Stephen M. Kelley specializes in the resolution of complex legal
disputes, including insurance, environmental, construction, contract,
real estate, and non-profit law matters, transactional, pre-litigation, and in litigation.
Since 1997 Mr. Kelley has been peer-review rated "AV Preeminent", the highest attorney rating available, by Martindale-Hubbell. Each year since 2008 Mr. Kelley also has been designated as a Michigan SuperLawyer and is a Life Fellow of the Michigan State Bar Foundation, reserved for the top 5% of Michigan attorneys based on outstanding legal ability and devotion to community.
Insurance Law Experience
Mr. Kelley is a leading Michigan insurance attorney. Mr. Kelley has represented insurance carriers in coverage disputes since 1981, representing a majority of the nation's 10 largest carriers as well as many other carriers over the years. Mr. Kelley has provided insurance analyses and opinions and litigated simple and complex insurance issues throughout the Midwest. Among many other matters, Mr. Kelley as lead counsel tried a large environmental insurance case to conclusion defeating a $9.6 million claim.
Selected Insurance-Related Memberships
Member, Insurance Committee, Defense Research Institute
Member, Insurance Coverage Litigation Committee, Tort Trial and Insurance Practice
Section, American Bar Association
Member, Committee on Insurance Coverage Litigation, Section of Litigation,
American Bar Association
Member, Insurance and Indemnity Section, State Bar of Michigan
Selected Insurance Presentations
Mr. Kelley presented on “Allocation and Number of Occurrences” at Mealey’s seminars on Insurance Coverage Disputes Concerning Construction Defects in both Phoenix and Chicago and on “Reimbursement of Uncovered Defense Costs” at the ABA Insurance Coverage Litigation Committee CLE Seminar in Tucson.
Selected Published Insurance Decisions
McKusick v Travelers Indemnity Co., 246 Mich. App. 329; 632 N.W.2d 525 (2001),
leave denied, 661 N.W.2d 236 (Mich. 2003) (absolute pollution exclusion in
context of chemical bodily injury claims) (garnishment action)
GenCorp Inc. v AIU Ins. Co., 970 F. Supp. 1253 (N.D. Ohio 1997), aff'd, 178 F.3d 804
(6th Cir. 1999) (retroactive primary absolute pollution exclusion)
Commercial Union Ins. Co. v Cannelton Industries, Inc., 938 F. Supp. 458
(W.D. Mich. 1996) (pollution exclusion, drafting history)
Anderson Development Co. v Travelers Indemnity Co., 49 F.3d 1128 (6th Cir. 1995)
(insurance for single party Superfund site)
Americhem Corp. v St. Paul Fire and Marine Ins. Co., 942 F. Supp. 1143 (W.D. Mich. 1995)
(lost insurance policies, post-deposition affidavits)
Environmental Law Experience
Mr. Kelley also is well-experienced in a variety of standard environmental matters, including CERCLA and RCRA litigation, emergency response planning, compliance reporting and permitting issues, injunctive issues, consent decrees, responding to administrative complaints, defending class action efforts, real estate transactions, baseline environmental assessments and due care plans, and brownfield redevelopment. Mr. Kelley has been involved with more than 800 pollution sites in more than 40 states since 1985.
As examples, Mr. Kelley as co-counsel successfully defended a $1.5 million leaking underground storage tank claim at trial and successfully defended extended injunctive hearing proceedings against a waste oil recycling company with respect to alleged air emissions including class action neighborhood-wide odor complaints.
Out of the courtroom, Mr. Kelley served for three years as Chairman of the now Detroit Regional Chamber's Environmental & Energy Policy Committee, including work on and testimony in support of the 1995 landmark changes to Michigan's environmental code. Mr. Kelley also served respectively as Vice Chair, Chair and Co-Chair of the Surface-Water/Groundwater Committee of the State Bar of Michigan Environmental Law Section and served on the Environmental Policy Advisory Committee, the Environmental Regulation Task Force, the Groundwater/Leaking Underground Storage Tank Task Force, and the Joint Environmental Funding Task Force of the Southeastern Michigan Council of Governments ("SEMCOG"). In addition, Mr. Kelley previously served as Chairman of the Detroit Metropolitan Bar Association Environmental Law Section.
Mr. Kelley has regularly written on environmental issues including co-authoring Trying Environmental Cases to Win: Bench or Jury?, published both in 76 Mich. B.J. 708 (1997) and 16 Mich. Environmental L. J. No. 1 (Spring 1997), Important Developments in Federal Environmental Law, Vol. 12 Mich. Defense Quarterly No. 4 (Fall 1995), and Pushing Superfund Reform into 1995, WARD'S Auto World, November 1994.
Selected Additional Environmental Law-Related Memberships
Member, Toxic Torts and Environmental Law Committee, Tort Trial and Insurance
Practice Section, American Bar Association
Member, Section of Environment, Energy and Resources, American Bar Association
Member, Environmental Law Section, State Bar of Michigan
Published Environmental Decisions
RCO Engineering, Inc. v ACR Industries, Inc., 246 Mich. App. 510; 633 N.W.2d 449 (2001),
leave denied (2002) (UST environmental cost recovery action)
RCO Engineering, Inc. v ACR Industries, Inc., 235 Mich. App. 48; 597 N.W.2d 534 (1999),
vacated in part and remanded (Mich. 2000) (UST environmental cost recovery action)
Construction Law Experience
Construction and construction law issues have a part of Mr. Kelley's work since the early 1980s, beginning with an analysis of insurance obligations associated with a broad range of condominium construction defects and property damage. Many environmental and insurance matters handled by Mr. Kelley also involve construction issues.
Litigated matters have included construction issues regarding manufacturing plants, chemical blending and processing plants, plating plants, wastewater treatment plants, gas stations, manufactured gas plants, hospital and religious institutional construction, sewer and other underground construction, golf course construction, commercial and residential mold and indoor air issues, and real estate claims.
Mr. Kelley's presentations included on the respective roles of construction contractors and construction managers as a part of "Construction Contracting for Public Entities in Michigan" sponsored by Lorman Education Services.
Mr. Kelley represented a commercial client as co-counsel in a protracted healthcare-related construction arbitration, resulting in a $2 million recovery for the firm's subcontractor client.
Other Complex Litigation Experience
Complex litigation analysis and judgment are hallmarks of the firm's practice. Mr. Kelley has litigated as counsel of record not only in Michigan but also in Pennsylvania, West Virginia, Ohio, Indiana, Illinois, Wisconsin, Tennessee, California and Hawaii. Mr. Kelley's involvement in complex disputes has resulted in substantial experience in many trial, ADR, and appellate settings, resulting in substantial civil procedure and appellate experience.
Selected Additional Litigation-Related Memberships
Member, Industrywide Litigation Committee, Defense Research Institute
Member, Litigation Section, American Bar Association
Member, Appellate Practice Section, State Bar of Michigan
Selected Published ADR, Civil Procedure, and General Litigation Decisions
Alternative Dispute Resolution Decisions
McKinstry v Valley Obstetrics-Gynecology Clinic, P.C., 428 Mich. 167; 405 N.W.2d 88
(1987) (burden of proof on arbitration agreement, ability of parent to bind
minor child to medical arbitration)
Osborne v Arrington, 152 Mich. App. 676; 394 N.W.2d 67 (1986) (revocation of medical
Morris v Metriyakool, 418 Mich. 423; 344 N.W.2d 736 (1984) (constitutionality of medical
arbitration; trial by jury)
Other Significant Litigation Decisions
Commercial Union Ins. Co. v Cannelton Industries, Inc., 154 F.R.D. 164 (W.D. Mich. 1994)
(diversity jurisdiction, realignment of parties)
Cannelton Industries, Inc. v Aetna Casualty & Surety Co. of America, 194 W. Va. 186;
460 S.E.2d 1 (1994), rehearing granted (1995), aff'd (1995) (forum non conveniens;
St. Paul Surplus Lines Ins. Co. v Cannelton Industries, Inc., 828 F. Supp. 498
(W.D. Mich. 1993) (limited personal jurisdiction)
Scott v Henry Ford Hospital, 199 Mich. App. 241; 501 N.W.2d 259 (1993)
(physician-patient privilege, release of medical records)
St. Paul Fire & Marine Ins. Co. v Summit-Warren Industries Co., 143 F.R.D. 129
(N.D. Ohio 1992) (intervention)
USF&G Co. v Thomas Solvent Co., 132 F.R.D. 660 (W.D. Mich. 1990), aff'd,
955 F.2d 1085 (6th Cir. 1992) (realignment of parties, diversity jurisdiction)
Fireman's Fund Ins. Co. v Ex-Cell-O Corp., 720 F. Supp. 597 (E.D. Mich. 1989)
(exclusion of extrinsic evidence based on parol evidence rule)
Fassihi v St. Mary's Hospital of Livonia, 121 Mich. App. 11; 328 N.W.2d 132 (1983)
(discovery of income tax records, use of prior deposition testimony)
Other Significant Areas of Practice
Other significant areas of practice include contract negotiation, drafting, and interpretation, a wide range of real estate issues, and non-profit law.
Mr. Kelley is admitted to practice before all Michigan courts; the United States District Court for the Eastern and Western Districts of Michigan, the Northern District of Ohio, the Northern District of Illinois, the Northern and Southern Districts of Indiana, the Northern District of Oklahoma; the United States Court of Appeals for the Third, Sixth, Seventh, Eighth, Ninth and Tenth circuits; the United States Supreme Court; and has been admitted pro hac vice in state courts in Indiana, Illinois, Ohio, Pennsylvania, West Virginia, and Wisconsin and in the Eastern and Western Districts of Tennessee, the District of Hawaii, and the Central District of California.
Mr. Kelley is a member of the State Bar of Michigan and the American and Federal bar associations and several of their respective sections and committees and a member of DRI (formerly the Defense Research Institute).
In 1985 Mr. Kelley received the inaugural Distinguished Brief Award from The Cooley Law Review as lead author of the best recent winning Michigan Supreme Court brief.
Mr. Kelley recently completed four years as President of the Michigan Nature Association, Michigan's statewide land trust, with more than 170 nature sanctuaries across 59 Michigan counties. As President, Mr. Kelley's responsibilities included leading a team effort resulting in national accreditation for that group. As volunteer counsel, Mr. Kelley assisted MNA with land transactions including conservation easements, pipeline easements, property acquisition, and resolving boundary disputes. Mr. Kelley received MNA's Richard W. Holzman Award in 2013.
Mr. Kelley graduated from the University of Detroit School of Law after graduating from the University of Michigan. During law school Mr. Kelley was an editor of and published in the law review and headed the student government. Mr. Kelley later served two terms as President of University of Detroit Mercy Law Alumni Association, received the law school's Time & Talent Award in 2007, and is a Master of the Bench for the University of Detroit American Inn of Court.
Mr. Kelley serves on the President's Advisory Board for the University of Detroit Jesuit High School & Academy and has actively participated in fundraising at the K-12, high school, and law school levels.
Mr. Kelley also has served on the Finance, Facilities, Communications, Technology, Enrichment, and Art & Architecture committees of the nationally-recognized Detroit Athletic Club.
Mr. Kelley founded what is now Stephen M. Kelley, P.C., in 1993 after 12 years with what was then Kitch, Saurbier, Drutchas, Wagner & Kenney, P.C.