Helfman v. GE Group Life Assurance Company et al
ORDER Granting Request And Writ of Garnishment of Additional Attorney Fees. 139 . Signed by District Judge Victoria A. Roberts. (LVer)
UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT
EASTERN DISTRICT OF MICHIGAN
Case No: 06-13528
Honorable Victoria A. Roberts
GE GROUP LIFE ASSURANCE COMPANY,
ORDER GRANTING REQUEST AND WRIT OF
GARNISHMENT OF ADDITIONAL ATTORNEY FEES
This matter is before the Court on Defendant GE Group Life Assurance
Company’s (f/k/a Genworth Life and Health Insurance Company) (“GE”) Request for
Writ of Garnishment. GE wants to garnish attorney fees that this Court ordered
garnishee Sun Life Assurance Company of Canada (“Sun Life”) to pay Plaintiff Joel
Helfman, in the amount of $23,423.81. Previously, this Court ordered Sun Life to pay
$46,641,94 in attorney fees and interest to Helfman. GE issued a Request and Writ for
Garnishment for that money as well.
Plaintiff’s objections to these Requests are based on M.C.L. § 600.6023, which
exempts certain items from garnishment. This Court has already ruled that the statute
does not exempt attorney fees from garnishment, a decision recently upheld by the
Sixth Circuit. The objection before the Court now, to GE’s Request, is identical to
Plaintiff’s earlier objection.
The Court GRANTS GE’s Request and Writ for Garnishment of the additional
First Request and Writ for Garnishment - Disability Benefits
This Court held that Defendant GE is entitled to reimbursement of benefits it paid
to Helfman while Helfman was also receiving benefits from Sun Life. The Court issued
a $107,133.33 judgment against Helfman in favor of GE. To partially satisfy the
judgment, Defendant GE filed its first writ for garnishment against Sun Life. The request
was to garnish disability payments made to Helfman by Sun Life. This Court adopted
Magistrate Judge Majzoub’s R & R and denied Defendant’s first Request and Writ for
Garnishment, holding that GE could not garnish disability payments.
Second Request and Writ for Garnishment - Attorneys Fees
After the Court denied the first Request and Writ for Garnishment, it ordered Sun
Life to pay $46,641.94 in attorneys fees and interest to Plaintiff. GE filed a second
Request and Writ for Garnishment to garnish that amount. Plaintiff filed objections to
the second Request and Writ for Garnishment based on the argument that such
garnishment was precluded by state law. Id. This Court rejected Plaintiff’s argument and
granted GE’s request. Plaintiff appealed to the Sixth Circuit.
Third Request and Writ for Garnishment - Additional Attorneys Fees
While the appeal was pending on the second Writ for Garnishment, this Court
ordered Sun Life to pay additional attorneys fees in the amount of $23,423,81 to
Plaintiff. This amount is the subject of the third Request and Writ for Garnishment now
before the Court. Plaintiff objected to the third request and noted that the outcome of
this third request was dependent on the appeal pending before the Sixth Circuit. Id.
On March 6, 2012, the Magistrate Judge issued a Report and Recommendation
staying the third set of objections pending the outcome of the appeal. On July 16, 2012,
the United States Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit ruled that this Court was “correct
to issue a writ of garnishment for attorneys fees awarded to Joel Helfman from his
disability insurer to help satisfy an outstanding judgment against him.” Helfman v. GE
Group Life Assur. Co., No. 11-1909 (6th Cir. Jul. 16, 2012).
The Sixth Circuit decision is outcome determinative with respect to this third
request. No new issues are presented. Defendant’s Request and Writ for Garnishment
IT IS ORDERED.
/s/ Victoria A. Roberts
Victoria A. Roberts
United States District Judge
Dated: August 14, 2012
The undersigned certifies that a copy of this
document was served on the attorneys of
record by electronic means or U.S. Mail on
August 14, 2012.
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