posted on December 10, 2014 by Willingham & Cote
Our firm would like to congratulate Ms. Kimberlee Hillock, Chair of the Appellate Practice Group, on a phenomenal year. She is a very deserving winner of the John Coté award and has enjoyed 18 appellate victories in 2014.
John Coté Award Winner
On Friday, December 5, our firm held the annual attorney holiday party at the State Room in the Kellogg Center. At this event, she was presented the John Coté award, which recognizes excellence in advocacy and representation of clients in furtherance of the firm's commitment to the highest standards of the legal profession.
Four Is The Magic Number
So far in 2014, Ms. Hillock has been instrumental in securing appellate victories on behalf of clients in 18 out of 19 appeals. The last of these 18 wins to date culminated on November 25, 2014, when in one day the Michigan Court of Appeals issued three opinions in cases argued successfully there by Ms. Hillock – two reversals and one affirmance – and the Michigan Supreme Court denied leave to appeal in a case that Ms. Hillock had also won at the Court of Appeals level. As recently noted by one of the firm’s partners, Michael W. Stephenson:
“For those who are not attorneys, you should know that Kim's record this year is extraordinary. Appellate attorneys do not usually screen their cases, but handle whatever issues are brought to them from the trial courts. Any record over 50 percent would be impressive. A record of 18-1 is astonishing. To have four appellate wins in a single day may be something that has never been done before -- at least in 20 + years I have never heard of anyone doing it.”
In addition to the active cases Ms. Hillock currently has on appeal, she was selected to file an amicus brief (friend of court filing by a non-party) in the Michigan Supreme Court on behalf of the Michigan Defense Trial Counsel in support of medical malpractice defendants in a pending case of interest to medical defendants, Furr v McLeod. The case involves application of two statutes that affect filing rights and timing. In the amicus brief, Ms. Hillock argued that lower court decisions were wrongly decided. On November 26, 2014, the Supreme Court ordered oral argument on pending cases raising this important issue.
She joined Willingham & Cote’ P.C. in January, 2009 and is now a shareholder in the firm.
 In Farm Bureau v Walsh, unpublished opinion per curiam of the Court of Appeals, issued November 25, 2014 (Docket No. 317505), the issue was whether the trial court erred in granting summary disposition to the defendant on the basis that none of the policy exclusions applied.
In Hempel v Farm Bureau, unpublished opinion per curiam of the Court of Appeals, issued November 25, 2014 (Docket No. 316483), the issue was whether language in the underinsured motorist endorsement, “for your covered auto,” precluded underinsured motorist benefits to the claimant who was injured while driving a taxi not listed in the policy.
 In Lenk v Frankemuth Mut Ins Co, unpublished opinion per curiam of the Court of Appeals, issued November 25, 2014 (Docket No. 317014), the issue was whether the trial court correctly ruled that the plaintiff failed to demonstrate an “objectively manifested impairment” as required by MCL 500.3135(5).
 In Kimball v Kimball, Supreme Court Docket No. 150052, the issue was whether the trial court properly dismissed the defendant mother’s request for a judicial hearing based on the failure to comply with the court’s order.