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Steven F. Stapleton


Grand Rapids

200 Ottawa NW
Suite 500
Grand Rapids, MI 49503
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Fax: 616.608.1169
J.D., cum laude, University of Detroit Mercy School of Law, Detroit, Michigan, 1994
B.A., Grand Valley State University, Allendale, Michigan, 1991, Political Science
State Bar Licenses
Court Admissions
U.S. Court of Appeals, 6th Circuit
Supreme Court of Michigan
Michigan Court of Appeals
U.S. District Ct., E.D. of Michigan
U.S. District Ct., W.D. of Michigan
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Steven F. Stapleton


Steven F. Stapleton has extensive experience in commercial litigation, including complex breach of contract claims, business ownership disputes, minority oppression actions, labor and employment litigation (including the enforcement of non-compete agreements), and a variety of specialized municipal litigation.

He has tried cases before both state and federal courts and successfully argued before the U.S. Court of Appeals and both the Michigan Court of Appeals and Michigan Supreme Court. He represents clients in arbitrations and other forms of alternative dispute resolution. He has represented numerous national, regional, and local companies and municipalities in a variety of matters, in Michigan and other states.

He also serves as General Counsel to the Michigan Amateur Hockey Association and is a member of the USA Hockey Legal Council. He serves as special counsel to the Texas Amateur Hockey Association and Utah Amateur Hockey Association. He is familiar with the obligations under state and federal laws related to the sports entity and often assists his sports related clients on corporate governance and restructuring, contract review and drafting, negotiations and employment related issues. Steve also has extensive experience in implementing and monitoring comprehensive background screening programs for sports organizations and conducting sensitive investigations on behalf of the sports entity related to allegations of abuse or potential ethics violations.

Publications & Speaking Engagements

  • “The Art of The Deal: Building and Financing Sports Arenas and Entertainment Venues,” ABA Section on State and Local Government Law, Spring Symposium, 2015
  • “Government In The Workplace, Of The Workplace, And For The Workplace: Who Can You Hire, What Can They Say About You, What Can You Do About It, And When Do You Have To Pay Them,” ABA Section on State and Local Government Law, Fall Council Meeting, 2014.
  • "Legal Update, Michigan Concussion Legislation,” Michigan Amateur Hockey Association Annual Meeting, 2014
  • "Financial Challenges to Local Government CLE,” ABA Section on State and Local Government Law Fall Council Meeting, 2013
  • “Emergency Manager Laws as an Alternative to Bankruptcy in Local Government CLE,” ABA Annual Meeting, 2013
  • "Legal Consideration in National Governing Body (NGB) Compliance and Governance," University of Michigan Sports Law Society, Going for the Gold Sports Law Symposium, 2012
  • "Non-Profit Corporation/BestFinancial PracticesLegal Updates for Local Associations," Michigan Amateur Hockey Association Annual Meeting, 2012
  • "Non-Profit Corporation/BestFinancial PracticesLegal Updates for Local Associations," Michigan Amateur Hockey Association Annual Meeting, 2011
  • "Adventures in City Management, The Right to Push the Send Button is Not Unlimited/Anonymous Internet Authors" Iowa City/County Management Association (IaCMA), 2011
  • "The New Letters to the Editor and Anonymous Internet Authors," ICMA 96th Annual Conference, President's Colloquium, 2010
American Bar Foundation, Fellow 2005-present
Litigation Council of America, Fellow, 2009-present
Best Lawyers in America, Commercial Litigation, 2015 & 2014
Michigan Super Lawyers, Rising Star, General Litigation, Government/Cities/Municipalities, Civil Litigation Defense, 2009
American Bar Association, Council Member, State and Local Government Section, 2013-Present; Committee Coordinator, 2015-Present; Chair, Government Operations Committee, 2012-2015
State Bar of Michigan
Grand Rapids Bar Association
Sports Lawyers Association
Michigan Amateur Hockey Association, General Counsel, 2006-present
USA Hockey, Legal Counsel, 2006-present; SafeSport Screening Appeal Committee, 2012-present; Legal Council Affiliate Agreement Compliance and Audit Committee, 2012-2014; Legal Council League Sanctioning Committee, 2012-2014

The Split Ring sculpture, by Clement Meadmore, will return to downtown Grand Rapids in June 2016. It originally sat outside the Frey building before being moved to Woodland Mall. The sculpture is now returning to downtown after almost 50 years. Steve Stapleton and Ingrid Jensen worked on the negotiations and contracts to bring this iconic piece back to the heart of downtown.


Represented a NGB on the purchase of a multi-purpose training facility. It was a complex project - one that included real estate, public finance, liquor license, sports and entertainment and other business-related matters.

Tags: Sports

Represented a public safety communications consortium in an action to vacate a significant arbitration award regarding a dispute with a contractor retained to implement an integrated automated public safety system. The District Court agreed with our arguments that the arbitrator exceeded his authority and vacated the arbitration award. The U.S. Circuit Court for the Sixth Circuit affirmed the District Court's opinion and order. 

Successfully argued to the Michigan Supreme Court that the termination of a joint tenancy caused solely by the death of the other joint tenant is not a transfer of ownership that uncaps the property taxes under the General Property Tax Act (GPTA).

Successfully obtained summary judgment for the defendant in a premises liability action claiming a significant head injury and substantial monetary damages that was removed to federal court based on diversity of citizenship. The District Court held that the accumulation of ice and snow on the retailer's roof was an open and obvious danger under Michigan law. 

Successfully argued to the Michigan Supreme Court that the offer of judgment rule (MCR 2.405) did not apply to a monetary settlement offer in return for a quitclaim deed in a quiet title action because said offer was not a "judgment for a sum certain" under MCR 2.405.