The following is a representative sample of some of our successful cases, separated by area of law.
Probate And Estate Litigation
- In 2014, our client’s mother passed away, triggering certain provisions of a trust that she had created during her lifetime. The trust listed her two children, our client and her brother (the defendant), as beneficiaries, with the brother as trustee. It instructed the trustee to distribute the trust assets upon the mother’s death. However, the defendant trustee (brother) failed to distribute any assets at the time of death. Mike filed a lawsuit against the trustee in the Probate court and successfully mediated the case. The result was a six-figure settlement for the amount that rightfully belonged to our client. Mike never gave up on advocating for our client’s rights. He wrote well-reasoned pleadings that applied Ohio law to our facts; he formulated the case with precision and force, and never backed down from advocating for the client. Carifa v. Daniels, Franklin County Common Pleas Court, Probate Division, Case No. 566627A.
- In 2000, the estate of our client’s deceased father received two promissory notes in exchange for his 30 percent interest in a family business partnership, of which our client was the successor-in-interest. These notes were included in both the accounting of our client’s father’s estate and in his guardianship accounting. The value of these notes fluctuated, indicating that an active accounting was maintained on them.However, after our client had reached the age of the majority, he realized that he never received any payments from these notes, as its assignee. When he inquired about these notes, the attorney for the estate and the guardianship claimed that the notes actually had no value, due to an alleged indebtedness that the partnership owed on a mortgage.Confused and skeptical, our client came to us looking for answers. When no response was received from the business partners or the lawyer, we filed a lawsuit demanding payment that was rightfully owed to him. Through aggressive discovery, tough negotiations and unwavering demands, we were able to obtain a settlement of what was rightfully owed to our client. Michael Rauh v. Joseph Rauh, et al., No. CV-2013-04-1911, Summit County Court of Common Pleas
- We represented a widow who was cheated out of her proceeds from a life insurance policy held by her late husband. He was diagnosed with pancreatic and lung cancer, and approximately one week prior to his death, the beneficiaries of his insurance policy were changed from our client to the half-brother of the decedent, the defendant, and two of the decedent’s estranged children from a previous marriage who had resided in Germany their entire lives.Despite the hurdle of proving our case by clear and convincing evidence, which is a step above the usual “preponderance of the evidence” standard, we took the case with the utmost confidence of success. We argued that the husband lacked the mental capacity to fully understand what he was doing when the change of beneficiary form was signed. We hired two expert witnesses: forensic psychiatrist Dr. Mark Fettman and forensic handwriting expert Ms. Vickie Willard. Their testimony, along with that of the widow, was enough to overcome the defense presented by the half brother. We also discovered and proved that the beneficiaries’ names were added and filed two days after he signed it.After trial, both parties rested their case, and about one month afterward, a decision was issued by the Magistrate — fully favorable to our client. Since this time, the Judge has affirmed the Magistrate’s decision in our favor and Defendant’s counsel has not appealed. We recovered the full $200,000 at issue.Full details of the case, including the Magistrate’s decision, can be found online and with the Franklin County Common Pleas Clerk of Courts, at Bokemper v. Farmers New World Life Insurance, 10 CV 08 11569, Sept. 11, 2012. Here is the Magistrate’s Decision, and the Common Pleas Court’s Decision and Entry Affirming the Magistrate’s Decision.
- Successfully represented the executors of a decedent’s estate, who discovered new assets and filed an amended accounting to reflect such assets but did not file an amended tax return because it was outside the three-year statute of limitations Although the Ohio Tax Commissioner argued that they were not barred from assessing a deficiency, the Magistrate agreed that the statute had run. The Probate Court Judge affirmed the Magistrate’s decision. In the Matter of the Estate of Stephen J. Daniels, Case No. 457719, Franklin County Probate Court, 2004. This case has also been cited in Baldwin’s Ohio Practice Merrick-Rippner Probate Law, a reference on Ohio law for practicing lawyers.
- Reached a successful settlement in a case where evidence existed of improper changes to a will after it had been signed by the decedent. Hartman v. Hartman, Pickaway County Probate Court, settled without trial.
- Won a case at both trial court in Coshocton County and the Fifth District Court of Appeals. The case involved a $600,000 conservatorship that went into an estate, wherein the beneficiary was deprived of $200,000 in assets after the ward died because the defendant (the conservator) moved the conservatorship to another county in the erroneous belief that no one would notice. Elliott v. Thompson, U.S. District Court of Appeals, 5th Circuit, Case No. 37313.
- Won a case against a stockbroker for excessive fees/churning of estate assets. Our firm was representing the estate at the time this case began. In the Matter of Arbitration Between the Estate of Daniels and J.C. Bradford & Co. and Gibson, National Association of Securities Dealers, Inc., Case No. 97-06021.
- Recovery for best friend of decedent in case where ex-husband improperly changed decedent’s will by crossing out best friend’s name and writing in his own. Hockman v. Estate of Dorothy Hockman, Pickaway County Probate Case No. 071042.
- Settlement for future recovery for woman in case interpreting ambiguous language regarding the proper distribution of grandfather’s trust. The Huntington National Bank v. Winniestaffer, et al. 421211-A.
- Won a tax court litigation case against the IRS involving losses incurred in the boarding and breeding of horses. Perry v. Commissioner, U.S. Tax Court, Case No. 21336-94.
- Successful defense of a police officer in a civil action charging him with excessive force in making an arrest. The Federal District Court jury awarded the plaintiff no recovery. Scavone v. Booth, U.S. District Court, Southern District of Ohio, Eastern Division, Case No. C-2-89-175.
- We appealed a wrongful Social Security Disability denial. Upon exhausting all of her administrative remedies, we filed a complaint in federal court on her behalf to reverse and/or remand the decision of the Social Security Administration. We successfully obtained a remand and a subsequent fully favorable award that our client deserved in the first place. Please note that an advocate or other nonlawyer representative would not have been able to fight for you in federal court like we can. Moorehead v. Astrue.
- Recovery for a woman raped at her workplace by a janitor in the building. Blackburn, et al., v. American Building Services, Inc., et al., Franklin County Court of Common Pleas, Case No. 95-CVC-01-0528.
- Recovery for the family of a woman killed by a truck owned by Dick Masheter Ford as she walked down a sidewalk.
- Recovery for full policy limits for a Marion County driver who was rear-ended by another motorist. We obtained additional recovery from his employer’s insurance company. Jewell, et al., v. Baker, Marion County Court of Common Pleas, Case No. 97-CV-0030.
- Recovery for a man injured because the Perry County government failed to replace a stop sign that had been removed. Taylor v. Wood, et al., Perry County Court of Common Pleas, Case No. 97-CV-24110.
- Recovery for a woman from Madison County who lost her spleen in an automobile accident. Stickler v. Wentworth, Madison County Court of Common Pleas, Case No. 99-CV-02-027.
- Recovery for a woman injured by a police officer who was arresting her for leaving her dog in the car with the windows cracked. McCurdy v. City of Tiffin, et al., U.S. District Court, Northern District of Ohio, Western Division, Case No. 3:00CV7382.
- Recovery for a woman raped by a hotel employee during her stay. Anderson, et al., v. Starwood Hotels & Resorts Worldwide, Inc. dba Four Points Hotel, et al., Case No. 01CVC02-01833.
- Recovery for the minor daughter of a man who was permanently injured when he almost drowned in an apartment complex swimming pool, even though the daughter did not have a relationship with her father and was only legitimized after the accident. In the Matter of the Guardianship of Leonard Leon Settle aka Leonard Settle II, Probate Court of Franklin County, Case No. 439125.
- Recovery for a woman raped in the bathroom of a downtown office building. Shifaw v. The Huntington National Bank, et al., Franklin County Court of Common Pleas, Case No. 05CVC11-12427.
- Recovery for woman injured while sitting at a bar counter with friends and a light fixture fell from ceiling onto her head/shoulders. Maynard v. Alumni Club, 07 CVC 10877.
- Dismissal for a client indicted for passing bad checks. This dismissal was granted due to the defendant not receiving a speedy trial. State of Ohio v. Salyer, Franklin County Court of Common Pleas, Case No. 94CR-01-20.
- Successful defense and acquittal/non-guilty verdict of man charged in the highly publicized drag racing incident on I-71 along with several other alleged motorists. State of Ohio v. Lenegar, 2008 TRD 08356.