Erica J. Shell focuses her litigation practice on the issues that arise during real property acquisition and development, including environmental enforcement and compliance, remediation, corrective action, environmental due diligence, and tax incentives and financing. Her clients include finance companies, banks, real estate investors, municipalities large and small, and various other corporate commercial litigants.
Ms. Shell specializes in navigating the space between litigation and economic development, with a focus on environmental challenges that clients face throughout the course of real estate transactions. This interdisciplinary approach affords clients both continuity and cost savings in the event of litigation. She counsels clients on issues including permitting, regulatory compliance, environmental risk and incentive programs, and the real property tax exemption process.
Ms. Shell has represented municipal clients in matters ranging from misdemeanor criminal cases to large-scale basement flooding class actions. She served for two years as the Assistant City Attorney for the City of Grosse Pointe Park, Michigan. During law school, she worked for the City of River Rouge, Michigan City Attorney’s Office.
In law school, Ms. Shell interned for the Honorable Nancy G. Edmunds of the United States District Court for the Eastern District of Michigan, and served as managing editor of The Journal of Law in Society. She was a member of a team that won the 2015 David Sive Award for Best Brief Overall at the Jeffrey G. Miller Pace National Environmental Law Competition. She was a brief writer and oralist on Wayne State’s ABA National Moot Court team, and placed in the top ten oralists in the Midwest Region.
She is a member of the Detroit Bar Association (Barristers Board of Directors 2018-present; Education Committee Co-Chair 2018-19; Barristers Board Vice President 2019-20; Barristers Board President 2020-21), the Federal Bar Association, and the Detroit Regional Chamber of Commerce (Energy & Environment Committee). She is the recipient of the 2019 Barrister of the Year Award, which honors a Barristers board member who as exhibited a special commitment to service.
She is active with several Detroit-based charities, including service as a volunteer mentor with VIP Mentoring, as a member of the Angel Tree Committee for Matrix Human Services, and as a member of the Young Donor Committee for Loyola High School.
In her free time, Ms. Shell is an amateur marathon runner with a personal best of 2:50.
Honors, Awards and Recognition
- The Best Lawyers in America: Ones to Watch 2022, Commercial Litigation
- DBusiness Magazine “Top Lawyers” 2021-2022, Environmental Law
- Detroit Bar Association Barristers “Barrister of the Year” (2019)
Civic, Cultural, and Community Activities
- VIP Mentoring, Volunteer Mentor
- Matrix Human Services, Angel Tree Committee Member
- Loyola High School, Young Donor Committee Member
- Volunteer Coach, Wayne State University Moot Court Team – National Energy & Sustainability Moot Court Competition
- Detroit Bar Association
- Detroit Bar Association Barristers Board of Directors, 2018-present
- Board President, 2020-21
- Board Vice President, 2019-20
- Education Committee Co-Chair, 2018-19
- Federal Bar Association-Eastern District of Michigan Chapter
- Detroit Regional Chamber of Commerce
- Energy & Environment Committee Member
- “The Final Auer: How Weakening the Deference Doctrine May Impact Environmental Law,” 45 ELR 10954, October 2015
- “Petcoke: How an Outdated and Inconsistent Regulatory Framework Defeats Environmental Justice in Detroit,” Michigan Environmental Law Journal (Vol. 33, No. 3, Spring-Summer 2015)
- Counseled clients on managing environmental risk in real estate and M&A transactions, including under CERCLA and Michigan’s Part 201 requirements.
- Counseled client on impact of historical bankruptcy and corporate restructuring events on existing environmental liability under CERCLA.
- Represented a plastics manufacturer in a toxic tort action brought by a former employee, resulting in a favorable settlement.
- Negotiated a favorable settlement for an insurer faced with a breach of contract claim by an insured arising from the insured’s alleged arson of the property.
- Handled numerous interpleader matters to determine proper payment of life insurance proceeds in state and federal court.
- Represented insurers in defense of claims for insurance benefits, including claims for disability insurance coverage and ERISA claims.
- Obtained a ruling from the Michigan Tax Tribunal in favor of the taxing authority in a valuation dispute for a public golf course ultimately valued at $2 million, over ten times the amount sought by the taxpayer.
- Successfully defended a consumer finance company in a variety of Fair Credit Reporting Act and Truth in Lending Act cases in state and federal courts.
- Obtained summary judgment in favor of a foreign university in litigation brought by a former student alleging violations of the Americans with Disabilities Act. Guess v. St. Martinus Univ., et al., 2021 WL 1387784 (E.D. Mich. Apr. 13, 2021).
- Successfully represented a multinational fast food brand in seven breach of commercial lease agreement actions against a franchisee, and related eviction proceedings.
- Represented a general contractor in multi-day arbitration on breach of contract claims brought by a subcontractor.
- Obtained summary judgment in favor of a pharmaceutical company on claims brought by a beneficial shareholder under the Michigan Business Corporations Act based on the shareholder’s failed attempt to assert dissenter’s rights during a merger. Summary judgment was subsequently affirmed by the Michigan Court of Appeals. Harkins v. Sun Pharm. Indus., 2019 WL 6977838 (Mich. Ct. App. Dec. 19, 2019).
Pro Bono Matters
- Secured the dismissal of a lawsuit brought by a marihuana dispensary against a local community organization arising from the group’s decision not to support the dispensary’s request for a variance at public Zoning Board of Appeals meetings.
- Negotiated a favorable settlement on behalf of an inmate with the Michigan Department of Corrections for claims arising from the MDOC’s failure to accommodate the client’s hearing impairment.
- 12/13/202169 Bodman Attorneys Included in DBusiness Top Lawyers 2022
- 08/19/202123 Bodman PLC Attorneys Listed In Best Lawyers: Ones to Watch 2022
- 02/09/2021Bodman PLC Admits Four New Members
- 10/30/202076 Bodman Attorneys Included in DBusiness Top Lawyers 2021
- 07/27/2020Bodman Attorney Erica Shell Elected President of DBA Barristers Board of Directors
- Wayne State University Law School, J.D., summa cum laude, Order of the Coif
- University of Detroit Mercy, M.A.
- Vanderbilt University, B.A., magna cum laude, Phi Beta Kappa