Home Run: Former baseball player enjoys the intensity of appellate work


by Sheila Pursglove
Legal News

A specialist in complex commercial litigation, Paul Hudson enjoys the change of pace in his other specialty, white-collar criminal defense. 

“I know people talk about high-stakes, bet-the-company commercial litigation, but for me the pressure doesn’t get any more intense than when an inmate calls from prison and the only way he’s ever leaving is if I do something about it,” he says.

Hudson is a principal with Miller Canfield in Kalamazoo, where he serves as co-chair of the firm’s Appellate Section. Named among Michigan Super Lawyers, Appellate, Rising Star, he holds a leadership position on the American Bar Association’s Appellate Practice Committee and is one of three Michigan lawyers appointed by the chief judge of the U.S. Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals to serve on its Advisory Committee on Rules. 

“I enjoy being around other appellate advocates, and I’ve been fortunate to meet some of the best in the country through my committee work,” he says. 

Hudson jokes that he owes his law career to his slight frame and one career home run in college. A catcher at Detroit Country Day School, he played varsity baseball at Cornell University while earning his undergrad degree in government and philosophy. 

“My stats weren’t pretty,” he says. “I hit my ceiling in baseball, and I needed a new plan.” 

During a college semester in Washington, D.C., he served as an investigator for public defenders at the Georgetown Criminal Justice Clinic. 

“It was fascinating stuff—interviewing witnesses, photographing crime scenes, and being around extremely passionate and dedicated lawyers who loved going to work every day,” he says. “I took a witness statement on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial, and I was sold on the law and on D.C.”

He applied to law school the next fall, and earned his J.D., cum laude, from Georgetown University Law Center, where he served as editor of the Georgetown Law Journal, and as a student attorney in the Criminal Justice Clinic. 

After graduation, he worked at Pepper Hamilton in Detroit and then clerked for Judge Raymond M. Kethledge of the Sixth Circuit. 

“I love to write, and I’ve stumbled into the right profession for that,”’ Hudson says. “I clerked for the best legal writer in Michigan, and he made me better every single day I was there. I learned just how important a good brief is, and I knew coming out of my clerkship that I wanted to focus on appellate practice.”

Clearly appellate work is the right niche; Hudson has won several challenging cases, some worth millions – including successfully representing BorgWarner Turbo Systems against a $50 million warranty claim brought by Mack Trucks.

Another multi-million biggie was one of the “law-school litigation” cases receiving a good deal of attention in recent years. Hudson and a Miller Canfield team successfully represented Cooley Law School in a purported $300 million class action brought by graduates alleging fraud and violations of the Michigan Consumer Protection Act, regarding the school’s employment and salary reporting. The Western District of Michigan dismissed the case for failure to state a claim, and the Sixth Circuit recently affirmed.

In September, he and his Miller Canfield colleagues successfully defended Sedgwick Claims Management Service in an appeal of a Civil RICO (Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act) case. In a landmark decision, the en banc U.S. Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit overturned a 2012 panel’s decision that allowed two plaintiffs to sue their employer, worker’s compensation claims administrator, and their medical expert under RICO, alleging the defendants conspired to deny their worker’s compensation claims. The court reasoned the proper arena for such a claim is the Michigan administrative workers’ compensation system, and allowing the plaintiffs to sue in federal court would allow federal law to supplant a state statutory scheme that “reflects a complex set of bargains between employers and employees.” 

“The civil RICO en banc Sixth Circuit case was a great victory for our appellate team and our client, and it was also a common-sense victory for Michigan workers and employers,” Hudson says. “I think the Sixth Circuit got it right.”

A native of Rochester Hills and Bloomfield Township, Hudson and his wife Jen moved from Canton to Kalamazoo last year, when Jen took a job as a professor of aerospace engineering at Western Michigan University. Hudson transferred from Miller Canfield’s Detroit office to the Kalamazoo office, although he still does a good deal of work in Detroit and on the east side of the state.

Proud parents of Sarah, 5, and John, 3, Hudson and his  “rocket scientist” wife ran in the Grand Rapids Marathon on October 20 – Jen’s first marathon, and Hudson’s second, having run in Detroit in 2007; he also has completed a few half-marathons and triathlons.  

“I’m usually the guy in the back wondering what he got himself into,” he says with a smile.

He serves on the Board of the Duffy Daugherty Memorial Award, named for his grandfather, head football coach at Michigan State University from 1954-72.  

“Those were the glory days of Spartan football, and he was a great coach and a great human being. “I’ve been fortunate the past few years to serve on the board of directors for a football award and scholarship in his name,” Hudson says. “We’ve given the award to some of the biggest names in college football over the years, including Bobby Bowden, Eddie Robinson, Keith Jackson—and yes, even some folks from the school in Ann Arbor, like Bo Schembechler and Lloyd Carr.”