Michigan Court Rules Cannabis Company's Lawsuit Against Law Firm Filed Too Late

January 29th, 2024 Legal & Crime Ryan Spegal
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In a significant legal development in Michigan, an appellate court upheld a previous ruling dismissing a lawsuit filed by cannabis company Great Chicago Fire Inc. against law firm Dinsmore & Shohl LLP. The suit, alleging that Dinsmore missed the filing deadline for the company's Illinois cannabis dispensary licenses, was ruled as filed beyond the permissible time frame.

The crux of the lawsuit revolved around the company's claim that Dinsmore, hired in October 2019, failed to submit 10 dispensary license applications by the January 2nd, 2020, deadline. Great Chicago Fire Inc. contended that the law firm, overwhelmed with other clients, informed them less than two hours before the deadline, leaving them unassisted in the filing process.

When the company initiated legal action against Dinsmore and two of its attorneys in April 2022, it was more than two years past the application deadline. The lawsuit encompassed claims of breach of contract, legal malpractice, and tortious interference with a business expectancy.

However, the appellate court found that the alleged breach — Dinsmore’s failure to file the applications — required action in Illinois. The panel referenced the Michigan borrowing statute, which mandates that cases involving out-of-state plaintiffs adhere to time limits set by both Michigan law and the law of the state where the action should have occurred.

The court highlighted that since the dispensary applications were to be filed in Illinois, the fact that the contract was drafted and signed in Michigan by a Michigan-based attorney did not bear significant relevance to the case. Furthermore, the panel noted that the plaintiff did not allege any breach related to the services provided by Dinsmore prior to the filing deadline.

Adding to the complexity, another attorney, who did not hold a Michigan law license and was not a signatory of the engagement agreement, had been involved in the case for several months, working from Ohio and Illinois.

This ruling came from a panel comprising Judges Michael F. Gadola, Christopher M. Murray, and Christopher P. Yates of the Michigan Court of Appeals. While representatives for the involved parties were not available for immediate comments, the case, Great Chicago Fire Inc. v. John D. Mackewich, case number 365666, has set a precedent in the intersection of legal services and the cannabis industry in Michigan.

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