John Sheets | Barris, Sott, Denn & Driker, P.L.L.C. |
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John  T. Sheets


Professional Liability Defense
Real Estate


Case Western Reserve University School of Law
  • Honors: cum laude
  • The Order of Barristers

Michigan State University


  • Rising Star, Michigan Super Lawyers
John T. Sheets
Tel: 313-596-9316
Fax: 313-965-2493
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Recognized as a rising star in business litigation, John is well regarded by clients for his high-quality work product, his practical, strategic advice, and his courtroom advocacy skills.  John also provides his business clients with general business advisory services, and assists them with their organizational and transactional needs.  John’s significant experience as both a litigator and business attorney make him especially able to navigate his clients through the various disputes and dealings that arise throughout the course of their business.  

John’s practice primarily focuses on business and commercial litigation and professional liability defense.  John’s business litigation practice covers a wide-variety of complex contractual disputes involving businesses and their key representatives across a number of industries.  Examples of the types of cases John handles and the industries involved are described in more detail in the Representative Matters section below. John’s commercial cases have also involved issues related to real property, shareholder/partnership disputes, shareholder/member oppression, real estate development and construction-related litigation, fraud, fiduciary duties, fraudulent transfer and conveyance, and other business torts.  John also defends large law firms against claims of legal malpractice and has, on multiple occasions, successfully defended those claims in favor of the law firm.  
John regularly practices in the federal district court for the Eastern District of Michigan and the state circuit courts for Oakland and Wayne County.  John has also represented clients in the Michigan Court of Appeals, the Michigan Supreme Court, the United States Bankruptcy Court for the Eastern District of Michigan, the United States Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit, and the Supreme Court of the United States. John also has significant experience representing clients in arbitration.  
In addition to his litigation practice, John provides general advisory services to his business clients, which include, among other things, real estate developers and owners of commercial and mixed-used real estate properties.  John assists his business clients with their transactional needs, which include: drafting organizational documents and structuring their entities, drafting purchase/sale documents and commercial leases, obtaining financing from commercial lenders, and drafting general business contracts with third parties. 
In John’s experience, his business clients frequently find themselves in disagreements in the course of their dealings with third parties or their business partners that have not yet risen to the level of “litigation.”  John’s experience as both a litigator and with transactional matters make him especially able to navigate his clients through these situations. John’s litigation experience enables him to advise his clients on the strength of his client’s position and the advantages and disadvantages of pursuing litigation, and to zealously pursue litigation as necessary.  Meanwhile, John’s transactional experience enables him to advise his clients regarding their options to solve the problem through business-focused solutions.  
Prior to joining the firm, John attended Case Western Reserve University School of Law in Cleveland, Ohio, where he graduated cum laude.  While at Case Western, John also served as a judicial clerk for the Honorable Eileen A. Gallagher of the Ohio Court of Appeals.  


  • Represented the main cash investor in a commercial real estate development project against the developer and manager of the development entity in Oakland County Business Court and related arbitration. The investor’s claims against the developer/manager involved complex issues of member oppression, breach of fiduciary duty, and fraud, as well as related, complex derivative claims.  John pursued and obtained an emergency preliminary injunction early in the case, which prevented the developer/manager from further depleting the project’s assets, and preserved the client’s remaining investment.  After litigating the case further and going through discovery, John was able to achieve a settlement for his client. 
  • Represented large Michigan-based law firm in the defense of a complex legal malpractice action arising out of a commercial real estate development project.  John achieved a favorable settlement for his client.
  • Represented one group of partners in a successful Detroit-based retail business against their other business partners.  The adverse partners alleged that John’s clients had breached the company’s partnership agreement and, as a result, had forfeited their interest in the company. John vigorously disputed these claims on behalf of his clients and brought counterclaims against the adverse partners, alleging that they were improperly trying to oust his clients from the company without paying the value of his client’s equity interest, which had appreciated significantly since the company’s inception. After contentious litigation, John was able to achieve a settlement in which the adverse partners ultimately (and reluctantly) agreed to buy-out his clients’ interest in the company at a price that was favorable to his clients. 
  • Represented a Detroit-based beverage distributor in an action brought against a national energy drink company alleging wrongful termination of the distributorship agreement in the United States District Court for the Eastern District of Michigan. John successfully defended the energy drink company’s motion to dismiss and to transfer the case to Kentucky.  See Case No. 2:21-cv-10369, 2021 WL 5540849 (E.D. Mich. May 28, 2021). Thereafter, John was able to achieve a settlement for his client through court-ordered mediation.  
  • Represented a real estate developer and landlord in a case brought by some of its tenants alleging housing discrimination and certain lease violations in the United States District Court for the Eastern District of Michigan.  John successfully obtained a dismissal of the plaintiffs’ complaint in the district court.  See Case No. 21-CV-10146, 2021 WL 3032523 (E.D. Mich. July 19, 2021).
  • Represented a high-profile NASCAR driver in a dispute against his former sports agent and lawyer in the United States District Court for the Eastern District of Michigan.  The case involved complex issues of breach of contract, breach of fiduciary duty, fraud, conversion, and legal malpractice.  John successfully obtained a dismissal of the sports agent/lawyer’s complaint on summary judgment.  See Case No. 17-10413, 2019 WL 1057314 (E.D. Mich. Mar. 6, 2019).
  • Represented a real estate developer in a complex dispute against the project’s general contractor and various sub-contractors.  The dispute arose out of the general contractor’s violation of the Michigan Builder’s Trust Fund Act and the related construction lien issues. John achieved a settlement on behalf of his developer clients, which enabled the project to move forward despite the general contractor’s malfeasance.
  • Represented a bankruptcy trustee as special counsel in an adversary proceeding against a cruise-ship art company, its owners, and related art-dealing businesses.  The case involved complex fraudulent transfer claims.  After uncovering evidence of fraudulent transfers throughout discovery and filing a summary judgment motion, John achieved a court-approved settlement on behalf of the trustee.
  • Represented a management company of a multi-specialty healthcare clinic in a contractual dispute against the clinic’s owner – a national healthcare conglomerate.  Achieved a favorable case-evaluation award and settlement during the case-evaluation process.
  • Represented a large Michigan-based law firm in the defense of a complex legal malpractice action brought by a doctor regarding Drug Enforcement Agency-related advice.  John obtained the dismissal of the doctor’s complaint on summary disposition, and successfully upheld that ruling on appeal.  See 2017 Mich. App. Lexis 418, March 16, 2017.
  • Represented a religious institution, its board, and spiritual leader in a highly contentious case concerning control of the congregation and real estate.  John helped obtain the reversal of the decision of the Michigan Court of Appeals in the Michigan Supreme Court.  See Chabad-Lubavitch of Michigan v. Schuchman, 2015 Mich Lexis 1185 (Mich 2015), cert. denied 2016 WL 500976 (U.S. May 23, 2016).
  • Represented a large Michigan-based law firm in a case involving complex underlying contractual, real property, and commercial bankruptcy issues. Obtained successful dismissal of claims of legal malpractice on the pleadings, with the remaining business tort claims later resolving and the case being fully dismissed.  See Wayne County Circuit Court, Docket No. 15-000236-CB.


  • Federal Bar Association, Eastern District of Michigan Chapter
  • The Detroit Athletic Club
  • The Detroit Golf Club


  • State of Michigan
  • United States District Court, Eastern District of Michigan
  • United States Court of Appeals, Sixth Circuit