Pitt, McGehee, Palmer, Bonanni, and Rivers

Three attorneys with the Royal Oak-based Pitt, McGehee, Palmer, Bonanni, and Rivers law firm have been selected as finalists for the Public Justice 2020 Trail Lawyer of the Year award. Michael Pitt, Cary McGehee, and Beth Rivers, along with other class counsel, have been recognized for their outstanding work in the John Doe(s) vs. Michigan Department of Corrections (MDOC) case. After six years of intensive litigation, the State of Michigan agreed to an $80 million settlement.

Additional members of the legal team selected as finalists for the award are: Deborah LaBelle (Law Offices of Deborah LaBelle/Ann Arbor, Mich.); Jennifer P. Salvatore, Sarah Prescott & Nakisha Chaney (Salvatore Prescott & Porter/Northville, Mich.); Richard A. Soble (Soble Rowe Kirchbaum/Ann Arbor, Mich.).

Over a seven-year period beginning in 2013, Pitt, McGehee, Rivers and other class counsel represented a group of incarcerated minors in a class action filed in state and federal courts against the MDOC. The lawsuit focused on the sexual abuse, victimization and solitary confinement the youthful offenders suffered while illegally incarcerated with adult prisoners at several Michigan correctional facilities.

The State of Michigan had aggressively contested the action through a long series of motions and appeals designed to delay the proceedings while continuing to deny that the multiple instances of sexual abuse and harassment ever occurred.

By the time a settlement was reached, the class of plaintiffs had grown to more than 500 current and former prisoners.

Attorneys from the Pitt McGehee firm also represented female prisoners in another landmark case against the MDOC, which was settled in $100 million award for the plaintiffs. The high-visibility Neal vs. MDOC class action, which was litigated over a 10-year period, was settled in 2009. It involved female prisoners held at Michigan correctional facilities who had been sexually abused by male guards and retaliated against for reporting the abuse.

The Trial Lawyer of the Year award recognizes the work of an attorney or team of attorneys working on behalf of individuals and groups that have suffered grave injustice or abuse.


Foley, Baron, Metzger, & Juip PLLC

Foley, Baron, Metzger, & Juip PLLC is pleased to announce that Carlos Escurel has joined the firm as an associate principal.

Escurel brings experience in the area of medical malpractice to the firm, having defended healthcare professionals and institutions for over 17 years. His primary focus is handling complex medical malpractice claims and premises liability claims. He also has experience handling cases involving anesthesiology, emergency medicine, orthopedic surgery, general surgery, cardiology, obstetrics and gynecology, nursing, podiatry, and radiology.

Prior to joining Foley, Baron, Metzger, & Juip, Escurel worked for a Detroit law firm handling medical malpractice claims for nursing homes, physicians and hospitals located in Wayne, Oakland, Macomb, Genesee, and Saginaw Counties. Before that, he worked for a Livonia law firm defending one of Detroit's largest health systems in medical malpractice and premises liability cases. He also has experience defending physicians in state licensing board matters.

Escurel earned his Bachelor of Arts in International Relations in Chemistry from Michigan State University - James Madison College in 1997, and a law degree from Wayne State University Law School in 2001. He is a member of the State Bar of Michigan and the United States District Court for the Eastern District of Michigan.



Bodman attorney Erica J. Shell has been elected president of the board of directors of the Detroit Bar Association (DBA) Barristers Section for a term to run from July 2020 to July 2021.

Shell has held several leadership positions with the Barristers board and its committees and served most recently as vice president of the board for a one-year term that ended in July 2020. She received the 2019 Barrister of the Year Award, which honors a Barristers board member who has exhibited a special commitment to service.

The Barristers is the young lawyers section of the DBA and is open to attorneys who have been admitted to practice for ten years or less. The Barristers is active and service-oriented, with a focus on service to the community and service to the bar. The organization provides new lawyers with opportunities to expand their leadership skills, pursue community service projects, attend educational seminars, and network with other young lawyers.

Shell, who is based in Bodman's Detroit office, concentrates her litigation practice in resolving disputes that arise during real property acquisition and development, including environmental enforcement and compliance, remediation, corrective action, environmental due diligence, and tax incentives and financing. Her clients include finance companies, banks, real estate investors, municipalities, and various other corporate commercial litigants.

She is active with several Detroit-based charities, including service as a volunteer mentor with VIP Mentoring, as a member of the Angel Tree Committee for Matrix Human Services, and as a member of the Young Donor Committee for Loyola High School. She is also active with the Detroit Regional Chamber and is a member of the Chamber's Energy & Environment Committee.


Plunkett Cooney

Plunkett Cooney partner Dennis G. Cowan was recently nominated as a member of the Class of 2020 "Leaders in the Law" by Michigan Lawyers Weekly. The 12th Annual Leaders in the Law awards ceremony was held virtually on Aug. 3.

A co-leader of the firm's Governmental Affairs and Business Planning & Transactions practice groups, Cowan has the distinction of having previously served as president & CEO of Plunkett Cooney.

Currently, he focuses his legal practice on obtaining governmental approvals for clients at the local, county and state levels. He has particular experience advocating on behalf of clients who are seeking zoning, site plan and other land use approvals. Cowan also represents clients before state administrative boards, as well as with the Michigan Attorney General's Office.

Additional areas of his expertise include banking law, business law and transactions and cannabis law.

A 1984 graduate of the Detroit College of Law, now known as the Michigan State University College of Law, Cowan has been involved in some of the state's largest and most significant business deals, including a bid to build a Detroit casino, securing approvals for multi-million-dollar developments in suburban communities, and assisting with the financing package that helped make the city of Detroit's "Grand Bargain" bankruptcy possible in 2014.

Cowan, who received his undergraduate degree from the University of Massachusetts/Boston in 1978, is a member of the Oakland County Bar Association; the Real Property Law, Corporation and Business Law, and Public Corporations Law sections of the State Bar of Michigan; and the State and Local Government Section of the American Bar Association.

During his more than 30 years of practice, Cowan served 14 years as a member of the Royal Oak City Commission. After six years as a city commissioner, he was elected and served four consecutive two-year terms as Royal Oak mayor. As a result of his experience as a public official, Cowan offers a unique perspective to advising clients on legal issues related to all levels of government.


Genesee County 67th District Court

Genesee County 67th District Court Judge Herman Marable Jr. was re-elected July 27 to a three-year term to serve as a member of the National Bar Association (NBA) Judicial Council Executive Committee. The election occurred at the 95th Annual NBA Convention held virtually for the first time, due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

"I am humbled and excited to serve in this position," said Marable. "I want to thank my judicial colleagues from around the country for their confidence in my leadership."

Marable is the only judge from Michigan currently serving as an officer of the NBA Judicial Council.

A native of Flint, Marable was elected as a 68th District judge in 2000. He was re-elected in 2006, 2012 and 2018. In 2016, the 68th District Court was absorbed by the 67th District Court, thus making him a member of that bench.

In addition to the National Bar Association, Marable is a member of several bar and legal organizations, including the State Bar of Michigan, the Genesee County Bar Association, the Mallory, Van Dyne, Scott Bar Association, and the Association of Black Judges of Michigan where he is the incoming president. He is admitted to practice in state and federal courts, including the United States Supreme Court. Marable also has been an active member of many community, political, state, and local organizations.


Butzel Long

Butzel Long Chairman Richard E. Rassel has been named to Michigan Lawyers Weekly's Hall of Fame Class of 2020. He is among 19 attorneys who will be honored on October 9.

Rassel has been with Butzel Long for 51 years. He practices primarily in the area of complex business litigation and arbitration with a special concentration in media law. He also is secretary and a director of the Detroit Legal News.

Over the years, Rassel's professional skills have earned him listings in Chambers, The Best Lawyers in America, Michigan Super Lawyers, as well as a Martindale-Hubbell AV preeminent rating. In addition, he was a Fellow of the American College of Trial Lawyers from 1989 to 2013. He served on the initial Board of Directors of Lex Mundi, a global association of 160 independent law firms.

Rassel also is active in the community. He is a past board chair of Detroit Public Television where he was honored with the 2011 Community Leadership Award, past chairman of the Board of the Holy Cross Foundation, past director of the Michigan Strategic Fund, former chairman and founding trustee of the Rosa Parks Scholarship Foundation, former chairman of the Metropolitan Affairs Coalition, and a member of the Dean's Advisory Council of University of Michigan Law School.

Moreover, he has been honored with the Community Service Award and the Leadership Award by the Birmingham Community House, where he is a past president. He currently serves as vice chairman of the Detroit Regional Chamber of Commerce's Foundation Board; co-chair of Detroit Drives Degrees; a trustee of William Beaumont Hospital System; an Ambassador of the College of Arts and Sciences of Oakland University; and a member of the Board of Advisors for the University of Detroit Mercy School of Law.

Rassel earned a B.A. from University of Notre Dame and a law degree from the University of Michigan Law School. He served in the U.S. Navy and is a certified judge advocate. He is also a graduate of the CPR Institute for Dispute Resolution.

Published: Mon, Aug 03, 2020