Benjamin M Sobczak

Benjamin M. Sobczak

Member

Benjamin Sobczak is an experienced litigator with an emphasis on shareholder and close corporate disputes, collection actions, private securities litigation, class action defense, and business torts. He also serves as outside general counsel providing regulatory and transactional-based services to cannabis companies in various jurisdictions throughout the U.S. and Canada. He is a frequent speaker at professional seminars and conferences and is recognized as a leading legal contributor to the Michigan cannabis industry. Prior to joining Dickinson Wright, Ben served as the Chief Legal Officer for a vertically integrated cannabis company with operations in Michigan and Massachusetts. In that role, Ben gained invaluable experience as a business operator and entrepreneur. That expanded perspective enables him to fully appreciate client needs and develop practical and cost-effective legal solutions in furtherance of their success. 

Education & Credentials

Education

Western Michigan University

B.S., Psychology and Sociology, 2005
  • summa cum laude
  • Dean's List: 2001-2005
  • Phi Beta Kappa Honor Society: Inducted 2005

Wayne State University

J.D., 2009
  • magna cum laude
  • The Wayne Law Review, Assistant Editor 2007-2008
  • Dean's Scholar, Lombard Fellow, Silver Key Recipient

Bar Admission

  • Michigan

Acknowledgements

  • Selected for Benchmark Litigation "40 & Under Hotlist," 2019
  • 2017 Business Litigation of the Year by Crain’s Detroit Business
  • Listed in Michigan Super Lawyers "Rising Stars"

Representative Clients

  • Pleasantrees Cannabis Company
  • Common Citizen
  • Gage Cannabis Company
  • General Electric Company
  • Enbridge Energy, Limited Partnership
  • Johnson Controls, Inc.
  • MGM Grand Detroit
  • William Beaumont Hospital
  • PNC Bank

Prominent Assignments

LITIGATION

  • Drafted 100+ pages of briefing and argued a three-hour hearing in support of a successful motion to dismiss a $70M Section 10(b) securities fraud claim resulting in a Crain’s Detroit Business Litigation of the Year award.
  • Lead counsel in a bench trial requiring the direct examination of three adverse witnesses without the benefit of prior discovery resulting in a favorable verdict with an additional award of fees and costs based on a showing that the opposing party’s defense was frivolous.
  • Developed a “treble damages” cause of action increasing the collectability of a notable Michigan casino’s defaulted marker portfolio and functioned as lead counsel responsible for the prosecution, negotiation, and successful collection of those matters in addition to providing reoccurring reports to casino executives concerning same.
  • Researched, crafted arguments for, and drafted briefing opposing class certification, as well as other discovery-related issues, in a national class action alleging product liability and breach of warranty claims regarding fifty-four (54) million units and asserting damages in the range of $11B.
  • Drafted an application for leave to appeal causing the Michigan Supreme Court to peremptorily vacate the Court of Appeals erroneous affirmance of the lower court’s opinion concerning the interpretation of a personal guarantee.
  • Reviewed, analyzed, and summarized hundreds of hours of undercover F.B.I. wiretap recordings on behalf of an international arms dealer defendant in what was at the time the largest white collar crime sting in the history of federal law enforcement.

CANNABIS/REGULATORY/TRANSACTIONAL

  • Developed complex, tax efficient corporate structures involving plant-touching and non-plant-touching entities in furtherance promoting shareholder value and protecting against downside risk.
  • Drafted legal documentation, effectuated debt conversions and managed members’ schedule adjustments concerning SEC Reg. D private securities offerings, convertible debt instruments and related financing activity.
  • Established compliance protocols for vertically integrated operations of thirteen (13) plant-touching facilities/establishments in Michigan and Massachusetts and interacted with cannabis, environmental, code enforcement and workplace safety regulators to achieve a flawless regulatory record with zero (0) fines or settled violations.
  • Conceptualized two medical provisioning center applications which each received the highest score out of forty-eight (48) and twenty-three (23) respective submissions resulting in the award of operating permits in one of the most competitive municipal licensing processes ever conducted in the State of Michigan.
  • Achieved the first adult use license in a Michigan municipality without an opt-in or opt-out ordinance, thereby securing the first retail establishment in “Detroit proper” and personally making the first legal recreational cannabis purchase within the city’s geographic jurisdiction.
  • Negotiated and facilitated the regulatory approval of the first “side-car” management agreement utilized in the Michigan cannabis industry, thereby enabling a non-licensee to assume complete control of certain isolated business operations conducted under an active plant-touching establishment license.
  • Composed municipal opt-in ordinances designed to limit the host municipality’s litigation risk by analyzing applicable case law and conceptualizing application processes that limit subjectivity, conform to applicable statutory pronouncements, and comply with other legal obligations of municipal decision-making bodies.
  • Successfully obtained “prequalification” status for some of the Michigan’s first licensees by overseeing supplemental application submissions and managing the disclosure process for hundreds of managers, officers, directors, and investors.
  • Navigated the cumbersome “change of control” process in the State of Massachusetts, renegotiated host community agreements with associated municipalities and oversaw the development and regulatory approval of two associated retail locations in that state.
  • Served as outside general counsel to a newly formed trade association representing roughly half of all Michigan Class C cultivation licenses and through that position established corporate operating procedures and antitrust compliance policies, provided regulatory and policy advice in support of lobbying efforts, and facilitated the development of public comments concerning proposed regulatory amendments.

Professional Involvement

• State Bar of Michigan Cannabis Law Section Council Member
• United States District Court for the Eastern District of Michigan
• American Bar Association
• Detroit Metropolitan Bar Association
• Oakland County Bar Association

Publications/Presentations

  • The Sixth Circuit's Doctrine of Consent Once Removed: Contraband, Informants and Fourth Amendment Reasonableness, 54 WAYNE L. REV. 889 (2008)
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