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.