Skip to content

Illustrative Matters

Trustee of Pacific Steel Company v. UHY – Represented UHY in an action brought in federal court in the Northern District of California alleging that UHY, together with the owners of Pacific Steel Casting Company, breached their fiduciary duty to the company, making a claim for damages of more than $40 million. Following two years of discovery and motion practice, UHY successfully excluded the Trustee’s experts and then won a full dismissal of the claim against them following multiple motions for summary judgment.

Trustee v. UHY – Defended accounting firm from claims of malpractice and allegations of breach of fiduciary duties owed pursuant to a trust instrument. After first capturing the assets of the trust via a successful motion for preliminary injunction, the firm demonstrated clearly through discovery that plaintiff and its counsel failed to conduct adequate investigation into the claims alleged and that the entire suit was frivolous under Michigan statute and court rules. Accordingly, the Court dismissed all claims against the accountants and found the suit against them frivolous as a matter of law, awarding the accountants their attorney’s fees and costs incurred to defend against the claims. Case settled immediately thereafter on terms favorable to the accountants.

Riley v. Ameritech, et al. – Successfully defended consulting and accounting firm against $180 million malpractice claim brought by Ameritech telecommunications company. Ameritech alleged that it relied on attest services and reports prepared by the accounting firm when it consummated the purchase of a technology company represented by the accountants. After significant motion practice, the Court dismissed the majority of claims asserted by Ameritech, with the firm securing a precedent-setting summary judgment opinion on the scope of an accountant’s liability to non-clients who allege reliance upon an accountant’s attest services. Riley v. Ameritech Corp., 147 F.Supp.2d 762 (E.D.Mich.2001).

Miller Partnership v. FRC – Partnership brought suit against the accounting firm alleging breach of fiduciary duties and malpractice in connection with a failed investment by the partnership. After first securing dismissal of the majority of claims through motion practice, the firm proceeded to trial on the remaining claims. Following an eight-day trial, the jury deliberated for a mere 45 minutes, concluding that there was no cause of action against the accountants. Thereafter, the firm successfully recovered mediation sanctions against the Partnership based on its pursuit of these meritless claims.

Chase Bank v. Grant Thornton, et al. – Successfully defended an accounting firm against allegations of fraud by Chase Bank and Paine Webber. Cadwalader, Wickersham & Taft of New York represented Paine Webber, and Honigman, Miller, Schwartz and Cohn represented Chase Bank. The firm succeeded in having the complaints of both Chase and Paine Webber dismissed. Chase Bank appealed to the Michigan Court of Appeals and Supreme Court and the firm prevailed in both venues. Consequently, all charges in these multimillion-dollar lawsuits against the accounting firm were dismissed.

MCA v. Grant Thornton et. al. – Successfully defended an accounting firm against allegations of accountant malpractice in a series of cases stemming from the audit of MCA Financial Corporation, a mortgage banker. Bodman, Longley represented MCA. The basis of the charges was that the accounting firm had failed to spot MCA’s fraud. The accounting firm responded that MCA’s fraud had been calculated to deceive the accounting firm and, consequently, there could not be and was not any negligence on the part of the accounting firm. The firm successfully defended the accounting firm in state and federal court on six separate occasions. The success at the trial court level was duplicated in subsequent appellate victories.

Colton v. Major Accounting Firm – A disgruntled real estate investor sued a major accounting firm for malpractice as it related to three review engagements. The plaintiff claimed $12 million as a result of the ultimate collapse of a real estate company in which he held a major interest. After a five-week trial, the jury entered a no cause of action against the plaintiff.

Coupled Products v. Navistar – Represented Coupled Products, which brought a breach of contract claim against automotive manufacturer Navistar. Navistar counter sued. We were retained to represent Coupled at trial against two prominent national law firms. After a two-and-a-half-week trial, the jury awarded Coupled all of the damages Coupled sought – to the penny – and rejected Navistar’s counterclaims. We then pursued attorney fees, costs and interests for our client, and after numerous days of evidentiary hearing, the court entered a final judgment including attorney fees, costs and interest. The case settled before the appeal.

Multimatic v. Faurecia – Faurecia, a French automotive supplier, asked Multimatic, a Canadian automotive supplier, to supply parts to Faurecia for eventual use on a Chrysler line of vehicles. Multimatic designed a part and submitted that design to Faurecia after Faurecia signed a confidentiality agreement with Multimatic, promising to limit disclosure on this design. Nevertheless, Faurecia disclosed the design to one of Multimatic’s competitors. This competitor eventually replaced Multimatic. Multimatic brought a breach of contract lawsuit against Faurecia in Federal District Court for the Eastern District of Michigan. The firm represented Multimatic. After one week of trial, the jury awarded the full amount of damages sought by Multimatic, $10 million, and asked the Court whether it could impose additional damages.

Algonquin Automotive v. Ford Motor Company – Successfully represented Algonquin, a Tier-1 supplier, against Ford based on Ford’s breach of a supply agreement whereby Algonquin created, developed and manufactured a hard tonneau cover for Ford’s special Harley Davidson edition of its well-known F-150 vehicle. Following arbitration hearings spanning more than a year, the firm secured a substantial seven-figure award.

Security Police and Fire Professionals of America v. Steve Maritas – The case involved numerous breaches of a settlement agreement between Security Police and Fire Professionals of America (SPFPA) and Steve Maritas, primarily related to repeated use of SPFPA’s trademarked name and acronym in hundreds of internet posts. Prior to trial, the firm successfully obtained a ruling from the trial court that the agreement was valid and had been breached. As a result, the jury’s role was to determine SPFPA’s damages and attorney’s fees. After a mere 30 minutes of deliberation, the jury awarded every penny in damages requested by the firm, including nearly $400,000 in attorney’s fees, concluding 2 ½ years of litigation. Thereafter, the firm successfully preserved this verdict on appeal and obtained injunctive relief against Maritas, precluding him from using SPFPA’s name and trademark in the future.

Publicly Traded Company v. Fortune 100 Manufacturer – Represented the plaintiff company in a complex contract dispute concerning defendant’s termination of a merger agreement between these publicly traded entities. After a partial 7-week federal jury trial, the Firm secured a $20 million settlement in plaintiff’s favor. This was the largest reported settlement that year in the State of Michigan.

Minority Shareholders v. Real Estate Conglomerate – Represented minority shareholders in a conglomerate of 100+ real estate construction and development firms. These shareholders were first “locked-out” of participation in the businesses, then subjected to further oppression through the taking (or alleged “purchase”) of their ownership interests at artificially deflated values. After proceedings in State and Federal courts, as well as multi-week arbitration hearings, the firm secured a substantial eight-figure damages award, in addition to a seven-figure award of attorney’s fees and costs. Thereafter, the firm successfully argued for affirmation of the award before the Michigan Court of Appeals.

Minority Shareholder v. Majority Shareholders and Manufacturing Co – Represented a minority shareholder who, for 40 years, owned and built a successful manufacturing company with his two partners. The firm provided pre-litigation advice and guidance to the shareholder in navigating a complex operating agreement, with provisions governing a “buy-out” of his shares. When those negotiations proved unsuccessful, the firm successfully represented the shareholder in claims for oppression and breach of contract in state court. The matter settled on confidential terms favorable to the shareholder.

Ferris v. Nissho Iwai American Corporation (Japan), et. al. – This case involved a Japanese trading company that defaulted on monies due upon purchasing a leasing company. The firm represented Plaintiff Ferris. After a week-long jury trial, the firm obtained an $8+ Million Judgment (including over $1 Million in attorney’s fees). Honigman, Miller, Schwartz and Cohn represented Defendants.

Detroit Center Tool, Inc. v. Classic Design, Inc. – This case involved a dispute over engineering and design work that Classic Design was hired to perform for Detroit Center Tool on robotic assembly lines in numerous automotive plants in North America. The firm represented Plaintiff Detroit Center Tool. The Oakland County jury awarded Detroit Center Tool a verdict of $9 million, one of the largest awards ever in Oakland County Circuit Court.

Printing Company v. Fortune 200 International Manufacturer – Successfully represented local printing company in breach of contract case against a Fortune 200 international manufacturer. After the firm presented opening argument and the first witness, the case was settled on the first day of trial.

Versata v. Ford Motor Company – Represented Versata Software, Inc. in a trade secret infringement case against Ford Motor Company. The case was complex and involved highly technical evidence regarding computer software. After three weeks of trial, the jury in Detroit found that Ford had breached its contract with Versata and misappropriated the trade secrets in Versata’s proprietary configuration software, awarding Versata $105 million.

Bridgestone/Firestone, Inc. v. Computer Methods Corporation – This case involved the joint venture development of high-tech tire tag technology between the parties. The firm represented Defendant Computer Methods Corporation. The trial was in the U.S. District Court in Nashville, TN. Bridgestone/Firestone, represented by Jones Day Reavis & Pogue, sued for $23.0 Million and was awarded nothing by the jury in its verdict. The jury granted Computer Methods Corporation over $600,000 of a $700,000 Counterclaim against Bridgestone.

Ford v. TSC – Ford filed a lawsuit against TSC in Wayne County Circuit Court, claiming that the operational speeds in a complex software package were deficient. The firm represented TSC, a public company. Ford asked for over $30 million in damages from TSC initially and demanded a verdict of $14 million at trial. The case was mediated for $6 million against TSC. After a 10-day trial, a jury awarded $3.1 million to Ford but the case was settled for substantially less prior to appeal.

Advanced Aerofoil Technologies v. Flowcastings GmbH – Represented a team of American and German entrepreneurs and engineers and their business venture, a jet engine supplier, in fraud and trade secret actions brought in the Northern District of Illinois, Southern District of New York and before the American Arbitration Association. After significant motion practice in the federal cases and a full arbitration hearing, the firm won complete dismissal of all federal cases and an arbitration award of no cause of action for alleged misappropriation and all other claims. The arbitrator further awarded in excess of $300,000 in legal fees to the clients and against the plaintiffs.

Garden Fresh Gourmet v. Buddies Foods, et al – Represented a gourmet foods company in a misappropriation of trade secret and unfair competition case against two former employees who stole a trade secret recipe/formula for the client’s product, then formed a new company to manufacture and sell their “knock-off” version. After a week-long trial in state court, the jury found the defendants liable for misappropriation and awarded all damages sought by the firm. Thereafter, the firm secured a permanent injunction preventing defendants from manufacturing their “knock-off” product and driving one the defendants into bankruptcy.

MAI Systems Corporation v. Peak Computer, Inc., et al. – Represented plaintiff MAI Systems in this case involving copyright infringement allegations for computer operating systems. The Court ruled that when a computer is turned on, the transfer of the data from the hard drive to the RAM is the equivalent of making a copy, and only the owner or licensee could do it. This created a significant problem for aftermarket service companies. It triggered efforts to pass a new law beginning in the U.S. House by Rep. Joseph Knollenberg (R.- Bloomfield Hills, Mich.) to revise the Copyright Act so that it would permit the “rightful possessor” of the program to copy it for that purpose. Mr. Young acted as lead lobbyist for the ultimately successful efforts to amend the Copyright Act.

Kolene Corporation v. Ciarlone, et al. – This case involved allegations of conspiracy and expropriation of trade secrets against several Defendants. The firm represented Plaintiff Kolene, the world’s largest manufacturer of molten salt cleaning systems for industrial processes ranging from aerospace to automobile. The Oakland County jury awarded Kolene a $1.3 million verdict and the Judge issued a Preliminary Injunction against Defendants, a competitor and a former Vice President.

Repunetics, Inc. v. Virtual Technology, Inc. – This case involved a contract dispute over the design and manufacture of sophisticated electronic disc-drive cabinets for Virtual. The firm represented the Defendant Virtual. The Ann Arbor jury awarded Plaintiff nothing on its multimillion-dollar claim against Virtual and awarded Virtual nearly $200,000 on its counterclaim. This case generated a great deal of interest in the high-tech market.

In re City of Detroit, Michigan – Represented Oakland County in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Michigan Bankruptcy Division in the largest municipal bankruptcy filing in U.S. history. As one of the largest customers of the Detroit Water & Sewer Department (DWSD), Oakland County objected to the Plan of Adjustment (POA) proposed by the City of Detroit which sought to fund the POA by using revenues from DWSD that were critically needed for the operations and capital improvements for the provision of water and sewer services to nearly 40% of the residents of the State of Michigan. The firm’s opening statement highlighted the crises that taking much needed resources away from DWSD would create. In the midst of trial, Oakland County, DWSD and the Counties of Wayne, Macomb and Oakland achieved a global settlement which resulted in the formation of a regional water authority.

Bloomfield Township – In a highly publicized class action lawsuit, an Oakland County Judge entered a judgment against Bloomfield Township in the amount of $9.6 million in damages and pre-judgment interest, plus post-judgment interest, costs, and attorney fees for allegedly overcharging residents through water and sewer rates. Facing this massive judgment, Bloomfield Township immediately retained the firm to handle the appeal. After conducting thorough interviews with Bloomfield Township employees and reviewing the extensive trial record, the firm filed its brief on appeal, arguing that the trial court erred by permitting the class to cherry-pick certain cost components of Bloomfield Township’s overall water and sewer rates while ignoring all others, thereby rendering it impossible to determine whether the rates, cumulatively, were actually too high. Indeed, when taking all variables into account, the trial court record demonstrated that Bloomfield Township had been undercharging—not overcharging—water and sewer customers. The class also filed its own cross-appeal, arguing that not only were Bloomfield Township’s water and sewer rates too high, but that they were an unconstitutional tax, in violation of the Headlee Amendment. At oral argument, the Court of Appeals noted that the firm “beautifully briefed” its arguments, and in the following unanimous, published decision, the Court of Appeals reversed the trial court and ordered the entry of a judgment of no cause of action in favor of Bloomfield Township on all counts. The class filed an application for leave to appeal to the Michigan Supreme Court, and the firm filed its brief vigorously opposing leave. Just as the firm prevailed in the Court of Appeals, it prevailed again in the Supreme Court. The firm also recovered Bloomfield Township’s appellate costs and will soon obtain an order for the Township’s trial costs as well.

United States of America v. City of Detroit, et al. – In this case brought under the Clean Water Act in the 1970’s, the firm was brought in by Oakland County and the Oakland County Water Resources Commissioner in the mid-2000’s to help reach a resolution of this decades-old case involving the provision of safe drinking water to residents of Macomb, Oakland and Wayne Counties. After languishing for many years, the firm was able to move the matter to resolution working closely with all parties to ensure compliance with the Clean Water Act, and other state and federal guidelines, and to ensure the provision of safe and efficient water and sewer services to millions of residents of the State of Michigan.

Arthrex, Inc. v. Smith & Nephew – Represented the global leader in arthroscopic surgery, Arthrex Inc., in a patent infringement case in the United States District Court for the Eastern District of Texas. After a fast-tracked 18 months of intense discovery, and a week-long trial, the jury found the patents at issue valid and the Defendants to have willfully infringed every claim of the patents at issue.

Teleflex, Inc. v. Ficosa North American Corp. – Represented Plaintiff Teleflex, a publicly traded multinational client, in its claim of patent infringement. The Federal jury awarded Teleflex a large monetary verdict and the Judge issued a Permanent Injunction against Defendant, a Spanish company that had been competing with Teleflex. The infringed technology involved the worldwide market for flexible transmission cables. This four-week jury trial in U.S. District Court in Detroit, Michigan pitted the firm against the law firm of Jones, Day, Reavis & Pogue.

Smith & Nephew v. Arthrex – This case was tried twice in the United States District Court in Portland, Oregon. The firm represented the Defendant, Arthrex. In the first trial, the jury was hung 7-1 in favor of the Defendant. In the second trial, Smith & Nephew obtained a verdict that was reversed on a successful appeal to the Federal Circuit. Following additional appeals at the PTO and the Federal Circuit, a favorable settlement was achieved.

IMPCO v. GFI – IMPCO sued GFI (represented by the firm), a manufacturer of alternative fuel systems, for patent infringement. Although IMPCO, a leading alternative fuel systems manufacturer headquartered in California, had a strong patent infringement case against GFI, GFI was able to raise substantial questions as to the validity of IMPCO’s patent. As a result, IMPCO decided to settle the case by dismissing its lawsuit against GFI.

Key Contacts

Related Practices

Related Industries

Related News

Sign up to be the first to access our leading legal insights.

The link you have selected will redirect you to a third-party website located on another server. We are offering the link for your convenience. Varnum has no responsibility for any external websites and makes no express or implied warranties about any external websites.

Please be aware that contacting us via e-mail does not create an attorney-client relationship between you and the firm. Do not send confidential information to the firm until you have spoken with one of our attorneys and receive authorization to send such materials.