How a Michigan auto worker was swindled out of a worker’s comp case

Margaret Toure (Courtesy)
Margaret Toure (Courtesy)

Margaret Toure was trusting. The Michigan maintenance worker who worked for one of the top three U.S. automakers, General Motors, was injured on the job in Grand Blanc, Michigan.

“Both sides of my pelvis were cracked. My tailbone was chipped and both knees were injured,” Toure recalls of the diagnosis that has affected her for the past two decades. “I was an equipment cleaner.”

When she was injured, Toure was rushed to the hospital. During her one-week stay, she was contacted by her then-attorney’s secretary. The attorney came to her home two weeks later. Toure signed a blank retainer agreement, not knowing she was giving the attorney leeway to file a product liability case. She had never filed a worker’s compensation claim before and wasn’t informed of how the two interact. She placed her case solely in his hands.

According to AMAXX:

When a product – anything that is manufactured – fails to perform its intended function, and the failure of the product causes an injury, the person injured has a products liability claim against the manufacturer. When the product fails while being used by an employee causing a workers compensation claim, the workers compensation insurer can bring a subrogation claim (the right to recover) against the manufacturer.

Toure later visited the attorney’s office to sign an amended petition which listed her injury date of Sept 10, 1990. She became suspicious when she received a letter from the magistrate judge that listed her accident date as June 19, not in September when it occurred, and it listed her as an assembly line worker, not in the maintenance shop where she actually worked, so she filed a grievance against the attorney whom she believes purposely filed false documents. He also hired a psychologist to provide expert testimony that Toure abused marijuana even though the doctor who treated her determined she had no history of drug use.

“He did everything he could to ensure I lost my case. I didn’t understand until the case was closed,” says the now-senior who should be entering retirement.

Surprisingly, the attorney grievance board determined Toure’s case didn’t warrant an investigation; her case was closed. She received no worker’s compensation after that, but her injuries didn’t go away as fast as her case was closed. It was now seven months later.

“I wrote them again in February 2017 and they told me the case was closed 20 years ago and would remain closed. I have been fighting this case every year since 1992. I have been trying to get civil rights activists, including Jesse Jackson and Al Sharpton, to help me but no one will. It’s worse than a nightmare,” she says.

Toure has endured residual damage, physically and mentally. She’s had her hip replaced and a stint placed in her heart, and not to mention she has been under so much emotional stress. “They said there was no blood flowing to my hip or to my heart. Now the doctors want to perform a complete knee replacement surgery. I am refusing to get any more metal in my body.”

What would satisfy you considering this case is nearly two decades old?

“I would like my case to be heard. I would like to see this lawyer disbarred. I dismissed him and have the paperwork to prove it, but he continued to represent me without my knowledge in two cases. I have a copy of the check where he paid my doctor $35 for my medical records. He sent me a letter stating that he wanted to represent me during the appeal. I felt he and the magistrate judge were in cahoots. He violated many professional ethics codes.

“No one will take my case. Once an attorney reads the first page, they back off.” [They “back off” because the case is complicated with the alleged misconduct of the attorney and the judge.]

How has this affected your quality of life? Have you held another job since?

“No. Where my tailbone was chipped, there’s arthritis. I have been getting acupuncture treatments.”

So your case never made it to court?

“No. I also have a letter from Medicare that supports the fact that I should have been receiving worker’s compensation from General Motors which would have started in 1993.”

How would you advise people to respond to attorneys who seek them out?

“Do your investigation. Check to see if they have committed a crime. Don’t hire the first person who comes knocking at your door. I didn’t do my due diligence and investigate this attorney because I didn’t think I would lose my claim based on the number of injuries sustained. I believe he was paid to come to me. No one would pay an expert witness to testify against their client. My entire case was mishandled. I feel I was violated.”

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