From 1989 to the present, The Trainor Law Firm has quietly developed a reputation for being one of the leading forces in Michigan. Unlike his boastful counterparts, Trainor lets his reputation, tough demeanor, and results, do his advertising.
Christopher Trainor started this firm in downtown Detroit after practicing law at Neighborhood Family Legal Services, while attending The Detroit College of Law. His experience at Neighborhood Family Legal Services impacted him greatly, as his clients were underprivileged, had no money or resources, and they had no voice; or so they thought until they met Trainor. Trainor has always believed that just because another attorney doesn’t take on a client, that doesn’t mean that “I won’t, and I will help them out.” “I CARE ABOUT PEOPLE.” Even though he was offered a job at various law firms, he decided that he could do a better job for the clients he was representing if he had total control over the cases. Trainor felt that 99% of the attorneys out there had lost touch with and did not understand or care about their clients.
This was the beginning of Christopher Trainor & Associates. “It wasn’t pretty at all,” said Trainor. “My office was the size of a walk-in closet. It was a desk and two chars, and when you opened the door it smacked into the chair the clients sat in,” he said. “It was so small I had to go out in the hall to change my mind,” joked Trainor.
From these meager beginnings, Christopher Trainor & Associates has evolved into one of the most influential legal practices in the State of Michigan, specializing in civil rights and personal injury law. Trainor has fought governmental agencies; state, county, city, and local governments; insurance companies, police departments, hospitals, and major corporations to protect the rights of his clients that needed him most; and winning against these giant machines that too often trample on the rights of the people. “It wasn’t easy,” said Trainor, “but when you’re able to help a person that has been wronged during one of the worst moments in their lives, it makes all the difference in the world!” Trainor went on to say that, “You have to understand when I meet a client for the first time they usually feel there is no hope left. These people need my help and that is why I practice law. I’m going to even the playing field and then tilt it in my client’s favor.”
Trainor and his team of lawyers are extremely good at helping people in need; winning millions of dollars for their clients each year. Trainor said, “I have been extremely lucky and blessed with the best clients, lawyers, employees, mentors, family, and friends. Without them, none of this could have happened.”
Christopher Trainor & Associates has become so influential in Michigan that people from other states have sought out their experience. However as Trainor admits, “I take very few cases out of other states, as I have enough going on here in Michigan.” “I have built my reputation on providing the best legal representation possible,” said Trainor. His office manager, Susan Stepanski, said, “We definitely go through several lawyers and office staff before we find the right one for our organization. We only hire the highest quality of person to work with our team.” Trainor’s philosophy is that no one person is more important than the next. Each person working at this firm is an intricate part of the whole organization. Trainor says, “We are all equals. This goes for my clients also.” Trainor goes on to say that, “I am not your typical arrogant, egotistical, unapproachable attorney. My employees and clients are treated this way; but the opposition is not.”
Mr. Trainor’s “clients first” attitude has earned him a reputation of being a fighter for the people that other attorneys and even society has stopped fighting for. While it would be virtually impossible to list all of the successes that Mr. Trainor has given to his clients over the years, below is a brief synopsis of the various types of cases Mr. Trainor has handled both in the State of Michigan and across the United States.
-Police Misconduct/Unlawful Raids-
Imagine a husband and wife lying in bed while their little children were in the living room watching cartoons in their small, northern Michigan home; when all of a sudden the front door of the home is busted off its hinges, and an army of Michigan State Police troopers and other police officers storm into the home dressed in combat gear. There was no “knock and announce” and there was no time to respond while the officers had their guns blazing and cited in on the heads of the parents and their young children. Unfortunately, this is not some made-up fiction, but was a real life encounter that an average American family had with the police.
Once the officers were in the home and had handcuffed the residents, they then conducted an unlawful search of the home and needlessly destroyed the home and its furnishings. The search was based on a warrant that was stale, that was filled with false information, and was otherwise lacking any indicia of probable cause. Even more shocking is the fact that the Michigan State troopers had a Magistrate sign and approve the warrant who did not even possess a license to practice law in the State of Michigan.
In a rare and almost unheard of legal strategy, instead of the defendant state troopers filing a Motion for Summary Judgment (asking the Court to dismiss the case on legal grounds), Christopher Trainor filed a Motion for Summary Judgment on behalf of Plaintiffs, thereby requesting the Court to make various legal determinations in favor of his clients. Judge Gerald Rosen of the United States District Court for the Eastern District of Michigan ruled that the warrant to search the plaintiffs’ home was not supported by probable cause and that the state troopers were not entitled to qualified immunity because no reasonable officer in their position could have believed that probable cause existed to search the residence. The Court further entered summary judgment in favor of the plaintiffs on their Fourth Amendment unreasonable seizure claims and excessive force claims. This case is extraordinary in that you will be hard pressed to find a similar case to it, anywhere in the United States, where a federal court judge ruled in favor of a plaintiff and ruled that a search warrant was facially and legally invalid.
-False Arrest/False Imprisonment/Malicious Prosecution-
A police badge can be a symbol of honor or it can be a symbol of disgrace. In one particular police misconduct case handled by Christopher Trainor, police officers from the City of Detroit disgraced the police profession and tried to hide their unlawful and unconstitutional actions behind their badge. However, Mr. Trainor pursued justice for his client and exposed the officers for who they really were!
The case involved the shooting death of man in the City of Detroit. Although there were no witnesses to the murder and no evidence linking the client to the crime, Mr. Trainor’s client was arrested at his home, handcuffed, taken to the police station, and ultimately placed in a jail cell. Why? Simply because the police said he was a “witness” to the murder. The officer-in-charge of the murder case planted a known liar and “jailhouse snitch” in a cell near the client. Although Mr. Trainor’s client never admitted to committing the murder, the officer-in-charge coerced the jailhouse snitch into writing a completely false statement which stated that the client had confessed to the murder.
The Detroit police used the lies and knowingly false information from a jailhouse snitch to falsify an arrest warrant. The innocent client spent in excess of 15 months in jail for a crime he never committed. The shocking behavior of the police forced the client to endure the stress and pain of two criminal jury trials. On the third day of the first jury trial, the trial was dismissed at the request of the Wayne County Prosecutor. Then, before Mr. Trainor’s client could even leave the courtroom, he was re-arrested on the same murder charges despite no additional evidence having been uncovered. The client was tried a second time, in front of a different judge (which was the hope of the police), but the jury acquitted Mr. Trainor’s client of any criminal wrongdoing.
After the acquittal, a civil rights lawsuit was brought in federal court. Once again, truth prevailed and a federal court judge saw through the veil of lies and deceit that had been woven by the police. The Court determined that there was a question of fact as to whether probable cause existed to make an arrest; and as such, the client prevailed on his false arrest and malicious prosecution claims. The Court also allowed a Fourth Amendment excessive force claim to proceed to trial because during the interrogation of Mr. Trainor’s client by the officer-in-charge, the officer placed his gun on the table and threatened the client, who was handcuffed to the table, that he better tell him who committed the murder at issue. The officer then said he was going to “fuck” him up, and then stood to his feet and struck the client. And once again, doing what few attorneys have been able to do, Christopher Trainor was able to present and have the Court support a Monell claim against the City of Detroit alleging that it had a custom or policy of unconstitutional conduct. The case ultimately resolved by way of a significant monetary settlement.
-Inmate Rights/Deliberate Indifference to Medical Needs-
The rights of citizens are not only abused and violated in homes or on the streets of our cities, but in jails and correctional facilities across this country as well. Just because someone has been institutionalized in a correctional facility does not mean that they have lost their rights to humane treatment. The United States Constitution protects inmates from cruel and unusual punishment and from being treated with deliberate indifference; and it is these rights that Christopher Trainor has fought to protect time and time again.
In one particular case, Mr. Trainor represented a young and otherwise healthy man who was an inmate in the Carson City Correction Facility which was part of the Michigan Department of Corrections prison system. While outside in the prison yard on a scorching hot summer day, the inmate became dizzy, light-headed, complained of not being able to breathe, and was unsteady on his feet. Despite being advised of all of these obvious symptoms of heat stroke, the nurse told the inmate to drink fluids and lie down and rest in his cell (which was just as hot if not hotter than the temperature outside). Not surprisingly, the inmate’s health deteriorated rapidly and his speech became slurred, he began shaking uncontrollably, and then became completely non-responsive. The inmate was airlifted by helicopter for emergency treatment, but it was too late; and as a result of lack of care by the prison nurse, the inmate was in a “locked-in state” as a quadriplegic.
As is too often seen in these types of cases, jail medical staff simply do not care about the inmates in prisons and jails. However, Christopher Trainor does care and will fight for the rights of those who have been wronged. The United States District Court and the Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals both agreed that the nurse was not entitled to qualified immunity. The Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals ultimately determined that the nurse was aware of the risks associated with excessive heat, dehydration, and heat stroke; and although the nurse was in fact aware or should have been aware that serious risks accompanied heat-related illnesses, she ignored and/or acted with deliberate indifference when faced with those risks. The case ultimately achieved a very favorable monetary settlement.
-Inmate Rights/Eighth Amendment Excessive Force-
In another case where Christopher Trainor went to bat for an inmate housed in the Michigan prison system involved a corrections officer who maliciously and sadistically slammed a steel cell door on the inmate’s face with such force that the inmate had to receive emergency medical attention and received numerous stitches to put his face back together again. The senseless act of violence also caused the inmate to have serious and permanent damage to his eyesight. Unfortunately, this client was not the officer’s first victim, as the officer had previously been investigated for sexually assaulting a female inmate.
As is par for the course, the State of Michigan vigorously defended this rogue corrections officer and tried to blame the inmate for what happened. However, Christopher Trainor did not believe it and neither did a jury. Not afraid to try cases, Mr. Trainor took this Eight Amendment excessive force and Gross Negligence case all the way to trial where the jury awarded a sizable verdict in favor of the client.
-Inmate Rights/Deliberate Indifference
Unfortunately, it is too often the case that when a citizen walks behind the enclosed fence of a jail or prison, society forgets about them and jail personnel take advantage of these “forgotten ones.” However, Christopher Trainor has not forgotten them and has repeatedly stood up and fought for his clients who have found themselves as victims to unlawful state actions. In one such case, Mr. Trainor represented a client who had a long-standing history of epilepsy that was controlled only with medication. Upon entry into the jail, the client immediately notified jail staff of his history of epilepsy, his absolute need for medication to control his seizures, and the need for a lower bunk assignment. The client was initially assigned a lower bunk but when he was forced to transfer to a different cell, he was not given a lower bunk or his medication; thereby requiring the client to sleep in the upper bunk. Unfortunately, while napping in the upper bunk, the inmate suffered a seizure and fell off onto the hard cement floor below, causing him to sustain serious injuries. Once Mr. Trainor filed suit for this client, the defendants realized that they were in real trouble, and ultimately agreed to resolve the case for a significant amount of money.
Christopher Trainor has also represented numerous employees who have been given the short end of the stick by their employees. Mr. Trainor has brought lawsuits against employers under Michigan’s Whistleblower Protection Act where employees alerted their employers of dangerous and life-threatening issues and problems. Instead of being grateful, the employers terminated the employees for bogus and unfounded reasons. Once again, not being afraid of big insurance companies or silk-stocking defense firms and their armies of high-profile attorneys, Christopher Trainor fought for his clients and obtained millions of dollars on their behalf.
-Employment/Sexual and Racial Harassment-
While employers will be the first to say that the color of one’s skin, sexual orientation, or gender will make no difference on how an employee is treated, the vicious and unlawful actions taken against their employees speak louder than their words. Christopher Trainor has litigated numerous cases against private and governmental employers because of their violations of Title VII, hostile work environments, disparate treatment, retaliation, violations of the First Amendment, and violations of the Fourteenth Amendment Equal Protection Clause. Cases against governmental entities such as the State of Michigan, Michigan Department of Corrections, police agencies, townships and municipalities, and large national-chain box stores have been filed on behalf of Mr. Trainor’s clients resulting in hundreds of thousands of dollars paid.
While Christopher Trainor has held public employees’ feet to the fire for violating his clients’ constitutional and state-law rights, he has also vigorously represented public employees who have been done wrong by their public employers. One such case involved a female police officer who was employed by a small village police agency who over the years had received outstanding performance s evaluations and had a strong, positive relationship with her fellow officers. Unfortunately, her career and reputation as an excellent police officer came to a screeching halt after she issued a traffic ticket to a relative of a government official and reported disparate treatment of her by her supervisor. Instead of punishing the wrongdoers and praising the client for her courage to stand up and uphold the law, she was issued unwarranted disciplines, denied restricted duty for a work-related injury, had her probationary period extended, suffered other adverse employment actions, and was ultimately terminated. Christopher Trainor filed a lawsuit in federal court and alleged violations of his client’s First Amendment free speech rights and retaliation, violations of Title VII of the Civil Rights Act and Michigan’s Elliot-Larsen Civil Rights Act, due process violations, and various other claims. Despite trying to justify the employer’s unlawful actions and trying to use qualified immunity as a shield to protect them, the federal court judge denied the employer’s attempts to have the case thrown out and set the case for a jury trial. As Mr. Trainor continued to prepare the case for trial, Defendants agreed to resolve the matter for an amount that the client could not refuse.
-Employment/First Amendment Retaliation-
Christopher Trainor represented a northern Michigan police officer whose job was in seriously jeopardy, all because he complained to a superior officer that younger male police officers were targeting his teenage daughter by stopping her for no reason, and then would make sexual comments about her or make comments about how she looked “sexy.” After his complaints about the unlawful treatment of his daughter, and despite an impeccable career as a police officer, Mr. Trainor’s client curiously began to receive negative performance evaluations, unjust suspensions, and other completely unwarranted disciplines. Unfortunately, continuing to be employed as a police officer became unbearable.
Once again, the employer attempted to hide behind the myriad of defenses afforded to them in the law, but they did not work; as Christopher Trainor continued to fight for his client and exposed the unlawful employment practices that were occurring in the police department. Multiple attempts to get the case dismissed were made, but the employer was not successful; thereby once again, allowing another client to obtain a moral and economic victory.
-Out of State Legal Representation for Civil Rights Violations-
Attorney Trainor not only fights for clients located all across the State of Michigan, but he has taken on cases in other states as well. Two particularly egregious cases required Mr. Trainor to frequently travel to Mississippi and Kentucky.
In a Mississippi federal court, Mr. Trainor represented the estate of a young, unarmed black man who was shot at point blank range. Mr. Trainor exposed the lies told by the officers at the scene and revealed their inability to keep their stories straight, which is too often the case in fatal police shootings. And in fact, the physical evidence refuted the police officers’ testimony. The expert pathologist in the case testified that at the time the young man was shot and killed, his arms were in an upward position in an obvious sign of surrender. And finally a ballistics expert opined that the shape of the bullet’s entry into the decedent’s body totally contradicted the testimony of the police officers as to how the gun was discharged.
In another civil rights case, Christopher Trainor represented a Michigan resident who had been unlawfully jailed in the State of Kentucky. During his stay at the jail, the corrections officers were deliberately indifferent to the client’s medical needs and failed to monitor him as required, thereby allowing the young man to kill himself in his jail cell. Through his diligence and hard work during the discovery phase of the case, attorney Trainor was able to uncover and expose the corrections staff who lied on official jail documents and documented that they had monitored the inmate, when in fact video footage revealed that they had not checked on him. The case ended up resolving for one of the highest settlement awards against the Kentucky penal system.
–Representation for Clients Rejected by Other Attorneys—
It is not surprising to see some attorneys advertise the multi-million dollar settlements for cases they have handled. But as is too often the case, those cases are the “easy wins” or cases where the damages and liability are so clear, that the party at fault for causing the injury has no other realistic option other than to open their wallets and checkbooks and pay out. But over the years, Christopher Trainor has prided himself on taking cases that other attorneys have rejected and ultimately turning them into nuggets of gold.
One such client was involved in an unlawful traffic stop by police officers from the City of Detroit. During the stop, the client was hit in the mouth with an unknown object by one of the police officers, thereby causing a traumatic brain injury (“TBI”), back and neck injuries, and causing the client to incur unpaid medical bills. The client went to 5 other attorneys, and was turned down before seeking out legal representation from Christopher Trainor. These other attorneys who refused to take the case, presumably believing that the case would be too difficult to win, or that the monetary recovery would not be worth their time and effort. That was not the belief held by Mr. Trainor; as he was determined to seek and obtain justice for this client who had been the victim of police brutality. Refusing to back down and accept a pittance of a settlement, the client and Mr. Trainor took the case all the way through to a jury trial where a Wayne County jury awarded the client a multi-million dollar verdict.
In an out-of-state case, Christopher Trainor represented a young man who was severely beaten while an inmate in the Sarasota County Jail in Florida. Why? Because every other attorney the client called in Florida refused to take the case. But Christopher Trainor was not afraid. Mr. Trainor took on the case despite a hectic work and traveling schedule, and got the client the justice he deserved; justice that no one in the entire State of Florida was willing to fight for!
–Caring and Compassionate Legal Counsel–
Christopher Trainor treats every client with respect and endeavors to exceed not only his clients’ expectations, but to excel and go beyond the legal representation where other attorneys have stopped. Attorney Trainor recalls one specific client who contacted him in 2010 concerning a hit and run accident that occurred in 1988; at the time, the client was only 13 years old. The then 13 year old boy was riding his bicycle when a car hit and ran him over; leaving him lying unconscious and convulsing in the middle of the street. The young boy sustained a traumatic brain injury which resulted in a lifetime of seizures. The client’s mother then hired an attorney who settled this horrific car accident injury case for literally pennies. While that other attorney collected a paycheck and the insurance company got away with paying next to nothing, the client did not get the benefits that he was entitled to; that is until he hired attorney Christopher Trainor.
Before the ink on the retainer agreement was even dry, attorney Trainor began fighting for this now grown man; making sure that he got every single penny from the insurance company that he was entitled to and which had been stolen from him. Mr. Trainor has continued representing this injured client for years; ensuring that he has a safe home to live in; making sure that he gets the medical care that he needs and that the insurance company pays for it; and making sure that he gets the continuing home nursing care that he requires. Christopher Trainor even went above and beyond representing him for his auto accident injuries; but also represented him in social security hearings, to make sure that he received necessary social security benefits for the rest of his life.
Mr. Trainor also recalls a similar unfortunate story of a client whose prior attorney settled his auto accident case for almost nothing. The situation was so very sad, because the client had no money and was living in his car that wasn’t drivable in a vacant lot. Once again, Christopher Trainor stepped up to the plate and hit a home run for another client; and ensured that this client received nursing and medical care and social security benefits for life.
While the successes of Christopher Trainor could continue to be listed, it is very clear that Mr. Trainor is passionate for fighting for the rights of his clients. Unlike many other attorneys, Mr. Trainor does not just take the easy cases to obtain wins for his client; but he takes on the hard cases and obtains moral and economic victories for his clients