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Minnesota Lawyer: Major verdicts and settlements in 2008


January 2009

Minneapolis (January 2009) –
In addition to the happenings at the Minnesota Supreme Court, 2008 also proved an interesting year for verdicts and settlements.  By most reports, the largest verdict in the state this year was a $24 million wrongful death verdict in Anoka County. Four young adults were killed when their vehicle was struck by a Burlington Northern Santa Fe train. The four separate cases were consolidated for trial, and the estate of each decedent was awarded $6 million. The case is Elizabeth Chase as trustee for the next of kin of Corey Everett Chase, deceased, et al. v. Burlington Northern Santa Fe Corp. et al. Minnesota attorneys Allan Shapiro, Paul Godlewski, Patrick Sauer, Mark Bradford, Sharon Van Dyck and William Bongard were assisted by Kansas attorney Robert Pottroff.

Another double-million-dollar digit verdict was received from a Hennepin County jury in a real estate fraud case. The plaintiffs in Sober et al. v. Cole et al. were allowed to pierce the corporate veil and recover a verdict of more that $22.5 million against the owners of the corporate defendants. The plaintiff’s attorneys were Robert B. Bauer, Stephen A. Ling and Thomas R. Donely.

A notable settlement was reached in a class action case against Wal-Mart for wage and hour violations. Attorneys William Sieben and Justin Perl settled the case for $54.25 million on behalf of a class of more than 100,000 current and former employees.

Minnesota lawyers received huge verdicts in cases outside the state. Jeffrey Ross and Randy Gullickson earned a $141 million verdict in federal court in New York in AIG Global Securities Lending Corp., et al. v. Banc of America Securities LLC, a securities fraud case emblematic of the country’s financial picture. Ronald Schutz and Emmett McMahon received an $89 million verdict in federal court in Texas for a patent infringement in Grantley Patent Holdings, Inc. v. Clear Channel Communications, Inc.