VMC Wins Dismissal of Sex Discrimination and Equal Pay Act Complaint
VMC attorneys won the dismissal of a federal court lawsuit in which the plaintiff, a current employee and executive of the defendant employer, had accused her employer of sex discrimination and of violating the Equal Pay Act, claiming the employer made promotion and pay decisions affecting her and other female employees, based on gender. VMC successfully defended the suit and the judge granted our motion for summary judgment, adopting the employer’s position that the plaintiff had failed to establish the necessary elements of her claim.
Conti v. American Axle & Manufacturing, U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Michigan
VMC Wins Dismissal of Gender Discrimination and Retaliation Arbitration Case
VMC attorneys successfully argued to a FINRA Arbitration panel that the gender discrimination and retaliation claims of a female licensed and registered securities trader, whose employment was terminated for violating attendance policies, should be dismissed. Although the plaintiff had been the only female trader in her group, and produced evidence that male traders had also been tardy to work, VMC painstakingly established that that the Claimant’s conduct was far more egregious than that of her male peers and the case was dismissed.
Tsalis v. H&R Block Financial Advisors, Inc.
VMC won Summary Dismissal and Appeals of ERISA Plant Closure Class Action
VMC attorneys won an appellate victory upholding the summary dismissal of a class action ERISA case arising out of a plant closure. The class of employees alleged that the employer closed a long standing unionized plant and transferred that work to a non-union facility in order to interfere with the unionized employee’s retiree medical insurance and other ERISA benefits. The United States District Court for the Eastern District of Michigan dismissed the case, adopting VMC’s arguments that the plant closure was not related to ERISA protected benefits. The employees appealed the trial court’s decision to the Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals, where VMC attorneys prevailed. The employees again appealed to the United States Supreme Court, where the Court accepted the arguments of VMC attorneys and declined to review the case.
Crawford v. TRW Automotive U.S. L.L.C., Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals; United States Supreme Court
VMC won Summary Dismissal and Award of Sanctions of Whistleblower Action
VMC attorneys successfully won an appeal and obtained sanctions against a former employee for pursuing a vexatious lawsuit. The employee had previously sued his employer alleging a violation of Michigan’s Whistleblower Protection Act. In a case of first impression at the Michigan Court of Appeals, the Court accepted VMC’s arguments and held that filing a civil, non-statutorily based lawsuit is not protected activity under the Whistleblower statute. The employee thereafter sued his supervisor in federal court alleging many of the same actions. VMC attorneys obtained a summary dismissal of the case and monetary sanctions against the employee. The dismissal and sanctions were affirmed by the federal court of appeals.
Meier v. Green, 2009 WL 3880440 (E.D. Mich. 2009)
VMC Prevails in Putative ERISA Class Action
In another ERISA case, VMC attorneys prevailed in an action by an employee who claimed that her benefits and those of others were improperly terminated when they failed to return from workers’ compensation leaves. The plaintiff employee sought class action status and alleged violations of ERISA and Ohio public policy. VMC defeated the employee’s class action request and convinced the court to dismiss all of the employee's claims.
Hendricks v. Home Depot, U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Ohio
Hockey Coach's Wrongful Discharge Claim Dismissed
VMC attorneys successfully convinced a Court of Claims judge to dismiss a claim by the former Lake Superior State University hockey coach that he was discharged without just cause. The Coach was terminated prior to the expiration of his contract and claimed that he was entitled to pay until the term of the contract expired. Due to the Coach's misconduct while performing his duties, the Judge agreed with Lake Superior State that there was just cause for discharge and that the contract was properly terminated.
Anzalone v. Lake Superior State University, Michigan Court of Claims
VMC Wins Dismissal of Age and Whistleblowers Claims
VMC attorneys won the dismissal of an age discrimination and whistleblowers act claim by a former food service worker at Lake Superior State University. The court granted our motion for summary disposition, agreeing the plaintiff failed to establish a claim of age discrimination and was not discharged for reporting alleged criminal activity. Instead, it was found that Lake Superior State University had legitimate non-discriminatory reasons (poor performance) for discharging the plaintiff.
Thompson v. Lake Superior State University, Chippewa County Circuit Court
VMC Wins Dismissal of Discrimination Claims
VMC attorneys won dismissal of both intentional and unintentional discrimination claims based on age and race that were brought by an environmental engineer after his position was eliminated in a reduction in force. A federal court judge agreed that the decision to layoff the plaintiff was not discriminatory in any way.
White v. American Axle & Manufacturing, Inc., United States District Court, Eastern District of Michigan
Metallurgist's Race Discrimination Claim Dismissed
An Oakland County Circuit Court Judge dismissed claims by a former metallurgist employed by a manufacturing company at the urging of VMC attorneys. The metallurgist claimed that he was terminated due to race discrimination and subjected to racial harassment. The Court held that the plaintiff was properly discharged and that there was no race discrimination or harassment.
Kene v. MSP Corporation, Oakland County Circuit Court
VMC Wins Dismissal of Disability Discrimination Claim
A Wayne County Circuit Court Judge agreed with VMC attorneys' position and dismissed a disability discrimination claim brought by a former manufacturing employee. The Court ruled that the employer did not discriminate in any way and dismissed the plaintiff's claim in its entirety.
Hilmon v. American Axle & Manufacturing, Inc., Wayne County Circuit Court
VMC Convinces Judge to Dismiss Discrimination Claims Based on Race, Sex, National Origin, Religion and Pregnancy
A federal court judge agreed with VMC attorneys that the discrimination claims of a former school administrator were unfounded and dismissed all of her claims of discrimination. The court found that the employer had legitimate non-discriminatory reasons for dismissing her. VMC attorneys also convinced the Court to make an award of attorneys fees to the defendant due to the frivolousness of one of the claims.
Hashem-Younes v. Danou Enterprises, United States District Court, Eastern District of Michigan
VMC Wins Dismissal of National Origin Claim
The Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals agreed with arguments made by VMC attorneys and upheld the dismissal of a plaintiff's national origin and religious discrimination claims. The plaintiff, the former controller of a hotel, was dismissed for poor performance. VMC first won the dismissal of the claims by a federal district court judge and then convinced the Court of Appeals to uphold the dismissal of the claims.
Hussain v. Highgate Hotels, Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals
Referral to Arbitration Reversed on Appeal and Case Dismissed
VMC attorneys appealed an order granting summary disposition on a wrongful discharge claim because the order also referred the matter to arbitration pursuant to the company’s internal grievance procedure, despite the fact that the former employee had not completed the steps necessary to reach arbitration. The Michigan Court of Appeals agreed with VMC attorneys that the circuit court judge had no authority to order arbitration under the circumstances and, thus, held that the matter must be dismissed in its entirety.
Matteocci v. Oakwood Healthcare, Inc., Wayne County Circuit Court; Michigan Court of Appeals
VMC Wins Arbitration Regarding Professor’s Claim to Tenure
An arbitrator agreed with VMC attorneys that an Oakland University associate professor had not presented a compelling case for tenure, and he therefore dismissed the professor’s grievance over his tenure denial. The tenure application had been approved by faculty committees at the college and university levels, but Oakland’s provost recommended denial based upon his evaluation of the professor’s scholarship. The professor had published several articles while at Oakland, but VMC attorneys established that all of the work was done prior to the professor’s Oakland employment and that he had engaged in little or no scholarly activity while at Oakland. The arbitrator agreed, found that the votes of peer review committees are of no contractual significance, and reaffirmed that the decision to grant or deny tenure is within Oakland’s discretion.
In re Surrey, Labor Arbitration Proceeding
VMC Attorneys Prevail in Trial of Age Discrimination Claims
VMC lawyers obtained a jury verdict in favor of their client in a lawsuit filed in Wayne County Circuit Court by a former employee alleging that she was denied several promotions, harassed, and ultimately constructively discharged because of her age. The Court dismissed the employee's harassment claim and several of her promotion claims prior to trial. The case proceeded to trial on one promotion claim and the constructive discharge claim, with the employee seeking over $1,000,000 in damages. VMC proved that age had nothing whatsoever to do with the employment decisions at issue. After 10 days of trial, with 7 of those days devoted to the plaintiff's case, the jury returned a verdict in favor of the employer in less than 2 hours. The case was appealed to both the Michigan Court of Appeals and the Michigan Supreme Court and we prevailed at both levels of the appeals process.
Aben v. Oakwood Healthcare, Inc., Wayne County Circuit Court
VMC Attorneys Prevail in Trial of Gender and Pregnancy Discrimination Claims
VMC lawyers obtained a jury verdict in favor of their client following a federal court trial. The plaintiff sued her former employer alleging that it discriminated against her because of her gender and pregnancy. She asked the jury to award $1,000,000 in damages and attempted to persuade the jury that she was fired because she was pregnant and that various supervisors made negative comments about her pregnancy. Representing the employer, VMC proved that the employee was actually selected for a reduction in force because she had the worst performance of sales representatives in her category and had been barred from particular customer sites. The jury ruled in favor of the employer and awarded the former employee nothing.
Hanley v. Siemens Medical Solutions, U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Michigan
Award of Sanctions Against Builder Upheld on Appeal
VMC's motion for summary disposition was granted in a case where a builder alleged that the bank was liable for tortious interference with contractual relationships after the bank refused to approve the builder in conjunction with a construction loan. Agreeing with VMC that the bank had a right to approve or not approve of builders, the court entered a judgment awarding VMC's client its attorney fees as sanctions. The Michigan Court of Appeals affirmed.
Bowler v. Republic Bank, Oakland County Circuit Court; Michigan Court of Appeals
Class Action for Employee Retirement Benefits Dismissed
The Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals affirmed the granting of summary judgment in favor of VMC's client in a 1,200 plaintiff retiree welfare benefits case. The lead plaintiffs brought claims under ERISA and state common law, alleging on behalf of the class that the company was liable and should be enjoined from changing the retirees' health insurance benefits. Relying on the language of over thirty-years of collective bargaining agreements and numerous summary plan descriptions, the Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals agreed with VMC attorneys that the company and benefit plan had successfully reserved the right to change the level of benefits.
Bittinger v. Tecumseh Products Company et al., Eastern District of Michigan; Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals
Court Awards Sanctions Against EEOC
VMC won the dismissal of a claim brought by the EEOC, and the federal judge hearing the case ordered the EEOC to reimburse VMC's client for its attorney fees in the amount of $58,000. In that case, the EEOC alleged that a Burger King franchise wrongfully discriminated against two minority employees when it informed police that the employees had been assigned to a cash register from which $200 was missing. The police questioned the employees, along with other employees, before escorting them to the police station. One employee was later offered her job back, but the other was terminated for having been caught earlier in the evening with her hand in another employee's cash register. Agreeing with VMC that a discrimination claim was frivolous in these circumstances, the court ordered that the EEOC reimburse VMC's client for its attorney fees and costs incurred in defending the litigation. For more information, see the Press Release.
Equal Employment Opportunity Commission v. E.J. Sacco, Inc., Eastern District of Michigan
VMC Wins Dismissal of Race and Sex Discrimination and Retaliation Claims
VMC attorneys won the dismissal of a federal court lawsuit in which three plaintiffs had accused their former employer of race and sex discrimination and retaliation. The judge granted our motions for summary judgment, agreeing with our position that the plaintiffs had not articulated material facts in support of their claims, had not established that similarly situated white employees were treated differently than the plaintiffs and had not established any evidence to support their allegations that their employer had retaliated against them for filing claims of discrimination with governmental agencies.
Petite et al. v. Home Depot USA, Inc., U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Michigan
Easement Claim Rejected, Sanctions Awarded to VMC Client
The Livingston County Circuit Court agreed with VMC attorneys that the plaintiff developer was not entitled to an easement over a subdivision association's property to gain access to land that the developer's predecessors-in-interest had landlocked by selling off all of the adjacent property. Agreeing with VMC that the claim was frivolous, the trial court awarded VMC's client the amount of its attorney fees incurred in defending against the lawsuit.
Gold Krause v. Strawberry Pointe Bluffs Subdivision Homeowners' Association et al., Livingston County Circuit Court
VMC Wins Dismissal of Defamation and Injurious Falsehood Claims Against University
VMC attorneys persuaded an Oakland County Circuit Court judge to dismiss claims of defamation and injurious falsehood against Oakland University and one of its professors. The professor had posted on his website a paper written by a student for a business ethics assignment. The paper contained statements critical of an actual business and several employees. The business and the employees sued, claiming the publication of the paper on the website constituted defamation and injurious falsehood. On behalf of the professor and the university, VMC lawyers argued that there was no defamatory intent and no pecuniary motive and that the plaintiffs could not prove a direct link to their claimed damages. The judge agreed and granted a motion to dismiss the case.
Ben-Tech et al. v. Oakland University et al., Oakland County Circuit Court
VMC Attorneys Prevail For University in First Amendment Case
VMC attorneys won the dismissal of a lawsuit in which the former head coach of a university basketball program, who used a derogatory racial epithet in a locker room session with his players, sued the university and its officials alleging that his discharge violated the First Amendment. After the plaintiff appealed, the appellate court affirmed summary judgment for the university, holding that the coach’s use of the derogatory term was not speech on a matter of public concern and was not protected under the concept of academic freedom.
Dambrot v. Central Michigan University, U.S. Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit
Negligent Hiring and Supervision, Defamation, and Intentional Infliction of Emotion Distress Claims Dismissed
VMC's motion for summary disposition was granted by the trial court in a case brought by a former employee alleging that the employer was liable following his termination for defamation, negligent hiring and supervision, and intentional infliction of emotional distress. In that case, the employee's employment was terminated after an investigation by the company provided substantial evidence of misconduct involving a student at the employer's facility. Notwithstanding the evidence of misconduct, the employee filed a lawsuit alleging that his employment was wrongfully terminated. Agreeing with VMC that the employer took appropriate action in investigating the allegations made against the employee, the trial court dismissed the claims.
Taylor v. Grinnell Corporation, Wayne County Circuit Court
VMC Obtains Dismissal of Lawsuit and Vindicates At-Will Employment Agreement
VMC attorneys won the dismissal of a lawsuit in which a terminated state university employee filed a lawsuit against the university, alleging breach of a just-cause employment contract and deprivation of constitutional due process rights. Although the motion for summary disposition was initially denied at the trial court level, the denial was reversed on appeal. The Court of Appeals held that: (1) there was no just-cause employment agreement; (2) the employee had no legitimate expectation of just-cause employment; and (3) the employee was not deprived of any liberty interest.
Bracco v. Michigan Technological University, Michigan Court of Appeals
VMC Gets Verdict Reversed, Then Obtains Dismissal of Discrimination Claims
VMC attorneys were called in after a large jury verdict on an employee’s race, gender, and age discrimination claims. VMC obtained a reversal of the verdict on appeal, then dismissal of the case altogether after it was remanded. The employee appealed, and the Court of Appeals affirmed the dismissal.
Jones v. Wayne State University, Michigan Court of Appeals
VMC Attorneys Win Dismissal and Sanctions In Race Discrimination Lawsuit
When a terminated medical resident claimed that his dismissal was the result of racial discrimination, the hospital system turned to VMC for its defense. VMC attorneys painstakingly demonstrated that the basis for the decision to terminate the resident was an academic decision made by residency program officials based on the resident’s performance and was not motivated by discrimination. The judge agreed, dismissing the case and awarding the hospital system over $40,000 in sanctions.
Colton v. Detroit Medical Center et al., Wayne County Circuit Court
VMC Obtains Dismissal of Family and Medical Leave Act Lawsuit
VMC attorneys were successful in convincing a federal district judge to dismiss the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) claims of a former employee who had been terminated by her employer for excessive absenteeism. Although the former employee claimed that several of the absences should have been covered by the FMLA, the federal judge agreed with VMC that the concept of after-acquired evidence should be applied to her claims. The attendance program in issue had an appeals procedure. During the appeal of the absences that resulted in her discharge, the employee was absent on several additional days. VMC argued that the court should view these additional absences as after-acquired evidence independently justifying the employee’s discharge, and the judge agreed, dismissing the claims.
Doss v. American Axle & Manufacturing, U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Michigan
VMC Wins Court Action to Protect Client's Trade Secrets
VMC obtained an injunctive order prohibiting a client's former employee from working on certain accounts after taking employment with a competitor. In that case, the employee had told VMC's client that he was not taking employment with a competitor. As a result, the employee was allowed to participate in meetings concerning a large proposal to an automotive supplier. Shortly thereafter, however, the employee in fact did take a position with a competitor where he would be working on the same accounts, including assisting with a competitive bid. VMC quickly filed a lawsuit on behalf of the former employer, and the federal court judge found that the bidding information was protectable under Michigan's Uniform Trade Secrets Act and issued a preliminary injunction enjoining the former employee from participating in any way with those accounts for six months.
AK Steel Corporation v. Colton, United States District Court
VMC Wins Dismissal of Retaliation Case Based on Discovery Abuse
VMC attorneys convinced a Wayne County Circuit Court judge to dismiss a retaliation case and award sanctions in the form of attorney’s fees to VMC’s client based on the use of abusive discovery tactics by the attorneys for the plaintiff. The plaintiff's attorneys failed to respond to discovery requests, despite a court order requiring them to do so, disrupted the plaintiff's deposition by refusing to allow him to testify about the factual basis for his claims, refused to produce the plaintiff for a continuation of his deposition after leaving the first day of the deposition early, failed to file a timely witness list, and filed a frivolous discovery motion against VMC’s client. VMC argued that this pattern of abuse warranted the extremely unusual sanction of dismissal, and the judge agreed. On December 2, 2003, the Michigan Court of Appeals affirmed the trial’s court’s decision dismissing the case and awarding sanctions to the Detroit Newspaper Agency, holding that “the record discloses a history of recalcitrance or deliberate noncompliance with discovery orders and procedures. The circumstances supported the imposition of the harsh sanction of dismissal.”
Allen v. Detroit Newspaper Agency, Wayne County Circuit Court; Michigan Court of Appeals
Non-competition Agreement Enforced Against OEM Supplier's Former Executive
VMC obtained a preliminary injunction against a former high-level executive with a two-year non-competition agreement. In granting the injunctive relief, the trial court found that the non-competition agreement was enforceable and that VMC's client would suffer irreparable harm if injunctive relief was not granted.
Durakon Industries, Inc. v. Parr, Lapeer County Circuit Court
VMC Obtains Dismissal of Racial Harassment Claims
VMC attorneys successfully argued to a Wayne County Circuit Court judge that the racial harassment claims of 11 African-American employees should be dismissed. Although the employees produced evidence, among other things, that offensive racial graffiti appeared in many bathroom stalls and other locations throughout the manufacturing facility where the employee’s worked, that nooses had been hung near the work stations of some of the African-American plaintiffs, that an extremely insulting “Application for Employment” was circulated in the plant, and that swastikas also appeared in the plant, VMC demonstrated to the Court that the employer had taken proper steps to eradicate this activity, even though the perpetrator(s) of these acts had not been located.
Case name withheld by client request
Former Employees Jailed For Contempt in Non-Competition Agreement Case
In a case that demonstrates the effectiveness of a court order, the court issued a preliminary injunction enjoining two former employees from continuing a competing business in violation of a non-competition agreement with VMC's client. The employees attempted to circumvent the court's injunctive order by transferring the business into the name of one employee's spouse. After a contempt hearing, the trial court ordered the employees be incarcerated until such time as its order was carried out. Not surprisingly, the competing business was dissolved shortly thereafter.
Lowry Computer Products v. Finnegan and Bateman, Livingston County Circuit Court
Securities Firm Obtains Injunction Against Transfers of Accounts
VMC successfully obtained injunctive relief before the Oakland County Circuit Court and a National Association of Securities Dealers arbitration panel in a case involving the sending of account transfer forms by a former employee to the client's customers. Although the former employee was not a party to a non-competition agreement, the court enjoined the former employee from any further solicitations of the client's customers using the client's confidential information and any further transfers of solicited accounts.
Comerica Securities v. Salomon Smith Barney, Inc., et al., Oakland County Circuit Court; NASD Arbitration
VMC Attorneys Win Injurious Falsehood Case
VMC attorneys won the dismissal of a Wayne County Circuit Court lawsuit in which the plaintiff had accused his former employer of injurious falsehood, claiming that the employer had manufactured a false complaint of sex harassment against him and that the employer used that false complaint as a basis for terminating his employment. The court granted our motion for summary disposition, agreeing with our position that the plaintiff’s prior age discrimination and wrongful discharge lawsuit had already addressed the plaintiff’s termination and that he therefore could not proceed with the claim because it was barred by the doctrine of res judicata.
Harrison v. Great Lakes Beverage Company, Wayne County Circuit Court
VMC Obtains Directed Verdict For Home Inspector
In a case that wound its way up to the Michigan Supreme Court and back again, VMC successfully obtained a directed verdict of no cause of action for a home inspector client after the close of the plaintiff's proofs at trial. In that case, the plaintiff attempted to avoid the liquidated damages clause in the home inspector's pre-inspection agreement by alleging fraud and a violation of Michigan's Consumer Protection Act. During trial, however, VMC attorneys established that the inspector had in fact pointed out the problems with the basement walls that were relied upon in the complaint. The trial court agreed with VMC attorneys that there was no basis for a jury to find the existence of fraud or a violation of Michigan's Consumer Protection Act, and dismissed the case.
Yudashkin v. Master Home Inspector, Inc., et al., Washtenaw County Circuit Court