4th woman sues Mike Morse over groping claim
A fourth woman has filed a sexual assault lawsuit against personal-injury attorney Mike Morse claiming that he grabbed her breasts during a company Christmas party in 2015.
In a civil lawsuit filed Tuesday in Oakland County Circuit Court, Jordan Smits, a former paralegal in Morse’s office, said she’s seeking $20 million in damages. In addition to Morse, his law firm, Michael J. Morse, P.C., is named in the suit under a claim of workplace sexual harassment and civil rights violation.
During the alleged incident, Smits claims that she was talking with two attorneys at the party when Morse came from behind her and groped her breasts without invitation. She immediately grabbed Morse’s arms and yanked them away, according to the lawsuit.
The alleged incident was witnessed by others in the firm who claimed they couldn’t intervene, said her attorney, Geoffrey Fieger. Fieger also represents three other women who filed sexual assault cases against Morse this month.
Morse’s attorneys filed motions Wednesday in response to two previously filed lawsuits, claiming that Morse has done nothing wrong and that Fieger is using the lawsuits as publicity for himself. Fieger did not do any due diligence regarding his clients before taking their cases, the motions allege.
“These motions begin to lay out the pattern being employed by Mr. Fieger in these completely frivolous lawsuits,” said Morse’s spokesman, John Truscott. “We have a lot more evidence and facts we’ll be presenting as this plays out. (Morse) has maintained that he’s done absolutely nothing wrong.”
Fieger claims the latest lawsuit is “remarkably consistent” with the previous three complaints.
According to the lawsuit, Smits reported the alleged sexual assault to an employee in the law firm’s human resources department in January 2016. Smits said the employee told her that “her number one priority was to protect Morse’s reputation,” according to the lawsuit.
After expressing concern to one of two attorneys who witnessed the alleged incident, according to the lawsuit, he responded, “What was I supposed to do, you know how Michael is.”
Smits said in February 2016 she emailed several supervising employees saying she was not comfortable working at the firm following the incident and that she was leaving.
Smits said that after she left, an employee said Morse would offer her two weeks pay if she signed a non-disclosure agreement. When she declined, the lawsuit alleges, she was told that Morse said she should be careful because Morse “knows a lot of people in the legal community and he could make it difficult for Smits to get a job.”
Smits’ sexual assault lawsuit is one of four filed against Morse this month. Last week, an unnamed Orchard Lake woman filed a $17.5 million civil lawsuit claiming that Morse grabbed her breasts while in a car in Miami in December. Also last week, Morse’s former employee Samantha Lichon, 25, of Hazel Park filed a $15 million civil lawsuit alleging Morse grabbed her from behind, groped her breasts and touched his groin to her rear side.
Earlier this month, a Novi woman, Renee Swain, filed a $10 million civil lawsuit claiming that Morse grabbed her breasts at a Farmington Hills restaurant, Lelli’s Inn on the Green in April.
Truscott said Fieger’s handling of these cases stems from Morse winning a substantial judgment for one of Fieger’s former clients.
“There’s ego involved here and a potential run for public office,” Truscott said. “Headlines are certainly a help. Fieger has gotten his headlines.”