United States District Court, E.D. Michigan, Southern Division
ORDER DENYING MOTION TO RESOLVE ATTORNEY LIEN (Doc.
COHN UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT
is an employment discrimination case under Title VII, 42
U.S.C. §2000e and 42 U.S.C. §§1981 and 1983.
Plaintiff Shannon Woods (Woods) sued the Michigan Department
of Corrections (MDOC) and two of its employees, Ryan Johnson
(Johnson) and Monica Burton (now Monica Swain), alleging she
was subjected to sex discrimination and a hostile work
environment. Woods filed two complaints based on the alleged
discrimination, one in state and one in federal court. The
only difference between the federal and state complaints is
that Woods is suing the MDOC as well as Johnson and Swain in
federal court while the MDOC is the sole defendant in state
court. The state court case was filed on September 18, 2014.
The federal case was filed later, on January 24, 2015.
the federal case was filed, Woods was represented by the
Rasor Law Firm (Rasor) and attorney Jonathan Marko (Marko).
On December 15, 2015, about 11 months after the federal case
was filed, Marko left Rasor and began working with attorney
Kevin Ernst, forming Ernst & Marko Law, PLC (EML). Woods
continued representation with Marko and EML. Rasor then filed
an Attorney Lien, claiming a lien on any monies received by
Woods. (Doc. 40).
the Court is EML's Motion to Resolve Attorney Lien,
seeking a ruling that the Rasor lien be dismissed due to
fraudulent billing or that it is entitled to no more than
“a fraction” of the loadstar amount. For the
reasons that follow, the motion will be denied. As will be
explained, the issue of the Rasor lien is currently pending
in state court. The Court, in the interests of comity at a
minimum, simply declines to resolve the Rasor lien.
Patricia Fresard presided over the state court case. It is
undisputed that the case was litigated vigorously in state
court, including an interlocutory appeal by the MDOC to the
court of appeals.
2016, while the state court case was pending on appeal, Woods
filed a motion to stay this case pending resolution of the
state case. (Doc. 63). The MDOC did not oppose a stay. (Doc.
64). The Court granted the motion, stayed and
administratively closed the case. (Doc. 65). At the time of
the stay, defendants' motion for summary judgment was
pending. (Doc. 48). The Court terminated the motion in light
of the stay. (Doc. 66).
parties settled both cases in early October of 2018 for $1,
the settlement, in early 2019, defendants filed a motion to
dismiss the federal case based on the settlement agreement.
(Doc. 67). The Court then entered a stipulated order
dismissing the case. The dismissal noted that “the
Court has yet to rule on the former attorney Rasor Law
Firm's lien which is pending before this Court.”
and EML agree that the primary litigation was in state court.
The work in federal court paled by comparison. Prior to
issuance of the stay, the only motion which required a ruling
by the Court was the ...