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Irene Bruce Hathaway





Michigan State University College of Law, J.D., 1980

University of Michigan, B.A., 1977

Bar Admissions

Court Admissions

U.S. Supreme Court

U.S. District Courts

  • Eastern District of Michigan
  • Western District of Michigan
  • Central District of Illinois

In her many years in practice as a trial and appellate attorney, Irene Bruce Hathaway has been involved in a wide variety of complex commercial and tort cases, including bet-the-company case, class actions and catastrophic injuries.

She has particular expertise in business disputes, governmental contract litigation—including fraud recovery—catastrophic tort litigation and contract and franchise litigation. She has represented clients in many industries including manufacturing, food, retail sales, insurance and insurance defense, and health care.

Representative Matters

Extensive experience in:

  • Insurance and insurance defense
  • Class actions
  • Trial and Arbitration of business disputes
  • Contract (including software, automotive supplier, franchise and dealer disputes and real estate developer disputes)
  • Defense of catastrophic personal injury (pipeline explosions, quadriplegic injuries, no-fault / automobile third party cases, fire etc.)
  • Defense of product liability cases (medical devices, car seats, televisions, food and consumer goods)
  • Fraud (kickbacks, embezzlement, contract procurement)
  • Franchise litigation (termination, breach of contract and tort litigation)
  • Professional negligence (physician, hospital, nursing, social worker and mental health care providers)
  • Contract (including software, automotive supplier, franchise and dealer disputes and real estate developer disputes)
  • Automobile first and third party claims
  • Real estate litigation (oil and gas lease, construction)
  • Arbitration of business disputes

Trial experience:

Tried approximately 100 cases to verdict, only one verdict against (which was reversed and remanded for entry of judgment). See May v Harper Hospital, 185 Mich App 548 (1990)

Recent Representative cases:

Detroit Public Schools v. Steven Hill et al. This case developed from an investigation of mismanagement in the Detroit Public Schools Risk Management Department. We represented DPS in an action to recover for kickbacks which we alleged were paid to DPS officials, and phantom contracts which were paid for but no work was done. As a result of our suit, we recovered a confidential amount for DPS, reported by Detroit media as being in the tens of millions of dollars. As a result of our case, the United States Attorney’s office in the Eastern District of Michigan successfully prosecuted several people, some of whom are still incarcerated.

Doe v. Large Industrial Company (name confidential). This case was filed in Wayne County and involved the explosion of a gas pipeline at an industrial site resulting in the death of one person and serious personal injuries to another. We represented the Large Industrial Company, and settled the case very favorably for our client for less than $200,000.

Roe v. Large Industrial Company (name confidential). This case was filed in United States District Court for the Eastern District of Michigan and involved a personal injury and alleged permanent disability as a result of an industrial accident. We obtained summary judgment for our client.

Murphy v. Rent-A-Center. This case, filed in Kalamazoo County, was a car versus pedestrian accident in which the Plaintiff, an employed young woman with small children, alleged permanent brain and leg injuries. We represented Rent-A-Center, who is self-insured for auto liability. We settled the case very favorably for our client for less than $200,000.

City of Detroit v. Kilpatrick, et al. This case involved allegations of fraud and kickbacks committed by the Mayor of the City of Detroit, several of his friends and several contractors. We recovered tens of millions of dollars for the City, and the Mayor and others were criminally prosecuted and are now incarcerated.

Appellate Experience

Selected reported appellate cases:

Ali v. City of Detroit, 218 Mich. App. 581 (1996)

Baldaga v. Independence Health Plan, 162 Mich. App. 441 (1987)

Brown v. Drake-Willock International, 209 Mich. App. 136 (1995)

Citizens Insurance v. Roadway Express, 135 Mich. App. 465 (1984)

Danley v. Yuzon, 128 Mich. App. 228(1983)

Griffith v. Brant, 177 Mich. App. (1989)

Holmes v. Allstate, 119 Mich. App. 710 (1982)

Krusac v. Covenant Medical Center, Inc., 497 Mich. 251 (2015) (amicus curiae)

May v. Harper Hospital, 185 Mich. App. 548 (1990)

Taylor v. Michigan Petroleum Technologies, 307 Mich. App. 189 (2014) (amicus curiae)

Selected other appellate cases-- Michigan Court of Appeals and Supreme Court

Highland Apartments v Golden, Docket number 318204, 151092

Lyons v United States Steel, Docket number 303103

Estate of Thomas Pichler v United States Steel, Docket number 278492278492

Krochmalny v Oakwood Hospital, Docket number 267633, 267203, 265777

Nudell v Oakwood Healthcare, Docket number 266634

Edmond v Eastern Michigan University, Docket number 265760,131732, 261630

Robinson v Kole-James, Docket number 261630, 260839, 260839

Burt v Arnold, Docket number 257201, 251611

Pitts v Oakwood Healthcare, Docket number 250729, 250078

Speight v. Hawrot, Docket number 247230

Genesee Care v Oskey Bros Construction, Docket number 245225

Walker v Detroit Medical Center, Docket number 240059

Waldschmidt v Puplampu, Docket number 229439

Kruger v Eadie, Docket number 229439, 227110, 226369, 226353

Cuatt v Benjamin, Docket number 226765


State Bar Foundation, Fellow

Charter Member and Senior Fellow, Litigation Counsel of America

Best Lawyers in America, Lawyer of the Year 2018 - Detroit, Mass Tort Litigation & Class Actions - Defendants

Michigan Super Lawyers, 2011-present

DBusiness, Top Lawyers & Top Woman Attorneys, 2010-present

Martindale Hubble rating: av

Professional Activities

Board of Directors, Michigan State University College of Law Alumni Association

Transportation Club of Detroit Scholarship Committee

Michigan Defense Trial Counsel: President, 2019-present; Officer, Board of Directors, 2016-present; Member, Amicus Committee; Member, Appellate Section

Oakland County Bar Association: Member and former chair of the Medical Legal Committee; Chair, Opioid Abuse subcommittee; Circuit Court Committee; Task Force on Rules Change; Discovery Master

Defense Research Institute (DRI): Executive member; Commercial Litigation Committee Chair Membership Committee; Served as Michigan State and Local Bar Representative

State Bar of Michigan: U.S. Courts Committee Former Chair; Antitrust, Franchising and Trade Regulation; Tort and Insurance

Detroit Bar Association: Member Judicial Candidate Evaluation Panel; Defense Mediator, 1993-2004

Co-Founder, Women’s Franchise Network of Southeast Michigan

Michigan State University College of Law, Law Review Editor Sixth Circuit Survey

Oakland University Legal Research and Writing Instructor (former)

Former Board Member, Michigan Woman Lawyers’ Association


Oakland University, Instructor, Legal Research and Writing


Use of Fair Health Data at Trial, MDTC Winter Meeting, November 2015

"2011 Reinventing Government: Recover in Civil Litigation for Criminal Wrongdoing," Schoolcraft College, June 9, 2011

Government Enforcement and Corporate Compliance

Michigan Franchise Opportunities: Legal Aspects of Franchising – What You Should Know Before Signing on the Dotted Line

2008 Detroit Area Franchise Opportunities Seminar for Women and Minorities

Justice Served - Pursuing Civil Remedies Against Co-Conspirators in Government Corruption Cases


"A sidebar with Irene Bruce Hathaway," Michigan Lawyers Weekly, August 2, 2019

American Bar Association Franchise Desk Book 3rd Edition, Contributing author, 2019

"Understanding Franchise Law," Managing Legal Issues in Franchising, Leading Lawyers on Helping Clients Master the Ownership Process and Avoid Legal Conflicts, Aspatore Books, August 2013

"Health Care Fraud," (Co-author Gerald J. Gleeson II), Laches, Oakland County Bar Association, February 2013

"Civil Recovery of Damages in Government Contracting Schemes: Some Underused Theories Can Lead to Large Recoveries," For the Defense, Defense Research Initiative, January 2013

American Bar Association Franchise Desk Book 2nd Edition, Contributing author