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 Michigan’s lead and copper rule, and helping to save the treasury $1.6 billion in claimed refunds in 50 consolidated business tax cases brought by out-of-state corporations under the Multistate Tax Compact.
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. He 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 manufacturer’s claims of exemption and arguments over what constitutes “tangible personal property” under the 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, computer software, telecommunications, patented processes, and electrical transmission and distribution.
Zach also spent years working as a research attorney advising judges and understands how judges think. He 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 to navigate your controversy against a state agency.
- 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.
- 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.
- Briefed and argued 50 consolidated cases at the Michigan Court of Appeals concerning whether the repeal of the Multistate Tax Compact was permissible under the Michigan and U.S. Constitution. Won a favorable published decision saving the State an estimated $1.65 billion. Gillette Commercial Operations, N.A. v. Treasury, 312 Mich. App. 394 (2015).
- Defeated the related applications for leave to appeal to the Michigan Supreme Court. Gillette Commercial Operations, N.A. v. Treasury, 496 Mich. 960 (2016).
- Convinced the MSC to grant leave and drafted merits briefs on Detroit Edison Co. v. Treasury, 498 Mich. 28 (2015), addressing whether the transmission and distribution of electricity is exempt “industrial processing.” Argued at the Michigan Supreme Court. Won a partial reversal and received three votes for total reversal.
- Succeeded in both the trial and appellate courts in a dispute concerning the application of the definition of “tangible personal property” and of the “industrial processing” exemption to cell-phone and land-line telecommunications signals. MidAmerican Energy Corp. v. Dep’t of Treasury, 308 Mich. App. 362 (2014).
- Obtained emergency stay at the Michigan Court of Appeals of a court order compelling the sale of a $160 million insurance company, and convinced the court to grant interlocutory leave to appeal. GBIG Holdings, Inc v Director of Dep’t of Insurance and Financial Servs, Michigan Ct. of Appeals Docket No. 354182.
Other Representative Matters
- Filed industrywide suit on behalf of Michigan’s large livestock farmers challenging state regulations of Concentrated Animal Feeding Operations (“CAFOS”);
- Represented Part 307 delegated lake levels authority in class-action litigation related to the Edenville Dam failure and flooding of Midland, Michigan;
- Defended chemical company in the State of Michigan’s industrywide lawsuit against PFAS manufacturers and distributors;
- Boler v. Governor, 324 Mich App. 614 (2018) (addressing whether the emergency managers transform local units of government into “arms of the state”).
- International Business Machines, Corp. v. Dep’t of Treasury, 316 Mich App 346 (2016) (addressing law of the case and rule of mandate doctrines).
- AK Steel Holding Corp. v. Dep’t of Treasury, 314 Mich. App. 453 (2016) (addressing the application of the Multistate Tax Compact to the Single Business Tax Act).
- Kappen Tree Service, LLC v. Dep’t of Treasury, unpublished opinion per curiam of the Court of Appeals, issued Apr 26, 2016 (Docket No 325984).
- Ford Motor Co v Dep’t of Treasury, 313 Mich. App. 572 (2015) (addressing the industrial processing exemption as applied to test vehicles, attorney fees, and Revenue Act interest calculations).
- Ashley Capital, LLC v Dep’t of Treasury, 314 Mich App 1 (2015) (addressing carryforward credits under the Michigan Business Tax Act).
- Martin Sprocket & Gear, Inc. v. Dep’t of Treasury, unpublished opinion per curiam of the Court of Appeals, issued Oct 21, 2014 (Docket No 317760).
- Coventry Health Care, Inc. v. Dep’t of Treasury, unpublished opinion per curiam of the Court of Appeals, issued Oct 16, 2014 (Docket No 317389).
- Thomson Reuters (Tax and Accounting), Inc. v. Dep’t of Treasury, unpublished opinion per curiam of the Court of Appeals, issued May 13, 2014 (Docket No 313825).
- KC Transportation, Inc. v. Dep’t of Treasury, unpublished opinion per curiam of the Court of Appeals, issued July 9, 2013 (Docket No 310428).
- SPE Utility Contractors, LLC v. Dep’t of Treasury, unpublished opinion per curiam of the Court of Appeals, issued June 25, 2013 (Docket No 310885).
- Discount Tire Co. v. Dep’t of Treasury, 298 Mich App 367 (2012) (addressing the “returned goods” exemption), vacated in part at Discount Tire Co. v. Dep’t of Treasury, 494 Mich 875 (2013).
- Rovas, Its Progeny, and the Rule of Law, __ Mich Bar Journal __ (forthcoming Mar. 2021).
- 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).
- 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).