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The Law Blogger is a law-related blog that informs and discusses current matters of legal interest to readers of The Oakland Press and to consumers of legal services in the community. We hope readers will  find it entertaining but also informative. The Law Blogger does not, however, impart legal advice, as only attorneys are licensed to provide legal counsel.
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Monday, January 25, 2010

What's In A Name? Detroit Injury Lawyer Sues His Own Firm

Detroit personal injury lawyer Lawrence Charfoos has sued his former law firm, Charfoos & Christensen PC, in the Oakland County Circuit Court.

In his complaint against the firm he helped build, Charfoos seeks injunctive relief to prevent the continued use of his well-known name, as well as money damages for fees he claims are owed.  The case was filed on Friday and assigned to Judge Wendy Potts.

Since 1991, the personal injury firm has owned and occupied the historic Hecker-Smiley Mansion on Woodward Avenue, pictured above.  The law firm has represented personal injury clients since 1929, when Charfoos' father hung a shingle in Detroit.

In the 1970s, Charfoos, having followed his father's footsteps, gained prominence for winning a series of multi-million dollar jury verdicts in product liability and medical malpractice lawsuits.  According to pleadings filed in the case, Charfoos teamed-up in the late 1970s with his now-former partners, David Christensen, and Dennis Archer.  When Archer left the firm to accept an appointment to the Michigan Supreme Court in 1986, the official name became Charfoos & Christensen, PC.

Under this name, one of the firm's partners, J. Douglas Peters, co-authored a widely-used practice manual on birth trauma cases featured in monthly full-page advertisements in the Michigan Bar Journal over the past several decades.  Christensen's name is also associated with the book, along with the name of the firm.

Last fall, Charfoos announced to his partners that he was leaving the firm that he helped build in his own name. Crain's Detroit Business reported in October 2009 that the firm's name would not change despite their founder's sudden departure.

Apparently, the Detroit personal injury lawyer has now teamed-up with former Wayne County Circuit Court Chief Judge William Giovan and immigration attorney Robert Birach.  The problem arises now that the group of well-seasoned attorneys has announced the name of their new firm:  Charfoos, Giovan & Birach LLP.  Thus for the time being, two Detroit-area law firms bear Charfoos' good name; hence his lawsuit.

In addition to Charfoos' litigation, there are also ethical considerations for the Christensen firm to consider.  The name of the firm cannot mislead the public.  With two law firms bearing the Charfoos name, the public is understandably confused, if not misled.  Simply click on the links in this blog post to see for yourself.

What's in a name?  Stay tuned to find out how valuable a well-known name can be...

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April 14, 2010 at 6:18 AM 
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