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Tuesday, June 01, 2010

Michigan business suffers from an abusive lawsuit

Richard Singer runs a family business in Bay City, Michigan called Acra Cast, Inc. He employs about 15 people and manufactures metal products, ranging from sculptures to machine parts. 

His livelihood (and the livelihoods of 15 others) was threatened when a new neighbor in Bay City sued him, claiming that the company’s emissions damaged the paint on his five cars and damaged the carpet inside his house. 

As it turns out, the plaintiff did not own two of the vehicles for which he tried to collect compensation.  And he’d already sold two others.  As for the carpet, he disposed of it without collecting so much as a sample to prove his case in court.  This particular plaintiff should have known that such evidence could be helpful.  After all, he should be pretty familiar with the system – he’s filed 23 lawsuits in that county alone, as of 2006. 

“Most of these cases settle before they ever make it to trial, so people that understand the system… will bring these cases over and over again in order to get something for nothing,” said Singer. 

Singer, whose business had never been cited for any environmental violation by Michigan authorities, refused to settle. 

From what little they could collect, it was determined that the material on the plaintiff’s remaining vehicle could not have been caused by the wax burned at Acra Cast.  Rather, it was likely a result of the plaintiff parking near an auto body shop. 

“We spent close to $20,000 defending ourselves during a time when we should have been using that money to buy new equipment and improve our facilities,” Singer noted.  Litigation dragged on for nearly three years, and ultimately, some employees were let go. 

You can hear Richard Singer tell the story in his own words on You Tube, courtesy of the U.S. Chamber Institute for Legal Reform’s Faces of Lawsuit Abuse series. 

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