James R. Acho
James R. Acho is a partner in our Livonia office where he concentrates his practice on sports and entertainment law, labor and employment law, law enforcement defense and plaintiff’s personal injury.
Mr. Acho, a nationally respected sports law attorney and professor of sports law at Madonna University, has been representing retired MLB players and current and retired NFL players for nearly 15 years. In 2013, he was named top sports law attorney in metro Detroit by dBusiness Magazine and multiple respected periodicals have run features on him.
In January 2015, out of respect for the work he has done on behalf of NFL Alumni, a prominent group of respected NFL retirees nominated Mr. Acho to run for the position of National Football League Players Association (NFLPA) Executive Director. In 2017, Jim made national news when he settled legendary pro football Hall of Famer Gale Sayers’ concussion lawsuit. He continues to represent retired NFL players in concussion claims.
Mr. Acho has also carved out a reputation for representing municipalities, specifically in police litigation, and he is experienced in the areas of litigation avoidance, collective bargaining, the grievance and arbitration process. Further, he handles employment litigation from both the plaintiff and defense side and routinely garners positive result for all of his clients.
Law Practice Areas
Western Michigan Univ.—T.M. Cooley Law School, 2000
St. Francis College, Ft. Wayne, IN, 1993
In the Media
Dorne Dibble, Lions world champ, Michigan State All-American, dies at 88 — Detroit Free Press, March 2, 2018
Jim Acho Defends City of Warren — WDIV-TV, February 21, 2018
Jury Rules for Officers after Excessive Force Claim — Michigan Lawyers Weekly, November 27, 2017 Debilitated Players Accuse NFL of Stalling on Settlement Payments — NY Times, November 13, 2017
NFL Concussion Settlement Payouts Slow Coming for Former Detroit Lions — Detroit Free Press, November 2, 2017
Acho Featured on Sports Radio/Quoted in Article Regarding Ezekiel Elliott Suspension
Jim Acho Speaks at 60th Anniversary Tribute for 1957 Detroit Lions
Jim Acho Retained by Lapeer County to Represent County in Counter Lawsuit Against Sitting Judge
Brandan Hallaq Successfully Handles MLB Pension issue For Acho Client
CMDA Client’s TV Show Picked Up
Acho Speaks at NFL Alumni Annual Event
Acho Guest Speaker at NFLPA Detroit Meeting
Acho Represents County, Former Prosecutor in Lawsuit — The County Press, July 23, 2017
Acho Appears on WJR’s Frank Beckmann Show to Discuss NLRB Ruling Against the NCAA — February 6, 2107.
Late appeal sends NFL concussion case to Supreme Court — ESPN, August 31, 2016
A Sidebar with James R. Acho — Michigan Lawyers Weekly, April 25, 2016
“Livonia Attorney Fighting For Concussion Settlements From The NFL” — CBS Detroit, March 23, 2016
“Michigan attorney eyes NFLPA’s top job” –Sports Illustrated
“Acho kicks off NFLPA campaign” –The Chaldean News
“Is USF Alum Next NFLPA Boss?” –Ft. Wayne News Sentinel
“NFLPA Chief Smith running against multiple candidates” –Bleacher Report
In NFLPA Race, Drama Different than in 2009″ –Street and Smith’s Sports Business Journal
“Acho on final ballot NFLPA election” –Detroit Free Press
“Final ballot set for NFLPA Director election” –ESPN
“Acho loses NFLPA election” –Detroit Free Press
“NFL legend claims discrimination” –NBC WDIV
“Ex-NFL star sues NFLPA” –Grand Rapids Press
“MLB forgot about these players” –New York Times
“Former players denied pensions take on MLB” –Newark Star Eagle
“Eagles draft pick Graham cleared of charge” –Philadelphia Inquirer
“Steelers Foote awarded $1.2 million in valet scam” –ESPN
“Acho went to bat for former players” –Detroit Legal News
“Attorney Jim Acho On Northwestern Players Unionizing” –ESPN Radio, 101FM, St. Louis
“NFL Insider James Acho on potential lockout” –Average Joe Sports Show, WKNR 850am Cleveland
“Sports Attorney Jimmy Acho This Week’s Guest” –Sklarbro Country
Acho Appears on Radio Shows to Discuss NLRB Ruling Against NCAA
Acho Attends Ohio State Legends Dinner for UM-OSU Week
Acho Gives Keynote Address at Alma Mater’s Basketball Tip-Off Gala
Acho Quoted on ESPN.com regarding NFL Concussion Case
Acho Featured in MiLW “Sidebar of the Week”
CBS Detroit Article Highlights Acho’s Involvement in Helping Retired NFL Players
Acho Gives Opening Remarks at NFLPA Annual Meeting
Acho Keynote Speaker at Sports and Entertainment Law Symposium
In the Wake of Two Recent Rulings, Attorneys Offer Advice to Law Enforcement on Avoiding Liability
Attorney Jim Acho Predicts NLRB Ruling on College Athletes’ Unions
Chaldean American Bar Association Highlights Acho’s Achievements
Acho’s Run for NFLPA Executive Director Position Ends
Acho Secures Nominations for NFLPA Executive Position
Update: Attorney Jim Acho Nominated to Run for Executive Director of NFL Players Association
Attorney Jim Acho Nominated to Run for Executive Director of NFL Players Association
Attorney Gets Case Against Circuit Court Judge, County Prosecutor Dismissed
Attorneys Present Seminar on Litigation Avoidance to Police Department
Jim Acho Featured in Detroit Legal News
Attorney Guest on Blessed 2 Play Show
EEOC Releases Guidelines for Religious Dress and Grooming in the Workplace
Attorney Recognized by the NFL Alumni Detroit Chapter
Employers Need To Be Mindful of Anti-Retaliation Policy
Attorney Represents Former Detroit Lions in Negotiations
Jim Acho Named 2013 dBusiness Top Lawyer
Acho Provides Insight on Concussion Lawsuits in Michigan Lawyers Weekly article
Acho Added to University Lecture Series on Sports Law
Listen to Acho on the Frank Beckmann Show
Will There be an NFL Season in 2011?
Acho Gets Lawsuit Dismissed
CMDA Attorney Attends Congressional Hearing on Behalf of Retired NFL Players
Acho Presents Client for Induction into Pride of the Lions
Acho’s Super Bowl Clients go Head-to-Head
Acho Quoted on Several Sports Outlets
Top Rated Lawyer in the Entertainment and Sports Field- dBusiness magazine, 2013
Federal Court Pro Bono Award, USDC, Eastern District, 2006, 2007
Three year letterman and co-captain men’s basketball, St. Francis College, Ft. Wayne, IN (1989-1993)
Numerous awards and recognitions for coaching and writing over the past 20 years.
*This is a sample of the types of cases Jim handles, with some of his more notable victories noted here.
Fazio, et al v Major League Baseball (Los Angeles District Court; 9th Circuit United States Court of Appeals)
The case Jim is most known for involved suing Major League Baseball (MLB) on behalf of roughly 1,500 retired MLB players who played from 1949-1980 and had been denied pensions and medical benefits. Jim handled the case as lead counsel with a prominent firm in Los Angeles. The case was featured on ESPN Outside The Lines, HBO Real Sports, CNN and every major newspaper in America, with Jim featured in many on-air segments and written pieces. The case took the better part of a decade to litigate and adjudicate. MLB eventually agreed to pay the class Jim Acho represented $10,000 per player for two years as recognition for the contribution to the game. The final total amount of compensation to the retired players was roughly $17,000,000.
Commercial Breach of Contract Case (Plaintiff)
Jim was lead counsel throughout the discovery and litigation phase of this case in Wayne County Circuit Court. Confidentiality precludes a recitation of facts or identifying the parties. CMDA’s client was compensated $7,500,000 upon settlement of the case.
Sexual Harassment (Plaintiff)
Jim represented a female HR Director of a major steel company who was sexually harassed by the company’s owner and later terminated from her $120,000 job. Plaintiff suffered serious emotional damages. Jim was lead counsel on this case. A Wayne County Circuit Court Judge awarded CMDA’s client $1,250,000.
Age Discrimination (Plaintiff)
Jim represented two bank tellers, each of whom had 25-30 years’ service with the Defendant bank. Both were terminated within weeks of each other and given no explanation why except for “cutbacks.” Both clients were replaced with women half their age and half their salary soon afterwards. Jim was lead counsel on this Washtenaw County Circuit Court case. The case settled for $500,000.
Oakland County vs. New Creations, Inc.
Jim represented Oakland County’s Community Mental Health against a vendor in a fraud case. Jim was lead counsel on this Oakland County Circuit Court case. The case settled for $450,000.
Auto Negligence (Plaintiff)
Jim represented a woman who suffered serious injuries to her arm and shoulder when t-boned by a young driver who was texting. Jim was lead counsel on this Oakland County Circuit Court case. The case settled for $365,000.
No Cause Negligence (Defense)
Hanover (Citizens as Subrogee) v. Lakeshore Plumbing, Heating & Cooling, Inc.
Total claim by Plaintiff at trial: $2,000,000. Final demand to settle: $950,000. Jim defended an HVAC installer and his company in a subrogation case where a fire was of undetermined cause, but Plaintiff’s fire loss expert opined the fire was due to Defendants’ negligence. Jim was lead counsel on this Alpena County case and tried this case over two weeks before a jury in Alpena County Circuit Court. The jury came back with a no-cause ($0 award to the Plaintiff) in favor of Jim’s client.
No Cause (Defense)
Total claim by Plaintiff at trial: $300,000. Final demand to settle: $150,000. Jim represented a former treasurer of a foundation accused of embezzlement, though never charged by the police. This civil bench trial in Livingston County Circuit Court resulted in a no cause ($0 award to the Plaintiff) in favor of Jim’s client.
NFL Alumni, General
For more than 15 years, Jim has handled numerous matters for homeious NFL alumni throughout the country as counsel for the NFL Alumni Association. In 2015 he was nominated by retired players to run the NFL Players Association, a race Jim nearly won against the incumbent. Multiple NFL-related cases of Jim’s have been scrutinized by legal experts, such that Street & Smith’s Sports Business Journal has referred to Jim as “one of America’s most tenacious and respected sports law attorneys.”
Redford Township and Garden City Prosecuting Attorney 2000-2005
Jim prosecuted misdemeanor cases at the municipal level for five years for both the Charter Township of Redford and the City of Garden City.
Police Liability Defense
Jim has successfully represented multiple local police departments in actions stemming from excessive use of force to denial of constitutional protections for more than 15 years. Jim also routinely gives presentations and speeches to police and fire departments. Of note, five former police and fire chiefs have gone on to hire Jim personally to represent family members.
Additional Jurisdiction and Court Admissions
- Michigan State Courts
- Michigan Court of Appeals
- Michigan Supreme Court
- USDC-Eastern District
- USDC-Western District
- 6th Circuit United States Court of Appeals
Admitted Pro Hac Vice To Practice In:
- USDC-Central District, California
- USDC-Northern District, Ohio
9th Circuit United States Court of Appeals
Memberships and Associations
- Chaldean-American Bar Association, Former Board of Directors
- Guest roaster at several roasts in Los Angeles and Detroit
- CYO football coach, 2003-2007
Presentations and Articles
Appointed to adjunct professor position teaching Sports Law 440 to students in MBA Sports Management Program, Madonna University, 2010-Present
Presentations to police department’s command staff on labor arbitration
Presentations to police and fire department’s on employment litigation avoidance
Presentations to police department’s on litigation avoidance and qualified immunity updates
“Employers Need to be Mindful of Anti-Retaliation Policy,” CMDA On Law
Editor of SportsReviewMagazine.com, 2006-2008
Published “The Foolish Club,” a history of the AFL in 1996. Gridiron Press, NY, NY