ATTORNEY PROFILES

Profiles of Our Attorneys


Paul Shibley

Paul Shibley was admitted to the State Bar of Michigan in November 1994. He has known since the age of 17 that he would be an attorney and focused his college studies on gaining admission to law school. As one of the most experienced auto negligence attorneys in West Michigan he now has over twenty years of litigation experience including extensive auto negligence and Michigan Auto No Fault trial experience.

He practices primarily out of the firm’s Muskegon and Grand Rapids offices. Paul is the only Executive Board Member of the Michigan Association for Justice (MAJ) from either Muskegon County or Ottawa County. Being on the MAJ Executive Board allows Paul to be at the forefront of potential changes in Auto No Fault Law and this also allows him to regularly network with many of the top personal injury lawyers in Michigan. Paul also has been recognized as a Super Lawyer in 2012, 2013, 2014, and 2015, a recognition awarded by other lawyers in the State to a very small percentage of attorneys. Paul also has since 2009 been a Fellow of the Michigan Bar Foundation, an award conveyed to not more than 5% of attorneys in Michigan. He also has been recognized as a Top 100 Trial Lawyer in the State of Michigan.

Bear
Paul is a resident of downtown Grand Haven where he resides with his wife Erin and their young son. In addition to having a love for litigation and trials, Paul is a passionate fly fisherman and outdoorsman who takes an annual 1 week trip to remote Alaska to fish with coastal brown bears as something about being amidst up to 1,000 pound bears strikes a chord akin to dealing with some auto insurance carriers. Paul uses his love for amateur photography to help preserve high quality, trial ready photos of the collision damage sustained by vehicles involved in accidents as this can be crucial evidence when it is available.

Paul has obtained auto negligence jury verdicts throughout Michigan. It is believed that no other attorney has had as many favorable auto accident related jury verdicts as Paul has had in Muskegon County in the last 10 years with Paul having obtained verdicts significantly in excess of the insurance companies’ inadequate offers in the last four cases he has tried in Muskegon County. His verdicts include the following:

Notable Verdicts

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1999 Verdict in an auto negligence case for Plaintiff. Wayne County, Michigan. Sanctions awarded and verdict with sanctions paid on zero offer case.

1999 Verdict in an auto negligence case for Plaintiff. Bloomfield Hills District Court. Sanctions awarded and verdict with sanctions paid on zero offer case.

2000 Verdict in an auto negligence case for Plaintiff. Oakland County Circuit Court. Verdict paid with interest.

2009 Verdict in the First Party No Fault Benefits case for Plaintiff. Muskegon County Circuit. Nominal offer. Case of First Impression in Muskegon County – whether relatively new to the United States disk replacement spine surgery classifies as a medically appropriate treatment option in the United States. In addition to arguing that the accident did not cause the need for surgery, the insurance carrier also argued that the surgery was experimental and was therefore was not a medically appropriate form of treatment and, as such, the insurer argued the law did not require them to pay for the procedure. The client may have been forced into Bankruptcy of he was required to personally pay the nearly $50,000 surgery cost himself. The jury found in Plaintiff’s favor and the insurer was assessed penalty sanctions. The verdict with sanctions was paid.

2012 Verdict in auto negligence case for Plaintiff. Muskegon County Circuit Court. Verdict in highly contested case was three times the insurance company offer. Verdict was paid with judgment interest.

2012 Verdict for Plaintiff in an Uninsured Motorist case. Muskegon County Circuit Court. The insurer offered zero claiming the injury was the result of a prior, severe injury to the same joint injured in the auto accident. The jury accepted the testimony of the treating doctor instead of the testimony of the paid to testify insurance company doctor. Verdict with sanctions was paid by the insurer.

2014 Verdict for Plaintiff in a combined auto negligence and Michigan First Party No Fault benefits case. Muskegon County Circuit Court. Nominal offer by insurance company because of argument that herniated disc in spine was not proximately caused by auto accident. Plaintiff was challenged by insurance company which argued that prior chiropractic treatment made it clear that the condition predated the accident. Testimony from local treating doctors was believed by the jury as opposed to testimony from doctors from out of the area who never even examined the plaintiff before issuing reports in favor of the insurance company’s denial. Verdict included all outstanding ,medical expenses, wage loss and an award for pain and suffering vastly in excess of the insurance company award. Sanctions awarded against the insurer and the verdict with sanctions was paid.

Notable Settlements


2005 – $500,000 Ottawa County case
settlement for mother injured in contested liability trucking accident. Semi truck driver claimed in his deposition that the mother was speeding in her mini-van when he turned left in front of her out of a driveway. A difficult to locate witness was found who testified that the truck driver was looking for his wallet as she heard him say immediately after the accident “He said I was looking for my wallet.” Case resolved through Case Evaluation process in which three attorneys in Ottawa County placed $500,000 settlement value on case.

2008 – $500,000 Muskegon County settlement
for mother who was driving her children to have Christmas portraits done when a pick-up truck doing snow plowing backed in front of her vehicle. Although liability and the relatedness of the need for surgery was contested by the auto insurer for the snow plow, settlement was achieved through Facilitation.

2012 – $245,000 settlement
for high school student injured as a result of severe spinal injury sustained while bus he was occupying struck something in the road to propel him out of his seat and suffer extensive spinal injuries. Case resolved through Facilitation. Key testimony was admission by bus driver who testified she had encountered the same condition the day before. Difficult case due to potential governmental immunity.

2012 – $175,000 Kent County settlement
for young lady struck while in a ditch in a disabled car that spun out of control on snowy roads when a semi-truck also slid into the ditch. The defense was that the snowy roads created a “sudden emergency.” A meteorologist was hired who provided an opinion regarding the fact that the severe weather was not a sudden, unexpected condition. Case resolved through Facilitation.

2014 – $175,000 Kent County settlement for gentlemen injured in shopping plaza road head on accident by young lady who was believed to have been texting or distracted.

2014 – $175,000 Kent County settlement
for client injured as a result of rear end auto accident

2014 – $112,500 settlement for client injured as a result of rear end auto accident.

Paul also has “second chair” experience in two multi-million dollar settlements for cases that were resolved with confidentiality provisions.

Education

1987 – 1991. State University of New York at Buffalo. Graduate cum laude for obtaining GPA in excess of 3.25. B.A. for Political Science major. Emphasis on judicial and constitutional law studies in anticipation of the goal he had when he entered college – to become an attorney. Honors awarded include:

Letters of Recognition in Judicial Politics and International Politics

1991-1993. University of Detroit Law School.

Student Representative to the American Bar Association
4.0, perfect grade in Property

Professional Honors and Awards

2008-Present Executive Board Member, Michigan Association for Justice
2009-Present Fellow of the Michigan Bar Foundation
2012, 2013, 2014 Super Lawyer Award from recognition by other attorneys in Michigan
2014 The National Trial Lawyers Top 100 Trial Lawyers, Michigan Personal Injury

Seminar Presentations

Michigan Association for Justice Ski Seminar 2010 – Practice Management Skills for the Sole Practitioner
Michigan Association for Justice Ski Seminar 2011 – Effectively Fighting Insurance Company Tactics to Obtain Verdicts “Be Nice”
Michigan Association for Justice Rapid Fire Seminar 2015 – Obtaining Verdicts in Uninsured Motorist Litigation


Matthew Swartz

“Like all of the attorneys at Fielstra Shibley, Matthew Swartz has never represented the government, big business, insurance companies. He dedicates his practice to representing the injured, the accused, and the disabled.

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He started his career representing indigent criminal defendants. This exposed him to the extraordinary imbalance of power between individuals–average citizens–and the government.

In addition to representing the accused, he went on to begin representing injured people against the reckless people who injured them and the mammoth insurance companies who represent them.

His practice areas include:

All personal injury including motor vehicle accidents, slip and falls, medical malpractice, wrongful death, all criminal defense matters, and social security disability.

He is a Magna cum Laude graduate of the Michigan State University College of Law. Following law school he graduated from the Criminal Defense Attorneys of Michigan Trial Lawyers College and the Hillman Advocacy Program. He is a member of the Criminal Defense Attorneys of Michigan and the Michigan Association for Justice.”

Awards:
2015 Michigan Personal Injury Super Lawyer Rising Star

Notable Client Awards:
2015 $325,000 settlement for child injured in motor vehicle accident.

2015 $75,000 award for a gentleman with pre-existing neck problems injured as a result of a rear-end collision in Grand Rapids, Michigan.

2015 $80,000 award for elderly woman who suffered a wrist injury as a result of a dog attack near her home in Muskegon, Michigan.

2015 $90,000 award for mother who suffered a shoulder injury requiring surgery as a result of a rear-end collision in Grand Haven, Michigan.

2014 $90,000 for a teenager who suffered a broken leg in an accident where the parties contested who was at fault for the collision.

2014 $90,000 for a commercial driver who suffered a wrist injury was a result of being rear-ended by a drunk driver in Grand Rapids, Michigan.