ABC’s Legal Eagles

Frank T. Mamat, Barnes and Thornburg

In an industry plagued by cash flow issues and bankruptcy, contractors are often left without payment and without the means to fight for it. Your contract should contain detailed stipulations that outline project expectations, payment amounts, and payment schedules. Furthermore, your contract must protect your right to payment. Have you reviewed a contract to determine if it contains a “pay if paid” clause? What about if it waives your lien right? Am I doing the right thing? It can be both frustrating and confusing but that is where a strong legal team can assist you from making a good decision bad, or a bad decision worse!

Jacqueline Kaltz-Coulombe, KaltzCoulombe PLLC

The Associated Builders and Contractors of Southeastern Michigan (ABC SEMI) for the past 34 years has retained as its Chapter Attorney Frank T. Mamat of Barnes and Thornburg because of his nearly 45 years of deep experience helping companies, contractors, and employers with their complex labor and union matters.

“Through the years, Frank has successfully counseled ABC members on virtually every type of labor matter,” said ABC SEMI President and CEO Keith Ledbetter. “We joke that he had forgotten more about labor law than most attorneys know, but everyone knows Frank doesn’t forget anything either. He was also instrumental in preparing the Michigan Senate in 2012 Michigan’s “Right to Work” law—a major win for ABC members.”

Eric Flessland, Butzel Long

In addition, Mamat provides counsel and assistance regarding union matters such as contract negotiations, elections, union avoidance, and labor arbitrations; noncompetes; unfair labor practice litigation; harassment suits; wage and hour issues; National Labor Relations Board cases; organizing attempts by unions, mass picketing and violence, secondary boycotts and pressure; and OSHA-MIOSHA and safety matters. He also advises clients on ERISA trust funds and related fiduciary liabilities.

ABC State Chairman, Robert Clancy points to Frank’s experience that makes him so sought after in greater Detroit and around the country. In addition, he serves as labor counsel for several major employer associations and nonprofit trade associations, as well as on local and national boards of directors. Clancy says ABC relies on his intuition on major trade, labor, and employment law issues—not to mention his passion and knowledge in politics.

“Frank has represented and advised businesses, political groups and governments in legislative and political issues,” Clancy stated. “He has advised a former U.S. president, as well as multiple governors, U.S. and state senators, congressmen, mayors, and county executives, along with dozens of candidate campaigns and political parties. He was special counsel to the Attorney General and Michigan Gov. Rick Snyder regarding enforcement of anti-mandatory PLA statutes and special campaign counsel for Michigan to President Donald Trump. He was also considered by four U.S. presidents to serve as a federal judge in Michigan, as assistant secretary of labor, as chair of the National Labor Relations Board, and as chair of the Federal Labor Relations Authority. To say the least Frank keeps us up to speed on what is happening politically that will impact our members now and for years to come.”

ABC SEMI is also fortunate to have Eric Flessland, attorney for Butzel Long as its Board Secretary. He is a shareholder practicing in Butzel Long’s Detroit office. Eric received his B.A. with honors from Michigan State University, and his J.D. from Wayne State University Law School. Flessland is also listed in The Best Lawyers in America for Construction Law.

“We are incredibly fortunate to have two exceptional attorneys on our Board of Directors,” said ABC SEMI Chairman Drew Maltese, President of DJ Maltese Construction. “Eric has really been instrumental in helping us get our affairs in order and in his role as Board Secretary provides sage advice on the issues that all contractor members are facing in the workplace. His role in helping our association make sense of the COVID-19 regulations and creating a plan of action for our members to follow was a crucial piece of the puzzle that allowed us to remain compliant and working. At the very least, he keeps us legal in all aspects of what we do.”

“…it was frustrating to see more often than not the little guy have to take it on the chin instead of getting the justice they deserve. I vowed to make sure that didn’t happen on my watch. I like that ABC has a similar philosophy and knew this was an association I wanted to be a part of.”

– Jacqueline Kaltz-Coulombe

Flessland’s practice focuses primarily upon representing heavy construction contractors and their trade associations in the public and private sectors. He has extensive experience representing construction contractor clients on public and private works projects literally from inception through close out.

“Eric’s extensive experience in insurance and contract agreements for project owners, contractors, and subcontractors has been a real blessing,” said Ledbetter. “He has worked both public and private matters including enforcement of competitive bidding procedures on local- and state-funded public works projects; project level claims analysis, claim preservation and avoidance counseling; complex construction claims litigation; and contract dispute resolution. These are all issues that our members deal with daily and to have access to his expertise has made our members stronger in their practices.

He is a regular lecturer to various contractors’ associations, and frequently publishes articles in the Michigan Infrastructure and Transportation Association’s trade magazine, Cross Section. Flessland is a member of the American Bar Association’s Forum Committee on the Construction Industry, the State Bar of Michigan’s Subcommittee on Construction Liens and Bonds, and a panelist to the American Arbitration Association’s National Panel of Construction Arbitrators, and to the AAA’s Large, Complex Case Program. He has tried matters in U.S. District Courts in Indiana, Texas, and Michigan; appeared in the Michigan and Indiana Court of Appeals; Michigan Circuit Courts throughout the state; and state trial courts in Indiana and Ohio. Mr. Flessland has experience in arbitrating and mediating construction disputes. Prior to entering private practice in 1984, he was a research clerk to the Michigan Supreme Court Committee on Standard Jury Instructions and served as a Research Attorney to the Michigan Court of Appeals.

Our association recently welcomed new member, Jacqueline Kaltz-Coulombe of KaltzCoulombe PLLC to the ABC SEMI family, but she is no stranger to the industry—nor ABC for that matter. Her family has owned and operated Kaltz Excavating since 1978 and been an ABC member since 2005.

“I grew up around the construction industry my entire life,” said Kaltz-Coulombe. “My family has been in the business of providing underground utility construction services for decades and it was one of the leading factors that led me to construction related law. So often I would witness or hear firsthand the horror stories and pitfalls my family and fellow construction companies would experience on a regular basis with contract agreements, OSHA violations, and the like—it was frustrating to see more often than not the little guy have to take it on the chin instead of getting the justice they deserve. I vowed to make sure that didn’t happen on my watch. I like that ABC has a similar philosophy and knew this was an association I wanted to be a part of.”

Jacqueline has over 15 years of hands-on experience in the construction industry. Her background in construction helps her clients’ businesses and projects become more secure and as a result, more successful. She works with them in the project planning and negotiation phase to identify and reduce risk and, in many cases, to help them organize their overall approach to the project. She also works with them during the project to help manage difficult events and brewing claims, and she works with them after the project to resolve claims, ideally through negotiation or mediation but also through arbitration or litigation when necessary.

“So often companies seek out legal help at the beginning or the end of a difficult project,” said Kaltz-Coulombe. “I not only encourage them to plan accordingly to address any perceived or anticipated issues, but not to hesitate to reach out to me during the project to make sure that any minor issues do not become major headaches at project’s end. I will often call and simply check in to make sure things are going well and any problems can be rectified—it is important to me to make sure that the companies and their families I represent are taken care of. It is a passion for the law and the industry that I take very seriously.”

Many contractors seek out Jacqueline for her depth of industry knowledge, for her talent in developing effective and practical solutions to problems that arise in business and during clients’ projects, and for the excellent results she obtains for them in litigation. Her clients range from general contractors, developers, owners, construction managers, subcontractors, trade contractors, and suppliers. She truly is a welcome addition to ABCs Legal Eagles!