Triumphant: Success measured one win at a time by firm

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 By Tom Kirvan

Legal News
 
He was a baseball player in college, and by all accounts a talented pitcher at that for the Grizzlies of the University of Montana.
 
But now, some 42 years into a distinguished legal career, Rodger Young prefers to subscribe to a belief rooted in a different sport, one first espoused by Vince Lombardi, the legendary football coach who claimed two Super Bowl titles en route to the Hall of Fame.
 
“Winning isn’t everything, it’s the only thing,” Lombardi reportedly barked to his team on the eve of the NFL season, quickly dispelling any notion that he would tolerate “moral victories” and the corresponding culture of losing.
 
Young, who heads a civil litigation boutique firm that bears his name with offices in Farmington Hills and New York City, is of a similar mindset, expressing himself in equally cogent terms.
 
“It’s all about winning—and winning fairly, and nothing else,” Young said recently as he prepares for a high-stakes trial in federal court sometime this summer. “We’re not hired or retained by our clients to finish second. The expectation is that we are going to win. Interestingly, with success comes ever more challenging cases. Sometimes it’s about minimizing the damage.”
 
Accordingly, there has been plenty of that since Young founded his firm in 1990 after spending 18 years as a partner with the Detroit law firm of Moll, Desenberg, and Bayer. He has won scores of jury trials in federal and state courts, prevailing in complex cases involving such clients as Barclays, Siemens, Pullman Industries, Teleflex, Wachovia, and Motor City Casinos among many others. He has taken on the likes of General Motors, Ford Motor Co., Navistar, Chase Bank, Verizon, Nationwide Securities, and Northern Telecom, a collection of business heavyweights that tend to make legal opponents quake.
 
“Generally speaking, the bigger the opponent, the greater the challenge,” said Young, who earned his law degree from the University of Minnesota in 1972. “But I’ve always enjoyed a challenge especially when important legal principles are at stake. This firm has been built with people who are dedicated to winning, to seeing that our clients receive the finest legal representation possible in their respective cases and causes of action.”
 
Young’s global view of legal life may have been influenced by a 2007 appointment as a U.S. delegate to the United Nations General Assembly. A veteran of the U.S. Air Force, Young was one of five delegates appointed at the time by then President George W. Bush, and was assigned the task of helping redesign the internal justice system for the U.N. One of the goals of the redesign, according to Young, was to place greater emphasis on informal resolution of disputes before they escalate to the stage of expensive and time-consuming litigation.
 
During his work at the U.N., Young also was involved in perhaps the “most unusual case of my life,” arguing successfully before the U.N. Security Council that there is no right of due process for avowed terrorists such as Osama bin Laden and that they may be targeted for killing.
 
“The case arose from a challenge by Sweden of the so-called ‘death warrant’ and was heard by a panel representing the five permanent members of the Security Council—the U.S., Russia, the United Kingdom, France, and China,” Young explained. “It was our argument that such evil-doers should not be afforded rights of due process and can be killed on sight, an argument that prevailed.”
 
His persuasive skills have been put to good use at various points during his career in public service, a field where he has served on the Michigan Environmental Review Board, the Michigan Transportation Commission, and as Chairman of the Federal Judge and U.S. Attorney Qualification Commission during the Bush Administration.
 
His appointment to the Michigan Transportation Commission in 1978 by then Governor William Milliken was a bit of a watershed moment for Young, who became the youngest commissioner in history at age 32. While serving on the MTC over a 12-year period, Young played a pivotal role in helping jump start the long-planned I-275 project through Wayne and Oakland counties, mending various political fences for the “good of the state and the region,” he said.
 
 A native of Montana, Young has purposely kept his firm small and nimble, handpicking his team of attorneys that includes Sara MacWilliams, J. David Garcia, Jason Killips, Terry Osgood, and Jaye Quadrozzi.
 
“I look for talent, those who have gone to some of the best law schools in the country, and who write and speak exceedingly well,” said Young, whose 28-year-old daughter, Lauren, lives in Chicago. “I’m not the least bit interested in being a mentor. I hire attorneys who don’t need to have their hands held and who know their way around a courtroom and complex litigation matters.”
 
Young, who formerly served on the board of the Detroit Symphony Orchestra, will be the lead attorney in a high-profile class action case in Detroit federal court this summer. He will be representing the Detroit Medical Center, which is alleged to have conspired with other hospitals to fix the wages of thousands of registered nurses dating back to 2002. Other defendants which have already settled include Detroit Medical Center, Henry Ford Health System, Mount Clemens General Hospital, St. John Health, Oakwood Healthcare, Bon Secours Cottage Health Services, Beaumont Hospital, and Trinity Health Corp. 
 
Nationally, several similar cases have settled in light of the potentially staggering liability exposure, but Young is confident of a successful outcome at trial, even appealing to the U.S. Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals the decision to certify the class action cause.
 
“We have been involved in this case for nearly three years and we firmly believe that the evidence will show the hospitals were not involved in any conspiracy to depress the wages of nurses,” said Young. “While other hospitals have settled, there are no plans on our part to seek a similar path. We are preparing for trial.”
 
The case, interestingly enough, will be heard in the court of U.S. District Court Chief Judge Gerald Rosen, Eastern District of Michigan.  Rosen has been particularly busy of late, helping mediate disputes arising out of the Detroit bankruptcy filing. He also issued the class action ruling that Young is appealing.
 
Years ago, Rosen and Young crossed legal paths on an altogether different matter, collaborating on the writing of a textbook on civil trials and evidence along with Miller Canfield attorney Tom Cranmer and Kurtis Wilder, now a judge on the Michigan Court of Appeals. That textbook, which will forever have a place in Young’s law library, is nothing more than a mere footnote in this latest legal chapter for the longtime attorney.
 
“As a matter of course, I saw fit to disclose to the attorneys representing the nurses that Judge Rosen and I had co-authored the textbook many years ago,” Young related. “They didn’t even give it a second thought, knowing full well that Judge Rosen’s reputation is without reproach and that the evidence would speak for itself at trial.”

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