102 West Front Street
Suite 401 Traverse City, MI 49684
Tom has been practicing law for over twenty-seven years, handling cases throughout the State of Michigan to major cases in North Carolina, Colorado, Indiana, and Illinois. Tom has actively litigated personal injury and civil rights cases in federal and state courts and obtained, in trial verdicts and through hard-fought settlements, significant and rewarding results.
Furthermore, some of the cases Tom has litigated around the country and throughout Michigan have allowed for funding of public safety education so that others are not hurt because of preventable safety violations. Tom has been recognized for his efforts and participated in many prevention programs and speeches. Tom has handled high-profile civil rights cases and catastrophic claims, including multiple burn injury cases in many states (from scald burns, to propane explosions, to violations of safety rules for the handling of flammable products). Some cases have to get tried before a jury; some cases we have investigated, prepared, and litigated that the other side has agreed that they will lose and with significant harms and losses that significant sums of money are paid in recognition for the losses. These losses can include the physical injuries, the effects on the families, medical bills and expenses (past, present, and future), the mental harms, future care, lost wages and losses in the ability to work. Our clients would prefer not to have to seek recovery in court, and would like their lives back as it was before the safety violations took away what they had, but insurance companies retained by the safety-violators typically want to save money and pay lawyers to defend what is often indefensible. That is what Tom’s career has been—to fight for the average worker who has been harmed by those who violate safety rules and cause real harm. He hopes that showing these safety violations that needlessly endanger others can then change practices or behaviors so that other people are not harmed.
Some of these results have been recognized in the top ten significant safety-protecting cases in the state over the years. For example, propane safety has been one focus of Tom’s practice over the years. Because companies broke established safety rules that protect us all, jurors heard the evidence and recognized the need to enforce these rules to prevent major injuries and death: ($14.1 million verdict; $6.6 million(reckless use of flammable liquids); $5.6 million dollars (gas company leak disregarded); $5.238 million dollars (propane leak, defective propane installation and disregard of safety protocols). Similarly, Tom has accepted several major police accountability and safety cases that protect us all from the circumstances when law enforcement or prosecutors violate established constitutional rights and procedures.
These are just a few of the types of safety cases that are needed for our community and juries to enforce the safety rules that prevent foreseeable harms and protect the community from serious injury or death. Many times cases have a to go to a jury because insurance companies refuse to acknowledge any responsibility for the safety-rule violations or that any harm at all was done. Many times we can show that there are cover-ups and documents are destroyed or people, unfortunately, lie about what happened.
Tom has long-ago achieved the highest-level AV rating from the national rating agency, Martindale-Hubbell; repeatedly been listed as a Michigan Super Lawyer (2006-2015), listed in the Best Lawyers in America, and The National Trial Lawyers Top 100 (2011-2014). Governor Granholm appointed Tom to serve on the State of Michigan Board of Counseling, which he did through her terms and one with Governor Snyder, where he also chaired the Rules Subcommittee while serving as Chair of the Disciplinary Subcommittee. Tom has belonged to numerous other Boards and safety groups, including the Phoenix Society for Burn Survivors, The American Burn Association, SAFE KIDS Coalition, to the Institute for Continuing Legal Education. His work with the counseling professions has been to facilitate helping those suffering harms and losses from safety violations to achieve maximum recovery. In 2010, Tom was awarded the Legislative Service Award from the Michigan Counseling Association, a group of counseling professionals with whom he consults on legal topics and to whom he has made multiple presentations over the years.
Tom is a firm believer in safety and the prevention of the types of cases he has had to handle over the years. Some cases have resulted in industry changes such that the thousands of foreseeable and known burn injuries stopped occurring because industry acknowledged that there was a safer way. No matter the type of case or injury, if there are safety violations that have and can continue to cause harm or ruin innocent lives, Tom’s passion is helping people recovery through tragic times and hold those responsible accountable for the protection of the public.