  He may be reached at (734) 261-2400 or jwloszek@cmda-law.com.

Jim Acho Speaks at 60th Anniversary Tribute for 1957 Detroit Lions

Acho and Zatkoff Jim Acho took part in a 60th anniversary tribute luncheon for the 1957 Detroit Lions, the last NFL championship team in this town. The show was hosted by the Detroit Free Press and moderator Dave Birkett, who asked Jim to say a few words.  Jim and CMDA have served as legal counsel to retired Detroit Lions for many years.

Pictured in the photo is Roger Zatkoff, first team All-Pro in 1954 and 1955. Zatkoff’s salary in 1957 was $5,300 and the player bonus for winning the NFL championship was $3,800. Zatkoff took the $3,800 and started a very successful industrial seals business that he still operates today. At 86, Zatkoff also still manages to get in at least two rounds a week at Oakland Hills Country Club.

Look for a major interactive feature on the 1957 team this fall in the Detroit Free Press. Jim was proud to take part in this great tribute luncheon and is proud of CMDA’s association with all retired Detroit Lions.

 

Ron Acho was on the Frontline during Detroit Riots of 1967

RonAchoUpdatedRon Acho has had a long career as an attorney at Cummings, McClorey, Davis & Acho, P.L.C.  What many people may not realize is that his legal career was an indirect result of the Detroit riots of 1967.

In 1967 Mr. Acho was a hardworking 21 year old working seven days a week at his family’s market in Detroit.  He had future plans of expanding his family’s market and opening a chain of grocery stores.  Everything changed in an instance on that Sunday afternoon in July when his family’s market was burned to the ground only a few hours after the riots began.

Mr. Acho vividly remembers seeing two men with torches walking toward the market. He recalls it like a scene from a horror movie, except it wasn’t a movie.  It was real life. The men were only two blocks away, and Mr. Acho knew these men were coming for his family’s market.  He and his brother took whatever cigarettes they could carry and the cash from the store and fled the market right before the men began breaking the windows and lighting it on fire.

His family had invested their life savings into this market.  “We had no building ownership.  The little insurance that we had did not even cover the cost of the inventory.  We were left pretty much broke,” he explained.

As you can imagine, the aftermath of the riots was devastating for his family.  Left with virtually nothing, Mr. Acho realized he needed to set aside his dream of opening a chain of grocery stores and follow another career path.  Mr. Acho’s older brother, Andy, helped him secure a job as a clerk at Ford Motor Co.’s Rouge Plant.  He stayed with the automaker for eight years while earning a bachelor of arts in business administration and marketing, and graduating summa cum laude from University of Detroit Mercy.  (The most wonderful blessing occurred as a result of the riots because he had to go back to get his degree and met the love of his life, Rita, and they have been married 48 years.)  He went on to earn his law degree from the Detroit College of Law but was unable to land a job in Ford’s legal department, something that turned out to be a blessing in disguise.

Mr. Acho joined CMDA in 1974, and, within a year, was made an Equity Partner. The Detroit riots of 1967 still impact the way Mr. Acho conducts business. He has been practicing law for 43 years, so it would not be uncommon for him to begin taking on a lighter load.  However, Mr. Acho is still often the first to arrive in the office and works longer hours than many younger attorneys.  He explains that every day he walks through CMDA’s door he has the mindset that nothing is a guarantee and it could all be gone tomorrow.  He values the importance of maintaining a strong and lasting relationship with current clients and fostering efforts to grow the Firm to ensure it continues to prosper for many years to come.

 

Jim Acho Retained by Lapeer County to Represent County in Counter Lawsuit Against Sitting Judge

Jim Acho 2016Jim Acho has been retained by Lapeer County to represent the County, former Lapeer County Prosecutor–now US Attorney–Tim Turkelson, current Lapeer County Administrator John Biscoe, current Lapeer County Treasurer Dana Miller and others in an contentious action involving sitting Lapeer County Judge Byron Konschuh.

Due to the unusual nature of the case, the case is starting to be covered by the media, and Jim appeared on WJR yesterday to discuss the matter and the position of client Lapeer County.  Please click here to listen to the podcast.

Law Enforcement Body-Worn Camera Privacy Act

Jeff ClarkOn July 13, 2017 Michigan Gov. Rick Synder signed into law Public Act 85 of 2017. The Act, which has been labeled as the “Law Enforcement Body-Worn Camera Privacy Act,” pertains to recordings created by law enforcement officers wearing a video recording device during their police activities. Although it is estimated that less than 10% of law enforcement agencies in the State of Michigan have officers equipped with “body cameras,” that percentage is likely to increase over the years as other agencies explore the benefits of such recordings.

The new law provides that any disclosure of an audio or video recording that is recorded by body-worn cameras will be subject to the protections provided to crime victims under the Crime Victim’s Rights Act.  Recordings that are made in a private place by a law enforcement officer with a body-worn camera would be exempt from disclosure under the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) except under certain circumstances. The Act allows individuals to request a copy of the recording except for a recording that was exempt under FOIA or would disclose the personally identifiable information of a victim, recorded by a law enforcement officer with a body-worn camera in a private place.

The law specifies that a body-worn camera recording that a police officer retained in connection with an on-going criminal or internal investigation, would be exempt from disclosure under FOIA.

The Act also provides exemptions from disclosure if the disclosure would

  • interfere with law enforcement proceedings,
  • deprive anyone of the right to a fair trial,
  • constitute an unwarranted invasion of personal privacy,
  • disclose the identity of a confidential source,
  • disclose police investigative techniques or procedures, or
  • endanger the life or physical safety of law enforcement personnel.

The law requires that a law enforcement agency must retain an evidentiary audio and video recording recorded by a body-worn camera for not less than 30 days from the date the recording is made. Such recordings that are the subject of an ongoing criminal or internal investigation or an ongoing criminal prosecution or civil action, must be maintained until the completion of the investigation or legal proceeding. In addition, any agency must retain the audio and video recordings by body-worn camera for not less than three years after the date the recording is made “if the recording is relevant to a formal complaint against a law enforcement officer or agency.”

The new law stipulates that an agency may charge a fee for copying the recording but the fee must be calculated in compliance with the Freedom of Information Act. Finally, a law enforcement agency that uses body-worn cameras must develop a written policy regarding the use of the cameras and the maintenance and disclosure of the recordings that complies with the requirement of this new law.

Jeff Clark is a partner in our Livonia office and is the head of the Firm’s Municipal Law practice group. He concentrates his practice on municipal law, FOIA/OMA, general liability defense and prevention and personal injury defense litigation. He may be reached at (734) 261-2400 or jclark@cmda-law.com.

Brandan Hallaq Successfully Handles MLB Pension issue For Acho Client

Acho Ray HerbertBrandan Hallaq, an associate in our Livonia office, recently brought a successful result to a pension issue for a retired MLB great and client of Jim Acho.

Ray Herbert was a 17-year MLB vet (1949-1966) and the American League’s starting pitcher in the 1962 All Star game. Even more meaningful to Jim is Mr. Herbert is a 1945 graduate of Detroit Catholic Central High School, where a number of CMDA attorneys, including Jim and Ray Richards are alumni. Said Jim “Brandan put a great man’s mind at ease through his diligence in dealing with the Pension Board and is such a fine young lawyer that I knew I could trust him to take care of a valued client like Ray. Ray is very pleased with Brandan and even told me ‘Jim next case I want that kid as my lawyer  instead of you’…and I don’t blame him one bit.”