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The Michigan Court of Appeals has ruled that attorneys for a woman who sued prominent Metro Detroit personal injury attorney Mike Morse in a $10 million sexual assault civil suit can ask him more questions under deposition.

Morse had been accused of sexually assaulting Renee Swain of Novi at a Farmington Hills restaurant, according to a $10 million civil lawsuit filed last year in Oakland County Circuit Court. Swain accused Morse of allegedly grabbing her breast when they were posing was posing for a photo at the Lelli’s Inn on the Green.

Morse has denied the allegations. Swain set up Morse and may have a history of doing so with other men, attorney Deborah Gordon argued in a court filing. Included in the filing was a photo of a smiling Morse and Swain on the night of the alleged incident that showed Swain leaning into Morse with her hand on his chest.

Gordon downplayed the impact of the four-page ruling, while plaintiff lawyer Geoffrey Fieger called it "huge" for his client because he said he can ask Morse more questions about other accusers in deposition.

"It's kind of a down-in-the-weeds technical issue. It's a discovery skirmish. He's (Morse) already answered a bunch of questions. He can be asked some additional questions that Fieger's office wanted answered," Gordon said.

"Some of them will be able to be answered, some of them won't. But it's a deposition only, not for trial."

Fieger said he took this issue to the state Court of Appeals because Gordon opposed Morse being questioned about other sexual assaults of women "and the judge was going along with her."

"Just like in the Cosby case, other women may come in and testify against him," Fieger said. "That's a huge opinion."

Swain and four other women have filed lawsuits alleging sexual misconduct or unwanted touching by Morse in separate incidents. Morse — known for providing backpacks and school supplies for disadvantaged children — has denied all accusations.

Fieger said there's a 42-day stay and after that period he will be able to question Morse.

There's a motion against Swain for "perjuring herself at a deposition" about money she was receiving from a "male companion" and a pending motion to dismiss the case based "on there not being a legitimate claim," Gordon said.

Criminal charges have not been filed against Morse in the case. The Genesee County Prosecutor’s Office was assigned the case after Oakland County Prosecutor Jessica Cooper recused herself because Morse had held a political fundraiser for her.

lfleming@detroitnews.com

(313) 222-2620

 

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