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Robert G. Chaklos, Jr. 
Executive Partner
Construction Practice Group

Troy
Phone: (248) 851-9500, Ext. 2461
Direct Phone: (248) 539-2824
Fax: (248) 251-1811
Email: rchaklos@secrestwardle.com

 

Robert Chaklos, Jr. is an Executive Partner with the firm, one of just four attorneys who originally were promoted to this new position within the firm, in January 2010.  Mr. Chaklos has been a member of the firm for over 30 years and during the majority of that time, has specialized in defense litigation in the area of Construction Law.  Mr. Chaklos represents corporate defendants in personal injury cases, construction defect, and commercial corporate matters.  He is leader of the Firm's Construction Practice Group, which is limited solely to the defense of construction clients.

 

Mr. Chaklos is committed to staying on top of the most recent construction-related Appellate Court decisions, and in an effort to keep his clients informed, he frequently conducts seminars on all aspects of construction litigation. These seminars are intended to provide a clear understanding of all construction theories of liability created by the Michigan Appellate Courts, as well as decisions concerning the Risk Allocation tools of Indemnity and Insurance.

 

Mr. Chaklos has represented numerous general contractors and construction managers throughout Michigan, including Walbridge Aldinger, Turner Construction, Midwest Construction, and Barton Malow.  Barlow Malow is the largest general contractor/construction management firm in the state, and Mr. Chaklos was the exclusive attorney representing Barton Malow for the last 25 years. 

 

Trials and Favorable Settlements

 

Mr. Chaklos has successfully defended Barton Malow, with numerous dismissals by Summary Disposition, defeating claims of Common Work Area, which must be established for general contractor liability.  Mr. Chaklos successfully defended Barton Malow at trial in the upper part of Michigan where Plaintiff was injured during a construction project where a hospital was being constructed.  Plaintiff fell and fractured his back, resulting in permanent and serious disability for a young father of multiple children.  Barton Malow received a No Cause while the hospital received a verdict for $1,600,000. 

 

Mr. Chaklos defended a large construction company that specialized in removing and installing fire brick and other refractory material in furnaces in steel mills around the world.  This construction company had built a five story zinc refractory furnace in a distillation plant in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, which exploded in 2012, leaving two workers who were burned to death, and a third worker was confined to a wheelchair for the rest of his life.  After 40-plus depositions were taken, and after a number of engineering experts had been retained, the case went to trial with the Plaintiffs maintaining their $18,000,000 demand, which never changed from the time Plaintiffs’ Complaint was originally filed.   Plaintiffs’ expert pathologist provided undisputed evidence of conscious pain and suffering, that both of the decedents crawled 15’ towards the floor vent, to breathe smokeless air before they were burned to death.  Their charred bodies were found at the floor vent, and photographed in that position as well.  However, Plaintiffs’ engineering expert could not refute the opinion of the Defendants’ expert in terms of the lack of evidence to support Plaintiffs’ theory as to causation.  After a week of trial, all three Plaintiffs settled for less than 20% of their demand. 

 

Mr. Chaklos also defended the largest steel plant in the State of Michigan, in litigation that resulted from an explosion within the steel plant, which resulted in 14 deaths that were caused by numerous fireballs that were created by the explosion.  The steel plant was also owned by one of the big three auto companies in the United States.  Although the auto company settled all of the death cases, they looked to Mr. Chaklos’ client to indemnify them.  Although Mr. Chaklos was successful in fending off the indemnity claims, 14 other injured Plaintiffs filed suit, including a number of workers who had confirmed PTSD.  After over 30 depositions were taken, including multiple engineering experts retained by Plaintiffs’ counsel, and also by the Defendant.  After over a month of trial, this case was settled for a small fraction of Plaintiffs’ initial demand approaching $10,000,000. 

 

As the years have progressed, Mr. Chaklos has expanded his practice and expertise to defending clients involved in all aspects of professional liability including accounting and legal malpractice, employment law, and commercial and business transaction litigation. This expansion has allowed Mr. Chaklos to specialize in growing areas of litigation that his clients currently face. 

 

Mr. Chaklos received his Juris Doctor from Thomas M. Cooley Law School (Cum Laude, 1981) and his Bachelor of Arts Degree from Michigan State University (Magna Cum Laude, 1978).  He was admitted to the State Bar of Michigan in 1982 and was subsequently admitted to practice law before the United States District Court, Eastern District of Michigan in 1982.

 

Mr. Chaklos is a member of the following associations:

  • American Bar Association

  • Oakland County Bar Association

  • State Bar of Michigan (Negligence Law and Construction Law Sections)

  • Association of General Contractors of Greater Detroit and Michigan

  • DRI


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