Zachary C. LarsenZachary Larsen Clark Hill
Zachary C. Larsen
Zachary C. Larsen has litigated some of the most significant cases in Michigan during the past decade, including representing the State and its officials in the Flint water litigation, successfully defending against a Headlee Amendment claim and Administrative Procedures Act challenge to the $2.5 billion regulatory overhaul of the state’s lead and copper rule, and helping to save the state treasury $1.6 billion in claimed refunds in 50 consolidated business tax cases brought by out-of-state corporations under the Multistate Tax Compact.
Both a trial and appellate litigator, Zach served for eight years as an assistant attorney general on issues of environmental, tax, and administrative law. He has handled cases at all levels of both the state and federal judiciary—from presenting evidence at hearings in trial courts and administrative tribunals to arguing at the Michigan Supreme Court and U.S. Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit. Because of his litigation success, legal writing ability, and skilled oral advocacy in handling appeals, Zach was awarded the Attorney General’s “Excellence in Appellate Advocacy” award.
In his environmental law practice, Zach has been responsible for a wide variety of cases under Part 31 (water quality), Part 55 (air quality), Part 115 (waste management), Part 201 (remediation), Part 213 (underground storage tanks), Part 301 (inland lakes and streams), and Part 303 (wetlands) of Michigan’s Natural Resources and Environmental Protection Act, MCL 324.101 et seq., and has achieved such victories for his clients as obtaining one of the largest wetlands civil fines in state history and negotiating a multimillion-dollar resolution to a nuisance odor dispute. He has also litigated citizen suits under the Clean Water Act, the Safe Drinking Water Act, and CERCLA and can advise clients on their obligations and rights under federal environmental law.
While representing the Michigan Department of Treasury, Zach addressed problems ranging from tax nexus questions, manufacturer’s claims of industrial processing exemptions, and the definition of taxable “tangible personal property” under General Sales Tax Act and the Use Tax Act to multistate tax apportionment and certificated credits under Michigan’s various business taxes. He was also routinely tasked with disputes over the tax implications of technology, such as cloud computing, software, telecommunications, patented processes, and electricity.
Because he has also spent years working as a research attorney advising judges, Zach knows how judges think and can help you craft your best arguments and assemble your case to maximize your likely success. And his years of state government experience can help you navigate your controversy against a state agency.
When he is not solving clients’ legal problems, Zach enjoys taking advantage of Michigan’s lakes and forests, roaming the country in a minivan with his wife and four kids, coaching his kids' basketball, baseball, and soccer, being active in his church, and helping to shape his community in local politics.
- Achieved dismissal of civil rights and tort claims against former Governor and other state actors in Guertin v. Michigan, U.S. Dist. E.D. Mich. Docket No. 16-cv-12412 (issued June 5, 2017). Briefed and argued the appeal and achieved reversal of the district court’s denial of qualified immunity to agency heads. Guertin v. Michigan, 912 F.3d 907 (6th Cir. 2019) (dismissing MDHHS director and CME).
- Successfully defended the State’s $2.5 billion regulatory overhaul of lead-and-copper rule against declaratory action to invalidate rules raising Administrative Procedures Act violations and constitutional and statutory claims. Oakland Cty. Water Resources Comm’r v. Mich. Dep’t of Env’tl Quality, Mich. Ct. of Claims Docket No. 18-259-MZ.
- Filed $350 million parens patriae suit against engineering companies alleged to be responsible for the Flint water crisis and defended suit against motions to dismiss. Attorney General v. Veolia Water N.A., Gen. Cir. Ct. Case No. 17-107576-NM.
- Received favorable opinion holding that the City of Flint is not an “arm of the State” for purposes of jurisdiction under the Michigan Court of Claims Act based on Local Financial Stability and Choice Act, MCL 141.41 et seq. Collins v. City of Flint, Mich. Ct. of Claims Docket No. 16-115-MZ (issued Aug. 25, 2016). Upheld by Michigan Court of Appeals in Boler v. Governor, 324 Mich. App. 614 (2018).
- Participated in a multistate petition for review in the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit against the U.S. EPA challenging the Affordable Clean Energy Rule. American Lung Ass’n v. EPA, D.C. Cir. Docket No. 19-1140.
- Discounting Foreign Imports: Foreign Authority in Constitutional Interpretation and the Curb of Popular Sovereignty, 45 Willamette L. Rev. 767 (2009)
- The Egalitarian First Amendment: Its History and a Critique on the Grounds of Text, Rights, Negative Liberty and Our Republican Constitutional Structure, 31 N.C. Cent. L. Rev. 153 (2009)
- A Narrow Extension of “Good Faith” to Police Reliance on Settled Case Law: The Crossroads of Gant and Herring, 27 Thomas Cooley L. Rev. 249 (2010)