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Charles E. Barbieri

Senior Attorney
313 South Washington Square
Lansing, MI 48933-2114
T 517.371.8155
F 517.371.8200


A member of the Commercial Litigation Practice Group, Chuck concentrates his law practice almost exclusively in environmental and First Amendment and media law matters. His clients include municipalities, companies and individuals as he assists them with:

  • Environmental Law: Litigation; air, water, waste, natural resource permitting and approval; air, water, soil, ground water, surface water, natural resource, right to know regulatory compliance, negotiation of contracts, insurance, review of due diligence for transactions, investigation and cleanup of contaminated sites, sewer authorities, and recycling.
  • First Amendment and Media Law: Libel litigation; Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) requests and issues, Open Meetings Act issues, subpoenas, news gathering issues, courtroom access issues and access to court record issues.
  • General Litigation and Appellate Work: Insurance defense, commercial litigation, defense of claims brought by United States and State units and defense of municipalities.

Chuck is a frequent author on environmental and first amendment issues and was recognized as an outstanding writer early in his professional career when he was articles editor for the Indiana Law Review. Chuck has authored numerous articles of interest for legal and trade publications throughout Michigan.

He has always been involved with professional and community affairs. He has served as section chair for the Environmental Law Section of the Michigan State Bar, is very active in the American Inns of Court at Michigan State University College of Law and is serving for a second stint on the Ingham County Bar Association Board of Directors and has been elected as Board secretary.

Honors & Recognitions

AV® Preeminent™ Martindale-Hubbell

Best Lawyers in America® 1993-2024 (Environmental Law, First Amendment Law, Natural Resources Law, Litigation - Environmental, Litigation - First Amendment)

Best Lawyers® 2014, 2016 Environmental Law "Lawyer of the Year" in Lansing

Michigan Super Lawyers, Environmental, 2005-2023

2004 Boss of the Year, National Association of Legal Secretaries - Lansing Chapter

2015 Leo A. Farhat Outstanding Attorney Award - Ingham County Bar Association (ICBA)


Memberships & Affiliations

Legal Affiliations:
  • Litigation Counsel of America, fellow 
  • Defense Research Institute
  • American Inns of Court, MSU College of Law, Special Master
    • Past President, 2017-2019
  • State Bar of Michigan, Environmental Law Section
    • Council member, 2000-2006
    • Secretary-treasurer, 2006-2007
    • Chair elect, 2007-2008
    • Chair, 2008-2009
  • Michigan State Bar Foundation fellow
  • Ingham County Bar Association
    • Past Board President
    • Past Board Member
    • Past Chairman, Environmental Law Section
Industry & Professional Associations:
  • Water Environment Federation
  • Michigan Oil and Gas Association, Environmental Affairs Committee, Past Member
Community Involvement:
  • Peoples Church, East Lansing
  • Boy Scouts of America, Troop 125, Okemos, Past Scoutmaster, 2003-2008
  • DePauw University Alumni Board, Member of Admissions Committee, 2012-2018


Representative Matters

  • In a unanimous opinion issued April 13, 2023, the Michigan Court of Appeals held in favor of the City of East Lansing in a class-action lawsuit related to electric franchise fees. Heos v City of East Lansing, Court of Appeals Case Nos. 361105, 361138. The Court of Appeals reversed earlier decisions of the Ingham County Circuit Court, which had granted summary disposition to plaintiff James Heos and other similarly situated Board of Water and Light customers. The Court of Appeals directed the circuit court to instead enter summary disposition in favor of the City on remand.

    In reaching this decision, the Court of Appeals held that plaintiff’s claim under the Headlee Amendment to the Michigan Constitution and his similar equitable claims were untimely because they were not filed within one year after the franchise ordinance was adopted. The Court of Appeals further held that plaintiff could not bring an action under the 1905 Foote Act because the Foote Act only applies to electric utility providers, not electric customers. Consequently, the City was entitled to dismissal of all of plaintiff’s claims. The opinion is available online here: https://www.courts.michigan.gov/497287/siteassets/case-documents/uploads/opinions/final/coa/20230413_c361105_34_361105.opn.pdf
  • Represented manufacturer in the defense against a subrogation claim and prosecution of a separate counterclaim relating to a fire resulting in nearly $100 million in damages.
  • Assisted trade organization in drafting and offering testimony on beneficial use reform legislation.
  • Assisted a development company in acquiring a 600,000 square foot building and nearby properties that was later used for new manufacturing. Assisted in minimizing the liability for environmental issues, securing Brownfield reimbursement for environmental expenses and carrying out corrective action activities.
  • Provided counsel to a public authority in acquisition of additional sewer capacity and participated in expansion of existing sewer facility that cost more than $100 million. Negotiated related agreements.
  • Successfully argued in Michigan Supreme Court that residents surrounding former solvent distribution business could not bring property damage claims merely because they lived in the vicinity of the business unless their properties were actually contaminated.
  • Obtained directed verdict in a libel suit against a news columnist who reported about a local service firm that charged excessive fees. Successfully defended appeal.



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News & Events

Speaking Engagements

  • Environmental Compliance Essentials, Michigan Manufacturers Association, November 20, 2014



Indiana University School of Law, J.D., 1980, cum laude

DePauw University, B.A., 1977, magna cum laude

Bar and Court Admissions


U.S. District Court for the Western District of Michigan

U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Michigan

U.S. Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals

U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Indiana

U.S. Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals

U.S. Supreme Court