The Civil Division of the Office of the United States Attorney protects and enforces a variety of interests of the United States of America by defending against and affirmatively pursuing claims for money damages and declaratory and injunctive relief. Most often, the attorneys and staff of the Civil Division accomplish this important mission by litigating on behalf of the United States of America in the federal and state courts in the Western District of Michigan; frequently, however, the Civil Division resolves and so disposes of defensive and affirmative claims before or shortly after they are filed in court.
Defensive and Affirmative Litigation
Among the many types of defensive cases litigated by the Civil Division are: tort claims brought by people and companies for injuries allegedly caused by the actions of the federal government or its employees; employment discrimination complaints against agencies of the United States of America; challenges to the conduct and actions of federal offices in administering various statutory and regulatory programs; causes of action against federal employees charging violations of constitutional rights; challenges to immigration and deportation decisions; appeals of administrative decisions denying social security benefits; and claims by individuals and corporations about their tax indebtedness and assessments.
Among the many varieties of affirmative cases litigated by the Civil Division are: actions against individuals and corporations for making false statements and fraudulent representations to the United States of America; claims for the recovery of monies unlawfully or negligently gotten under various federally-funded programs, including Medicare [see “Health Care Fraud” page of this website]; civil rights challenges to the conduct of people and businesses who discriminate in employment, housing, or public accommodations on the basis of race, national origin, religion, and/or disability, among other characteristics; and lawsuits to redress the pollution of our nation’s lands, air, and waterways under various environmental statutes.
Financial and Bankruptcy Litigation
The Financial Litigation Unit (FLU) of the Civil Division is responsible for enforcing the criminal and civil monetary judgments entered by the United States District Court in favor of the federal government. Specifically, following the conviction and sentencing of individuals and corporations for various types of federal criminal conduct, the FLU collects court-imposed assessments, fines, and restitution amounts; fines paid by defendants are deposited into the Crime Victims’ Fund–out of which various types of victim-related assistance services and programs are supported nationwide, and restitution monies are returned directly to the actual victims of crime who have suffered economic losses [see “Victim-Witness Services” page of this website].
In the civil arena, the FLU collects monies from people and companies against whom judgment has been entered in favor of the United States of America, based on various types of negligent and purposeful misconduct [see description of affirmative litigation, above). The FLU also recovers funds due and owing to the federal government under various benefits programs, including delinquent educational loans and overdue corporate and personal loans; these monies are routinely returned to the budget of the United States of America and its many agencies for future allocations.
Similarly, the Civil Division enforces the financial interests of the United States of America in various types of liquidation and reorganization proceedings involving individuals and corporations seeking protection through the United States Bankruptcy Court. In this venue, the Civil Division routinely works to ensure that the legitimate claims of various federal agencies, including but not limited to the Internal Revenue Service, the Small Business Administration, the United States Department of Agriculture, and the United States Department of Housing and Urban Development, are protected in such a way that debts due and owing are paid, in part or in whole.
Frequently, the Civil Division will work closely with debtors and other creditors to assemble plans under which the remaining assets of the individuals or corporations are disbursed equitably or their debts are fully identified, organized, and paid in order of priority. Occasionally, the Civil Division will undertake “adversary” litigation in the United States Bankruptcy Court to obtain judicial rulings on the existence, nature, and scope of civil monetary obligations owed by debtors to the United States of America.
Other Enforcement Litigation
In addition to the wide variety of cases described above, the Civil Division engages in various other types of litigation, including representing employees of federal agencies summoned to testify or produce documents in state actions; petitioning for the enforcement of federal tax-related processes such as the compelled disclosure of taxpayer records and the entry onto taxpayer premises; protecting the lien interests of the federal government in the foreclosure of real estate by private lending institutions; and upholding administrative decisions prohibiting participation in the Food Stamp Program based upon fraud or other misconduct. In these and other ways, the staff of the Civil Division works diligently to ensure that the important interests of the citizens of the Western District of Michigan are promoted, protected, and preserved.
Staff Contact Information
The staff of the Civil Division consists of seven attorneys, along with three debt collection agents, two paralegal specialists, and four legal assistants. The attorneys and professional staff of the Civil Division routinely litigate in the United States District Courts and the United States Bankruptcy Courts sitting in Grand Rapids, Marquette, Lansing, and Kalamazoo.
Any questions or comments concerning the mission, function, and activity of the Civil Division should be directed to:
Chief, Civil Division
Office of the United States Attorney
Western District of Michigan
Post Office Box 208
Grand Rapids, Michigan 49501-0208
Telephone: (616) 456-2404
Facsimile: (616) 456-2510