Southfield law giants Fieger and Morse scrap in sexual assault lawsuit

By: Kayla Dimick | Southfield Sun | Published July 12, 2017

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SOUTHFIELD — Well-known Southfield attorney Michael Morse is embroiled in a lawsuit that claims he sexually assaulted five women.

According to documents from Oakland County Circuit Court, the women who have filed lawsuits against Morse are being represented by attorney Geoffrey Fieger.

Morse and Fieger are both high-profile lawyers with firms based in Southfield.

According to court documents, Morse allegedly verbally and physically assaulted the women on four different occasions.

The first woman, who is seeking $10 million in damages, alleges that Morse grabbed her breasts while taking a selfie at a Farmington Hills restaurant, Steven Lelli’s Inn on the Green.

After the incident was reported to Farmington Hills police, Morse allegedly contacted the woman and asked to meet for the purpose of attempting to coerce the woman into withdrawing the complaint.

The complaint also names Lelli’s restaurant owner Mark Zarkin, who is also accused of pressuring the woman to withdraw the complaint.

After receiving the request to meet, the woman contacted the Police Department, and officers recommended that the woman wear a wire to the meeting.

During the recorded meeting, Morse can reportedly be heard on tape admitting to the sexual assault and asking for the woman to withdraw the complaint, according to court documents. With Morse, Zarkin also allegedly tried to convince the woman to withdraw the complaint.

The Farmington Hills Police Department is in possession of the recording.

Judge Shalina Kumar ruled June 21 that the suit would be resolved in arbitration, according to court documents.

A second woman filed claims against Morse last month, alleging that in addition to making lewd comments, Morse sexually assaulted her by grabbing her breasts and pressing his crotch into her backside. According to court documents, the woman is a former employee of Morse’s and seeks $15 million in damages.

A third woman also filed a suit against Morse last month. Court documents state that Morse is accused of sexually assaulting the woman in a car in Miami in December by grabbing her breasts. Filing under the name Jane Doe, the woman recently dropped the suit against Morse after a judge ruled that she must use her real name.

A fourth woman, who is also a former employee of Morse’s, recently came forward, again with sexual assault claims against Morse. The man allegedly groped the woman’s breasts from behind at a Christmas party while she was speaking with her former co-workers.

On June 7, a fifth woman filed claims against Morse in Wayne County Circuit Court with sexually charged allegations.

In court documents, the woman claims she was bartending at the Morse law firm’s Christmas party at a restaurant in Detroit, when Morse sexually assaulted her.

According to court documents, the woman, in an attempt to establish a professional connection, exchanged numbers with Morse during the party.

During the party, the woman alleges that Morse sexually harassed her, in addition to rubbing up against her in a sexual manner and grabbing her buttocks.

The following day, Morse allegedly texted the woman and said, “It wasn’t bad having a great looking bartender like you,” according to court documents. The woman did not reply.

She is seeking $25 million in damages, according to court documents.

Fieger is a senior partner at Fieger, Fieger, Kenney & Harrington P.C., headquartered at 19390 W. 10 Mile Road. He is most known as the defense attorney for Jack Kevorkian — a doctor and advocate for doctor-assisted suicide. Fieger has also provided legal commentary for NBC and MSNBC.

Morse is the owner of Mike Morse Law Firm, headquartered at 24901 Northwestern Highway. Morse is known for his charitable work in the metro Detroit area.

Morse reportedly claimed the allegations against him are false, and that the suit is an attempt by Fieger to extort money from him and tarnish his reputation.

Attorney Deborah Gordon, representing Morse, said she is outraged by the amount of money Fieger’s clients are seeking in damages and called the suits a “dog and pony show,” claiming they are illegitimate and will likely be dismissed.

“I say these suits are another attempt by Mr. Fieger to gain publicity for himself. He likes attention, he needs attention, and he’s gotten media attention in the past by filing lawsuits,” Gordon said. “I find it really offensive as a lawyer that he harms other women’s legitimate cases to make himself look like a big man.”

Fieger said during a May 15 press conference that he was saddened to announce the suits against Morse.

“Mr. Morse has a large firm. I understand he is very well-known for his charitable work. However, this type of activity cannot be tolerated. He is an exception, not the rule, and nobody should think this is a reflection of lawyers,” Fieger said.

William Kiriazis, the attorney for Zarkin, did not return a request for comment by press time.