Elliot J. Gruszka


Phone: 616-988-5600
Email: egruszka@silvervanessen.com


Elliot is a litigator representing individuals, businesses, and governmental entities in state and federal trial and appellate courts. Prior to joining Silver & Van Essen, Elliot served as a law clerk to the Honorable Robert Holmes Bell in the United States District Court for the Western District of Michigan and was an Assistant City Attorney for the City of Grand Rapids in its civil litigation department.

Elliot has significant experience successfully defending law enforcement officers, government employees, and municipal entities in complex federal civil rights cases involving allegations of excessive force, illegal searches and seizures, free speech, due process, and Second and Fifth Amendment violations. In addition, Elliot handles complex commercial disputes involving breaches of contract, business torts, covenants not to compete, and other disputes arising the business context.

Elliot specializes in appellate practice, having briefed and argued cases in the Michigan Court of Appeals, the Michigan Supreme Court, and the United States Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit.

Representative Appellate Cases

  • Meirs v. Ottawa County, 2020 WL 3956857 (6th Cir. 2020) (persuaded Sixth Circuit to uphold summary judgment in favor of municipality and jury verdict in favor of prison guards involving constitutional claims arising from inmate’s suicide)
  • Saginaw County v. STAT Emergency Med. Servs., Inc., 946 F.3d 951 (6th Cir. 2020) (represented county seeking declaratory judgment that it could enter into exclusive agreement with ambulance operator to provide county-wide coverage and minimum response times)
  • MacDonald v. Ottawa County, Case No. 350956 (Mich. Ct. App. pending) (arguing that public building exception to governmental immunity does not apply when alleged defect is inherent in the design of the building)
  • Honigman v. Detroit, ___ N.W.2d ___; 2020 WL 2530162 (Mich. 2020) (successfully represented amicus curiae City of Grand Rapids, persuading Michigan Supreme Court to reject Court of Appeals’ interpretation of state uniform income tax act)
  • Calvin Theological Seminary v. Grand Rapids, 2019 WL 3806101 (Mich. Ct. App. 2019) (argued that off-campus student housing was not occupied by seminary within the meaning of property tax exemption statute)
  • Centerpoint Owner v. Grand Rapids, 2019 WL 286751 (Mich. Ct. App. 2019) lv denied 933 N.W.2d 309 (Mich. 2019) (successfully argued that Michigan Tax Tribunal lacked jurisdiction over case that was filed minutes after the statutory deadline)
  • Johnson v. Vander Kooi, 903 N.W.2d 843 (Mich. Ct. App. 2016); 918 N.W.2d 785 (Mich. 2018); ___ N.W. 2d ___, 2019 WL 6222500 (Mich. Ct. App. 2019) (successfully argued on issue of first impression that taking of suspects’ fingerprints on the basis of reasonable suspicion, but without probable cause, did not violate Fourth Amendment)
  • Brax v. Beracy, 742 F. App’x 952 (6th Cir. 2018) (successfully persuaded Sixth Circuit that district court properly relied on video of drunken arrestee’s booking to reject plaintiff’s version of the facts and grant summary judgment on excessive force claims)
  • Tyrosh Brown v. Grand Rapids, 2017 WL 4712064 (6th Cir. 2017) cert denied 138 S. Ct. 1556 (2018) (successfully argued that plaintiff waived objections to magistrate judge’s recommendation and district court’s grant of summary judgment by failing to articulate specific legal arguments)
  • Milzarski v. Grand Rapids, 2016 WL 1038318 (Mich. Ct. App. 2016) (persuaded Michigan Court of Appeals that pedestrian’s personal injury claim did not fall under the highway exception to governmental immunity)
  • People of the City of Grand Rapids v. Gasper, 888 N.W.2d 116 (Mich. Ct. App. 2016) (represented City of Grand Rapids in case involving constitutionality of noise ordinance)

Bar Admissions & Affiliations

  • State Bar of Michigan
  • Grand Rapids Bar Association
  • United States Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit
  • United States District Court for the Eastern District of Michigan
  • United States District Court for the Western District of Michigan


  • Thomas M. Cooley Law School, J.D., magna cum laude
  • Ball State University, M.A
  • Taylor University, B.A.