In September 2015 firm attorneys filed a class-action lawsuit against the State of Michigan Unemployment Insurance Agency (UIA). The complaint, which was filed in the Michigan Court of Claims, alleges that the automated system used for detecting and adjudicating unemployment insurance fraud, falsely accuses thousands of innocent claimants. According to the lawsuit, the state's reliance on the automated system "deprives UIA claimants of due process and fair treatment because it determines guilt without providing notice, without proving guilt and without affording claimants an opportunity to be heard before penalties are imposed." [caption id="attachment_1383" align="alignleft" width="237"] PMP&R Attorney Jennifer Lord[/caption] "We've interviewed over 500 people who UIA falsely accused of fraud, were not provided proper notice of the fraud accusations, and then subjected to unlawful wage garnishments and income refund seizures," said firm attorney Jennifer Lord. Lord says, despite recent claims made by UIA that problems with its automated system have been addressed, the firm is interviewing people who are still reporting unlawful seizures of tax refunds and assessments of huge fines and penalties -- some in excess of $80,000. According to Lord, progress of the lawsuit has been slow but steady, as the state continues efforts to derail or further delay the class action. But, Lord said, the allegations made by hundreds of former claimants and detailed in the lawsuit were recently cited and supported in a number of public pronouncements, including: *Michigan's Auditor General issued a report in February 2016 saying that UIA was wrong 92 percent of the time it made fraud and misrepresentation determinations. *In another April 2016 report, the state's Office of the Auditor General was critical of the agency's claimant services and communication efforts. The report noted that in some weeks UIA did not answer 90 percent of hundreds of thousands of claimants calls. It also said that correspondence to claimants was repeatedly sent to incorrect addresses, even after being returned as undeliverable. *On April 25, 2013, U.S. House Rep. Sander Levin wrote an open letter to Gov. Snyder urging him to review the UIA's claims of fraud and fully reimburse those citizens harmed by inaccurate determinations and collection. Rep. Levin is the ranking member of the House Committee on Ways & Means, which has jurisdiction over the federal-state system of unemployment compensation. *The Detroit Free Press and Detroit News published editorials on consecutive days which were critical of the same UIA fraud determination methods, inadequate notification of claimants and other agency shortcomings. Both newspapers called for swift action to fix the problems. "It's a gratifying to have such great support from credible sources. The increased visibility will help us to continue building our case and reach more potential class members," said Lord. Additional information at UIAFraudClassAction.com.
Bridge Michigan published an op-ed authored by Michael Pitt which urges Gov. Whitmer to appoint an independent task force to investigate the failure of the Edenville Dam: Read full article here.
TIME -- "States Automated Systems are Trapping Citizens in Bureaucratic Nightmares with Lives on the Line"
Jennifer Lord was quoted in a TIME magazine feature-length investigative report on the harms inflicted by AI-based decision-making systems utilized to manage government public health and benefits programs. The article includes an account of the...
WEYI/NBC/Mid-Michigan -- "Federal Court Rules Former Gov. Rick Snyder Remains as a Defendant in Flint Residents' Lawsuit"
Co-counsel Michael Pitt and Ted Leopold were quoted in a WEYI/NBC report on a recent federal appeals court decision upholding a lower court ruling that former Gov. Snyder and other state administrators be reinstated as defendants in the Flint Water...
Michael Pitt was cited in a Detroit News report on a state-conducted investigation into the Edenville Dam failure announced by Gov. Whitmer: Read full article here.
The Midland Daily News referenced the lawsuit filed by firm attorneys in the Michigan Court of Claims, including citation of passages from the complaint: Read full article here.
Michigan Radio/NPR -- "Midland County Residents File Lawsuit Against State, Alleging Negligent Dam Management"
Michael Pitt was quoted in a Michigan Radio/NPR report on the Court of Claims suit filed by the firm regarding failure of the Edenville Dam: Read full article here.
Hometownlife.com/Observer & Eccentric -- "Lawsuit: Canton Apartment Owners Evicted Tenants in Addiction Recovery Program"
Hometownlife.com/Observer & Eccentric published a report on a federal housing discrimination case brought against an apartment complex which evicted recovering substance abusers participating in a residential rehab program. Robin Wagner and...
WDIV/NBC reported on the Edenville Dam-related Court of Claims filing: Read full article here.
Michael Pitt was quoted in a report from Newsradio WSGW/Midland on the Court of Claims complaint filed regarding the failure of the Edenville Dam: Read the full article here.
Michael Pitt was quoted in WILX/CBS coverage of the Edenville Dam-related Court of Claims filing: Read the full article here.
WDIV/NBC reported on the Edenville Dam-related Court of Claims filing: Read the full article here.
M. Pitt was quoted in a WNEM/CBS report on the Edenville Dam-related Court of Claims case: Read full article here.
FOX 2 News -- "Mid-Michigan Homeowners Sue State Over Edenville Dam Break, Allege Neglect, Mismanagement"
Michael Pitt was quoted in a FOX 2 News report on the Edenville Dam-related Court of Claims case: Read the full article here.
Michael Pitt was quoted in a Detroit Free Press story on the Court of Claims lawsuit filed by Edenville residents against the Michigan Department of Environment, Great Lakes & Energy regarding the failure of the Edenville Dam and subsequent...
Bloomberg Law cited Pitt McGehee Palmer Bonanni & Rivers as attorneys of record in it posted report on the preliminary injunction granted in the Oakland County Jail class action: Read full article here.
Afro.com -- "First Federal Court Win Ordering Release of Medically-Vulnerable People In Our County Jails"
Cary McGehee was quoted by Afro.com in a posted report on the preliminary injunction granted in the Oakland County Jail COVID-19 class action: Read full article here.
Cary McGehee was quoted in Oakland Press coverage of a favorable ruling for the plaintiffs handed-down in the Oakland County Jail class action: Read full article here.
Detroit News -- "Judge Orders Oakland County Jail to Submit List of Inmates for Release Consideration"
Cary McGehee was quoted in a report published by Detroit News regarding a ruling issued by U.S. District Judge Linda Parker in the Oakland County Jail class action: Read full article here.
The Appeal -- "Lawsuit Seeks the Release of 'Medically Vulnerable' People at Oakland County Jail in Michigan"
Kevin Carlson and Cary McGehee were cited in a report posted in The Appeal (vertical news outlet focusing primarily on the criminal justice system) regarding the problematic conditions at Oakland County Jail due to COVID-19 and the related class...
Cary McGehee was quoted in a Detroit News report on actions taken by Oakland County Jail in response to a federal lawsuit filed by prisoners alleging the facility has not adequately protected them from the transmission of the coronavirus: Read...