As Managing Partner and the leader of the Firm’s litigation practice, Greg Hanley applies over 30 years of complex commercial litigation experience to the problems of the Firm’s clients.
Greg has tried many cases, and has experience in a wide range of substantive areas, including antitrust, banking, construction, securities, contracts, accounting and legal malpractice, insurance, tax, real estate, corporate, business and municipal law. He has acted as class counsel in numerous certified class actions. He also is actively involved in the Firm’s real estate tax appeals practice.
Greg is no stranger to either side of the courtroom, having defended large corporations in many matters and also represented many business and consumer plaintiffs, often on a contingent fee basis. Greg’s current cases include class actions challenging certain stormwater management charges imposed by the cities of Dearborn, St. Clair Shores, Harper Woods, Roseville and Madison Heights, class actions challenging the water and/or sewer rates imposed by Bloomfield Township, Westland, Taylor, Rochester Hills, Shelby Township and Farmington Hills, a class action against the City of Detroit challenging certain fire inspection fees, a class action against the Great Lakes Water Authority and the City of Detroit challenging certain Industrial Waste Control charges imposed on thousands of non-residential property owners in Southeast Michigan, and class actions against Delta Township and the City of East Lansing challenging purported “franchise fees” imposed on certain utility users in those municipalities.
Greg has achieved much recent success in class actions brought against municipalities in Southeast Michigan challenging various fees and charges imposed by those municipalities upon their citizens. Since 2012, Greg has successfully resolved 10 class actions which collectively involved over 100,000 class members and which created over $100 million in benefits for class members. Recent examples include the following:
- In January 2018, the Wayne County Circuit Court approved a settlement valued at approximately $75 million dollars in a class action challenging certain drainage charges imposed by the City of Detroit on certain commercial property owners in the City. As part of the settlement, the City agreed (1) to create a settlement fund of $27.5 million (to provide refunds and credits to affected property owners), (2) to write-off $24 million in unpaid drainage charges for the period prior to July 2013, and (3) to reduce the drainage charges by approximately 25% for the fiscal year ending June 30, 2018.
- In May 2020, the Wayne County Circuit Court approved a $2.2 million settlement in a class action against the City of Detroit challenging the City’s private fire line charges.
- In February 2019, the Oakland County Circuit Court approved a $2.85 million settlement in a class action against the City of Oak Park challenging certain stormwater management charges imposed upon the City’s water and sewer customers.
- In August 2018, the Livingston County Circuit Court approved a $1.5 million settlement in a class action against Brighton Township challenging certain sewer charges imposed by that municipality.
- In September 2017, the Oakland County Circuit Court approved a $1.4 million settlement in a class action against Waterford Township challenging its water and sewer rates.
- In June 2017, the Oakland County Circuit Court approved a $2 million settlement in a class action against the City of Royal Oak challenging certain stormwater management charges imposed upon the City’s water and sewer customers.
- In December 2016, the Wayne County Circuit Court approved a $5 million settlement in a class action against the City of Detroit which alleged that the City was overcharging for private fire line service. In addition to the refund, the City agreed to reduce its rates for private fire line service going forward.
- In April 2015, the Oakland County Circuit Court approved a $4.2 million settlement in a class action Greg handled against the City of Ferndale which challenged that city’s stormwater management charges. Greg settled a similar case against the City of Birmingham in early 2016, with the Court approving a $2.85 million settlement.
- In February 2012, the Wayne County Circuit Court approved a $4.2 million settlement in a class action Greg handled against the City of Detroit which challenged a solid waste inspection fee. The case lasted over four years and reached all 3 levels of the Michigan judiciary.
Greg also has received favorable rulings from courts in class actions which remain pending. Recent examples include the following:
- In June 2018, the Wayne County Circuit Court ruled that a stormwater management charge imposed by the City of Harper Woods constituted an unlawful tax in violation of the Headlee Amendment to the Michigan Constitution. In December 2019, the Michigan Court of Appeals affirmed the finding that the City’s stormwater charge violated the Headlee Amendment. Greg believes these rulings will require that City to refund over $7 million to its residents and to cease imposing the charge going forward.
- In September 2018, after a lengthy trial, the Oakland County Circuit Court initially entered a $3.6 million judgment against Bloomfield Township in a certified class action challenging that municipality’s water and sewer rates. Notably, prior to trial, the Bloomfield Township attorney publicly proclaimed that the case was “frivolous,” and the Township Supervisor told the press that he was “100%” sure that the case would be dismissed. In April 2019, the Court granted plaintiff’s motion to increase the refund from $3.6 million to over $9 million. The final judgment entered on April 3, 2019 requires the Township to refund over $9.5 million to its water and sewer customers.
- In October 2018, the Macomb County Circuit Court ruled that a stormwater management charge imposed by the City of St. Clair Shores constituted an unlawful tax in violation of the Headlee Amendment. In December 2019, the Court entered a final judgment. In May 2020, KH and the City reached a $3.4 million settlement, which Greg expects the Court to approve later this year.
Greg’s successes on the defense side include obtaining a judgment of no-cause of action after a lengthy bench trial in a contract case for a “Tier One” auto supplier, obtaining the dismissal of a federal securities class action against Compuware, and obtaining dismissal of a federal antitrust suit brought by the National Hockey League Players Association against the Ontario Hockey League and its member teams. In 2007 and 2008, Greg acted as Michigan counsel to CompUSA, Inc., handling various real estate litigation matters arising out of its liquidation process.
Greg also has an active appeals practice, and, among other successes, has obtained from the Michigan Supreme Court two peremptory reversals of decisions of the Michigan Court of Appeals.
Greg cut his teeth and matured as an attorney in two large corporate law firms. Prior to the establishment of Kickham Hanley in 1999, Greg was a partner at Honigman Miller Schwartz and Cohn, in Detroit, Michigan. Before his tenure at the Honigman firm, Mr. Hanley was an attorney in the Chicago office of Mayer Brown LLP, one of the world’s largest law firms.
Greg is proud to possess two degrees from Wayne State University. He is a 1989 magna cum laude graduate of the Wayne Law School, where he was a member of the Wayne Law Review and was elected to the Order of the Coif. He received his B.A. magna cum laude in Economics from Wayne in 1986,and was elected to Phi Beta Kappa. Greg also was a founding member of the Wayne State Law School chapter of the Federalist Society.
More information about Greg’s current and recently concluded class action cases is available at www.kickhamhanley.com/class-action