Municipal Law

General Municipal Liability

Since 1965, Cummings, McClorey, Davis & Acho, P.L.C. (CMDA) has provided general counsel and liability defense to hundreds of municipalities. CMDA serves as defense counsel to many municipalities and to the Michigan Municipal Risk Management Authority (MMRMA), the largest municipal self-insurance pool in Michigan with membership of more than 300 municipalities.

CMDA attorneys assist municipal clients with analysis and management of intergovernmental relations, development of strategic plans, and facilitation of employee relations. Our Firm provides legal advice and consultation to boards, commissions, councils, departments, and other levels of government on virtually every issue that arises in the context of municipal governance. Some of the issues on which CMDA provides legal advice and consultation include intergovernmental operating agreements, government contracts, ordinance enforcement and prosecution, public works infrastructure projects and improvements, taxation, finance, environmental regulations, condemnation and eminent domain, sewer and water, elections, insurance, health care, labor and employment, zoning and land use, public disclosure obligations, telecommunications, administrative law, and public policy. Our attorneys frequently attend meetings to advise elected and appointed officials on complex and sensitive matters of public concern.

Given the challenging fiscal climate and the need to do more with less, many municipalities enter into intergovernmental agreements with neighboring communities or public agencies for the provision of public services and the operation of public facilities. Our attorneys are frequently called upon to draft intergovernmental agreements.

In addition to intergovernmental agreements, CMDA attorneys draft agreements between municipalities and vendors in the private sector. Our attorneys also draft resolutions, policies and procedures for municipal operations, and other legal documents designed to protect the interests of its municipal clients.

CMDA assists clients with creating new ordinances and reviewing, revising, and amending existing ordinances. Our Firm maintains a library of municipal ordinances and utilizes many other valuable resources to ensure that such ordinances comply with the law and advance the interests of its municipal clients. We also take an active role in enforcing and prosecuting violations of ordinances.

CMDA has vast experience in zoning, land use, and growth management. Our attorneys have successfully represented municipalities throughout Michigan in Circuit Courts, the Court of Appeals, and the Michigan Supreme Court. CMDA attorneys advise planning commissions on matters involving drafting of zoning ordinances and amendments, hearings for special use permits, rezoning, and site plan reviews. We counsel zoning board of appeals on variance requests, zoning ordinance interpretations, and appeals from planning commission decisions, where applicable. Several of CMDA’s attorneys are, or have been, members of planning commissions and zoning boards of appeals. They conduct seminars to educate municipal clients on ways to ensure that decisions of planning commissions and zoning boards of appeals coincide with the latest legislative developments and withstand legal challenges. The seminars are effective risk management tools aimed at helping CMDA’s municipal clients avoid future litigation.

CMDA experience in labor and employment law involves the investigation and handling of sex, race, age, religious, ethnic, and disability discrimination or harassment claims. CMDA is well-versed in Title VII of the Civil Rights Act, the Age Discrimination in Employment Act, the Americans with Disabilities Act, the Family and Medical Leave Act, the Whistleblower Protection Act, the Elliott-Larsen Civil Rights Act, and the Persons with Disabilities Civil Rights Act. CMDA appears before pension boards, administrative boards, and various agencies – including the Michigan Employment Security Commission, the Michigan Employment Relations Commission, the National Labor Relations Board, the Michigan Civil Rights Commission, the Michigan Department of Civil Rights, the Act 78 Police & Fire Civil Service Commission, the Department of Labor, the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, the Bureau of Workers’ Disability Compensation, and the Michigan Occupational Safety and Health Administration’s Wage and Hour Division on behalf of its municipal clients. CMDA also participates in labor negotiations, conducts arbitrations, and defends claims in court.

Our lawyers are well-versed in civil rights, negligence and intentional torts, public nuisance, various forms of immunity and statutory exceptions to immunity, municipal liability for official policies and unwritten practices or customs, supervisory liability, public works infrastructure projects or improvements, water and sewage disposal systems, tax-related issues and the Headlee Amendment, and statutes that create potential liability. CMDA’s success in handling claims against municipalities and their employees is unsurpassed.