Photo of Laura C. Baucus

Laura Baucus is a results-oriented litigator and business attorney with experience delivering consistent results to clients in the automotive, aerospace, manufacturing and financial services industries. Ms. Baucus has worked both as outside counsel and as seconded in-house counsel. She is the Director of Dykema’s 140+ attorney Automotive Industry Group, the immediate past Leader of the firm’s Financial Services Litigation Practice, a Leader in Dykema’s COVID-19 Task-Force, the originator of the firm’s Supply Chain Group, the Manager of a firm OEM client-service team, and the immediate past Manager of the firm’s largest Michigan office.

Ms. Baucus regularly counsels clients on force majeure and related contract performance options. Her litigation practice focuses on procurement and supply chain, recalls, warranty and cost recovery, contract termination, tooling recovery, Uniform Commercial Code issues, and financial services.  Her contract practice includes negotiating and drafting supply contracts and other commercial agreements for automotive and other manufacturing companies, including terms and conditions. Ms. Baucus also manages national portfolios of lawsuits for some of the nation’s largest residential mortgage servicers.

Last year, the automotive industry experienced successes—the upsurge of electric and autonomous vehicle development—and challenges—the global supply chain fiasco—both of which will impact legal trends.

In my recent Industry Today article, “Driving Into 2022,” I highlight the top five legal trends driving the automotive industry this year. I examine:

  • Supply Chain Disruption
  • Antitrust

The recent Tesla fire in Houston reportedly took four-plus hours to extinguish completely because of continued flareups. This highlights some of the challenges faced by auto manufacturers (and fire departments) as electric vehicles start to take over the roads, including unique issues related to lithium-ion fires.  Dykema attorneys Deron Wade, Jeff Cox and Rebekah Hudgins recently presented a litigation update addressing: “How Going All Electric May Impact the Future of Fire Litigation” (PowerPoint Slides – starting on Slide 21). The first portion of the update addressed: “A Discussion of Jury Selection and Juror Attitudes in the Post-COVID World.”
Continue Reading Hot Topics in Electric Vehicles: Battery Fires

The automotive industry is a critical component of the U.S. economy connecting a wide range of industries, from part and raw material suppliers to providers needed for the day-to-day sale and operation of vehicles. In July 2020, Dykema, MICHauto and The Right Place canvassed automotive executives, professionals and service providers to gauge their perspectives on the U.S. economy and the automotive industry and, particularly, the effect of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Click on the links below for insights regarding how respondents feel COVID-19 affected the U.S. economy and the automotive industry.
Continue Reading Results Are In! Dykema, MICHauto and The Right Place COVID-19 Automotive Outlook Flash Survey

What Do You Do When Your Contract Does Not Contain A Force Majeure Clause?

As the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) continues to spread rapidly throughout the United States—and the world—commercial relationships are being thrown into disarray, resulting in the disruption of supply chains, cancellations of events, and closures of restaurants and other businesses. Several states have declared a state of emergency (including banning large group gatherings and mandating that certain business shutter for the time being). Many companies are requiring that their employees work remotely. As a result of the substantial impact on “business as usual” operations, companies are facing decisions about what to do when COVID-19 circumstances make it difficult (if not impossible) to comply with certain contractual obligations. Will COVID-19 provide your company with a legal defense excusing performance?

If you are operating under a contract governed by United States law, the first place to look for the answer is within the four corners of the contract document itself. Specifically, check your contracts to determine whether there are force majeure or other impossibility of performance-type clauses. If not, are you out of luck? The answer differs depending on the subject matter of the contract.
Continue Reading Is Your Contract Virus-Proof? [Part II]

Michigan Governor Whitmer signed Executive Order 2020-77 today, permitting manufacturing workers to resume work as part of the MI Safe Start Plan. Manufacturing workers, including workers in the automotive industry, are allowed to resume work on May 11, 2020, one week ahead of the planned restart date of certain Michigan automakers. See Executive Order No. 2020-77, Section 10(k).

However, this resumption of work is subject to stringent precautionary measures and safeguards identified in the Order, including detailed requirements outlined in Section 11(k). These requirements include, among several other requirements:
Continue Reading Automotive Manufacturing Workers Allowed to Resume Work Next Week in Michigan

Insurance Claims, Force Majeure Notices and Protecting Other Legal Rights In The Wake Of Global Supply Chain Disruption Caused By COVID-19

Dykema is closely monitoring the potential threat of legal fallouts in the wake of supply chain disruption caused by the novel Coronavirus (also known as COVID-19). In the last month, companies reliant on the global supply chain have been faced with part shortages and overall supply chain disruption. Production facility shutdowns as well as halted transportation, primarily in China, are the main causes of these issues. As the virus spreads, it is expected that facilities and transportation in other countries will be impacted as they seek to contain the virus.

Practically speaking, your company should mitigate business risks caused by current and anticipated supply chain disruption, including: 1) obtaining up-to-date production information on all players in your global supply chain, both upstream and downstream; and 2) making arrangements to secure alternative parts and materials to ensure continuity of supply where possible. However, in addition to addressing these essentials, don’t forget to check your contracts and insurance policies, including:
Continue Reading Is Your Contract Virus-Proof?