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The Civil Division

           The Civil Division represents the United States, its agencies and employees in both defensive and affirmative civil litigation in federal and state courts located within the Western District of Michigan.  It also handles a variety of miscellaneous civil cases including bankruptcies, subpoenas to federal officials and agencies, summons enforcement proceedings, and foreclosure litigation in which the United States has a lien interest.

Defensive Litigation

           Civil Division Assistant U.S. Attorneys defend federal government parties from claims in a wide variety of cases.  For example, these defensive cases include: tort claims brought under the Federal Tort Claims Act for injuries allegedly caused by the negligence of the federal government or its employees; claims by current or former federal employees alleging discrimination in federal employment; challenges under the Administrative Procedures Act to decisions of federal agencies in administering various statutory and regulatory programs; complaints against individual federal officers for alleged violations of constitutional rights; challenges to immigration and deportation decisions; appeals of decisions denying Social Security benefits; suits for the release of records under the Freedom of Information Act; and claims challenging tax indebtedness and assessments.

Affirmative Litigation

           The Civil Division also investigates and brings civil actions against individuals and corporations who defraud federal agencies and programs, commit civil rights violations, or break federal environmental laws.  Most of the fraud cases are brought under the federal False Claims Act and many involve health care fraud, procurement fraud, mortgage fraud, or Social Security fraud.  Some of the fraud cases are initiated by private citizens, who can file whistleblower suits on behalf of the United States in appropriate circumstances.  Our affirmative litigation team also works to hold accountable those who illegally discriminate on the basis of race, national origin, sex, religion, or disability – among other characteristics – through lawsuits to enforce federal civil rights laws such as the Fair Housing Act and Americans with Disabilities Act.  Finally, we use civil litigation to enforce federal environmental laws including the Clean Air Act and Clean Water Act, among others.

Bankruptcy Litigation

           The Civil Division represents the financial interests of the United States in various types of bankruptcy proceedings involving individuals and corporations seeking bankruptcy protection in the United States Bankruptcy Court.  Our staff and attorneys work to ensure that the legitimate claims of federal agencies are protected in a way that debts are paid, in part or in whole.  The Civil Division works closely with debtors and other creditors to assemble plans in which remaining assets are fully identified, organized, and paid in order of priority.  We also undertake or defend against “adversary” litigation to obtain judicial rulings on the existence, nature, and scope of debts owed to the United States.

Other Civil Litigation

           In addition to the wide variety of cases described above, the Civil Division also represents federal employees and agencies subpoenaed for testimony or documents; petitions for enforcement of federal tax-related processes such as disclosure of taxpayer records and entry onto taxpayer premises; and protects the lien interests of the United States in foreclosure proceedings brought by private lenders.

           The Financial Litigation Unit, which was formerly within the Civil Division, is supervised by the Criminal Division. The Financial Litigation Unit uses a variety of tools, including civil litigation, to enforce both criminal and civil monetary judgments in favor of the United States; to collect and distribute court-imposed fines, assessments, and restitution; and to recover funds owed to the federal government under various benefits programs, including delinquent educational, corporate, and personal loans.

Contact Information

           The staff of the Civil Division consists of seven attorneys, two paralegal specialists, and four legal assistants.  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

Updated January 14, 2016

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