geometrical border

‘Access to Justice’ Is Only Possible When Courts Recognize Need for Jury Trial

November 3, 2022

This article was first published in the Detroit Legal News on November 3, 2022.

A. Vince Colella
Moss & Colella P.C.

“…[I]f they agree in nothing else, concur at least in the value they set upon trial by jury…" — Alexander Hamilton

On April 15, 2018, a powerful ice storm swept through southeast Michigan toppling trees, downing power lines, and creating a catastrophic blackout. DTE estimated 370,000 customers lost power in Metro-Detroit. For most residents, the power outage amounted to a terrible inconvenience. However, for one man, the loss of power became a matter of life and death.

Maurice Freeman, a lifelong resident of the City of Detroit, was oxygen dependent. His primary “survival” tank – the one that allowed him to live and breathe was electric. Hours into the storm, Freeman’s oxygen supply depleted and eventually ceased. Luckily, his roommate recognized the seriousness of the situation and called 911. He told the dispatcher that Freeman’s oxygen was “not working” and pleaded with the call taker for an ambulance, stating “he’s about to fall out…he can’t breathe,” and was assured that emergency help was on the way.

A short while later, two emergency medical technicians (EMTs) arrived at the home. Upon encountering Freeman, they noticed an auxiliary “backup” tank and recommended he connect to it. “He’ll be fine,” they surmised — and left. They left without even bothering to check the amount of oxygen in the reserve tank. Just four hours later, Freeman’s oxygen ran dry.

Out of oxygen and struggling for air, Freeman’s roommate again called 911, pleading with dispatch, “[this man] is dying…he can’t breathe at all.” Perhaps coincidentally, or not, the same two EMTs from the original run responded to the call. However, as they arrived, Freeman lost consciousness, lapsed into cardiac arrest, suffered a severe anoxic brain injury and eventually was mercifully taken off life support.

Later, the EMTs claimed that Freeman refused transport to the hospital — an allegation that Freeman’s roommate vehemently denied. Despite making this claim, the EMTs failed to credibly explain why Freeman had not signed a Refusal of Care form as required under the city’s own policy.

The family filed suit against the City of Detroit and its EMTs, claiming they grossly neglected the perilous circumstances that cost Freeman his life.

They sought refuge in the court.

In its pleadings, they pointed to stark contradictions in the paramedics’ account of the events. They highlighted the blatant disregard for the City’s own policies. They offered expert opinions on the ease of calculating the amount of oxygen and necessity for hospital intervention when the supply is insufficient to sustain life. However, the city, on behalf of its first responders, wrapped themselves in the shroud of immunity, refusing to accept responsibility or be held accountable.

In a curiously scathing opinion, the trial court chose to side with the city offering a rebuke of the plaintiff’s claims and castigating its counsel, stating in part, “[b]ad things happen in the world.” Remarking further, “[t]hose of us fortunate to sit in the relative comfort and safety of offices on our computers using big fancy words like gross negligence, should keep in mind, as we are tasked with determining legal liability for folks in the real world, that tragic results are not always avoidable and don’t always equate with the high bar of gross negligence.” Buffington, et. al. v Layne, et. al. (Wayne County Circuit Court, Case No. 19-014064-NH)

An appeal ensued. However, like the trial court, the appellate panel weighed and measured the veracity of witnesses and reconciled disputed facts in favor of the city and its employees contrary to black letter standards of review. Incredulously, the panel found that while some of the trial court’s statement were “not supported by the evidence in the record,” it determined that the lower court’s comments only amounted to “dictum” not necessary to the decision of the case. The panel further determined, “it does not appear that the trial court engaged in impermissible fact-finding or credibility determinations that would render summary disposition improper.” Buffington v Layne, et. al., unpublished per curiam opinion of the Court of Appeals, Case No. (October 27, 2022)

As we have seen time and time again, government immunity bestows upon our courts a seemingly unfettered discretion to eliminate our Seventh Amendment right to trial by jury. Perhaps Hamilton’s skepticism of usurping society’s right to decide civil wrongs prompted his staunch advocacy for the amendment (nearly at the sacrifice of the entire Constitution itself). However, it would seem if our Courts are so determined to eradicate the right to civil jury trials under the auspice of protecting government from “undue” financial burden, it would offer something in its place.

Yet, our courts have offered Maurice Freeman nothing. No recourse. No salvation. No justice.


A. Vince Colella is a co-founder of personal injury and civil rights law firm Moss & Colella.

No items found.

Client Testimonials

I HIGHLY recommend David Moss; he exceeded my expectations numerous times, and I feel fortunate and blessed to have worked with him and his team. Moss & Colella attorneys have relentless perseverance and dedication for everyone they represent.
If this firm takes your case, it's in exceptionally experienced hands. The hands of attorneys who care about your well-being and the outcome of your litigation!
When I got into a car accident, my life changed. David and Ryan understood how this change affected my livelihood and mobility. They handled my case professionally, and I couldn't be more thankful for all of the sincere guidance and help provided throughout this process.
Thanks so much for everything!!!

The Burls


 I was referred to Moss & Colella in 2018 following a car accident. I cannot tell you how confident and safe I felt knowing that I was in good hands. David, and Ryan made sure that I always had any questions or concerns addressed in a timely manner. I appreciated their compassion, and understanding as I got emotional, and the reassurance they provided, made me feel important and valued as a client. If you need a great lawyer for an injury, this is your firm! I hope I never need to be in a position where I’d need their help again, but if I did, I’d gladly seek their services!

T. Ray


My son sadly passed after a vehicle accident, it was a hard case. Mr. Moss was our lawyer, he was very helpful, very informative, very up front and put alot of effort into this case. He’s a great man, a honest man and his law firm will do the best with any case brought to them. Everyone at his office was very kind and very helpful. I absolutely recommend them for any of your lawsuit needs.
Very grateful for this firm!

S. Collins


Words can not express how grateful I am for the outcome of this case. It was truly a blessing to have this resolved sooner than expected. But without your help and my faith in your firm along with my faith on God, this may not have been possible. I appreciate everything you have done in orchestrating everything to this resolve, for your time and effort meant the world to me. I thank my friend for putting me in touch with such a talented group of people. You will always be considered my attorneys of choice for anything that comes up in the future that would render your services. This year has definitely been many blessings so far and I welcome many more to come. Thank you again for everything and may you continue to be blessed.


Mother of Client

Very few people on this earth impress me. You are one of the very few. My family and I thank you for all you did. You are a good man!



Other law firms would not take my case, they said it was too complicated. But David Moss took my case and got the result I was looking for in almost no time at all. I’m glad I didn’t listen to those other lawyers.



I just wanted to thank you for putting your time and effort into my case. You did a wonderful job last Thursday. You are what people say you are, a wonderful lawyer.



I do not only count on you as one bad ass lawyer, but also a friend. None of this would be possible without you. My deepest gratitude to you and all of the Moss & Colella team.



I am very relieved and very happy with the outcome. I appreciate everything you and your firm did to see this through and I will be grateful for that always. You all came highly recommended and now I see why based on what you did in helping my son through a very challenging moment in his life. We will always be your fans:) Thank you again and may you always be Blessed…


Mother of Client

Moss & Colella PC goes above and beyond, and then some, to get the results you need and deserve! Since my accident in 2021, in which I broke several bones and am not able to work anymore, my vehicle insurance company dropped the ball. They not only tried to discredit me, but also have been trying to screw me out of what was owed to me. Thank you to David and the whole team for putting their all into my case, I got more than I expected! I am so overwhelmed and appreciative by what they have done for me!



Thanks for another great Colella in Context, Vince. You are helping all of us by taking the time to write your thoughtful column.



Attorney David Moss was referred to me after my car accident, I really did not know what to expect. I met with him and he explained the process well. His office helped me get compensation for missing work because of the accident. He was able to get compensation for my caregiver. He also was able to get all my medical bills from the accident paid by the insurance company. And finally he was able to get me much more from the insurance company than their first offer. He and his staff are professionals. I highly recommend Moss & Colella Law Firm. The other law firms say “they will fight for you”, no Attorney Moss will fight for you. Give his office a call and let them handle your case.

Dana Darby


I was referred to Moss & Colella PC after the accident I was in. I could not have made a better choice. From the initial conversation I had with Mr. Moss about taking legal action, to the day I received my settlement, Mr. Moss and his team worked diligently and were adamant about getting what was deserved, keeping me informed each step of the way. What I respect the most about this firm is they are straight up with you about what is going on and what the best options are for you. Thank you to David, Ryan, Kelly, Janice and anyone else who had a part in getting this done.

Dame Mitchell


Best choice I ever made going with Moss & Colella. Vince and Wendy were always there for me from start to finish I love you guys and your firm. I highly recommend this firm. Vince and Wendy are smart, sharp and caring people. God bless you guys and your firm thanks for everything

John Bahoura


I was referred to David and I could never be happier!! I had NO Idea how my case would go or if I even had a case.  David was so STRAIGHT UP with me with the process and how things may go and I can honestly say I appreciated that the MOST. The entire staff made me feel so comfortable, they took care of business! I really appreciate you David!!

Breeana Coe


Attorney David Moss, Ryan, and their assistant Kelly were all AMAZING. They were incredible understanding and patient with me and my family. It was like they knew EVERYTHING  we were going through. They were all right by our side going though and explaining every detail. When this ordeal started I ask someone if they knew of a pit bull that would be able to help us. I am so so glad I was referred to Attorney David Moss.

Thomas Hale


I am very pleased with my experience with Moss & Colella, P.C.  The professionalism, and keeping you informed about every detail that took place were outstanding I could not have picked no one better to handle my case I would give them the highest grade that you possibly could give an attorneys office I am very satisfied with how my case was handled

Earl Moore


The firm of Moss & Colella was wonderful they kept me and my family well informed and constantly gave updates in our challenging legal matter. Kept their word and didn't promise anything they couldn't deliver. I would highly recommend this firm for their personal service and depth of legal knowledge which was a win for my family and helped me feel at ease during a tragic time. Thank you. David Moss Great job. Have a great future. Highly recommended law firm

George Baird


The best staff and always on top of everything. They stay in contact with updates and work hard and fast to hep you in every way. Thanks to all that worked on my case love you all.

Brian L


David Moss and the Moss &  Colella team were awesome! I would recommend them to anyone

Lisette Montry


This is a Top-notch Firm.. They explained my options every step of the way. I would recommend them to my closest family and friends.

Greg Sawmiller


Excellent service very professional fully satisfied

Sterling Crutcher


My experience with this law firm has been excellent. They work hard around-the-clock to solve your situation. I was suggest anyone that needed a lawyer whatever situation to contact them.

Deanne Freenan


Free Case Evaluation

Where did you hear about Moss & Colella, P.C.?
Thank you! Your submission has been received!
Oops! Something went wrong while submitting the form.

About the Firm

The attorneys of Moss & Colella have carefully chosen their career paths to fight for those that have suffered from injury and wrongful death. We believe every citizen should have the right to hire the best lawyer who will actively advocate for their case.

David Moss and Vince Colella have over 60 collective years of personal injury trial experience that provides you a level of legal services and success unmatched by other firms. By working together, we have the ability to find creative, effective, and efficient solutions to even the most complex cases. No matter what situation you face, we will help you get through it.

CTA Section

Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipiscing elit, sed do eiusmod tempor incididunt ut labore et dolore magna aliqua. Ut enim ad minim veniam, quis nostrud exercitation ullamco laboris nisi ut aliquip ex ea commodo consequat.

Contact Us

Contact Us

Thank you! Your submission has been received!
Oops! Something went wrong while submitting the form.