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Overview

Litigation Attorney

Mike focuses his practice on commercial litigation and trademarks. He also serves as a federal mediator. He has tried and arbitrated numerous commercial cases. 

Mike’s experience encompasses a range of business matters, including contract disputes with vendors, employment disputes, membership and shareholder disputes regarding asset and stock purchase agreements, ERISA claims and real estate disputes. He has particular experience representing clients in the Michigan automotive industry as well as manufacturing and professional services, including physician’s groups.

Rather than simply discussing the litigation process, Mike first consults with clients regarding their business goals. This approach allows Mike to develop practical legal strategies that have earned him the respect of clients who regularly seek him out not only for litigation, but also for litigation avoidance, general business counsel, and risk mitigation.

Prior to joining Varnum, Mike served as the president of the Law Weathers law firm.

Experience

Experience

Peterson Homes v. Bespoke Homes, (Kent County Circuit Court Case No. 15-11317-CZB). Obtained summary disposition in defense of breach of fiduciary duty claim. 

Beach v. Autocam Medical, LLC, (Kent County Circuit Court Case No. 13-10094-CKB). Favorably resolved sales commission claim for medical parts manufacturer.

Fifth Third Bank v. Bentwaters Partners LP and United States Department of Agriculture, (U.S. District Court W.D. Mich. Case No. 1:12:CV-1123). Obtained summary judgment on issue of whether funds in deposit control account are exempt from garnishment proceedings.

Founders Brewing Company v. Founders Winery, L.L.C., (U.S. District Court W.D. Mich. 2011 Case No. 1:11-cv-00946). Successfully resolved trademark infringement claim representing brewery in trademark infringement dispute with winery.

Limagrain Cereal Seeds v. Byrum, et al, (U.S. District Court W.D. Mich. 2011 Case No. 1:11-CV-738). Successfully represented wheat breeder in intellectual property dispute regarding inventorship rights in numerous lines of soft white wheat.

Macatawa Bank v. Wipperfurth, 294 Mich. App. 617 (2011). In published opinion, the Michigan Court of Appeals held that IRA's are intangible assets located in the domicile of the owner thereby insulating Florida resident's multiple IRA's from garnishment in Michigan.

Christy Harding-Smith v. Global Forex Trading, (U.S. District Court W.D. Mich. Case No. 1:10-CV-984). Obtained summary judgment in favor of employer for lack of jurisdiction in Age Discrimination in Employment Act claim.

Kent County Aeronautics Board v. XJet Michigan Property, L.L.C., (U.S. District Court W.D. Mich. Case No. 1:10-CV-984). Obtained favorable settlement on behalf of Kent County Aeronautics Board in which the defendant, a fixed base operator, agreed to cure its payment default on a long-term lease at the Gerald R. Ford International Airport.

Cascade Charter Township v. Krystyna W. Cotter, (Kent County Circuit Court Case No. 09-11637-CZ). Obtained summary disposition in easement dispute allowing for development of park.

McManus, et al v. Toler, 289 Mich. App. 283 (2010). In a published opinion, the Michigan Court of Appeals affirmed the trial court's award of attorney fees, finding that offer of judgment rule applies in cases involving both legal and equitable claims.

Wolverine Pipeline v. Autocam, et al, (Calhoun County Circuit Court Case No. 07-4294-CZ). Obtained zero dollar resolution in favor of Tier 1 automotive supplier defendant in seven-figure NREPA case arising from alleged environmental contamination.                             

AutoFlock, Inc. v. West Michigan Flocking & Assembly LLC, (AAA Case No. 54 489 00876 06). Obtained 100% recovery on behalf of seller in dispute regarding asset purchase agreement and successfully defended purchaser’s counterclaim. 

McManus, et al v. Toler, (Kent County Circuit Court Case No. 05-02677-CK, COA Docket No. 274407) Obtained no cause verdict after three week trial in favor of defendant in dispute relating to asset purchase agreement. Verdict upheld on appeal and attorney fees awarded.  

RAN Enterprises, Inc. v. Paulstra CRC Corp., (Kent County Circuit Court Case No. 05-    08588-CZ, COA Docket No. 274082). Granted summary disposition in defense of million dollar breach of contract and UCC Article 2 “Battle of the Forms” case arising from cancellation of the Ford Taurus program. Dismissal upheld on appeal. 

Grand Haven Technical Sales, Inc. v. M&S Tool & Die, Inc., et al, (Ottawa County Circuit Court Case No. 04-50657-CK). Granted summary disposition and attorney fees in defense of claim seeking damages for alleged breach of the Uniform Trade Secrets Act. 

Velting Contractors, Inc. v. Michigan Department of Transportation, et al, (Kent County Circuit Court Case No. 03-02683-CK). Appointed special assistant attorney general to represent MDOT in breach of contract claim brought by contractor relating to a major road construction project. Obtained zero dollar resolution for client through ADR. 

Kenneth W. Kreis v. James A. Mahoney, (Van Buren County Circuit Court Case No. 03-  50-804-CH). Obtained judgment awarding 100% of damages sought in dispute relating to stock purchase agreement. Obtained dismissal of purchaser’s counterclaim for breach of contract and fraud. 

Jarrell v. Stariha, (COA Docket No. 249175). Obtained reversal of trial court verdict which served to reinstate easement lake access rights for non-riparian landowner.  

Kunkler v. Global Futures & Forex, Ltd., (Kent County Circuit Court Case No. 02-08271-CL, COA Docket No. 245561). Obtained dismissal of claim arising under Whistleblower’s Protection Act after filing motion for summary disposition in lieu of answer at outset of case. Dismissal affirmed on appeal.  

Czarnopys v. Crystal Flash Ltd. Partnership of Michigan, 200 F. Supp. 2d 780 (W.D. Mich 2002). Filed emergency ERISA benefits denial claim on behalf of covered dependent whose cancer treatment was denied. Obtained judgment awarding all relief sought and attorney fee award within 30 days of initiating suit.  

Loftus v. VanDahm, (COA Docket No. 221051). Retained as appellate counsel for homeowner ordered in trial court to sell cottage pursuant to purchase agreement. Successfully obtained reversal of trial court ruling allowing homeowner to retain ownership of family cottage.

Leadership

Honors & Recognitions

Leading Lawyers, Commercial Litigation

Litigation Counsel of America, fellow

Martindale-Hubbell® AV Preeminent™ Peer Review Rated

Michigan Super Lawyers®

Professional Affiliations

Grand Rapids Bar Association: Litigation Section; Executive Committee

State Bar of Michigan, Litigation Section

Community Involvement

East Grand Rapids Boys LaCrosse, Board

East Grand Rapids Girls LaCrosse, Board

News & Publications

Education

Valparaiso University School of Law
Valparaiso, Indiana
J.D., 1994

University of Michigan
Ann Arbor, Michigan
B.A.,1991

Bar Admissions

  • Michigan

Court Admissions

  • All Michigan state courts
  • United States Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit
  • United States District Court for the Eastern District of Michigan
  • United States District Court for the Western District of Michigan
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