Varnum Represents Medical Imaging Company in Sale to Strategic Joint Venture

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Block Imaging, a Holt, Michigan-headquartered leading U.S. provider of refurbished medical equipment, parts and service has been acquired by a joint venture consisting of imaging manufacturer Siemens Medical Solutions and CommonSpirit Health, a large non-profit health system.

Varnum represented Block Imaging in all aspects of the transaction, including negotiation of all definitive acquisition documents.

Under the agreement, Block Imaging will continue supplying parts to providers across the United States to help create a more sustainable and cost-effective fleet of imaging equipment. Terms of the deal, which closed in July, were not disclosed.

Block Imaging has six locations around the world including its large refurbishment facility in Holt. The company includes 170-plus team members serving more than 100 countries. Siemens Healthineers, based in Frankfurt, Germany, has nearly 70,000 team members across the globe. CommonSpirit is a Chicago-based nonprofit healthcare system employing more than 25,000 physicians and other advanced-practice providers, operating across 138 hospitals and 2,000 care sites.

Varnum partner Jake Droppers led the Varnum M&A team which included Chris George and Alex Campbell, negotiating the purchase and sale agreements and advising on future plans. The team was supported by Shawn Strand (tax) and John Sturgis (real estate).

“Jake Droppers and the entire Varnum team did a remarkable job from start to finish,” said Block Imaging President Josh Block. “I’m so grateful for the Varnum team’s support in helping our organization navigate the complexities of an acquisition for the first time in our history.” More information about the transaction can be found here and here.

DOL Proposes to Increase Salary Threshold Required for Most White-Collar Exemptions

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On August 30, 2023, the U.S. Department of Labor issued a new proposed rule that would change the required salary threshold for many salaried exempt employees. Under the proposal, the guaranteed salary that most employees must receive to qualify as exempt from the overtime rules will increase dramatically, to over $55,000 annually.

Under the Fair Labor Standards Act, employees who work in executive, administrative, professional, and certain computer positions must generally meet both the salary basis test and the job duty requirements to be classified as exempt from the overtime rules. In addition to being paid on a salary basis (which means there can be no deductions from salary, subject to certain limited exceptions), the threshold salary is currently $684 a week, amounting to $35,568 annually. The proposed rule seeks to raise the threshold for salaried employees significantly to $1,059 per week, or $55,068 annually—an increase of approximately $20,000 per year.

In addition, the new proposal would increase the total annual compensation threshold for exempt highly compensated employees from $107,432 to $143,988 annually—an increase of more than $36,000 per year. With these changes, the Department of Labor also proposes to add an automatic updating mechanism to increase these salary thresholds every three years based on available earnings data. No changes are proposed to the duties tests necessary to qualify for one of these exemptions.

After the proposal is published, the public will have 60 days to comment on the proposed rule. If the proposal is accepted as currently written, it will mean significant changes for employers in compensation structure, as more employees nationwide will qualify for overtime pay unless their salaries are increased over the new threshold.

Employers should immediately review their workforces to determine what changes, if any, may be necessary if the proposal is adopted as currently written. Possible considerations include:

  • raising the salary of employees who meet the duties test to at least $55,068 annually to retain their exempt status;
  • converting employees to non-exempt status and paying the overtime premium of one-and-one half times the employees’ regular pay rates for all overtime hours worked; or
  • converting employees to non-exempt status and eliminating or reducing the amount of overtime hours worked by such employees.

Similar considerations should be undertaken with highly compensated employees. While it is wise to review pay practices proactively and identify potential changes that may become necessary, employers may wish to continue to monitor developments prior to actually implementing changes. As employers may recall from the most previous instance in which a major overhaul of the salary basis regulations was proposed, in 2016, significant changes can occur between the announcement of a proposed rule and the ultimate adoption of the final regulation.

Employers are encouraged to consult with legal counsel to discuss their options and strategies for implementing these changes, if necessary. Varnum’s Labor and Employment Practice Team stands ready to assist employers with any questions or concerns they may have about this proposed rule.

Lauren Parker Named to Friends of Grand Rapids Parks Board of Directors

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Varnum attorney Lauren Parker has been named to the Board of Directors for Friends of Grand Rapids Parks, which works to increase equal access to the outdoors and empower the community to cultivate vibrant parks, trails, trees, and green spaces.

Parker is an associate attorney with a background in finance. She works with the corporate and tax teams on a variety of matters including mergers and acquisitions, private equity, strategic investment and other commercial transactions.

Friends of Grand Rapids Parks provides activities across the city’s 75+ parks, overseeing such programs as Adopt-a-Park, Neighborhood Forester and Green Your Block. They also provide a variety of events including workshops on birding and invasive species and activities such as rock climbing and skateboarding.

Preparing Automotive Parts Suppliers for a Potential UAW Strike


Members of the United Auto Workers (UAW) union recently voted overwhelmingly to authorize a strike against General Motors, Ford, or Stellantis if the ongoing negotiations regarding a new labor contract fails. If your company is a parts supplier for any of these three automobile manufacturers, you should be aware that a UAW strike may lead these manufacturers to attempt to avoid or delay performance under their supplier contracts. A strike could therefore present issues that significantly effect contractual relationships in the automotive industry, including contracts through which your company supplies parts to the automobile manufacturers and contracts with your company’s suppliers.

With the potential of a UAW strike looming, it is essential for automobile parts suppliers to prepare to navigate this situation. If you are a supplier, the most important action that you should take is to ensure you fully understand the contractual rights between your company and both your customers and your suppliers. With a full understanding of how the strike affects your contractual rights, you can position your business to effectively manage the potential implications a UAW strike may have on the industry.

If you supply parts to one of the three Detroit automakers involved in the UAW negotiations – General Motors, Ford or Stellantis – your contract with that company may have provisions that alter each parties’ rights in the event of a strike. These provisions could include, but are not limited to, force majeure clauses, termination clauses, indemnification agreements, and limitation of liability clauses. You should ensure that you understand all rights and obligations under each agreement that you have with these three companies. An analysis of how those rights and obligations could be impacted can help your company analyze its options and the associated risks if the current UAW negotiations result in a strike.

In the same way that the three Detroit Automakers may attempt to leverage provisions of their supplier agreements to cancel, delay, or reduce orders, your company may be entitled to invoke contractual provisions that are contained in your contracts with your suppliers in order to reduce your exposure or prevent losses. You should be aware of your options under each supplier agreement and be prepared to analyze the impact that enforcing those provisions may have on both the immediate and long-term future of your company.

Given the uncertainty surrounding the immediate future of the automotive industry, strategic preparation is critical to ensuring your business is able to navigate this situation. If you have any questions or concerns regarding the impact the impending strikes may have on your contractual rights or obligations, Varnum’s experienced automotive supply chain attorneys are available to assist with contractual analysis and provide tailored guidance and support to protect your interests.

Streamlining M&A Transactions: New Broker-Dealer Exemption Empowers Intermediaries

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As a part of the Consolidated Appropriations Act of 2023, President Biden signed into law several provisions aimed at promoting private mergers and acquisitions (M&A) activity by easing the regulatory burden faced by M&A intermediaries. The new law grants additional broker-dealer registration exemptions for M&A intermediaries engaging in M&A transactions involving certain qualified privately held companies. This new exemption took effect on March 29, 2023 and represents a significant change from previous M&A intermediary qualifications in the M&A space.

For background, an M&A intermediary (or M&A advisor) is a professional or firm that facilitates and acts on behalf of companies in the process of buying, selling, merging, or acquiring other companies. M&A intermediaries can undertake a wide range of services in order to help clients navigate the various stages and strategic decisions involved in a potential M&A transaction. M&A intermediaries can take several different forms, including investment banks, boutique advisory firms, business brokers, and legal or financial consulting firms, and provide a wide range of services at various levels that can include business valuation, deal identification, deal structuring, negotiation, due diligence, regulatory compliance, and integration planning.

Before enacting the new exemption, M&A intermediaries facilitating the sale or purchase of businesses were subject to a more rigorous regulatory framework enforced by the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC). The prior framework required M&A intermediaries to register as broker-dealers with the SEC, imposing various registration requirements, as well as various licensing and disclosure obligations. These requirements often proved to be significant impediments to engaging in M&A transactions for potential parties.

This summary explores the details, implications, and potential benefits to M&A intermediaries.

The New Exemption

In recent years, the SEC has recognized the need to streamline onerous obligations and make the regulatory environment for M&A intermediaries more accessible and efficient. As a result, these newly adopted exemptions provide significant relief to M&A intermediaries from a large portion of the previous registration and compliance requirements. In order to qualify for the new exemption, M&A intermediaries must meet a specific set of conditions, including, but not limited to:

  1. Deal Size: The exemption applies to transactions involving privately held companies with (i) an enterprise value of $250 million or less or (ii) a prior-year EBITDA of $25 million or less.
  1. Transaction Structure: The exemption covers various transaction structures, including equity purchases, asset purchases, mergers, and similar business combinations.
  1. Active Control: The buyer or group of buyers involved in the proposed transaction must have the ability to actively manage and operate the target company or the assets acquired through the transaction.
  1. Limited Compensation: M&A intermediaries must receive transaction-based compensation, which cannot be in the form of payment in securities of the buyer or the target company. Typically, this means a standard success fee or commission.

Additional Exemption Limitations

In addition to the limitations and requirements mentioned above, there are several activities that M&A intermediaries must refrain from engaging in to qualify for the exemption. An M&A intermediary cannot:

  1. Have control/custody of a buyer or target company’s funds or securities;
  1. Form a consortium of potential buyers;
  1. Hold or provide financing for a transaction;
  1. Obtain or facilitate financing for a transaction without full disclosure to all parties involved, including the lender;
  1. Facilitate a transaction involving a shell company;
  1. Engage in a public offering of securities as part of the transaction;
  1. Acquire authority to legally bind either the buyer or the target company;
  1. Represent both the buyer and seller without written consent from each party.

Participating in any of the aforementioned activities will disqualify an M&A intermediary from qualifying for the new exemption. Some of these areas fall into gray areas, and specific activities should be discussed with an attorney on a case-by-case basis.

Implications and Benefits

The new exemption for M&A intermediaries provides several benefits and potential implications for all participants in a proposed M&A transaction:

  1. Regulatory Relief and Transaction Efficiency: M&A intermediaries who qualify for the exemption will no longer be required to formally register as broker-dealers with the SEC. Removing this regulatory burden and its associated costs allows M&A intermediaries to focus more on executing potential transactions without the distraction of burdensome regulatory requirements. This is expected to lead to more flexible and expeditious operations by M&A intermediaries, resulting in smoother deal negotiations and closures. 
  1. Access to Broader Markets: The exemption provides breathing room for smaller M&A intermediaries who may have found it challenging to comply with extensive broker-dealer registration requirements. Additionally, this should lead to broader market access, encourage competition, and enhance deal flow across various sectors.
  1. Market Liquidity: Simplifying the regulatory landscape is expected to increase market liquidity. This should enable private companies to explore more strategic options and capital formation, contributing to more widespread economic growth across many market sectors. 

The new exemption for M&A intermediaries from federal broker-dealer registration signifies a meaningful step toward market efficiency by streamlining the transaction process, fostering competition, and enhancing market liquidity. This does not, however, imply that the exemption opens the floodgates to a new “wild west” of M&A intermediary activity. As mentioned earlier, several disqualifying activities and narrow requirements must still be met to qualify for this exemption, and state-level requirements should always be considered. 

The above is a high-level summary of the new exemption, and there are several details and excluded activities that may result in a registration requirement. For further discussion and answers to any questions, please reach out to any member of Varnum’s M&A Team.

Varnum Represents Restoration Service Franchisee in Recapitalization

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Varnum recently represented SERVPRO of Saginaw, a leading franchisee and provider of residential and commercial property restoration services, in a recapitalization and strategic investment by Chicago-based City Capital Ventures. Terms of the deal, which was announced July 25, were not disclosed.

Varnum represented SERVPRO of Saginaw in all aspects of the deal, negotiating and drafting transaction documents, advising on recapitalization and real estate matters, and coordinating with financial advisors, third-party banks, and other service providers to effectuate a successful transaction. Pete Roth, Jake Droppers, and Lauren Parker led Varnum’s efforts over the deal’s life cycle, with Shawn Strand, John Sturgis, and Charles Russman providing specialized expertise throughout.

“We greatly appreciate the exceptional support and guidance provided by Varnum law in successfully completing our recapitalization transaction,” said Randy Miller, CEO of SERVPRO of Saginaw. “Their in-depth knowledge, strategic advice, and impeccable attention to detail contributed significantly to the outcome of this new partnership. We recommend Varnum to anyone seeking exceptional legal services for complex transactions.”

Good Cap Table Hygiene: How to Avoid Dooming Your Startup Before It Ever Gets Off the Ground

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You’re a startup company founder with a great idea or product. After bootstrapping through the early days, and perhaps early funding from friends and family, you’re ready for more significant investment. Before you even get to discuss term sheets with your potential investors, the investors ask for the company’s capitalization (or cap) table—and after getting it, the investors suddenly lose interest. Discussion doesn’t even get to negotiation, and the investors move on. What just happened? Well, maybe your company’s cap table was the problem—was it in good shape and did it make sense? There are some common mistakes founders make with respect to cap tables. Here’s how to avoid them with good cap table hygiene.

A cap table is a record providing details on who has what ownership in a company, including the number and types of securities. At the most basic level, the cap table shows how much equity has been issued, how much is still available and who owns what portion of the company. At a more strategic level, the cap table can and should reflect who the company owners are, how the owners relate to one another and the business of the company, how control by the owners is achieved, maintained or protected, how value of the company is now and in the future shared by the owners, how much room for additional owners there is, and more. In short, while a cap table is just a record of company ownership, it is much more than just an exercise in paperwork and administration: it is a framework for the story of what company ownership means now and in the future. Founders would do well to pay attention to what story their company’s cap table communicates.

A cap table may be simple to begin with when a company has a single owner holding all of the securities of the company. But a cap table can become complicated quickly as a company grows and securities are used more broadly for different purposes – like securing talent, incentivizing performance, and raising capital. While this complexity is easily identifiable when investors come on board, even so-called simple cap tables present unappreciated nuances. The cost of not thoughtfully managing your company’s cap table is not just confusion about your ownership or the value of your investment. It may also include scaring off potential investors who translate a confused, muddled, or incomplete cap table as a “risky” or, worse yet, “bad” investment opportunity. Without a purposeful understanding of the strategy underlying your cap table and a clear and accurate presentation of that, your potential investor may just decide to move along to the next promising company.

Here are three common mistakes company founders sometimes make with regard to cap tables:

1. Failure to document and track your company’s capitalization.

Founders are busy people on whom falls most if not all of the tasks of owning and operating a startup company. In the midst of all the competition for a founder’s attention, creating and maintaining the cap table can easily be dismissed as a mere administrative task that can be done later. Even those who appreciate the importance of tracking issuances or promises to issue securities may not be doing so in a format that helps them substantively understand the current and future value or strategic future of the company. If you don’t track it, especially in a form where you can see the big picture, you might give away more securities than you should, or to the wrong people, or for the wrong reasons.

2. Commitments for securities without documenting.

A cap table provides detail on company ownership, but company ownership is not created by a cap table. The issuance of securities to owners reflected on a cap table should be based on documentation of the issued securities. Have you been promising someone options or shares, maybe even included them on your cap table? You better have the paperwork evidencing the actual issuance of those options or shares. If there is no evidence as to what securities have actually been issued, it’s a red flag for investors who can’t trust what the cap table says about who else owns part of the company—and what that means for their prospective investment.

3. Not appropriately valuing the equity.

This is a common and costly mistake. A new startup company doesn’t have any cash flow, so the founders pay with what they have readily and “freely” available: securities of the company. It can be very easy to give away 100 shares (the value of which is speculative) rather than give someone $1,000 in cash. It is a simple matter of paperwork to generate 100 shares—just print it out a piece of paper with some fancy doilies! But $1,000 in cash? If you fail to maintain a clear understanding of what the value of those shares is, not just now but in the future, you could be betting against your own company. Those recipients could end up owning a disproportionate share of the company, a problem which may prevent future investment.

Even though these and other cap table problems are often fixable, you can end up wasting valuable time (and money) getting your cap table back on track. Why not avoid them instead? Your company doesn’t need to be doomed from the start. Get serious about your company’s cap table—create it, maintain it, track it, and thoughtfully and critically use it.

Kyle Konwinski Elected to Chair SBM Environmental Section Committee

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Varnum litigation attorney Kyle Konwinski was recently elected to lead the Environmental Litigation and Administrative Law Committee of the Environmental Law Section of the State Bar of Michigan. The Committee reports and organizes programming on legal issues that relate to environmental disputes in administrative, state, and federal jurisdictional forums.

Konwinski is a partner and trial attorney with a strong focus on environmental and land-use matters. He has a broad range of experience representing clients in the state and federal statutes that govern the environmental law landscape, including Part 31 NPDES discharge permits, Part 22 Groundwater Quality rules, Part 55 air permits, Part 201 remediation issues, Part 325 (Great Lakes Submerged Lands) sea wall permits, Part 353 sand dune permits, Part 17 (Michigan Environmental Protection Act), the Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation and Liability Act – aka Superfund (CERCLA) and the Resource Conservation and Recovery Act (RCRA). He has also successfully litigated numerous cases involving Michigan’s Zoning Enabling Act.

Konwinski’s recent significant work includes representing clients in the largest environmental tort case in Kent County history on matters related to PFAS chemicals and involving numerous regulatory agencies.

Konwinski has been recognized by Top Lawyers for environmental law and commercial litigation. He is a member of the Environmental Litigation Section of the American Bar Association and serves on the Executive Committee of the Federal Bar Association. Within the community, he serves on the Ambassador Committee for Kids Food Basket and a volunteer coach for youth sports.

Varnum Practice Teams, Attorneys Named to The Best Lawyers in America® 2024

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The recently-released edition of The Best Lawyers in America® includes 94 Varnum attorneys in 47 practice areas, with 18 additional attorneys named in Best Lawyers: Ones to Watch and several named “Lawyer of the Year” in their respective practice areas.

Best Lawyers® is one of the most respected peer-review publications in the legal profession. A listing in Best Lawyers® is widely regarded by both clients and legal professionals as a significant honor, conferred on a lawyer by his or her peers.

Best Lawyers: Ones to Watch is a recognition of attorneys who are earlier in their careers, in acknowledgment of their outstanding professional excellence in private practice. Varnum attorneys who have earned this distinction are:

  • Paul A. Albarrán: Commercial Litigation, Communications Law, Data Privacy and Security Law
  • Seth B. Arthur: Litigation – Environmental
  • Elliott M. Berlin: Corporate Law, Real Estate Law
  • Kathleen A. Cieslik: Trusts and Estates
  • Chloe N. Cunningham: Commercial Litigation
  • Ashleigh E. Draft: Labor and Employment Law – Management
  • Jacob A. Droppers: Corporate Law, Mergers and Acquisitions Law
  • Mallory A. Field: Corporate Law, Mergers and Acquisitions Law
  • Christopher M. George: Corporate Law
  • Yvonne K. George: Immigration Law
  • Janelle G. Haggadone: Trusts and Estates
  • Christopher M. Hiller: Corporate Law
  • Herman D. Hofman: Appellate Practice, Commercial Litigation
  • Robert M. Huff: Trusts and Estates
  • Lauren E. Potocsky: Construction Law, Real Estate Law
  • John W. Sturgis: Construction Law, Real Estate Law
  • Sarah L. Wixson: Construction Law, Health Care Law, Real Estate Law
  • Rebecca K. Wrock: Nonprofit/Charities Law, Trusts and Estates

“Lawyer of the Year” is a recognition awarded to individual lawyers with the highest overall peer feedback for a specific practice area and geographic region. Only one lawyer is recognized as the “Lawyer of the Year” for each specialty and location. Varnum attorneys who received this additional recognition in the 2024 Best Lawyers guide are:

  • Jeffrey A. DeVree: Litigation and Controversy – Tax, Grand Rapids
  • Richard A. Hooker: Labor Law – Management, Ann Arbor
  • Kaplin S. Jones: Business Organizations, Grand Rapids
  • David E. Khorey: Labor Law – Management, Grand Rapids
  • Randall W. Kraker: Municipal Law, Grand Rapids
  • Thomas G. Kyros: Litigation – Trusts and Estates, Grand Rapids
  • Lawrence J. Murphy: Employment Law – Management, Grand Rapids
  • Julia A. Perkins: Family Law, Ann Arbor
  • Kristen M. Veresh: Banking and Finance Law, Ann Arbor

Varnum attorneys included in The Best Lawyers in America® 2024 edition are:

Ann Arbor

  • Thomas W. Forster II: Real Estate Law
  • Shalini Nangia: Collaborative Law: Family Law, Family Law Mediation


  • Thomas H. Bergh: Litigation – Trusts and Estates, Trusts and Estates
  • Gabriel J. Edelson: Corporate Law
  • Robert E. Kass: Trusts and Estates
  • Michael J. Romaya: Banking and Finance Law
  • Charles M. Russman: Employment Benefits


  • Brendan G. Best: Bankruptcy and Creditor Debtor Rights/Insolvency and Reorganization Law
  • Eric M. Nemeth: Litigation and Controversy – Tax, Tax Law
  • Maureen Rouse-Ayoub: Litigation – Labor and Employment
  • Jeffrey M. Stefan: Corporate Law

Grand Haven

  • Jeffrey W. Beswick: Closely-Held Companies and Family Business Law, Corporate Law, Trusts and Estates

Grand Rapids

  • Stephen P. Afendoulis: Commercial Litigation, Litigation – Real Estate
  • Scott D. Alfree: Corporate Law, Health Care Law
  • Mark S. Allard: Commercial Litigation, Litigation – ERISA
  • Jonathan W. Anderson: Real Estate Law
  • John D. Arendshorst: Employee Benefits (ERISA) Law
  • Luis E. Avila: Employment Law – Management, Labor Law – Management
  • Kimberly A. Baber: Banking and Finance Law, Corporate Law
  • Adam J. Brody: Commercial Litigation
  • Robert A. Buchanan: Municipal Law
  • Steven T. Buquicchio: Banking and Finance Law
  • Lawrence P. Burns: Health Care Law
  • Jon M. Bylsma: Commercial Litigation, Litigation – Banking and Finance, Litigation – Mergers and Acquisitions
  • David T. Caldon: Real Estate Law
  • Christopher J. Caldwell: Trusts and Estates
  • Kimberly A. Clarke: Immigration Law
  • Timothy J. Curtin: Bankruptcy and Creditor Debtor Rights/Insolvency and Reorganization Law
  • Nyal D. Deems: Real Estate Law
  • Jeffrey A. DeVree: Employee Benefits (ERISA) Law, Litigation and Controversy – Tax, Tax Law
  • Ronald G. DeWaard: Commercial Litigation, Litigation – Banking and Finance
  • Brion B. Doyle: Commercial Litigation
  • Timothy E. Eagle: Trademark Law
  • James M. Eardley: Corporate Law
  • Matthew B. Eugster: Environmental Law
  • Richard D. Fries: Employment Law – Management
  • Linsey Gleason: Trusts and Estates
  • Bruce Goodman: Environmental Law
  • Charyn K. Hain: Commercial Litigation, Litigation – Trusts and Estates
  • Scott J. Hill: Corporate Law
  • William R. Hineline: Employee Benefits (ERISA) Law
  • Dirk C. Hoffius: Trusts and Estates
  • John M. Huff: Trusts and Estates
  • Scott A. Huizenga: Corporate Law
  • Kaplin S. Jones: Business Organizations (including LLCs and Partnerships), Tax Law
  • David E. Khorey: Employment Law – Management, Labor Law – Management, Litigation – Labor and Employment
  • Harvey Koning: Banking and Finance Law, Corporate Law, Financial Services Regulation Law
  • Randall W. Kraker: Land Use and Zoning Law, Litigation – Land Use and Zoning, Litigation – Municipal, Litigation – Real Estate, Municipal Law, Real Estate Law
  • Thomas G. Kyros: Trusts and Estates, Litigation – Trusts and Estates
  • Marilyn Lankfer: Trusts and Estates
  • Joseph B. Levan: Corporate Law, Mergers and Acquisitions Law
  • Michael S. Mc Elwee: Bankruptcy and Creditor Debtor Rights/Insolvency and Reorganization Law, Litigation – Bankruptcy
  • Nicholas B. Missad: Family Law, Family Law Mediation
  • Daniel C. Molhoek: Corporate Law, International Trade and Finance Law
  • Robert D. Mollhagen: Bankruptcy and Creditor Debtor Rights/Insolvency and Reorganization Law
  • Timothy P. Monsma: Commercial Litigation
  • Steven J. Morren: Real Estate Law
  • Gary J. Mouw: Appellate Practice
  • Lawrence J. Murphy: Employment Law – Management, Labor Law – Management, Litigation – Labor and Employment, Commercial Litigation
  • Melissa B. Papke: Real Estate Law, Commercial Finance Law
  • Aaron M. Phelps: Litigation – ERISA
  • Eric R. Post: Corporate Law, Mergers and Acquisitions Law
  • Laura E. Radle: Trusts and Estates, Closely-Held Companies and Family Businesses Law
  • William E. Rohn: Commercial Litigation, Litigation – Construction, Litigation – Labor and Employment
  • Michael J. Roth: Commercial Litigation
  • Peter G. Roth: Corporate Law, Mergers and Acquisitions Law
  • Perrin Rynders: Bet-the-Company Litigation, Commercial Litigation, Litigation – ERISA, Litigation – Labor and Employment
  • Jeffrey L. Schad: Banking and Finance Law
  • Joan Schleef: Banking and Finance Law
  • Stephanie R. Setterington: Litigation – Labor and Employment
  • Mary Kay Shaver: Banking and Finance Law, Public Finance Law
  • Elizabeth Wells Skaggs: Employment Law – Management, Litigation – Labor and Employment
  • Peter A. Smit: Litigation – Banking and Finance, Litigation – Intellectual Property, Litigation – Labor and Employment
  • Richard R. Symons: Workers’ Compensation Law – Employers
  • Fredric A. Sytsma: Trusts and Estates
  • John N. Titley: Corporate Law, Mergers and Acquisitions Law
  • Joseph J. Vogan: Employment Law – Management, Labor Law – Management
  • Bryan R. Walters: Commercial Litigation
  • John Patrick White: Employment Law – Management, Labor Law – Management
  • Michael G. Wooldridge: Corporate Law, Mergers and Acquisitions Law
  • Susan M. Wyngaarden: Banking and Finance Law, Public Finance Law
  • Kurt G. Yost: Closely-Held Companies and Family Businesses Law, Corporate Law, Mergers and Acquisitions Law
  • Matthew D. Zimmerman: Administrative/Regulatory Law, Energy Law, Environmental Law, Land Use and Zoning Law, Municipal Law, Water Law


  • John W. Allen: Legal Malpractice Law – Defendants, Family Law, Litigation – Trusts and Estates
  • William A. Dornbos: Banking and Finance Law, Native American Law, Real Estate Law
  • Erika Salerno Shadowens: Family Law
  • Fred L. Schubkegel: Corporate Law
  • David M. Thoms: Litigation – Trusts and Estates, Nonprofit/Charities Law, Tax Law, Trusts and Estates

Naples, FL

  • Steven J. Adamczyk: Real Estate Law


  • Richard T. Hewlett: Commercial Litigation, Construction Law, Litigation – Construction
  • Richard A. Hooker: Employment Law – Management, Labor Law – Management, Litigation – Labor and Employment
  • Paul L.B. McKenney: Litigation and Controversy – Tax, Tax Law
  • Julia A. Perkins: Family Law
  • Kristen M. Veresh: Banking and Finance Law

Since its inception in 1983, Best Lawyers® has become universally regarded as the definitive guide to legal excellence. Because Best Lawyers® is based on a peer-review survey in which leading lawyers cast votes on the legal abilities of other lawyers in their practice areas, and because lawyers are not required or allowed to pay a fee to be listed, inclusion in Best Lawyers® is considered a singular honor.

Legal Rights When EGLE Requests Removal of Sandbags on the Great Lakes Shorelines

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Just a few years ago, property owners on the shorelines of the Great Lakes took measures to protect their property from high water levels. Many people installed sandbags, usually at significant cost. The sandbags were often permitted under Part 353, Sand Dunes Protection and Management, or Part 325, Great Lakes Submerged Lands, of Michigan’s Natural Resources and Environmental Protection Act. The Michigan Department of Environment, Great Lakes, and Energy (EGLE) is now requiring the removal of those sandbags, including sending some property owners a compliance communication if they have not yet removed the sandbags.

EGLE’s actions in requiring the removal of sandbags has drawn criticism from many property owners. One obvious concern is that the removal of the sandbags may cause more damage to dunes and the environment than simply leaving them in place. Some property owners question the feasibility of removing sandbags, especially those that have been buried by sand or that have sunk below the surface. In some situations, structures (such as steps) have been built over sandbags. Others have concerns that water levels may rise again or that the sandbags are still actively protecting their property from eroding due to the unique geographic features of their property.  

What makes the situation particularly ironic (and bothersome) for some property owners is that they did not want the sandbags in the first place. Some property owners sought permits for structures such as sea walls that would have permanently protected their property, even though such structures are far more expensive than sandbags. But EGLE denied some of those requests and instead told the property owners to install the purportedly less intrusive sandbags. Now EGLE is requiring the removal of the very solution it preferred, even though removal will certainly require disruption to the dunes while property owners with sea walls are allowed to keep their structures.

Throughout the years, Varnum has represented many property owners to help them protect their property on the shoreline of the Great Lakes and to assist them in navigating their legal rights with EGLE. If you need guidance navigating your legal rights when EGLE sends you a compliance communication, requests removal of your sandbags or issues you a Notice of Violation (NOV), please contact one of our environmental attorneys and we would be glad to help.