Kitch - Attorneys & Counselors
Food, Beverage and Petroleum Practice


Our Food, Beverage and Petroleum Practice attorneys represent a variety of national and international manufacturers, retailers, suppliers, and distributors of food, beverage and petroleum products.  We counsel our food, beverage and petroleum clients on a wide variety of issues, including commercial and contract matters, trade compliance, labor/employment issues, workers' compensation, trucking and automobile defense, including Michigan no-fault, construction, general insurance coverage, risk management, merger and acquisition transactions, insurance litigation and public policy matters.  We are members and leaders of many different trade associations relevant to our clients' industries, such as The Associated Food, Beverage and Petroleum Dealers and the Michigan Restaurant Association.  We are always up to date on our clients' ever changing business environment, issues and concerns and help them adapt seamlessly.

We focus on understanding our clients’ strategic business goals and helping them achieve those goals as efficiently as possible by taking a multidisciplinary approach. We have the expertise and knowledge to counsel and navigate our clients smoothly through the various legal pitfalls to avoid unintended legal consequences to other aspects of the clients' organizations.  When you hire the Kitch Firm, you are getting a team of business-oriented counselors that have the specific expertise to tackle virtually every relevant legal matter that your business may encounter cost efficiently and succinctly.  Unfortunately, litigation and disputes are a reality of doing business.  While we provide advice to prevent disputes whenever possible, we continue working with you when litigation is necessary or unavoidable.  

Our areas of expertise that have particular relevance to our food, beverage and petroleum industry clients include the following:   


Establishing and operating a business involves ever-present financial, operational and legal issues.  At the Kitch firm, we make it our goal to help our clients promptly resolve the legal issues--whether corporate, regulatory, or contractual--in a prompt and cost-efficient manner. We assist our food, beverage and petroleum companies in compliance issues, and structuring and negotiating manufacturing, distribution, vendor, and other supply chain agreements.  

Litigation and dispute resolution is a fact of life for everyone in business.  Accordingly, the Kitch Firm handles commercial disputes at all levels including trial. The nature of many commercial disputes can make them very sensitive.  A disagreement between a manufacturer and supplier or retailer is not good for anyone's business and can result in loss of an advantageous relationship and in bad publicity--both of which are bad alternatives for all parties.  For that reason, we think that litigation should be the exception and not the rule.  Using our credibility as litigators and our experience as finders of solutions, we focus on guiding our business clients to an early resolution of these matters, avoiding the undesired business and public relations repercussions that can occur if they should get out of hand.  Apart from litigating business disputes in court or binding arbitration, we represent clients in all venues and forums, and take a "value added" role in face-to-face negotiations, facilitation, mediation, mini-trials and non-binding arbitration processes.


Our services in labor issues, employment litigation and workers' compensation include handling all types of labor and employment disputes in all types of forums, including the courts, mediation panels, arbitration and administrative agencies.  The firm also guides each client through--and, as needed, participates with the client in--collective bargaining, contract administration, and grievance and arbitration proceedings.

The firm's extensive litigation experience, drafting skills, and knowledge of all state and federal laws affecting employers allows the firm to effectively counsel clients on work force polices and labor contracting.  Clients benefit from the firm's proactive approach as it assists in drafting and implementing human resource policies, work rules, and contracts.  This proactiveness avoids costly disputes before they arise and puts the client in a much better position if litigation or grievances occur.  

Whether the employer/company is self-insured, self administered or has insurance coverage, the Kitch firm attorneys offers the knowledge and expertise to address the ever-changing and often complex defense of workers' disability compensation claims for its clients that do business in Michigan.   The firm protects each client's interests with an integrated approach, which includes intense litigation readiness, education and a depth of attorney experience and knowledge.  The decision to try or settle a claim is always the sole prerogative of the client.  Nevertheless, the plaintiffs' bar recognizes the Kitch Firm as one that is always ready and willing to try cases, which helps to deter marginal cases. 

In addition, with the Kitch attorneys' reputation for being litigators who undergo thoughtful case preparation, it makes any resolution short of full trial a more realistic alternative--when the client chooses to take that route.  The firm developed an extensive roster of experts in the medical, vocational and investigative fields in order to provide the best defense possible.  We make it our business to know our client's business by conducting site inspections and by meeting and interviewing potential witnesses to fully assess and evaluate potential liability.


The Kitch firm attorneys take the multidisciplinary approach in handling and resolving all matters relevant to an employee related motor vehicle accident, including employment issues such as FMLA and ADA, PIP, post-acute care disability, workers compensation, and third party accident claims.  The Kitch Firm's auto liability attorneys are experts of the Michigan No-Fault Automobile Insurance Act and keep abreast of the interpretive case law, including the twists and turns of Michigan's ever-changing definition of the "serious impairment" threshold.  Additionally, our attorneys in Ohio and Illinois also have extensive trial experience in Trucking and Auto claims.  Since litigation in Ohio and Illinois can often times be costly and drawn out due to the heavy focus on the lengthy discovery process, the Kitch firm's Ohio and Illinois-based attorneys pay particular attention to streamlining the litigation process and have had significant success in utilizing a variety of alternative dispute resolution options to resolve matters including mediation, arbitration, as well as early settlement discussions in appropriate situations.  With that in mind, in many situations cases simply need to be litigated and presented to a jury for resolution and the Kitch firm's Ohio and Illinois-based attorneys always strategize with that possibility in mind.

The Kitch firm attorneys have represented a variety of commercial carriers in both major personal injury and property damage litigation in various state and federal courts in MI, OH, and IL, working directly for fleet owners, as well as through commercial insurers and third-party administrators.  Whether involving the impact of newer Hours of Service regulations, or changing Transportation Safety Administration requirements, we work hard to keep current on the continuously evolving trends, laws and regulations that affect carrier operations and litigation exposures.  Increasing focus through post-acute care involvement with the Trucking Industry Defense Association and the Transportation Lawyers Association and other industry groups, the firm has created rapid response teams, including accident scene investigators and criminal defense counsel, so that insurers, carriers and their drivers can get information and advice when needed, where needed at any time, which could help significantly mitigate liability and financial exposure when the case is litigated.

The specialized nature of these claims, and the high exposures created, require litigation defense counsel that are well versed in the arena.  With extensive medical and technical litigation experience, as well as interstate offices in Detroit, Chicago and Toledo, we are both professionally and geographically positioned to respond to that need. 


With recognized expertise in construction contracting and litigation, the Kitch Firm can assist in drafting and enforcing contracts as well as investigating and resolving claims and payment disputes.  The goal of contract drafting is dispute avoidance, and we exercise great care in compiling contract documents that accurately reflect the roles and expectations of the parties. We also actively participate in dispute resolution processes to reach the most economical conclusion.  Whether the forum is litigation, arbitration or another form of Alternative Dispute Resolution, lawyers from the Kitch firm have participated as advocates, mediators and decision makers on construction matters of all sizes from small, commercial developments to large, multi-phase projects in higher education, power generation and health care.  Whether the client participates in the construction process as an owner, contractor or vendor, the Kitch firm has the ability to provide guidance and counsel.


The Kitch Firm has long been recognized by insurers, insurance agents and large insurance purchasers for its ability to capably meet all these criteria and more.  From the first inkling of a coverage dispute, through the reservation of rights letter, non-waiver agreements, and coverage denial letter stage, and into the litigation or arbitration of direct and declaratory actions, the firm provides enthusiasm, creativity, initiative, and positive direction to what many other lawyers dismiss as an area of the law that is just too boring and complicated to give their attention.    

Based upon its complex litigation experience and its extensive knowledge of insurance and risk management--including service by firm members on insurance company boards--the Kitch firm helps its clients manage and litigate a wide variety of risks and insurance types. The types of policies we have addressed include:  professional liability, errors and omissions liability, general liability, property, automobile liability, director and officer liability, and life, disability and health (including representation in third party administrator issues).  

In addition, the Kitch Firm counsels its petroleum industry clients in matters and issues arising out of Brownfield, Clean Air Act (CAA), Clean Water Act (CWA), Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation and Liability Act (CERCLA), Environmental Protection Act (NREPA), Leaking Underground Storage Tank Amendments (LUST)(MUSTFA), Michigan Act 307 and Occupational Safety and Health Act (OSHA), including gas pump leak/Benzene cases. 


In the face of unrelenting claims and repeated expenses of litigation, it sometimes becomes necessary to attack the issues at their core. We have been successful addressing the underlying laws which create the basis for claims and attendant litigation in some cases by doing away with the ability to bring particular claims or limiting the recovery and means of recovery to the extent that in some cases, such issues largely "go away" for entire industries. Examples include our work on legislation affecting medical malpractice, products liability and auto liability. 

Mark Sesi
Mt. Clemens
T (586) 493-4458

Gregory Drutchas
T (313) 965-7930

Karen Berkery
T (313) 965-7448

Mark Wisniewski
T (313) 965-7317

John Sier
T (313) 965-2915

John Wasung
T (419) 243-4006

Timothy Groustra
Mt. Clemens
T (586) 493-4413

Michael Watza
T (313) 965-7983