27 November 2013


This story first appeared Detroit Free Press.

An Ann Arbor family can proceed with a lawsuit against a judge who placed their 7-year-old son in foster care after his father mistakenly gave him Mike’s Hard Lemonade at a Detroit Tigers game, a federal judge ruled today. A Novi Child Custody Lawyer is following this story.

According to the lawsuit, Wayne County Family Court Judge Judy A. Hartsfield took the boy away from his parents without determining that the child was in danger, but rather had a practice of providing presigned child-removal orders for the on-duty desk clerk to be filled out after hours based on police allegations. Monitoring this case is a Muskegon CPS Lawyer.
In allowing the case to proceed, U.S. District Judge Avern Cohn ruled that if the allegations are true, the practice of presigning orders violated the parent and child’s fundamental right to family integrity and the “clearly established” rights of parents to a notice and a hearing before the removal of their child, barring an emergency situation.

Cohn also ruled that Hartsfield is not entitled to judicial immunity because in presigning the orders, she was acting as an administrator, not a judge. A Flint CPS Lawyer is keeping track of this case.

The lawsuit stems from an April 2008 incident in which 7-year-old Leo Ratté attended a Detroit Tigers game with his father, Christopher Ratté. Ratte said he accidentally purchased what he thought was lemonade from a stand advertising “Mike’s Lemonade,” and, not knowing that it contained alcohol, gave it to his son. A security guard saw the boy with the beverage and contacted police. A Saginaw CPS Lawyer will be keeping a close watch on this case.

Leo was removed from the home and released into his mother’s custody several days after the incident.


This story first appeared in USA Today.

Goldman Sachs entrepreneur program makes its debut in Detroit.

DETROIT — A down-on-its-luck Motor City has huge potential for a rebound and can bounce back as the auto industry did a few years ago, legendary investor Warren Buffett said Tuesday.

Buffett was here to help bring $20 million in loans, education and mentor programs to Michigan small businesses in a $500 million national Goldman Sachs initiative that aims to help entrepreneurs grow jobs and revenues.

"The resources are here to have a great, great city," he said at a news conference to mark the inclusion of Detroit as the 11th city in Goldman's 10,000 Small Businesses program.

The 83-year-old chief executive of Berkshire Hathaway and co-chairman of the advisory board for the Goldman program called the city an underutilized resource, which creates a great growth possibilities. He's so enthusiastic that he said he's ready to invest his own money if he finds a suitable company.

"I have a real love for the city, and the potential is huge," he said. "The United States with a flourishing Detroit is going to be a lot better than without one."

The message: Detroit's past industrial greatness is the base upon which a new generation of entrepreneurs can build a new economy.

"With practical business education and capital, small-business owners in Detroit have a much better chance of growing their businesses and contributing to the economic recovery of the city," said Lloyd Blankfein, Goldman Sachs chief executive.

Detroit is the latest in a list of cities that have been chosen to participate in Goldman Sachs' program to support the creation of thousands of small businesses across the USA.

Under the program, Goldman contributes $15 million to support small businesses through two lending funds here, the Invest Detroit Foundation and the Detroit Development Fund. Another $5 million supports an education component to help entrepreneurs learn the basics of growing and managing a business.

Founders of about 20 local businesses have been accepted for the first classes, taught at local colleges.

Buffett said he signed on to help after being impressed by Goldman's earlier 10,000 Women global initiative, launched in 2008 to support female entrepreneurs around the world. owns about 2.8% of Goldman Sachs, by dint of warrants from shoring up the investment banking firm with a $5-billion cash infusion during the financial crisis following the collapse of Lehman Brothers in 2008

The 10,000 Small Businesses initiative was rolled out in New York City in 2010 and launched later in nine other metro regions — Chicago, Cleveland, Houston, Long Beach, Los Angeles, Miami, New Orleans, Philadelphia and Salt Lake City — before Detroit. Applicants may come from anywhere in southeast Michigan, but must be willing to travel to Detroit for the classes.

Buffett predicted that hundreds of small-business owners over time in metro Detroit will go through the training program, developed by the private Babson College business school in Wellesley, Mass.

A more limited version, offering capital but not the educational or support services, is running in six states: Kentucky, Montana, Oregon, Tennessee, Virginia and Washington. Altogether about 1,700 businesses have participated in the program.

"I met one guy in Chicago that actually had an MBA, and he said he learned more from this operation than he got from his MBA at a very prominent school," Buffett said earlier. He owns about 2.8% of Goldman Sachs because of warrants he received from shoring up the investment banking firm with a $5 billion cash infusion during the financial crisis following the collapse of Lehman Brothers in 2008.

"I really like the program," he said. "It works. I would not spend my time on it otherwise, frankly."


This story first appeared in The Detroit News

All of Priority Health’s insurance plans will continue in 2014, whether or not they comply with the federal Affordable Care Act, the company announced Monday.

New customers have until Dec. 31 to sign up for a non-compliant plan, one that doesn’t include all of the 10 “essential benefits” policies required under the federal Affordable Care Act (ACA). Existing customers will be able to decide after Jan. 1 whether they want to sign up for a non-compliant plan or a policy that includes all the services required under Obamacare, such as preventive care, hospitalization, mental health and maternity care.

Grand Rapids-based Priority Health had 22,000 individual plan subscribers in 2013.

The Michigan Department of Financial and Insurance Services announced Friday it would allow insurance companies to reinstate policies that would otherwise be canceled on Jan. 1 for not meeting standards under the Affordable Care Act. President Barack Obama proposed reinstating the policies to satisfy consumers who are upset that their policies are to be canceled on Jan. 1 despite the president’s pledge that Americans could keep health plans that they like.

The state's largest insurer, Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan, said Friday it would not revive any of the 26 individual plans shelved for not complying with the health care law, saying they’d have to raise rates on the reinstated policies. About 140,000 Blues customers originally had plans canceled. Detroit-based Health Alliance Plan also also said they won’t bring back policies for about 1,000 customers who received cancellation notices. Both companies said members can get better plans — and federal subsidies — by purchasing policies that conform with the health care law.

Priority Health didn’t have to cancel any policies. Earlier this year, Priority sought and received approval from the Department of Financial and Insurance Services to make all of their plans renewable in 2013. Plans that are renewed on Dec. 31, 2013 remain in effect through Dec. 31, 2014, meaning even Priority’s non-ACA compliant plans could remain in effect through 2014.

Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan has just one non-ACA compliant plan that renews in 2013, the “Keep Fit” plan. The Blues Friday said they will move any of 140,000 members who received cancellation notices into the Keep Fit plan if they want to stay in a policy that doesn’t meet the requirement of the Affordable Care Act.

“We anticipated there would be a lot of confusion,” said Amy Miller, manager of public relations for Priority Health. “We wanted to give people more time to consider their options, so we’re giving them almost one more year to consider what will best meet their needs.”

Ann Flood, director of the Michigan Department of Insurance and Financial Services, said Michigan has about 800,000 residents with health insurance policies that have been canceled or will be soon.

Michigan is among 11 states where the insurance commissioner has agreed to allow companies to reinstate policies, while 11 other state have declined to implement Obama’s fix, according to the industry group America’s Health Insurance Plans.