Searching over 5,500,000 cases.


searching
Buy This Entire Record For $7.95

Download the entire decision to receive the complete text, official citation,
docket number, dissents and concurrences, and footnotes for this case.

Learn more about what you receive with purchase of this case.

State Farm Mutual Automobile Insurance Co. v. Elite Health Centers Inc.

United States District Court, E.D. Michigan, Southern Division

June 24, 2019

STATE FARM MUTUAL AUTOMOBILE INSURANCE COMPANY, Plaintiff,
v.
ELITE HEALTH CENTERS, INC., ELITE CHIROPRACTIC, P.C., ELITE REHABILITATION, INC., MIDWEST MEDICAL ASSOCIATES, INC., PURE REHABILITATION, INC., DEREK L. BITTNER, D.C., P.C., MARK A. RADOM, DEREK LAWRENCE BITTNER, D.C., RYAN MATTHEW LUKOWSKI, D.C., MICHAEL P. DRAPLIN, D.C., NOEL H. UPFALL, D.O., MARK J. JUSKA, M.D., SUPERIOR DIAGNOSTICS, INC., CHINTAN DESAI, M.D., MICHAEL J. PALEY, M.D., DEARBORN CENTER FOR PHYSICAL THERAPY, L.L.C., MICHIGAN CENTER FOR PHYSICAL THERAPY, INC., and JAYSON ROSETT Defendants.

          Avern Cohn, District Judge.

          OPINION AND ORDER DENYING ELITE DEFENDANTS' AND CHINTAN DESAI'S LETTER REQUESTS FOR LEAVE TO FILE MOTION TO DISQUALIFY STATE FARM'S COUNSEL AND EXCLUDE UNETHICALLY OBTAINED EVIDENCE (DES 488, 501)

          ANTHONY P. PATTI, UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE.

         I. Introduction

         This matter is before the Court for consideration of Defendants' Elite Health Centers, Inc., Elite Chiropractic, P.C., Elite Rehabilitation, Inc. (“The Elite Defendants”), and Chintan Desai, M.D.'s letter requests for leave to file a motion to disqualify State Farm Mutual Automobile Insurance Company's (“State Farm's”) counsel and to exclude unethically obtained evidence, (DEs 488, 501), and Plaintiff State Farm's letter responses in opposition. (DEs 490, 492.)

         II. Background

         A. The Elite Defendants' and Desai's Requests for Leave to File a Motion

         On May 24, 2019, the Elite Defendants requested leave to file a motion to disqualify Miller, Canfield, Paddock and Stone, PLC (“Miller Canfield”) and Katten Muchin Rosenman LLP (“Katten”) as counsel for State Farm and to exclude any evidence obtained by Miller Canfield from unethical or improper use or disclosure of secrets or client confidences of its client, Joshua Katke. (DE 488.) The Elite Defendants assert State Farm's counsel should be disqualified and evidence obtained as the result of Miller Canfield's attorney-client relationship with Katke should be excluded because: (1) the Michigan Rules of Professional Conduct Rule 1.6 prohibits an attorney from revealing confidences or secrets to the disadvantage of the client or the advantage of the attorney or a third party; and (2) the Sixth Circuit test for disqualification of counsel is satisfied. (Id.) On June 11, 2019, Defendant Chintan Desai, M.D. filed a letter joining the Elite Defendants' request, concurring in the reasoning set forth by the Elite Defendants. (DE 501.)

         B. Katten's and Miller Canfield's Responses

         State Farm contends the Defendants' request for leave should be denied because: (1) Miller Canfield did not reveal confidential information to Katten or State Farm that arose out of Miller Canfield's relationship with Katke; (2) the Elite Defendants lack standing to move to disqualify Miller Canfield and Katten because they have never been clients of either firm; and (3) courts should hesitate to employ the drastic measure of attorney disqualification because such motions can be used as a harassment technique. (DE 490.) Miller Canfield maintains that it has not used or revealed to Katten or State Farm any confidential information relating to Miller Canfield's representation of Katke. (DE 492.)

         III. Discussion

         The Elite Defendants and Desai lack standing to file a motion to disqualify Miller Canfield and Katten as counsel for State Farm and to exclude evidence obtained as a result of Miller Canfield's potential disclosure of client confidences because they do not have, and have never had, an attorney-client relationship with Miller Canfield or Katten.

         A. Motions to Disqualify are Highly Disfavored

         Motions to disqualify counsel are highly disfavored and “disqualification is considered a drastic measure which courts should hesitate to impose except when absolutely necessary.” Glenn v. Nasscond, Inc., No. 15-10270, 2016 WL 409409 at *2 (E.D. Mich. Feb. 3, 2016) (quoting Valley-Vulcan Mold Co. v. Ampco-Pittsburgh Corp., 237 B.R. 322, 337 (B.A.P. 6th Cir. 1999)). Courts should review motions to disqualify counsel with “extreme caution because it can easily be misused as a harassment technique.” Howard v. Wilkes & McHugh, P.A., No. 06-2833-JPM, 2007 WL 4370585 at *6 (W.D. Tenn. Dec. 3, 2007); see also Courser v. Allard, No. 1:16-CV-1108, 2016 WL 10520134 at *1 (W.D. Mich. Nov. 28, 2016) (stating that these motions are “viewed with disfavor” and disqualification is an extreme sanction that could be used as a “potent weapon” or a “harassment technique”).

         Last month, State Farm sought leave to compel the deposition of Joshua Katke via letter request (DE 445), who, in turn, took the position that he has been a client of Miller Canfield, and that a conflict of interest between Miller Canfield's representation of both Katke and State Farm made the pursuit of his deposition objectionable. (DE 447.) Neither Desai nor the Elite Defendants filed a written response to State Farm's letter request, although, during a subsequent telephonic status conference held on May 16, 2019, the Elite Defendants did suggest that they could somehow knock both of Plaintiff's law firms off of the case because of Miller Canfield's supposed representation of Katke. State Farm subsequently withdrew its letter request to compel Katke's deposition (DE 480), thereby rendering the request moot. These more recent requests by the Elite Defendants and Desai do give the impression of opportunism by parties (who are not represented by Miller Canfield) to exploit a potential conflict not pursued by Miller Canfield's ostensible client (Katke, a non-party) as a “potential weapon” or “harassment technique” to deprive State Farm of not just its local counsel (Miller Canfield) but of its lead counsel (Katten), rendering the continued prosecution of this case either exceedingly difficult or downright impossible at this ...


Buy This Entire Record For $7.95

Download the entire decision to receive the complete text, official citation,
docket number, dissents and concurrences, and footnotes for this case.

Learn more about what you receive with purchase of this case.