Photo of Litigation Blog Stephanie B. Burnstein
Stephanie B. Burnstein is a senior associate attorney who primarily concentrates her practice in general litigation matters including negligence, insurance, workers …

Showing 5 posts by Stephanie B. Burnstein.

COVID-19 and Families First

Coauthored by: Matin Fallahi, Law Clerk

In response to the recent COVID-19 pandemic, which has caused economic distress in a short period of time, the United States House of Representatives passed the Families First Coronavirus Response Act (“FFCRA”). After approval from the Senate, the President officially signed the act on Wednesday March 18, 2020. This Act and its long-term impacts are just as unknown as the virus itself.

The legislation provides free coronavirus testing and paid emergency leave for those diagnosed with COVID-19 or those caring for a family member with the virus. The FFCRA applies to any employer with less than 500 employees in hopes to help mitigate the impact of the pandemic in the United States while also providing a sense of hope and security for employees. As such, the Act will largely impact small to medium businesses who previously did not have to provide paid leave under the Family Medical Leave Act (“FMLA”). More »

New Michigan DIFS Order Raises More Questions for Auto Insurers


On September 20, 2019, the Director of the Department of Insurance and Financial Services of Michigan (“the Department”) issued order number 19-048-M, which has a direct impact on the ability of automobile insurers to implement the recent Michigan No-Fault Reform Act.  Per the Act, most provisions were effective June 11, 2019, with a limited number not taking effect until July 2020.  As would typically be the case, on June 11, 2019, insurers began implementing the new provisions of the No-Fault Act. More »

New Developments for Michigan Employers


Beginning March 29, 2019, Michigan laws are changing in a way that will greatly impact employers. Specifically, pursuant to the Improved Workforce Opportunity Act (MCL 4008.934). Michigan’s minimum wage will increase from $9.25 to $9.45 an hour. (MCL 408.934). More »

TRANSPORTATION LAW CLIENT ALERT: City of Detroit Mayor Mike Duggan’s Lawsuit Challenging the Michigan No-Fault Act’s Constitutionality Gains Traction


As many are aware, City of Detroit Mayor Mike Duggan, along with several other handpicked plaintiffs, filed suit challenging the constitutionality of Michigan’s No-Fault Insurance Act. The lawsuit is premised on Mayor Duggan’s belief that the No-Fault Act violates procedural and substantive due process under both the Michigan and United States Constitution. No-Fault insurance is mandatory for the lawful registration and operation of a motor vehicle and the Plaintiffs believe they possess a constitutional right to fair, equitable, and reasonable insurance premiums, which they allege are not currently available in the City of Detroit. More »



Personal Injury Protection (PIP) benefits cases are on the rise in Michigan. However, with the 2014 Michigan Court of Appeals decision in Bahri v. IDS Property Cas. Ins. Co., 308 Mich. App 402; 864 NW2d 609 (2014), defendants are finding these cases defensible. [1]

The effect of the Court’s ruling in Bahri and defense reliance on general fraud exclusions found in insurance policies continue to reveal themselves.  Most recently, in Thomas v. Frankenmuth Mutual Insurance Co., COA No. 326744 (Unpublished July 12, 2016), the Court of Appeals upheld Wayne County Circuit Court Judge Sheila Ann Gibson’s dismissal of a matter on the basis of fraud.

In Thomas, the plaintiff received treatment following a July 6, 2013, motor vehicle accident. During his medical treatment, he was instructed not to drive from the date of the accident through January 21, 2014. During plaintiff’s deposition, he denied driving an automobile at any time during that period. However, surveillance revealed plaintiff driving a vehicle on two occasions, despite claiming a need for medical transportation on those dates as well.

The Court of Appeals, relying on and quoting the Bahri decision, noted that the plaintiff had the ability to explain why he was driving during his deposition. Instead, plaintiff continued to represent that he had not driven at all during the relevant time period. Plaintiff’s counsel attempted to sway the court by arguing that his client’s representations were simple mistakes. However, the court noted, “If they were not knowing misrepresentations, then they were certainly reckless ones, in the face of the proof that he drove his car at least twice on the same day he availed himself of transportation services.” Id at 3.

The Court’s recent decision in Thomas strengthens the argument that the Bahri ruling was deliberate and intentional and that its effects will continue to garner attention in the trial and appellate courts. Michigan courts continue to be increasingly weary of fraudulent representations and are willing to dismiss entire PIP claims as a result. Since incidents of fraud have been on the rise over the past several years, defense counsel finding themselves in similar actions should be willing and able to offer this defense at trial.

[1] In Bahri, Plaintiff was found to have fraudulently pursued PIP and Uninsured Motorist benefits in connection with a vehicle accident. The Court granted Defendant’s Motion for Summary Disposition which sought dismissal pursuant to the general fraud exclusion in the insurance policy.  The Court stated, “[r]easonable minds could not differ in light of this clear evidence that plaintiff made fraudulent representations for purposes of recovering PIP benefits.”

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