Judge tosses sexual assault suit against lawyer in battle between personal injury titans
A Michigan judge on Wednesday dismissed a sexual misconduct suit against a Southfield lawyer in what appears to be an ongoing battle between rivals.
Judge Phyllis McMillen of Oakland County dismissed the sexual assault suit against lawyer Michael Morse after finding that his accuser had lied when she was questioned in a deposition about a possible financial motive for the suit, report the Detroit Free Press, the Detroit News and WXYZ.com.
The accuser was represented by lawyer Geoffrey Fieger, a competitor of Morse’s whose personal injury practice is only a third of a mile from Morse’s law offices, the Detroit News reported last year. The Detroit Free Press describes Fieger and Morse as “bitter competitors.” Fieger had announced the lawsuit in a press conference that was livestreamed online.
Fieger also had represented four other women who accused Morse of sexual misconduct, and three of those cases also have been dismissed, according to the newspapers. The other case is pending.
The accuser in the case tossed on Wednesday was a former stripper who claimed that Morse grabbed her breast in May 2017 when she asked him to pose for a selfie at a restaurant. During a January deposition, the woman was asked about payments she had received from a male friend and whether those payments had stopped the same month she sued Morse.
The woman said she received payments for about three months. But the payments actually lasted 27 months, according to McMillen’s opinion. The amount totaled more than $290,000, according to Morse’s lawyer, Deborah Gordon.
Fieger and Morse have similar backgrounds, according to the Detroit News story published last year. They were both born in Detroit and raised in Oak Park. Both had worked as busboys. Both of their fathers were lawyers. They also both have phone numbers that refer to winning. Morse’s number is 855-MIKE-WINS, while Fieger’s number is 800-A-WINNER.
Morse has built his practice with daytime television commercials that are “as ubiquitous as soap operas,” according to the Detroit News. His mother appears in some of the ads, and he comes across as a likable lawyer. Fieger, on the other hand, “has handled a bevy of prominent cases,” including that of assisted-suicide advocate Dr. Jack Kevorkian. He doesn’t seem to care what people think, and he is full of “bombastic bravado,” according to the Detroit News.
Gordon has claimed that Fieger’s suit was intended to “smear and harass” Morse, and she noted that his firm had fought Morse’s subpoena for the accuser’s bank records. Gordon told the newspapers that she has a duty to file an ethics complaint against Fieger.
“It appears Fieger did not do anything to determine whether [his client] was lying because he was so eager to hold a livestreaming press conference that was riddled with histrionics and false statements,” she told the Detroit News.