Righting wrongs Personal injury lawyer goes to bat for victims


By Sheila Pursglove
Legal News

During his first year of law school, Vince Colella clerked for a prominent personal injury lawyer where he worked on several serious injury and death cases, and met clients and their families.

“Their struggles and hardships resonated with me and I immediately knew I wanted to be the voice of victims,” he said.       

Now a successful personal injury trial lawyer himself, Colella has handled many high profile cases including the shooting death of a 19-year-old boy by Warren police officers and an apartment fire in a Southfield complex causing the death of two women and their children. He also handled an assault and battery case against a reality TV producer in Hollywood.

A founding partner and shareholder of Moss & Colella, P.C., in Southfield, Colella currently is representing the family of a man who was murdered in the Wayne County Jail. 

“My client was incarcerated on a misdemeanor offense and was housed with another inmate charged with a violent felony, who suffered from serious mental illness,” he said. “After defeating the county’s motion for summary judgment, the 6th Circuit Court of Appeals upheld the trial court’s decision to allow the case to proceed to trial. I’ve been fighting for the family for nearly five years and look forward to trying the case later this year.”    

Colella also is investigating the case of Janet Wilson, a 31-year-old woman who was shot and killed by a Dearborn Police officer in January.

“A preliminary lawsuit has been filed against the city of Dearborn for its failure to comply with our FOIA requests for the investigation, including the dash cam videos and 911 audio dispatch transmissions,” he said.  “We anticipate a judge will hear our motion seeking the release of the audio and video within the next couple of months.”

A former member of the Executive Board for the Michigan Association For Justice (formerly the Michigan Trial Lawyers Association) for more than 20 years Colella has handled and won cases in state and federal courts in Michigan, Ohio and California.

His extensive trial experience and expertise includes automobile negligence, police brutality and misconduct, premises liability, sexual assault, construction and trucking accidents, insurance disputes, sexual harassment, discrimination and wrongful death. Last year, he and his partner David Moss collected more than $10 million for their clients.   

Named among the top one percent  of auto accident lawyers, Colella is living out a dream sparked in high school, when he started reading books about lawyers.

“I became fascinated with the Grisham novels — especially, how the stories would play out in the courtroom,” he said. “I knew that’s where I wanted to spend my career.”     

An alumnus of Detroit Mercy Law, Colella after graduation worked at an international talent agency in Los Angeles.

Returning to Michigan, he spent a couple of years with a law firm in Southfield, before founding Moss & Colella, P.C. in 1997, a personal injury trial firm with a focus on catastrophic tort claims including, wrongful death, automobile negligence, excess force, employment discrimination and civil right violations.   

Colella finds his undergraduate degree in psychology from Michigan State University very useful, especially with cross-examination of witnesses and selecting juries.      
“For example, you would expect a Type A person to react differently to certain questions than a more passive individual,” he noted. “I feel my background in psychology allows me to recognize the different personalities and tailor my approach.”    

A member of the Detroit, Oakland, Michigan and American Bar Associations, Colella is certified as a mediator — now called a case evaluator — and regularly hears cases for the Oakland County Circuit Court Mediation Program.        

While nearly 95 percent of all cases will result in settlement, parties are usually reticent about conceding, he noted.

“Mediation is important because it promotes good faith discussions about a particular dispute,” Colella said. “It allows me an opportunity to meet with the lawyers and point out the strengths and weaknesses of their cases. This usually leads to the lawyers softening their positions and resolving the case for their clients. That being said, there are many cases that simply have to be tried before a jury.”         

In addition to his law practice, Colella founded a corporate benefits company in 2003 specializing in providing health care insurance to local and national companies.
Today, BSI Corporate Benefits represents more than 100 companies in 11 states.

“Our business model is unique in that we not only provide insurance, we also provide access to legal services for the company employees,” he explained.    

He also is president of 5th Down, LLC, a firm involved in legal software product development and marketing.   

The West Bloomfield native still lives in his hometown, with his wife and two sons, ages 4 and 13, and is a big supporter of the Motor City.   

“I love the reputation the people of Detroit have built for being tough, gritty and determined,” he said. “The resurgence of the city is inspiring.”     

A 3rd degree black belt in the martial arts, Colella was a former assistant coach and player with the Detroit Tradesmen Rugby Football Club, and spent six years as a player and club captain of the University of Michigan Rugby Club.

He has played rugby in seven different countries throughout Europe, Canada and the West Indies.     

“I was playing rugby in Wales when a gentlemen and former player told me, ‘Rugby doesn’t build character, it reveals it,’” he said. “The same holds true of being in a courtroom.”