News

Michigan DOC Cases Alleging Juvenile Sex Abuse Move Forward in Courts

MDOC cellblockFirm attorneys continue their efforts to obtain justice and monetary and injunctive relief in a class action brought in 2013 against the Michigan Department of Corrections (MDOC). Doe vs. MDOC, filed in Washtenaw County Circuit Court, involves a class of juveniles who have suffered sexual harassment by adult prisoners and guards while incarcerated in adult facilities by the MDOC. [caption id="attachment_1381" align="alignright" width="200"]Beth Rivers Bio Photo Mar. 2015 PMP&R Partner Beth Rivers[/caption] "Despite the state's efforts to delay and ultimately deny any consideration of the merits of the claims through dozens of dispositive motions and interlocutory appeals, the case is moving forward on several fronts," said attorney Beth Rivers. The Michigan Supreme Court recently ruled that the Court of Appeals had erred in deciding the issue of whether the Elliott-Larsen Civil Rights Act protected prisoners from discrimination. The case was remanded back to the trial court for further proceedings. According to Rivers, a companion case filed in federal court in 2013 also remains active. In that case, the plaintiffs (on behalf of a class of youth incarcerated in adult prisons) allege that the incarceration of juveniles in adult prisons violates their constitutional right to be free from cruel and unusual punishment, denies them due process and equal protection afforded by the 14th Amendment. The state has also sought to deny the class members a hearing on the merits of this case, but those efforts have been unsuccessful. "Unfortunately, after these lawsuits were filed, the youth who had been brave enough to come forward and report and challenge sexual abuse of youth in adult prisons began to experience retaliation from MDOC officials," said Rivers. Rivers said the retaliation included MDOC officials identifying youths making reports to staff and other prisoners resulting in further abuse and retaliation. "In response to the continuing abuse of these innocent juveniles by MDOC officials, we've filed another lawsuit alleging retaliation in violation of the plaintiffs' First Amendment right to file litigation and complain about the conditions of their confinement," said Rivers. The state is using the same delay tactics, according to Rivers, and has responded to the complaint with a motion for summary judgment. That motion is pending. The legal team remains hopeful that the State will eventually be forced to answer and take responsibility for the department's policy of housing youth in adult prisons, which resulted in severe sexual abuse and harassment of the youths by adult prisoners and MDOC staff.

Free Press Looks at UIA Data Glitch and Cites Lord

From the Detroit Free Press LANSING — Records obtained by the Free Press point to a major glitch in importing data into a $47-million computer system the Unemployment Insurance Agency used to detect claimant fraud, meaning the system often...

WSWS Covers UIA Decision and Shares Lord Reaction

A three-judge panel in the Michigan Appeals Court dismissed a class-action lawsuit filed on behalf of Michigan workers falsely accused of civil fraud in the notorious Michigan Unemployment Insurance Agency (UIA) “robo-fraud” scandal. In the July...

Free Press, News Bloomberg Cover UIA Fraud Decision

From the Detroit News Lansing — The Michigan Talent Investment Agency is asking district court judges to dismiss 186 bench warrants issued against residents who were accused of unemployment fraud and failed to appear in court to face...

Fox 17 Features Lord in UIA Update Story

MICHIGAN -- A court hearing is scheduled Friday in Detroit for a class-action lawsuit against the Unemployment Insurance Agency. Three judges in the Court of Appeals are tasked with deciding whether the case moves forward. Regardless of the outcome,...

Legal News Covers Robin Wagner's Arrival at PMP&R

From the Legal News Robin Wagner has joined Royal Oak, Mich. law firm Pitt McGehee Palmer & Rivers. The announcement was made by firm co-founding partner Cary McGehee. “We’re pleased to announce that Robin has joined our law firm,” said...

Robin Wagner Joins PMP&R as Associate

The firm is pleased to announce that Robin Wagner has joined our firm as an associate. Before joining the firm, Robin served as a law clerk for the Hon. Judith E. Levy of the Eastern District of Michigan. And prior to clerking for Judge Levy, Robin...