Dirk Beckwith practices in the areas of commercial litigation, transportation and logistics, construction and insurance defense. He represents clients in state and federal courts across Michigan and has successfully argued appeals in both Michigan and U.S. Appellate Courts. He also serves as a mediator, case evaluator in Michigan Circuit and District Courts, and is an arbitrator with the American Arbitration Association.
Dirk has a wealth of experience representing transportation companies, motor carriers and railroads. He is known for his responsiveness and for immersing himself in understanding his clients' business. He has litigated cases involving the interpretation of transportation contracts, the application of tariffs and shipments moved pursuant to bills of lading.
He also vigorously defends trucking companies in cargo claim litigation and against claims for personal injury. He was recently involved in several landmark decisions for the trucking and railroad industries. Additionally, he has handled both regulatory and administrative matters before the FMCSA and STB for those engaged in the transportation industry.
He also has significant success handling Uniform Commercial Code (UCC) claims as well as representing owners, general contractors and suppliers in disputes arising out of construction contracts.
Dirk is a past president of the Transportation Lawyers Association (TLA) and currently serves as a voting past president for TLA. Dirk previously served as a regional vice president of the Association for Transportation Law Professionals. He is also a member of the Trucking Insurance Defense Association and the Defense Research Institute. He actively participates in each of these associations as well as the Transportation Loss Prevention and Security Association and the Conference of Freight Counsel. Dirk is a frequent speaker and attendee at all of these organizations’ meetings and attends DRI trucking seminars and TIDA sponsored events.
Honors & Recognitions
AV® Preeminent™ Martindale-Hubbell
Best Lawyers in America® 2013-2022 (Construction Law)
Michigan Super Lawyers Business Litigation, 2013-2020
Distinguished Service Award, Transportation Lawyers Association, 2016
Exemplary Service Award, Association of Transportation Law Professionals, 2007
Memberships & Affiliations
- American Bar Association
- Transportation Lawyers Association, past president (2013-2014)
- Association of Transportation Law Professionals
- State Bar of Michigan
- Michigan State Bar Foundation, fellow
- Oakland County Bar Association
- Oakland County Bar Foundation, fellow
Industry & Professional Associations:
- Trucking Insurance Defense Association
- Transportation Loss Prevention and Security Association
- Conference of Freight Counsel
- Defense Research Institute
Was granted summary judgment of plaintiff’s state law claims for breach of contract, trespass to chattel, and negligence based upon Carmack Amendment preemption. Shortly thereafter, case settled for a nominal amount. (2022)
Obtained dismissal of lawsuit where he argued plaintiff’s claims were barred by a contractual limitation of liability in a case where plaintiff was suing construction contractor to recover damages to homeowner’s concrete driveway. (2022)
- For the second time in 2021, he successfully obtained summary disposition in a case where a motor carrier was sued under Michigan’s No Fault Act for injuries arising out of a motor vehicle accident. In that case, he persuaded the Court plaintiff had not suffered an “objectively manifested impairment” of an important bodily function that affected the plaintiff’s ability to lead a normal life. (2021)
- Obtained summary disposition in favor of an insured motorist in a third party Michigan No Fault case where the court held the plaintiff did not suffer a serious impairment of an important body function that affected the person's general ability to lead his normal life. (2021)
- In a lawsuit brought in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Michigan involving a motor vehicle accident that occurred outside of Michigan, successfully obtained dismissal of plaintiff’s complaint. The grounds for arguing that the complaint should be dismissed were that the court lacked both subject matter and personal jurisdiction over the claims asserted. The court granted the motion to dismiss. (2019)
- Obtained summary judgment for Fortune 100, international business client in a U.S. District Court case in which the plaintiff brought claims for conversion, claim and delivery, and unjust enrichment. Following discovery, moved for summary judgment on the basis that plaintiff lacked standing to bring the claims. Before filing its opposition to the motion for summary judgment, plaintiff sought leave to amend its complaint in an attempt to cure the lack of standing issue. The court denied the motion to amend the complaint, and subsequently ruled plaintiff lacked standing to make the underlying claims. (2019)
- Secured dismissal of two separate lawsuits brought against the same client in Michigan courts. In both cases, argued on behalf of the client that a contractual choice of venue provision precluded plaintiff from filing a lawsuit in Michigan. In one case the court granted the client's motion to dismiss the case. In the other case, plaintiff's counsel agreed to dismiss the case on the morning of the hearing after considering client's arguments. (2019)
- In December, 2018, successfully defended a motor carrier and its truck driver in a jury trial the United States District Court for the Eastern District of Michigan. Plaintiff alleged the truck driver was negligent for failing to stop in sufficient time to avoid colliding with his vehicle. Four vehicles were involved in the accident. Plaintiff's treating doctors testified Plaintiff sustained a closed head injury and double-vision as a result of the accident. Plaintiff demanded $750,000 before trial. The jury found the motor carrier and its truck driver were negligent but Plaintiff's alleged damages were not caused by the motor vehicle accident. Hence, a jury verdict was rendered for the defendants.
- In 2017, was involved in two separate lawsuits when the Court relying on recent Supreme Court decisions, found that jurisdiction over the corporate defendant was not proper and dismissed the case in the forum court for lack of jurisdiction.
- Served as neutral arbitrator in a dispute between two short line railroads to resolve a dispute involving the interpretation of a transportation contract entered into by the railroads in 1992. (2017)
- Successfully obtained summary judgment of state law claims for breach of contract, breach of warranty, fraud, negligence and bailment based upon Carmack Amendment preemption for Class I railroad that was contracted to ship perishable goods from Michigan to the country of Jordan. (2017). Learn more about case here.
- Mediated dispute between motor carrier and two companies involving three Master Transportation Service Agreements. Motor carrier was seeking recovery of nearly $150,000.00 for unpaid transportation services. (2017)
- Mediated dispute between a transportation broker and consignee involving claim seeking payment for 35 unpaid shipments. (2016)
- Successfully defended motor carrier and its truck driver in the United States District Court for the Western District of Michigan in a case seeking to recover personal property damages after a tractor-trailer rolled into a nearby warehouse. The case hinged upon the Court's analysis of whether the accident and resulting property damage arose from the tractor-trailer's use as a motor vehicle. The court dismissed the lawsuit and held that Michigan's no-fault act governed the dispute and that the one-year limitations period applied. (2016) Learn more about case here.
- Mediated dispute between a motor carrier and consignee named in bills of lading involving motor carrier's claim for recovery of more than $5 million dollars in unpaid freight charges. (2015)
- Served as neutral arbitrator in a three person arbitration panel in a dispute between a shipper and a third party logistics provider involving a Transportation Management and Logistics Services Agreement. The shipper claimed the third party logistics provider wrongfully terminated the agreement resulting in nearly $3 million dollars in damages to the shipper. (2011)
- Successfully defended motor carrier in the United States District Court for the Eastern District of Michigan in a case seeking payment of personal injury protection benefits for driver who drove his motor cycle into motor carrier's tractor-trailer. Michigan law (MCL 500.3102) requires that an owner or registrant of a motor vehicle maintain security if the vehicle is operated in Michigan for more than 30 days in a calendar year. In this case, based on on-board computer and dispatch records the court held the motor carrier was not liable because the tractor and trailer were in Michigan less than 30 days during the calendar year. (2006)
Other Representative Matters:
- Vigorously defends motor carriers in personal injury litigation and cargo claims.
- Provides 24/7 Emergency Response Team in fatal accidents involving motor carriers.
- Represents railroads before the Surface Transportation Board (STB) in a variety of matters including but not limited to freight railroad rate and service disputes, and abandonment proceedings.
- Represents motor carriers before the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) in a variety of matters including registration and licensing, regulatory compliance, safety and security, DOT audits, compliance reviews, administrative reviews, enforcement penalties, CSA and other proceedings relating to safety ratings.
- Represents insurance companies in situations where there are competing beneficiaries to life insurance proceeds, and the insurance company wants to avoid the risk of paying twice.
- Represents clients in disputes to foreclose liens on private construction projects as well as suits against bonds furnished on connection with public projects.
- Represents both manufacturers and purchasers of sophisticated machinery involving claims arising under the Uniform Commercial Code, including matters involving disputes regarding express and implied warranties.
- Top Ten Things to Do When You Are Involved in a Motor Vehicle Accident, Foster Swift Agricultural Law News, June 9, 2020
- Jury: Defendants at fault for crash, not injuries, Michigan Lawyers Weekly, May 30, 2019
- New Guidance on Hours-of-Service for Agricultural Commodity Drivers, Foster Swift Agricultural Law News, October 23, 2018
- What are the Rules of the Road for Farm Vehicles?, Foster Swift Agricultural Law News, July 7, 2018
- Frost Law: Are you complying with Spring Weight Restrictions?, Foster Swift Commercial Litigation News, February 27, 2018
- When Trucks Spill Their Load, Foster Swift Agricultural Law Newsletter, October 26, 2017
News & Events
- United States Supreme Court Decisions Applying Federal Aviation Administration Authorization Act Preemption to Motor Carriers, Association of Transportation Law Professionals (ATLP), June 28, 2022
- The Act of God Defense under the Carmack Amendment, the Devil is in the Details, Trucking Industry Defense Association (TIDA), March 30, 2022
- Perils of Nature and the Act of God Defense under the Carmack Amendment, Transportation & Logistics Council, March 22, 2022
- An Interactive Exploration of Carmack Liability, Trucking Industry Defense Association (TIDA): Cargo & Skills Seminar, April 1, 2020
- The Motor Carrier Always Gets Paid, or Does It?, Transportation and Logistics Council, March 20, 2018
- Hot Legal Tips – Don’t Get Burned: Broker – Carrier Liability; Misclassification – Independent Contractor vs. Employee; New Cases., Supply Chain Cargo & Security Summit 2017, June 29, 2017
- Foster Swift Attorneys Named to 2022 Best Lawyers in America©, August 19, 2021
- 18 Attorneys Selected to 2020 Michigan Super Lawyers and “Rising Stars”, September 18, 2020
- Foster Swift Attorneys Named to 2021 Best Lawyers in America©, August 20, 2020
- 23 Attorneys Selected to 2019 Michigan Super Lawyers and “Rising Stars”, Automation Alley, September 3, 2019
- 42 Foster Swift Attorneys Listed as Best Lawyers® 2020, August 15, 2019
- 31 Foster Swift Attorneys Selected to 2018 Michigan Super Lawyers and “Rising Stars” Lists, September 10, 2018
- 45 Foster Swift Attorneys Listed in Best Lawyers in America© 2019, August 15, 2018
Wayne State University Law School, J.D., 1983
University of Michigan, B.A., 1980
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. Supreme Court