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Mike Butler
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We took the trial deposition of my client's treating chiropractor in the David Whitney Building on Wednesday afternoon. This was before the building was closed in 2000. Thank goodness it has been renovated and is again one of Detroit's gems.After that dep, we went to the airport and hopped a plane to Miami to take the Thursday morning trial dep of a doctor who saw my guy in the ER after the accident. Mike wanted that dep because my guy had a pretty benign ER exam. During his questioning, I looked at Mike and mouthed the name “Doogie Howser” referring to the very young looking witness. Mike nearly lost it on the record, which was of course what I had intended.After that dep we got back on a plane to Detroit and took the medical deposition of one of my clients docs at Wyandotte Hospital Thursday evening, starting about 7pm. We had enough time to catch dinner at a Polish restaurant in Wyandotte before the deposition. The doctor wondered why we appeared a bit punch drunk during the dep. Continue reading
Posted May 1, 2019 at LEX FUGIT
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My posh corner office, also known as " Where the Magic Happens and/or the Sausage is Made", is a small shrine to Detroit history. The most recent additions are the 8 Chris Gorski Detroit Landmark prints featured above. Some of the prints are shown on the side bar of this site.Chris' work can be purchased through his site: Detroit GT and at Art Is In Market, with several metro Detroit locations. Some great, high quality, unique items. Continue reading
Posted Apr 30, 2019 at LEX FUGIT
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At the Settlement Conference in my case, rather than discuss resolution, Judge Cozart instructed Rik to file a Summary Disposition motion on both the first party and third party claims. Rik said he really would like to discuss resolving the claims (for an extremely modest figure), but Judge Cozart insisted. He told us to come back on a certain date, by which time those motions must be filed. So, Rik filed the motions. I responded. The motions did come up for oral argument, and the judge granted the motions, on both counts, as follows:"On the first party case, I rule that the accident happened on March 7, and as the plaintiff did not have insurance on his motorcycle, his claim for No-Fault benefits from the defendant's insurer is dismissed.On the third party case, I rule that the accident happened on March 1, and as the plaintiff did not get any treatment until March 7, he must not have been injured seriously, and his injury claim is dismissed as not meeting the Serious Impairment threshold."So, for the first and I trust the only time in my life, a judge ruled that as a matter of law, a single accident happened on 2 different dates, 6 days apart. Continue reading
Posted Apr 29, 2019 at LEX FUGIT
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Back in the days before facilitation became the default settlement conference for most cases, there really was an effort to settle cases in court, rather than at somebody’s law office. Granted, some of those efforts were less than scientific. Judge Jim Montante’s “Putting for Dollars” and Judge Kaye Tertzag’s “Card... Continue reading
Posted Apr 8, 2019 at LEX FUGIT
Disclaimer: this is not footage from one of Wayne County Circuit Court's video courtrooms. Continue reading
Posted Apr 2, 2019 at LEX FUGIT
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"That George Washington was not a scholar is certain. That he is too illiterate, unlearned, unread for his station is equally beyond dispute"--John Adams on George Washington. "Insane."--James Monroe on George Washington. "Always an honest man, often a great one, but sometimes absolutely mad."--Benjamin Franklin on John Adams Continue reading
Posted Mar 29, 2019 at LEX FUGIT
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I have just reached "a certain age" (which I prefer to call " the new 21"). While I am enjoying the practice more than I have in 20 years, an increasing number of attorneys with whom I worked and litigated, and judges before whom I appeared, have left the practice.... Continue reading
Posted Mar 27, 2019 at LEX FUGIT
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CRY HAVOC -AND LET SLIP THE CHEAP LITTLE BLACK TIN SILHOUETTE DOG OF WAR. PICTURE TAKEN AT THE LAW OFFICES OF HIGH PROFILE DEFENSE FIRM SECREST WARDLE. GOOD FIRM, GOOD ATTORNEYS, BUT THE FIEGER LAW LION IT AIN'T. Continue reading
Posted Mar 17, 2019 at LEX FUGIT
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It is my honor to work with Rik "Mr. Wonderful" Mazzeo, and he recently uncovered this opus from the archives.The litigants' names, the case number and the identity of the plaintiff's lawyer have been redacted, but I thought it was appropriate to leave the name of the trial judge, the immortal Kaye Tertzag, visibleThis was a premises liability case brought against our homeowner client, whose guest had fled from a bee on the homeowner's premises, had fallen and sustained a wrist injury.While Rik's mediation (the former name of the case evaluation process) summary is both inventive and eloquent, one wishes one could see how the plaintiff pitched whatever liability theory he thought applied. Continue reading
Posted Mar 16, 2019 at LEX FUGIT
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Wayne is a very smart lawyer and a great advocate and negotiator. He is also a well regarded mediator. I have never employed him in that role, however, and never will. This is because, fairly early on, Wayne informed me that Shemp Howard was his favorite Stooge. Apparently, he maintains something of a shrine to Shemp in his office. I am sure this impresses his mediation clients to no end.I am a staunch Curly fan, and quite frankly, Shemp does not crack my top 3 Stooges, not even close. For me, and all right thinking people, Shemp comes in only slightly ahead of Joe Besser. Continue reading
Posted Mar 16, 2019 at LEX FUGIT
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I had reported a case settlement to my carrier. I indicated that the case had been resolved at a facilitation with attorney "Stool Weiner". For those few who may not know, I had meant to say "Stu Weiner", the dean of Southeast Michigan facilitators/mediators. In fact, I believe there is a proposed local court rule under consideration in Wayne County that would require a Court Order to use someone other than Stu.Anyway, the adjuster caught the error and kind of chuckled about it when next we spoke. Well, I said, it was a shitty case. Which caused a huge burst of laughter from the adjuster, as I hoped it would. I will say, from that day, I got a lot of work from that adjuster....right up to the time she retired. So it goes. Continue reading
Posted Mar 15, 2019 at LEX FUGIT
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I guess I didn't know when I was well off. One day, while looking for some office supply item, I came across a large box filled with the the promotional item pictured above. A nice chrome-like, multi-purpose, multi-bladed jackknife.Good Lord. I an not sure who authorized that purchase.. Given the the rather rough and tumble (to coin a phrase) background of many of our clients, I don't know how he thought it was a good idea to arm them. With the name and phone number of the firm to boot. Continue reading
Posted Mar 13, 2019 at LEX FUGIT
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Some of my personal memories of Dr. Don Newman, who died on December 8, 2018 can be found here. Here are some of the recollections of Dr. Don and the Newman clan, posted by other attorneys (both plaintiff and defense) on FB. Continue reading
Posted Mar 11, 2019 at LEX FUGIT
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Trial did start the next morning, and ultimately I did get a verdict and mediation sanctions against the other side. How did I pull that off with no medical testimony "in the can" for the jury? Well, sir, Dr. Donald Newman, who had done a one time evaluation of our client, at our request, during the litigation, came in and testified live, and charmed the jury. He talked about soft tissue damage (for that is all we had), muscle tearing, scar tissue, muscle shortening, and how that caused and demonstrated permanent injury, pain, restrictions etc. Dr. Don bailed out both the firm and the young attorney, and I was forever grateful. Continue reading
Posted Mar 10, 2019 at LEX FUGIT
I sat as a neutral case evaluator in Wayne County on Wednesday. I did not know that the Tribunal had started having "theme" days. There were 4 panels, and the defense evaluator on each was a former AAA house counsel attorney--Charly Pfeffer on my panel, Tim O'Neill, Dennis Killeen, and Charles Trickey III. Traded a lot of stories, and even managed to work in a few evaluations as well. Continue reading
Posted Mar 8, 2019 at LEX FUGIT
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In addition, during that period, what would later become the civil division of 36th District Court , was the Detroit Common Pleas Court, housed in floors 9-12 of the City County Building (now called the Coleman A. Young Municipal Center, but still the old CCB to me). I still remember sitting in the Common Pleas 9th floor “bullpen”, waiting to be assigned to a judge for trial.The CCB could not hold all the Circuit judges needed to handle that volume of cases. So, as the members of the circuit bench increased, courtrooms were built in the Wayne County Building ("the Old County Building”), shown at left and the Lafayette Building, located in a triangle of land bounded by Michigan Avenue, Layette and Shelby, behind the American Coney Island. Continue reading
Posted Mar 8, 2019 at LEX FUGIT
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As to the Wayne Circuit program, I think there continues to be some confusion/bewilderment as to the credentials of the mediators assigned to cases in the program (and not just because I am on the "list"). Questions as to qualifications are understandable, as the assigned mediator is not a volunteer and can charge his regular hourly rate for the mediation. In addition, litigants often have never heard of the mediator assigned to their case, which is, more often than not, a claim for No Fault benefits. Continue reading
Posted Feb 18, 2019 at LEX FUGIT
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Note: I was quite a prolific blogger in the olden days, apparently. Back when I was a plaintiff lawyer, I poked some fun at attorney advertising, and at my own firm (at the time), Bernstein & Bernstein (not Sam). The firm did no TV ads or billboards, relying almost exclusively on the buggy whip of advertising, the Yellow Pages. Still do I think, though the firm does maintain a website. The firm took my post in good humor, I thought at the time. However, it will be noted that I no longer work there. After having written extensively about tasteless, pandering and just plain stupid attorney advertising, I find myself red-faced today, ladies and gentlemen. I have always been proud that Bernstein and Bernstein (not Sam), the firm I have worked for, lo these many years, has not resorted to idiotic and repetitive TV ads or omnipresent billboards to attract business.The firm has been in business in the Detroit area since 1923, and our reputation and track record of service built the firm. Or so I had believed.Today, while doing some unrelated research through the Shmurtan Historical Archive, I came upon photographic evidence that Bernstein and Bernstein was engaged in multi-media advertising before Sam was born.Some examples:Before there was TV, and before law firms were using former Star Fleet Captains as expert spokespersons, B & B had apparently scored big in the Saturday afternoon movie serial market. Here we see Flash Gordon getting the better of his nemesis, Ming the Merciless. Continue reading
Posted Feb 5, 2019 at LEX FUGIT
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Note: Today marks the 10 year anniversary of the passing of Judge Kaye Tertzag. I found this article I posted in an old blog I ran for about 8 years (ending in 2015). Although the blog is no more, all the old posts are archived (sort of) on my Typepad blog account. In this post I first suggested the awarding of a Purple Sport coat at an annual event. The award dinner has gone on every year since 2010. While I have ended my association with the Tertzag Dinner, I am going to start a category on this blog called: 3Ps, in which I will make note of stories, from the practice, that portray those concise elements of the Tertzag philosophy: Be Prompt, Be Prepared and Be Polite. They are out there----I hope. Continue reading
Posted Feb 4, 2019 at LEX FUGIT