Former police officer now focuses on insurance defense

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 By Sheila Pursglove 

Legal News
 
As a specialist in insurance litigation defense, attorney Rick Girodat has seen a lot of unusual cases – including one in which a vehicle stopped at a rural highway stop sign then pulled out directly into the path of a crossing vehicle. 
 
“Turned out, the occupants had been smoking marijuana and a joint had accidently been dropped out of the car and onto the ground – apparently, the driver opened the door and released the brake to retrieve the joint,” Girodat explains. 

All in a day’s work for Girodat, a partner at the personal injury litigation firm of Girodat & Marienfeld in Jackson.

One case unraveled like a scene from a movie, when a plaintiff claimed to need the assistance of his good arm to help his injured arm – and demonstrated such for the jury. 

“A short time later, his injured armed moved freely above his head when demonstrating a home exercise,” Girodat says.

On another occasion, a woman was found dead on ice outside her apartment building and an autopsy confirmed a blow to the back of her head. 

“However, police photographs of the decedent at the ER showed blood in her nose and on her shirt which was beneath her zipped winter coat, according to the paramedics,” Girodat says. “It was argued her injuries may well have occurred elsewhere.”

Girodat, who also specializes in probate litigation, notes that insurance defense includes review of a vast amount of medical records as they pertain to any number of injuries. 

“This includes brain injuries which are related to those who claim diminished or lack of capacity in the probate area,” he says. “More importantly, I’ve been lucky enough to work with very competent insurance adjusters and legal departments which makes my job that much easier.  As a former police officer, I enjoy pieces of the litigation puzzle and I make sure every case comes to a logical conclusion for each client.”

The Detroit native, who holds a B.A. in criminal justice, spent four years as a police officer for the City of East Detroit (Eastpointe), where he authored the department’s policy/procedure manual and received several citation and commendations – before making the career decision to attend Cooley Law School in Lansing. 

“Working in law enforcement provided an experience like none other,” he says. “The vast majority of a patrol officer’s time is spent assisting the public in an extraordinarily diverse manner – no day was ever the same and you never had any idea what to expect. However, promotion meant return to the midnight shift and while I enjoyed my law enforcement career, I had always considered law school.” 

During Girodat’s first year at Cooley, the Hon. Alexander C. Perlos of the Jackson County Circuit Court hired him as his law clerk/bailiff, and he completed his last two years at Cooley with evening classes. 

“As a law clerk, I was able to read all pleadings, draft opinions and observe numerous trials and literally hundreds of motion hearings – the practical experience was immeasurable,” he says. 

He received his juris doctor in 1991, and after being admitted to the State Bar, joined the Law Firm of Potter and Hamilton in Jackson, which then became Potter and Girodat and eventually Girodat and Associates. In 2010 he teamed with Ron Marienfeld to form Girodat & Marienfeld.

Girodat has been a state approved Facilitative Mediator and Case Evaluator for many years. 

“There’s a risk factor in every case,” he explains. “Facilitation provides the parties with an opportunity not only to have a say in the outcome but to quantify the risk in a monetary fashion.  If not, a judge or jury will decide.”  

Girodat and Cammie, his wife of 30 years, have two children in college and two at Lumen Christi High School. Girodat – who played basketball for two years at Highland Park Community College and two years at Siena Heights – has coached more than 30 different football, basketball, and baseball teams over the years, at both the youth and high school levels.

Active in the Queen of Miraculous Medal Church Men’s Club for many years, more recently, he became involved with fund-raising activities for Lumen Christi High School and the Jackson Community Food Pantry. 

“I thoroughly enjoy living in and working here in Jackson,” he says. “I like to fish and golf with my family and friends and for that there’s no better place than Jackson.” 

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