Municipal Law

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Since 1965, Cummings, McClorey, Davis & Acho, P.L.C. (CMDA) has represented municipalities – counties, cities, townships, and villages – and their employees. Such representation extends to municipality-created divisions, commissions, departments, boards, and authorities. Courts and judges, judicial councils, community colleges, county road commissions, public school systems, public libraries, and risk management pools are also among CMDA’s municipal clients.

Appeals, Research and Writing
County Road Law
Employment and Labor Law
Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) and Open Meetings Act (OMA)
General Municipal Liability
Grant Administration
Intergovernmental Cooperation Agreements
Ordinance Drafting and Code Enforcement
Public Act 312 Arbitration and Mediation/Fact Finding
Special Assessments and User Fees
Zoning and Land Use
  • A Few Common Reminders of the Family Medical Leave Act (FMLA) Suzanne Bartos
    The Family Medical Leave Act (FMLA) allows an eligible employee to take an unpaid, job-protected leave for a specified family and medical reason with continuation of group health insurance coverage under the same terms and conditions as if the employee had not taken leave.  A few of the common points of FMLA that may be ...
  • Autonomous Vehicles: Coming to a Condominium or HOA Near You! Kevin M. Hirzel
    An autonomous vehicle, also known as a driverless car, self-driving car, or robotic car is a vehicle that senses its environment and operates without human input. On December 9, 2016, Governor Rick Snyder signed 2016 PA 332 into law and amended the Michigan Motor Vehicle Code to make Michigan the first state that allows for ...
  • Grant Obtains Dismissals on behalf of Judge and Prosecutor CMDA Law
    Greg Grant, an attorney in our Traverse City office, recently obtained dismissals on behalf of a Northern Michigan judge and prosecutor in two separate civil rights cases. In both cases, the courts awarded his clients all of their attorney fees and costs. Mr. Grant aggressively defends judges, attorneys, and municipalities as a regular part of ...
  • Sixth Circuit Reinforces the Importance of Protecting the Identities of Confidential Informants Matt Cross
    In Nelson v. City of Madison Heights, et al., while conducting a narcotics investigation at a motel police walked by the room of Shelly Hilliard (“Hilliard”) and spotted a bag of marijuana through the window. After obtaining her consent to enter the room, police found the bag of marijuana. In order to avoid arrest, Hilliard ...
  • New Law Expands Protections for Municipalities in Premises Liability Lawsuits Matt Cross
    Michigan Governor Rick Snyder recently signed into law an amendment to the Governmental Liability for Negligence Act. MCL 691.1402a. This statute describes the extent of municipal duties and liability in claims relating to sidewalk maintenance. Municipalities are required to maintain sidewalks in reasonable repair and are not liable for the failure to maintain sidewalks unless a ...
  • Grant Obtains a No Cause of Action Verdict in Federal Court CMDA Law
    Greg Grant of the Traverse City office recently obtained a no cause of action verdict in an excessive force trial in federal court.  Mr. Grant represented four corrections officers whom the plaintiff alleged used excessive force against him while he was inmate in a Michigan county jail.  Specifically, the plaintiff claimed that he was maced ...
  • Court of Appeals Reaffirms Public Bodies are Under No Obligation to Monitor FOIA Requests Once Denied Matt Cross
    In Whittaker v Oakland County Sherriff, unpublished decision of the Court of Appeals dated Nov. 22, 2016 (Docket No. 329545), plaintiff filed suit alleging violation of the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA). On July 27, 2014, officers suspected plaintiff was driving under the influence and pulled him over. On August 20, 2014, prior to charges ...
  • Physical Disabilities in a Virtual World Christopher McIntire
    Businesses and public entities who routinely utilize their website to conduct business should be aware that there has been a steady increase in the number of lawsuits filed by disabled customers who cannot access websites.  The complaints have ranged from websites that could not be navigated without a mouse, websites disabling or otherwise making it ...
  • Municipal Immunity under the Family and Medical Leave Act Matt Cross
    The Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) was enacted, in part, “to balance the demands of the workplace with the needs of families…in a manner that accommodates the legitimate interests of employers…” 29 USC 2601(b). The Act entitles eligible employees to take leave: (A) Because of the birth of a son or daughter of the employee and ...
  • Legal Update: Implications of the Recently Enacted Medical Marihuana Facilities Licensing Act on Municipalities Matt Cross
    With the recent legalization of recreational marihuana in Massachusetts, Maine, Nevada and California, the total number of states in which recreational marihuana use is legal stands at eight. Twenty states have legalized marihuana for medicinal use. While nationwide legalization is far from a foregone conclusion, with over half of the country legalizing marihuana use in ...
  • Occupational Safety and Health Act: New Rules for Injury and Illness Reporting Gerald C. Davis
    The workplace environment is governed by the Occupational Safety and Health Act (OSHA).  The United States Department of Labor’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration recently issued a final order that will require employers and many high-hazard industries to electronically submit injury and illness data to OSHA.  Such reporting is already required to be tracked, but ...
  • Changes in Overtime Rules for Michigan Employers Christopher G. Schultz
    The Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) has changed the overtime rules for certain salaried workers, which will be applicable to Michigan employers.  The changes are to be implemented on December 1, 2016.  Michigan business owners need to start planning now in order to avoid scrambling in November.  Many Michigan closely held businesses classify salaried employees as ...
  • Attorneys Selected as 2016 Michigan Super Lawyers and Rising Stars Christopher G. Schultz
    We are pleased to announce that several CMDA attorneys have been selected for inclusion in the 2016 Michigan Super Lawyers & Rising Stars List.  Please join us in congratulating the following attorneys: 2016 Michigan Super Lawyers Jeff Clark, Top Rated State, Local and Municipal Attorney Haider Kazim, Top Rated State, Local and Municipal Attorney Carla Testani, Top Rate Family ...
  • Sixth Circuit Holds Dismissal of Firefighter’s Retaliation Complaint Elizabeth Rae-O'Donnell
    On June 22, 2016, the Sixth District Court of Appeals unanimously issued a decision and order affirming the United States District Court’s dismissal of a firefighter’s two count retaliation complaint against a local municipality, four former and current Trustees, and the Fire Chief. Plaintiff, who is of Asian descent, submitted an application for the vacant Fire ...
  • Attorney’s “FSLA Final Rule and its Impact on the Government Employer” Article Featured in MIPRIMA Publication CMDA Law
    The June 2016 publication of the Michigan Public Risk Management Association (MIPRIMA) features an article written by Suzanne Bartos, an attorney in our Livonia office.  The informative article outlines the recently released rules regarding the payment of overtime to employees and its impact on the government employer. To read the complete article, please click here. Suzanne P. ...
  • Sixth Circuit Holds that Police Must Protect Free Expression of Unpopular Views Douglas Curlew
    The “freedom of speech” protected by the First Amendment encompasses both actual speech and expressive conduct.  R.A.V. v. City of St. Paul, Minn. (S.Ct. 1992).  Embodied within the concept of “free speech” is recognition that advocates of unpopular views must be protected, even though their speech may provoke anger in persons who hear it.  Terminiello ...
  • Attorneys give Presentation to Police Chiefs on Garrity Protection CMDA Law
    Elizabeth Rae-O’Donnell and Sue Bartos, both attorneys in our Livonia office, recently gave a presentation to police chiefs on Garrity Protection.  The Garrity principle is an important tool to provide officers the necessary protection while still enabling departments to conduct thorough and complete internal investigations. In Garrity v. New Jersey, the Supreme Court held that officers ...
  • An Employee’s Motivation is No Longer Determinative in a Whistleblower Protection Claim Suzanne Bartos
    The Michigan Supreme Court has recently held that the employee’s motivation is no longer a determining factor in whether the Whistleblower Protection Act (WPA) protects the employee from an adverse employment action. Since the underlying purpose of the Act is to protect the public, municipalities are most vulnerable to a WPA claim. If government officials, who ...
  • Attorneys Present on Bullard-Plawecki Employee Right to Know Act Andrew J. Brege
    Attorneys Haider Kazim and Andy Brege were at Bay College in Escanaba earlier this week giving a training presentation to MMRMA members. The training addressed the maintenance and disclosure of personnel files under the Bullard-Plawecki Employee Right to Know Act and highlighted the United States Supreme Court decisions of Brady v Maryland and Giglio v United ...
  • In the Wake of Two Recent Rulings, Attorneys Offer Advice to Law Enforcement on Avoiding Liability James R. Acho
    Jim Acho, Doug Curlew and Jennifer Richards, all attorneys in our Livonia office, co-wrote an article highlighting two recent cases that impact law enforcement agencies. The article was published in the Michigan Association of Chiefs of Police’s publication Michigan Police Chiefs. The article, “Unfavorable Outcome Affects Law Enforcement” summarizes two recent cases from the United ...
  • Attorneys Presenting on Drones at Upcoming MACP Conference Christopher G. Schultz
    Attorneys Karen Daley and Ethan Vinson will be presenting “Drones: Can We Control the Invasion?” at the Michigan Association of Chiefs of Police (MACP) 2016 Winter Professional Development Conference in Grand Rapids on February 4, 2016. If you are attending the Conference, please consider attending their presentation and also stop by and visit several attorneys from ...
  • Can State and Local Governments Regulate the Use of Drones? Karen M. Daley
    Drones – also referred to as unmanned aerial vehicles (UAV), unmanned aircraft systems (UAS), and remotely piloted aircraft systems (RPAS) – are essentially aircraft without a human pilot aboard. Regardless of what they are called, one thing is clear: drones are here to stay and will increasingly be used for nonmilitary, domestic applications. The Federal ...
  • 2015 Year in Review: Monumental Milestone Recognized, Skilled Attorneys Hired, and Remarkable Anniversaries Celebrated Christopher G. Schultz
    As a new year is upon us, we reflect back on 2015 and the successful year we had at CMDA. We recognized a monumental milestone, hired several attorneys, and celebrated some remarkable anniversaries. CMDA was honored to have celebrated our 50th Anniversary in 2015. This monumental anniversary would not have been possible without Owen Cummings, the ...
  • Public Act 133: Pharmacy Technician Licensure Karen M. Daley
    Governor Rick Snyder recently signed several bills into law affecting local municipalities. The bills are aimed at clarifying the operations of local municipalities and should make it easier for counties, cities, townships, and villages to file documents and save money at the local government level. Karen Daley, an attorney in our Livonia office and head of ...
  • Public Act 131: E-Signatures Accepted at Register of Deeds Karen M. Daley
    Michigan Governor Rick Snyder recently signed several bills into law affecting local municipalities. The bills are aimed at clarifying the operations of local municipalities and should make it easier for counties, cities, townships, and villages to file documents and save money at the local government level.   Karen Daley, an attorney in our Livonia office and ...
  • Should Michigan Employers “Ban the Box” and Remove the Criminal Conviction Question from Applications? Elizabeth Rae-O'Donnell
    On November 2, 2015, President Barack Obama announced a new executive order to “Ban the Box,” which is a check off on federal job applications that requires job applicants to disclose their criminal conviction history on the face of the application. This initial disclosure often causes employers to eliminate applicants before ever considering their qualifications. ...
  • Michigan Legislation Update: Recently Enacted Michigan Laws Karen M. Daley
    Governor Rick Snyder recently signed several bills into law affecting local municipalities. The bills are aimed at clarifying the operations of local municipalities and should make it easier for counties, cities, townships, and villages to file documents and save money at the local government level. E-Signatures Accepted at Register of Deeds Generally, an instrument conveying real property ...
  • Attorney Joins Livonia Office Christopher G. Schultz
    We are pleased to announce that Jennifer A. Richards has joined our Firm as an attorney in our Livonia office. She focuses her practice on municipal law, insurance defense, law enforcement defense, and litigation and appeals. Ms. Richards writes briefs for submission to all levels of state and federal courts, arguing cases in all levels of ...
  • Attorneys Win Case for Local Municipality: Plaintiff Sought $1,020,000 in Damages, Awarded $0 Linda Davis Friedland
    In a case recently won by Linda Davis Friedland and Elizabeth Rae O’Donnell, a firefighter sued a local municipality, five former and current Trustees, and the Fire Chief, under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and Michigan’s Elliott-Larsen Civil Rights Act (ELCRA).  Plaintiff sought $1,020,000.00 in damages and was awarded nothing. Plaintiff, who ...
  • Attorneys Selected as 2015 Michigan Super Lawyers & Rising Stars Christopher G. Schultz
    We are pleased to announce that several CMDA attorneys have been selected for inclusion in the 2015 Michigan Super Lawyers & Rising Stars List.  Please join us in congratulating the following attorneys: 2015 Michigan Super Lawyers Jeff Clark, Top Rated State, Local and Municipal Attorney Allan Vander Laan, Top Rated State, Local and Municipal Attorney Haider Kazim, Top Rated ...
  • EEOC Bans Discrimination against Sexual Orientation in the Workplace Elizabeth Rae-O'Donnell
    On July 16, 2015, the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) ruled that all job discrimination based on sexual orientation is a form of sex discrimination under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. This historic 3-2 decision does what Congress and most courts so far have refused to do: ban discrimination against gays ...
  • Gov. Snyder Signs Law to Bar Municipal Wage, Employment Rules Elizabeth Rae-O'Donnell
    On June 30, 2015, Governor Rick Snyder signed HB 4052 into law which stops local governments from adopting, administering or enforcing future ordinances or policies that require local businesses to pay wages, fringe benefits or leave time that exceed State or Federal requirements. The bill will take effect on September 28, 2015. Currently, Michigan’s minimum ...
  • Attorneys Explain Significant Changes to FOIA (Video) Haider Kazim
    Significant changes to Michigan’s Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) take effect July 1, 2015. It is important that public bodies prepare and implement the new FOIA policies and guidelines. CMDA attorneys Haider Kazim and Andrew Brege have prepared a video that briefly explains some of the new statutory rules and outline some of the changes public ...
  • Litigation: How to be Better Prepared Douglas Curlew
    Under the American legal system, there is no realm of human activity that fails to spawn litigation. The financial cost of a potential judgment is easily recognized. Less understood is the cost of time, energy, and resources (financial and human) of the litigation process itself. Even the defendant who avoids judgment by “winning” his case ...
  • E-Verify: Understanding Responsibilities and Rights CMDA Law
    E-Verify is a federal program that employers use to verify a new employee’s employment eligibility in the United States. The use of E-Verify has grown exponentially in the last few years and its use only continues to increase. According to the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services, just over 1,000 employers were enrolled in E-Verify ...
  • Public Act 152: Caught Between a Rock and a Hard Place Patrick R. Sturdy
    In 2011, the Governor signed into law PA 152 of 2011, known as the Publicly Funded Health Insurance Contributions Act, which caps the amount of money public employers, such as colleges, cities, townships and villages can pay towards employee health care. The law provides employers with two options for cost sharing. The default option is ...
  • Attorneys Conduct Open Meetings Act and Freedom of Information Act Training Jennifer Sherman
    On February 12, 2015, attorneys Andrew Brege and Jeff Clark conducted a training seminar for municipal clients in Lenawee County.  The seminar  covered the Open Meetings Act and Freedom of Information Act, and included updated information concerning the recent amendments to FOIA.  The training seminar was attended by more than 70 county and other municipal officials ...
  • Recent Changes to the Freedom of Information Act may Impact Local Communities Andrew J. Brege
    On December 19, 2014, the state legislature passed HB 4001, a bill significantly amending the Freedom of Information Act’s (FOIA) charging requirements and penalty provisions. The new rules are set to take effect on July 1, 2015. These new statutory rules will require most public bodies to revisit their FOIA policies and guidelines. The following ...
  • Court Rules Mental Health Commitment Constitutional – Case Dismissed CMDA Law
    Attorney Kali Lester recently received a dismissal in Federal Court where the plaintiff alleged a local police department had an unconstitutional policy for mental health commitments. The policy permits officers to rely on statements from witnesses to evaluate an individual’s mental condition. The plaintiff argued that Michigan’s Mental Health Code requires officers to personally observe ...
  • Public and Private Employers Subject to 50 Employee Threshold Under the FMLA: Does Unconditional Language in Employee Manual Create a Jury Question? Linda Davis Friedland
    Both private and public employers are subject to the Family Medical Leave Act (FMLA), which allows eligible employees to take up to 12 weeks of unpaid leave from their employment if they meet certain statutory requirements (employed for at least 12 months, and worked 1250 hours within the preceding 12 months). The FMLA defines a ...
  • The Failure of Public Act 222: Sewer Backup Legislation Gregory A. Roberts
    In 2001 the State of Michigan enacted Public Act 222 (MCL 691.1416 seq.) to provide a statutory exception to governmental immunity for sanitary sewer backups onto real property. Prior to Act 222, the legal theory used by plaintiffs to recover for sewer backup events was the Trespass-Nuisance exception. That common law action carried strict liability ...
  • Advantages of Intergovernmental Agreements for Municipal Services and Programs Jeffrey R. Clark
    Many municipalities throughout Michigan are still reeling from the affects decreased housing values have had on tax revenues. Counties, Cities, Townships and Villages have all been forced to adjust budgets and, in many situations, cut back on services provided to residents. One of the few good things that have resulted is the increased intergovernmental cooperation in ...
  • Supreme Court Decides on Fourth Amendment Cases Allan C. Vander Laan
    The search-and-seizure provisions of the Fourth Amendment are all about privacy. To honor this freedom, the Fourth Amendment protects against “unreasonable” searches and seizures by state or federal law enforcement authorities. However, law enforcement may override your privacy concerns and conduct a search of you, your home, office, personal or business documents, bank account records, ...