John J. Bursch

Partner | jbursch@wnj.com | V-Card | Profile PDF Grand RapidsT +1.616.752.2474F +1.616.222.2474 John Bursch co-chairs Warner’s Appellate & Supreme Court Practice and represents Fortune 500 companies, foreign and domestic governments, top public officials, and industry associations in high-stakes cases with extensive publicity, primarily on appeal. John was recently recognized as one of the most successful attorneys in the country in persuading the U.S. Supreme Court to grant review over the Court’s past four Terms. This fall, John will be... Read More

John Bursch co-chairs Warner’s Appellate & Supreme Court Practice and represents Fortune 500 companies, foreign and domestic governments, top public officials, and industry associations in high-stakes cases with extensive publicity, primarily on appeal. John was recently recognized as one of the most successful attorneys in the country in persuading the U.S. Supreme Court to grant review over the Court’s past four Terms. This fall, John will be arguing his 10th Supreme Court case since 2011, compiling a record the National Law Journal observed “even more veteran high court advocates would envy.”
 
John has argued many dozens of cases in appellate courts across the country, including 21 Michigan Supreme Court cases, earning him a record six Distinguished Brief Awards. In fact, John argued more than 8% of all the Michigan Supreme Court’s non-criminal docket during its 2015 Term, including cases involving employment law, commercial contracts and trade secrets, and governmental immunity. National commentators have described John’s oral advocacy as “unflappable” and his demeanor “excellent.” “He’s sure-footed, never wavers from his coherent theory of the case, leaves nothing on the table, and ends on exactly the right note.”
 
John is a one of only seven Michigan lawyers inducted into the American Academy of Appellate Lawyers, one of only 62 Michigan attorneys inducted as a Member of the American Law Institute, and a past chair of the ABA’s Council of Appellate Lawyers. John served as the principal author of the Michigan Supreme Court’s Guide for Counsel, the Court’s self-published manual for effective advocacy. He is also co-author of the Michigan chapter in the ABA’s Appellate Practice Compendium, chapter author of the Michigan Appellate Handbook, and co-founder of Michigan’s leading appellate blog, the One Court of Justice Blog.
 
John recently co-founded the WNJ Appellate Practice Academy, a unique-to-Michigan institution that includes former Michigan appellate Judges and Justices who moot lawyers preparing for argument.
  • Experience
  • Biography
  • News
  • Publications
  • Leadership

Experience

U.S. Supreme Court (merits cases)
Administrative Law
Automotive
Bankruptcy
Business/Contract Litigation
Constitutional/Public Law
Election Law
Environmental Law
Financial Institutions
Insurance
Intellectual Property
Labor and Employment
Personal Injury/Insurance
Real Estate
Religious Liberty
Tax
Tort/Product Liability
Trusts & Estates
Zoning

U.S. Supreme Court (merits cases)

  • Michigan v. Bay Mills Indian Community, 134 S. Ct. 2024 (2014) (granting plaintiffs the ability to file Ex Parte Young-type actions against tribal officials to circumvent tribal immunity)
  • Schuette v. Coalition to Defend, 134 S. Ct. 1623 (2014) (upholding Michigan’s constitutional ban on discrimination or the use of race- or sex-based factors in public-university admissions)
  • Burt v. Titlow, 134 S. Ct.10 (2013) (reinstating murder conviction based on failure to satisfy the burden of proof under the Antiterrorism and Effective Death Penalty Act)
  • McQuiggin v. Perkins, 133 S. Ct. 1924 (2013) (reversing Sixth Circuit and emphasizing the high bar to proving actual innocence for purpose of a time-barred habeas claim)
  • Metrish v. Lancaster, 133 S. Ct. 1781 (2013) (reinstating murder conviction and holding that a Michigan Supreme Court change in common law could be applied retroactively)
  • Howes v. Walker, 132 S. Ct. 2741 (2012) (summary reversal of Sixth Circuit decision vacating murder conviction)
  • Lafler v. Cooper, 132 S. Ct. 1376 (2012) (affirming plaintiff’s Sixth Amendment right to effective counsel at the plea stage but rejecting a new-trial remedy and authorizing trial courts to refuse a convicted defendant’s attempt to accept a previously rejected plea)
  • Howes v. Fields, 132 S. Ct. 1181 (2012) (reinstating sexual-assault conviction and holding that a prisoner was not “in custody” for purposes of a Miranda warning)
  • Stovall v. Miller, 132 S. Ct. 573 (2011) (summary reversal of Sixth Circuit decision vacating murder conviction)
  • Talk America v. Michigan Bell Tel. Co., 131 S. Ct. 2254 (2011) (reversing Sixth Circuit and holding that competitive local exchange carriers, or CLECs, are entitled to regulated rates when engaged in interconnection with customers of incumbent local exchange carriers, or ILECs)

Administrative Law

  • Michigan Ass’n of Home Builders v. Director of Dept. of Labor & Econ. Growth, 750 N.W.2d 593 (Mich. 2008) (successfully represented amicus curiae Michigan Manufacturers Association (MMA) regarding scope of an administrative record on appeal)

Automotive

  • Keiper, LLC v. Intier Automotive Inc., 467 Fed. Appx. 452 (6th Cir. 2012) (successful reversal of summary judgment in automotive supply dispute involving alleged defective recliner seats)
  • NSK Corp. v. Robert Bosch Corp., 2009 WL 454940 (Mich. Ct. App. 2009) (persuaded the Michigan Court of Appeals to compel arbitration in an automotive supply dispute)
  • Robert Bosch Corp. v. ASC Inc., 2006 WL 2595301 (6th Cir. 2006) (persuaded the Sixth Circuit to bind party to standard terms and conditions that it had never seen or received)
  • Participated in non-binding "trial" in automotive recall dispute on behalf of Fortune 100 Tier I automotive supplier, resulting in favorable settlement of a $750 million dispute with the OEM
  • American Bumper & Mfg. Co. v. TransTechnology Corp., 652 N.W.2d 252 (Mich. Ct. App. 2002) (Michigan Court of Appeals used section 2-607 notice provision of the Uniform Commercial Code to dismiss $9 million claim against parts supplier arising from an automotive recall)

Bankruptcy

  • Represented the Michigan Attorney General in the City of Detroit bankruptcy regarding public pensions and the Detroit Institute of the Arts
  • In re MQVP, Inc., No. 10-10982 (E.D. Mich. 2010) (affirming bankruptcy court's confirmation of trustee’s settlement of client's multimillion-dollar trademark dispute with debtor)
  • In re Pilch, 2009 WL 2707374 (6th Cir. 2009) (successful representation of bankruptcy trustee in Sixth Circuit appeal disputing trustee's compensation)
  • Ad Hoc Comm. of Series A Convertible Shareholders v. Lothian Oil, Inc., No. MO-08-CA-074-H (W.D. Tex. 2009) (successful assertion of the equitable-mootness doctrine, resulting in affirmance of a bankruptcy court's confirmation order approving a contested, multimillion-dollar settlement agreement)

Business/Contract Litigation

  • Magellan v. Sylvan Township, 2011 WL 1901805 (Mich. Ct. App. 2011) (successfully overturned multimillion-dollar breach-of-contract judgment against the Township)
  • Spartan Graphics, Inc. v. Entermarket Corp., 2010 WL 4628643 (Mich. Ct. App. 2010) (persuaded the Michigan Court of Appeals to reinstate multimillion-dollar claims for misappropriation of trade secrets and tortious interference, after the trial court erroneously dismissed the litigation as barred by a broadly worded settlement agreement)
  • Old Republic Nat'l Title Holding Co. v. First Metropolitan Title Co., 2010 WL 1056609 (Mich. Ct. App. 2010) (reversing summary disposition opinion and reinstating client's million-dollar breach of contract claim)
  • Nightwatch Capital Grp., LLC v. Questor Mgmt. Co., LLC, No. 2008-096312-CZ (Oakland County Cir. Ct. 2010) (retained after client's case was dismissed; filed successful motion for reconsideration that resulted in reinstatement of client’s multimillion-dollar breach-of-contract claim)
  • Hubbard v. GeoStar Fin. Servs. Corp., 2009 WL 3486653 (6th Cir. 2009) (Sixth Circuit reversed adverse judgment in a breach-of-contract action involving the transfer of unregistered securities)
  • Oneida Charter Twp. v. Grand Ledge, 771 N.W.2d 785 (Mich. 2009) (persuaded Michigan Supreme Court to peremptorily reverse, at the application stage, an adverse Court of Appeals interpretation of a Michigan statute that invalidated the City of Grand Ledge’s water contract with a neighboring township)
  • Quixtar, Inc. v. Brady, 2009 WL 1160273 (6th Cir. 2009) (persuaded Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals to reject argument that mandatory arbitration agreement was unconscionable and unenforceable, resulting in a $25 million arbitration award for client)
  • CMS Energy Res. Mgmt. Co. v. Quicksilver Res., Inc., 2009 WL 1815776 (Tex. App. 2009) (special appellate consultant in successful reversal of trial court's adverse judgment in $170 million breach-of-contract and fraud dispute)
  • McKay Consulting, Inc. v. St. John Health, 2009 WL 127664 (Mich. Ct. App. 2009) (successfully affirming jury verdict in $10 million breach-of-contract dispute)
  • Metro v. Amway Asia Pacific Ltd., et al., 2006 WL 2035510 (Mich. Ct. App. 2006) (persuaded Michigan Court of Appeals to reject $1 billion claim in class litigation alleging oppression and breach of fiduciary duty in a squeeze out)
  • Lawnicki v. Wells Fargo Fin. Leasing, Inc., 2006 WL 2685136 (Mich. Ct. App. 2006) (upholding validity of a complex commercial financing transaction)
  • Irish v. Natural Gas Compression Sys., Inc., 2006 WL 2000132 (Mich. Ct. App. 2006) (persuaded the Michigan Court of Appeals to reject plaintiff’s million-dollar claim for shareholder oppression arising out of a merger)
  • Ninowski v. McConnell, 2005 WL 2372071 (Mich. Ct. App. 2005) (affirming dismissal of claims that alleged fraud and the invalidity of a corporate merger)
  • Buist v. Van Haren Elec., 2004 WL 2291354 (Mich. Ct. App. 2004) (affirming summary disposition on former executive's breach-of-contract claim for share of corporate profits)

Constitutional/Public Law

  • UAW, UAW Local 6000 v. Green, 2013 Mich. App. LEXIS 1425 (Mich. Ct. App. 2013) (upholding Michigan’s Right to Work Law as applied to the state civil service)
  • Michigan Bldg. & Constr. Trades Council v. Snyder, 729 F.3d 572 (6th Cir. 2013) (successful defense of Michigan law prohibiting governmental entities from excluding non-union labor from bidding on public-construction contracts)
  • Bailey v. Callaghan, 715 F.3d 956 (6th Cir. 2013) (upholding Michigan law prohibiting public schools from collecting union dues)
  • State v. McQueen, 828 N.W. 644 (Mich. 2013) (legality of medical-marijuana dispensaries)
  • Successful defense of the State in dozens of lawsuits challenging Michigan’s emergency manager laws and the appointment of emergency managers
  • People v. Likine, 823 N.W.2d 50 (Mich. 2012) (successful defense of Michigan’s deadbeat-parent statute)
  • Stormans, Inc. v. Selecky, 586 F.3d 1109 (9th Cir. 2009) (Ninth Circuit followed our amicus curiae brief in support of rehearing and vacated that part of its initial opinion holding that religious animus evident in a statute’s enactment history cannot be considered when analyzing an Establishment Clause claim)
  • United States v. Huntington Nat'l Bank, 574 F.3d 329 (6th Cir. 2009) (persuaded the Sixth Circuit to reverse and remand adverse decision in a three-quarter-million-dollar criminal forfeiture proceeding)
  • Moore v. Detroit Enter., L.L.C., 755 N.W.2d 686 (Mich. Ct. App. 2008) (affirming trial court verdict, holding that casino’s private security personnel were acting under color of state law when they violated the plaintiff’s constitutional rights)
  • Engquist v. Oregon Dep’t of Agric., 128 S. Ct. 977 (2008) (successful cert. petition in case involving a class-of-one equal protection claim)
  • Wallace v. Kato, 127 S. Ct. 1091 (2007) (co-counsel in U.S. Supreme Court case regarding the time when a claim for unlawful arrest accrues)
  • Czymbor's Timber v. City of Saginaw, 733 N.W.2d 1 (Mich. 2007) (Michigan Supreme Court vacated adverse Court of Appeals decision, paving the way for regulatory amendments that will result in the preemption of local laws client seeks to displace)
  • CETAC v. Kempthorne, 492 F.3d 460 (D.C. Cir. 2007) (represented citizens group challenging federal government's land-in-trust decision)
  • TOMAC v. Michigan, 732 N.W.2d 487 (Mich. 2007) (represented citizens group challenging Michigan Governor's amendment of a compact as violative of the constitutional separation of powers)
  • Cuno v. DaimlerChrysler Corp., 126 S. Ct. 1854 (2006) (successful amicus curiae representation in U.S. Supreme Court’s decision to vacate Sixth Circuit decision that held investment tax credits unconstitutional)

Election Law

  • Protect Our Jobs v. Bd. of State Canvassers, 822 N.W.2d 534 (Mich. 2012) (represented Michigan’s Governor and Attorney General and argued three different Michigan Supreme Court cases in one day involving challenges to various 2012 ballot initiatives)
  • Stand Up for Democracy v. Sec'y of State, 822 N.W.2d 159 (Mich. 2012) (successfully reversed long-standing Michigan Supreme Court precedent regarding standard for challenging a ballot initiative)
  • NAACP & Michigan Democratic Party v. Snyder, No. 11-15385 (Redistricting panel, Apr. 6, 2012) (for the first time in several decades, successfully dismissed challenge to Michigan’s redistricting plan on motion, without the need for a lengthy and expensive trial)

Environmental

  • Burleson v. Dep’t of Envtl. Quality, 808 N.W.2d 792 (Mich Ct. App. 2011) (landmark decision involving the DEQ’s regulatory authority on the beaches of the Great Lakes)
  • Nat'l Wildlife Fed'n v. DNR, 2011 WL 1004525 (Mich. Ct. App. 2011) (rejecting numerous environmental challenges to proposed nickel mine)
  • Citizens for Envtl. Inquiry v. Dep't of Envtl. Quality, 2010 WL 446047 (Mich. Ct. App. 2010) (defeated challenge, modeled after Massachusetts v. EPA, that would have forced the Michigan Department of Natural Resources & Environment to regulate greenhouse gas emissions)
  • Wolverine Power Supply Coop., Inc. v. Dep’t of Envtl. Quality, 777 N.W.2d 1 (Mich. Ct. App. 2009) (persuaded Michigan Court of Appeals to invalidate the MDEQ's Rule 1830, which allowed any individual or entity to file a contested case proceeding when the department grants a permit to install)
  • Beaulier v. Ford Motor Co., 2008 WL 4367541 (Mich. Ct. App. 2008) (affirming dismissal based on the statute of limitations of a claim for environmental contamination)
  • ITT Indus. v. BorgWarner, Inc., 506 F.3d 452 (6th Cir. 2007) (in this multimillion-dollar cleanup dispute, the Sixth Circuit held, in a landmark ruling, that an administrative order by consent (AOC) is not a basis for a contribution action under CERCLA Section 113)
  • Beauchamp v. Ford Motor Co., 2005 WL 1229749 (Mich. Ct. App. 2005) (affirming dismissal of multimillion-dollar class action seeking damages for environmental contamination)
  • Preserve the Dunes, Inc. v. MDEQ, 684 N.W.2d 847 (Mich. 2004) (the Michigan Supreme Court followed reasoning and result advocated in amicus curiae brief submitted on behalf of the Michigan Aggregates Association (MAA) in case involving the scope of the Michigan Environmental Protection Act)

Financial Institutions

  • Koons Buick Pontiac GMC, Inc. v. Nigh, 125 S. Ct. 460 (2004) (successful amicus curiae representation in U.S. Supreme Court’s decision to overrule Fourth Circuit and interpret the Truth In Lending Act as capping damages for non-mortgage, non-lease violations of the Act)
  • Weston v. AmeriBank, 122 S. Ct. 1172 (2002) (successfully opposed petition for certiorari to the United States Supreme Court in class action alleging Truth In Lending Act (TILA) violations, drafting and filing the opposition brief on only four days' notice from client)
  • Hayner v. Old Kent Bank, 2002 WL 227016 (Mich. Ct. App. 2002) (collaborated with another WNJ attorney to uphold dismissal of a Michigan Consumers Protection Act claim filed against a financial institution)

Insurance

  • Smitter v. Thornapple Twp., 833 N.W.2d 875 (Mich. 2013) (successful appeal involving coordination of benefits under the Michigan Worker’s Disability Compensation Act)
  • Priority Health v. OFIR, 803 N.W.2d 132 (Mich. 2011) (successfully upheld mandatory-minimum employer-contribution provision in health insurance policy)
  • Copus v. MEEMIC Ins., 805 N.W.2d 623 (Mich. Ct. App. 2011) (case of first impression involving when “work loss” occurs under the no-fault act)
  • Bernstein v. Bankert, 2010 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 103669 (S.D. Ind. 2010) (successfully obtained summary judgment in multimillion-dollar CERCLA coverage action)

Intellectual Property

  • In re Sealed Appellant, 2007 WL 4245417 (5th Cir. 2007) (represented one Global Fortune 150 company against another in persuading the Fifth Circuit to reject a 28 U.S.C. § 1782 discovery request for use in a billion-dollar licensing dispute pending in German court)
  • Strong Sales, Inc. v. Vriesman, 2007 WL 2379516 (Mich. Ct. App. 2007) (Michigan Court of Appeals affirmed jury verdict in breach of warranty case involving defective software system)
  • Saginaw Valley Neurosurgery, P.C. v. Adams (Mich. Ct. App. 2004) (denying application for leave and preserving preliminary injunction enforcing covenant not to compete with neurosurgeons’ professional corporation)
  • Wrench LLC v. Taco Bell Corp., 256 F.3d 446 (6th Cir. 2001) (worked with a WNJ team to successfully reinstate lawsuit in the Sixth Circuit for theft of the Taco Bell Chihuahua ad campaign, which ultimately resulted in $42 million judgment in favor of clients)

Labor and Employment

  • Hartman v. The Dow Chemical Co., No. 15-2318 (6th Cir. 2016) (representing employer in an appeal from an adverse jury verdict in a case involving alleged FMLA retaliation; argument pending)
  • Hecht v. National Heritage Academies, No. 150616 (Mich. 2016) (representing employer in an appeal from an adverse jury verdict in a case involving alleged race discrimination; opinion pending)
  • University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center v. Nassar, 133 S. Ct. 2517 (2013) (successful amici brief in landmark case establishing the proper analysis for Title VII retaliation claims)
  • Brooks v. Gill Indus., Inc., 2008 WL 1914795 (Mich. Ct. App. 2008) (affirming dismissal of employment claims for retaliation, tortious interference with contract, and slander)

Personal Injury/Insurance

  • Benefiel v. Auto-Owners Ins. Co., 759 N.W.2d 814 (Mich. 2008) (as amicus curiae, persuaded the Supreme Court to hold that a plaintiff who suffers successive injuries bears the burden of proving that a current injury was caused by the subject accident, not by some independent occurrence)
  • Kenny v. Pioneer State Mut. Ins. Co., 2008 WL 3851837 (Mich. Ct. App. 2008) (affirming a trial court judgment involving no-fault personal protection insurance benefits)
  • Bristol West Ins. Co. v. Smith, 2007 WL 397161 (Mich. Ct. App. 2007) (affirming multiple attorney-fee awards under Michigan's No-Fault Act and as sanctions for insurer's failure to pay personal-injury-protection benefits; successfully petitioned the Court of Appeals for appellate fees and punitive damages)
  • Talbot v. RT Detroit Franchise L.L.C., 2006 WL 1084402 (Mich. Ct. App. 2006) (hired by trial counsel and persuaded the Michigan Court of Appeals to reverse adverse summary disposition ruling in premises liability dispute)

Real Estate

  • Tomecek v. Bavas, 759 N.W.2d 178 (Mich. 2008) (ruling in favor of clients in real estate dispute involving the Land Division Act and implied utility easements of necessity)
  • In re Egbert R. Smith Trust, 745 N.W.2d 754 (Mich. 2008) (Michigan Supreme Court adopted argument embodied in amicus curiae brief of the Michigan State Bar’s Real Property Law Section regarding irrevocable nature of a right of first refusal)
  • Smiley v. Grosse Pointe War Mem'l Ass'n, 2008 WL 509874 (Mich. Ct. App. 2008) (successfully reversing adverse trial court decision in a multimillion-dollar dispute involving enforcement of a restrictive covenant)
  • United States v. Grossman, 501 F.3d 846 (7th Cir. 2007) (special appellate consultant in a successful appeal to the Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals from an adverse judgment involving a $2 million criminal forfeiture proceeding and Michigan's race-notice recording statute)
  • Randolph v. Reisig II, 727 N.W.2d 388 (Mich. Ct. App. 2006) (replaced trial court counsel and persuaded the Michigan Court of Appeals to overturn adverse summary disposition ruling that invalidated right of first refusal contained in a set of restrictive covenants, both for violating the rule against perpetuities and creating a contract of indefinite duration)
  • Consumers Energy v. Leo Beard, 699 N.W.2d 303 (Mich. 2005) (hired at application stage and persuaded the Michigan Supreme Court to overturn adverse decision in a multimillion-dollar dispute involving adverse possession and prescriptive easements)
  • Randolph v. Reisig I, 2003 WL 22049115 (Mich. Ct. App. 2003) (replaced trial counsel and persuaded the Michigan Court of Appeals to overturn adverse summary disposition ruling in real estate dispute involving the severability of invalid restrictive covenants contained in an association agreement)

Religious Liberty

  • Submitted amici briefs on behalf of the State of Michigan in numerous lawsuits challenging the HHS Mandate
  • Hosanna-Tabor Evangelical Lutheran Church & School. v. Equal Employment Opportunity Comm'n, 132 S. Ct. 694 (2012) (successful amicus in case involving the ministerial exception to employment-discrimination laws)
  • Ward v. Polite, 667 F.3d 727 (6th Cir. 2012) (submitted amicus brief in successful reversal of trial-court dismissal involving graduate counseling student’s exercise of conscience)

Tax

  • Self-Insurance Institute of America, Inc. v. Snyder, 761 F.3d 631, 2014 WL 3804355 (6th Cir. 2014) (successful defense of new Michigan health claims tax against an ERISA preemption challenge; $1.2 billion annually at stake)
  • Andrie, Inc. v. Treasury, 819 N.W.2d 920, 2014 WL 2853776 (Mich. 2014) (successful litigation of sales- and use-tax dispute; $2 billion at stake)
  • Fradco, LLC v. Treasury, 845 N.W.2d 81 (Mich. 2014) (statute of limitations for filing a tax appeal when personal representative is not served)
  • Michigan Props., LLC v. Northville Twp., 817 N.W.2d 548 (Mich. 2013) (issue of first impression regarding whether a taxing authority’s assessor may correct an erroneous taxable value of real property in a subsequent tax year)
  • Self-Insurance Inst. of America, Inc. v. Snyder, 2012 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 124405 (E.D. Mich. 2012) (prevailing party in ERISA preemption challenge to Michigan’s new health claims tax)
  • In re Request for Advisory Opinion Regarding Constitutionality of 2011 PA 38, 806 N.W.2d 683 (Mich. 2011) (successful decision regarding challenge to tax on public-employee pension distributions)
  • Bay City v. Bay County, 807 N.W.2d 623 (Mich. Ct. App. 2011) (successfully represented City in case of first impression involving interpretation of Michigan’s tax foreclosure statute)

Tort/Product Liability

  • Edry v. Adelman, 786 N.W.2d 567 (Mich. 2010) (Michigan Supreme Court adopted position in amicus curiae brief submitted on behalf of the Michigan Health & Hospital Association involving the standard for admitting expert testimony in a medical malpractice action)
  • Reed v. Shurlow, 2009 WL 4827827 (Mich. Ct. App. 2009) (successfully defended trial court's decision in a condominium construction dispute)
  • Schaendorf v. Consumers Energy II, 2009 WL 563904 (Mich. Ct. App. 2009) (affirming exclusion of expert witnesses on Daubert grounds and also affirming dismissal of multimillion-dollar claim for damage allegedly caused by stray voltage)
  • Schaendorf v. Consumers Energy I, 739 N.W.2d 402 (Mich. Ct. App. 2007) (defended multimillion-dollar claim for damage allegedly caused by stray voltage; persuaded Michigan Court of Appeals to hold that the discovery rule cannot extend limitation periods for stray voltage claims; nuisance claims do not exist in the stray voltage context, because such cases present essentially product liability claims; and the continuing-wrongful-acts doctrine does not apply in stray voltage litigation)
  • Morales v. Auto-Owners Ins. Co., 672 N.W.2d 849 (Mich. 2003) (successful amicus curiae representation in the Michigan Supreme Court’s decision to overrule long-standing line of authority denying statutory prejudgment interest during interlocutory appeal periods, resulting in $7 million benefit to client)
  • Henry v. The Dow Chemical Co., 701 N.W.2d 684 (Mich. 2005) (the Michigan Supreme Court followed reasoning and result advocated in amicus curiae brief submitted on behalf of the Product Liability Advisory Council (PLAC) in case involving whether Michigan should recognize a cause of action for medical monitoring agreement)

Trust & Estates

  • In re Howard J. Stoddard Trust, 2007 WL 4245406 (Mich. Ct. App. 2007) (affirming probate court's division of a trust into three separate trusts, over a trustee's objection and despite the absence of any language in the trust instrument authorizing such a split)
  • In re John Kotsonis Irrevocable Family Trust, 2007 WL 4126669 (Mich. Ct. App. 2007) (the Michigan Court of Appeals followed the reasoning and result advocated in an amicus curiae brief filed on behalf of the grantor of an irrevocable trust in a dispute involving reformation of the trust to remove a beneficiary)
  • Sorkowitz v. Lakritz, Wissbrun & Assocs., PC, 706 N.W.2d 9 (Mich. 2005) (successful amicus curiae representation in the Michigan Supreme Court on behalf of State Bar's Probate and Estate Planning Section in decision extending the Mieras "four corners rule" to a legal malpractice claim challenging an estate planner's tax advice)
  • In re Estate of Reisman, 702 N.W.2d 658 (Mich. Ct. App. 2005) (hired by lower court counsel and persuaded the Michigan Court of Appeals to reverse adverse decision interpreting Michigan's Powers of Appointment Act of 1967 as it applied to an appointment clause in a trust document)
  • Traxler v. Rothbart, 703 N.W.2d 796 (Mich. 2005) (successful amicus curiae representation in the Michigan Supreme Court on behalf of State Bar's Probate and Estate Planning Section in decision reversing the Michigan Court of Appeals and interpreting Mich. Comp. Laws § 700.7404 as it applies to purchasers of trust property)

Zoning

  • Laketon Twp. v. Advanse, Inc., 2009 WL 763447 (Mich. Ct. App. 2009) (reversing adverse trial court judgment, entered following a bench trial, and reaffirming that the time for determining whether a noncomforming use vests in a property owner is the date the relevant zoning ordinance was enacted or amended)
  • Houdini Props., LLC v City of Romulus, 743 N.W.2d 198 (Mich. 2008) (the Michigan Supreme Court followed reasoning and result advocated in amicus curiae brief submitted on behalf of the State Bar's Appellate Practice Section that a claim of appeal from an adverse zoning decision is not a "pleading" subject to joinder rules)

Industries

Practices

Education

  • University of Minnesota J.D. 1997 magna cum laude
  • Western Michigan University B.A., B.M. 1994 summa cum laude

Admitted

  • 1997, Michigan

Courts

  • U.S. Supreme Court in 2001
  • U.S. Court of Appeals, First Circuit in 2014
  • U.S. Court of Appeals, Second Circuit in 2005
  • U.S. Court of Appeals, Third Circuit in 2004
  • U.S. Court of Appeals, Fourth Circuit in 2003
  • U.S. Court of Appeals, Fifth Circuit in 2007
  • U.S. Court of Appeals, Sixth Circuit in 1999
  • U.S. Court of Appeals, Seventh Circuit in 2006
  • U.S. Court of Appeals, Eighth Circuit in 1998
  • U.S. Court of Appeals, Ninth Circuit in 2009
  • U.S. Court of Appeals, Tenth Circuit in 2004
  • U.S. Court of Appeals, Eleventh Circuit in 2004
  • U.S. Court of Appeals, District of Columbia Circuit in 2004
  • U.S. Court of Appeals, Federal Circuit in 2004
  • U.S. District Court, Western District of Michigan in 1998
  • U.S. District Court, Eastern District of Michigan in 2004
  • U.S. District Court, Northern District of Illinois in 2007
  • U.S. Bankruptcy Court, Eastern District of Michigan
  • U.S. Bankruptcy Court, Western District of Michigan

Clerk Experience

  • U.S. Court of Appeals, Eighth Circuit, Honorable James B. Loken

Honors and Awards

  • Elected to the American Academy of Appellate Lawyers, 2015
  • 2015 and 2014 Distinguished Brief Award from the Thomas M. Cooley Law Review
  • Three-time winner of the National Association of Attorneys General “Best Brief Award” for U.S. Supreme Court litigation
  • Only three-time winner of the Distinguished Brief Award for advocacy in the Michigan Supreme Court
  • Certified as an Appellate Specialist by the American Institute of Appellate Practice
  • Fellow, The Litigation Counsel of America, 2010-Present (honorary society limited to less than one-half of one percent of American lawyers)
  • Named a 2014 Leader in the Law by Michigan Lawyers Weekly
  • Named to Best Lawyers in America
  • Member, American Law Institute
  • Named as one of the Top 100 Michigan Super Lawyers
  • Past chair of the American Bar Association’s Council of Appellate Lawyers

Bar Associations

  • American Bar Association
    Past-Chair, Council of Appellate Lawyers (CAL); Chair of Supreme Court Subcommittee, Business Law Section; Appellate Practice Committee, Litigation Section
  • State Bar of Michigan
    Appellate Practice Section, Former Treasurer; Litigation Section
  • Grand Rapids Bar
    Association Litigation Section

Teaching and Lecturing

  • Annual summary of U.S. Supreme Court decisions for the Western District of Michigan Chapter of the Federal Bar Association (2005-present)
  • Three-time presenter at the National Association of Attorneys General Appellate Practice seminar
  • Faculty member, Appellate Practice Institute (2011)
  • Panel presentations on effective appellate brief editing and standards of review at the ABA’s 2013 Appellate Summit in San Diego, CA (Nov. 14-17, 2013)
  • Panel presentation on technology and its effect on appellate practice and appellate review at the ABA's 2008 Appellate Summit in Phoenix, AZ (Nov. 13-16, 2008)
  • Panel presentation on preserving the trial court record for appeal, and group moderator for discussions of the purpose, policy, and procedure of appellate oral argument, and appellate research and brief writing at the 2007 Michigan Appellate Bench Bar Conference (May 3-4, 2007)
  • Panel presentation regarding appellate and trial court best practice as part of the State Bar of Michigan's Annual Meeting in Ypsilanti, MI (Sept. 14, 2006)
  • Product Liability Seminar: Protecting Your Company From Product Recall (Spring Manufacturers Institute, Tucson, AZ, May 1-3, 2003)
  • Tribute to the Honorable James B. Loken on his promotion to Chief Judge of the United States Court of Appeals for the Eighth Circuit (Minneapolis, MN, Apr. 5, 2003)
  • Legal Concerns for Artists (ArtServe Michigan, Business of Being an Artist Workshop, Grand Rapids, MI, Nov. 2, 2002)
  • More than 30 Career Development Programs presented to Warner Norcross & Judd personnel on topics including legal research, what to expect from law practice, and client service principles (2000-present)
  • University of Minnesota Law School Commencement Speaker (Minneapolis, MN, May 10, 1997)

Publications

  • Appellate Practice Handbook, ICLE (2014 ed.)
  • Michigan Supreme Court’s Guide to Counsel
  • Michigan Chapter author, American Bar Association’s Appellate Practice Compendium
  • Numerous articles published in The Appellate Practice Journal, Appellate Issues, and the One Court of Justice Blog

One Court of Justice Blog


Ahead of the Curve Auto Supplier Blog


Professional Affiliations

  • American Academy of Appellate Lawyers
  • Defense Research Institute
  • Michigan Defense Trial Counsel
  • Supreme Court Historical Society
  • Michigan Supreme Court Historical Society
  • Michigan Supreme Court's Advocates Guild

Community Affiliations

  • AYSO Youth Soccer
    Coach (2003-Present)
  • Hispanic Center of West Michigan
    Board of Directors (2006-09), Secretary (2008-09)
  • Hugh Michael Beahan Foundation
    Board of Trustees (2003-05)
  • St. John Vianney Worship
    Commission Chair (2000-03)

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