James E. Lozier
Past President Questionnaire
1. What do you remember most about your MDTC Presidency?
There was a great deal of controversy during my 1995-96 term as MDTC’s President. At that time, my Vice President John Jacobs, our Executive Committee and I were overwhelmed by the magnitude of the controversy involving the proposed passage of the 1995-96 tort reform act. The proposed Tort Reform Act was being considered by a Republican controlled state house and senate with John Engler then serving as the governor. A tremendous amount of time was spent in dealing with the plaintiff’s bar, who were trying to persuade us that it would be the death mill to not just their practice, but the defense practice; MDTC member insurance company in-house counsel and other clients cajoling MDTC to support the legislation in its entirety and numerous MDTC members who were broadly split on the propriety of the MDTC supporting, as opposing, the bill. As to the latter, a number of them indicated that they were getting significant cajoling by their clients (insurance carriers and otherwise) to compel the MDTC to support the entirety of the bill while others harbored the same fear that the plaintiff’s bar did if it in fact was adopted into law. To that end, John Jacobs and I also appeared before state legislative members at hearings on the proposed legislation. I do remember the hearings and some of the members who were extremely hostile to the passage of the bill being, to say the least, less than cordial to John and I.
In the end MDTC’s Executive Committee and Board agreed that the organization should support two or three of the provisions which would avoid some of the significant unfairness in the justice system involving primarily product, but also other tort litigation. This included in part the application of joint and several liability, lack of pure comparative negligence being applied in tort related cases.
Although the MDTC limited its support to the very harmful law that existed at that time, the legislature, along with Governor Engler, had adopted into law what amounted to being a far broader range of tort reform measures than were supported by MDTC and were, in some instances, even being considered at the time of the legislative hearing. As predicted by the plaintiff’s bar and a number of defense bar members, the passage of this tort reform act as in effect virtually eliminated the filing of product liability injury cases within our state over the past fifteen years since this major tort reform legislation was adopted. The good thing that did come out of this is that because we had been so consumed by this legislation and the effects of it, I, as well as other members of the Executive Committee and Board, had the opportunity to get to know one another a lot better, as well as the opportunity to meet other members of the MDTC with whom we had not been familiar with in the past and who later proved to be very valuable in the organization such that they rose to members of the Board of Directors and Executive Committee.
2. Which past president(s) influenced you the most or made the biggest impact on your involvement in MDTC?
As to Past Presidents, it would have virtually included just about all of them that preceded me into the office, including but not limited to John Scott, Walt Griffin, Mike Fordney, Bob Krause and others. Also, the lawyers who really got me involved were Foster, Swift, Collins & Coey; John Collins (who served as a founding member of the organization and on the Board of Directors) and Tony Smith (who also served on the Board of Directors for some time).
At the time of my first involvement, I was a new associate at Foster, Swift, Collins & Coey and had John Collins and I will never forget John Collins coming into my office smoking a very large cigar and dropping ashes all over the office floor while telling me that a group of defense lawyers had formed a statewide defense organization and that I would be serving as the Mid-Michigan Regional Chairperson for that organization. This appointment (which I was thrilled to have Mr. Collins tell me I was taking) opened up the opportunity to attend Board meetings and become far more involved in the organization such as that I was able to meet numerous other well-known defense lawyers in our state.
3. What have you enjoyed most about your involvement in MDTC?
The major benefit and enjoyment I have received from my involvement in the MDTC is the opportunity to have met, worked with, and become friends with some of the very best and brightest trial lawyers, not just in Michigan, but also within the Mid-West and in some cases nationally; e.g. including all the Past Presidents, as well as others who have served on the MDTC Board of Directors. The quality of the individuals is reflected by the list of those who have served in these leadership positions and also by the list of attorneys who, over the years, have received MDTC’s Excellence in Defense Award. I have also thoroughly enjoyed being able to participate in influencing or at least trying to influence (e.g. tort reform legislation passage) the enactment of legislation, court rules and the addressing of important case decisions that affected the future civil practice within our state. The planning meetings involving the Board of Directors, committee members, regional care persons, and executive committee representatives were very fondly remembered by me because they provided us with the opportunity to not only plan the future course of the MDTC in terms of involvement on different issues and initiation of difference efforts, but also allowed all who attended to get to know one another a lot better during these meetings as well as the social gatherings that occurred after those meetings when virtually all of the attendees would, in their inebriated state, exchange war stories and otherwise get to know one another on a much more personal basis.
4. What are you doing now?
At this time, I continue to practice law, which I still very much enjoy, but I’m slowing down to some degree in order to spend more time with my wife, Renee, our two sons Jim and Andy, our daughter-in-law Amanda, and our three young granddaughters Grace, Emmie and Cammie. I still am participating in a variety of organizations, but admittedly on a much lessor basis, including the National Association of Railroad Trial Counsel (NARTC), DRI and FDCC.