November 10, 2015
Rockford attorney Eugenie Eardley always knew she wanted to legislate goodness and right through the use of our judicial system. “I thought I’d be a prosecutor because I wanted to right wrongs, but after years in the federal legislative arena in both the House and the Senate, and working at the U.S. Department of Education for the wonderfully intellectual Reagan era Secretary of Education, Bill Bennett and the Reagan White House as a political appointee, I decided owning my own law firm and suing employers, the government, doctors and businesses who wronged others was my true calling. That way, like the great original Republican trial lawyer, Abraham Lincoln, I could help the common person in trouble, and enforce moral codes of law to obtain them relief, and enforce little enforced civil rights law. I could be a roving private prosecutor for all, and pick and choose my battles, and run my own business besides. It appealed to my sense of independence and libertarianism, as well as strong sense of right and wrong,” stated Eardley.
After starting her own law practice with now husband, John Eardley, in 1994, Eugenie joined MAJ the following year. “ I joined because there were precious few plaintiff’s attorneys in West Michigan to mentor me. It seemed all of the Grand Rapids bar were older male defense lawyers, and everyone was working for insurance companies, which is not what I wanted to do. I went to some MAJ seminars for basics, and it became very clear that this was the moving and shaking organization for those who cared about individual rights. Also, there was such a minimal presence of MAJ in West Michigan. I saw an opportunity to fill that void, both professionally and politically. MAJ became my ‘go to’ source for learning Michigan law as I had originally practiced in Virginia and D.C. and the place to find out the true nuts and bolts of trial practice. MAJ included some of the smartest and most passionate trial attorneys I had ever met, and I wanted to be part of that. My practice is very eclectic – I do everything from Whistleblower cases, Title IX, legal malpractice to auto negligence.”
Eardley believes MAJ membership is essential for many reasons: “To improve the profession, and the judiciary, and to educate one’s self as to the current law. To keep abreast of appellate developments to ensure that one helps not only one’s client, but the clients of other attorneys who are fighting the very anti-plaintiff current legal system in Michigan. To stay sharp, to be part of something bigger than one solitary attorney-which is what being a plaintiffs’ attorney feels like most days. To socialize with and get to know people with P numbers who are NOT defense lawyers. And besides, the Saturday night karaoke at the Ski Seminar up at Shanty Creek is the best in the world.”
An active member of MAJ’s Amicus Committee, which Eardley believes is the heart and soul of MAJ, she serves as the co-chair of the employment sub-committee, and also has served on MAJ’s Education Committee and presents at various MAJ seminars. “Because of the great help and inspiration of former MAJ president Linda Miller Atkinson, I became one for the few Republicans welcomed as a member of the Executive Board.”
A monthly contributor to JUSTICE PAC, Eardley stated, “We must support fair judges, and fight for civil justice in state legislatures and Congress, and this is the best way to do that in a climate so heavily financed in favor of the insurance industry and large corporate entities. Lawyers have an obligation to the law, and to each other, and there is a right and wrong. Choose right, because it matters far more than how much money you earn, and lasts forever.”
Outside of the practice of law, Eardley enjoys riding horses, cooking, being active in her church, and spending time with her four children and husband John, a retired attorney and full-time dad.
To see the full article, please click here.
February 26, 2015
Dec 15, 2014
Nicholas F.X. Gumina
Associate attorney, Eardley Law Offices PC, Rockford
The Thomas M. Cooley Law School, 2010
Where did you grow up? Please provide one memorable anecdote about your childhood.
I grew up in Grand Rapids, Michigan. As the youngest child, there are many lessons I learned from three older brothers, the most important being “snitches get stitches.”
Outside of family, who was an important mentor in your life and how did this person impact your career?
Justice Elizabeth Weaver. I interned for Justice Weaver in law school. She taught me the importance of integrity and ethics in the practice of law, and fighting for what you believe in. Her decisions were not always popular among her colleagues, but she always followed her conscience, and she refused to simply go along to get along. Though she retired four years ago, she still fights for what she believes in.
What was your first job? What did you learn from the experience?
Caddying at Cascade Hills Country Club. I learned the value of a hard day’s work, and I learned to love one of the most frustrating sports invented.
Name a big blue-sky goal that you would like to accomplish in your career.
Argue in the front of the U.S. Supreme Court
Please share your best tip for balancing your professional life and your personal life.
My wife says I’m still working on that. It’s tough. Litigation is deadline driven, and it’s hard not to bring work home with you. I think being a new father has helped to an extent. Now when I bring work home I have a toddler crawling around and trying to get into everything, so work has to take a back seat.
If you could not be a lawyer, what occupation would you choose?
College history professor.
Everyone has a “guilty pleasure.” What is yours?
What is your favorite vacation spot?
Barcelona, Spain. My brother studied abroad in in Barcelona while he was in law school, and I was fortunate enough to visit him and travel around Europe. I’ve wanted to go back Barcelona ever since. Italy comes in a close second.
What are two things about you that not many people know?
I was an All-American hammer thrower in college. For those unfamiliar with the event, the hammer throw is a 16-pound metal ball, similar to a shot put, with a long metal wire attached to it and handle on the opposite end. Most throwers generally swing the hammer around their head two times while in a stationary position to build up momentum. The thrower then completes three or four rotations of body in a circular motion. The ball moves in a circular path with the thrower increasing speed with each rotation until released. World-class throwers can generally throw over 250 feet. Also, I’m a really good cook; I make most of the meals in my house.
How would you describe yourself in one word?
July 24, 2011
Recently, Genie Eardley was featured by Brian Frasier in his MLW article discussing a Michigan Court of Appeals case involving the requirement for expert testimony in some medical malpractice cases.
A lawsuit against an emergency medical service (EMS) company alleging a delayed response time is a medical-malpractice action and should be pleaded as such, the Michigan Court of Appeals ruled.
The court said the ambulance company’s standard of care, set through a local medical authority, was medically based, thus requiring expert testimony to explain it to the jury.
The requirement of an expert to explain the standard of care is what made the case a medical-malpractice action, said Matthew J. Thomas of Detroit-based Rutledge, Manion, Rabaut, Terry & Thomas, P.C.
“Basically, it comes down to whether or not the issues presented by plaintiff would have been outside the knowledge of the common jury,” he said. “If you go up to anybody on the street and say, ‘How long should it take for an ambulance to respond to a priority one call?,’ you’re probably going to get a pretty wide variety of answers. That was kind of the point that we were trying to make with the court.
“You don’t know, and that’s why there was a need for expert testimony in this case.”
But Cannonsburg solo attorney Eugenie B. Eardley said the decision is an example of the “overexpertizing” of litigation, and will drive up costs on plaintiff attorneys who will now need another expert.
Continue reading the entire article here at Michigan Lawyers Weekly.
August 26, 2010
Douglas Levy, from Michigan Lawyers Weekly, recently sat down with Genie to get to know a little more about her, and find out what it’s like being “the best lawyer in town.”
Click here to read the full Michigan Lawyers Weekly article.
August 24, 2010
One of Genie’s most important pro bono contributions to the law of this State is her active involvement in the Michigan Association for Justice (MAJ) Amicus committee. Amicus briefs are so called because it is the Latin term for “Friend” of the Court. These are often sought out by the Supreme Court, and Court of Appeals when legal issues of critical public importance come before the Court. It is an honor and privilege to be invited to contribute such arguments to the Court, and in this role, Genie and other appellate law specialists contribute their time and research free of charge to help shape the law for the future. In these two cases described below, Genie was acting on behalf of all interested members of the public, making policy arguments supporting the individual plaintiffs’ attorneys. She is very proud to have been part of these milestone decisions.
Woodman v Kera (MSC opinion link)
On June 18, 2010, the Michigan Supreme Court ruled in accord with an Amicus brief Genie wrote on behalf of the Michigan Association for Justice. The high Court agreed with her arguments that parental liability waivers for children are invalid under Michigan law. The Court reversed the Court of Appeals, in a landmark decision that clarifies and affirms the common law. The waiver forms that many parents blindly sign, are not binding, as the public policy of this state is to protect children from injuries caused by negligence. Contrary to the claims of the insurance industry, there should be no “fun” crisis in Michigan “caused” by this longstanding policy. Playgrounds, football and summer camps will not disappear. This case will help protect children from death and serious injury, and make wrongdoers financially accountable for their lack of due care, rather than the child’s family or we, the taxpayers.
Brightwell v Fifth Third (MSC opinion link)
On July 30, 2010, at the end of a busy and controversial Supreme Court term, a decision was issued in this employment discrimination case that agreed with the briefing filed by Genie and other members of the Michigan Association for Justice Amicus committee, again, in an Amicus brief . The Court ruled that venue for employment lawsuits lies in the county where the discrimination occurs, not where a corporate decision maker may be present when a final management action is taken. Genie argued that when a person is treated unfairly on the basis of race, gender, or any other protected status, that individual should have his or her day in their court, where the mistreatment occurred-not in some county that may be hundreds of miles away. The Supreme Court agreed.
July 26, 2010
Recently Michigan Lawyers Weekly interviewed Genie about a Michigan Supreme Court Case involving HIPPA. Genie’s work on medical malpractice litigation makes her a knowledgeable resource when difficult legal issues arise. On July 13, 2010, the Michigan Supreme Court case Holman v Rasak interpreted HIPPA (Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act), the federal law that ensures patient medical privacy. The Court, in a divided decision, said that this law does not bar defense lawyers from speaking with treating doctor witnesses without allowing the plaintiff and his counsel present, with some limitations. As Genie was quoted in the article, the problem for plaintiff’s attorneys and her clients is that many times the defense attorney not only asks the doctor about the facts of the case, but uses a private, closed door session to get that treater to agree with their defense theories in the case-especially in medical malpractice litigation. The fair way to handle it is in a deposition, where everyone is on the record. This is a tough issue that different state supreme courts have reached opposite conclusions upon, and likely to continue to be unsettled until the United States Supreme Court rules. The Holman case may become that test case.
Click here to read the full Michigan Lawyers Weekly article.