Thull v. Techtronic Trial Prep…

Ryobi 10 inch Thull v. Techtronic Trial Prep...I have covered the build-up to trial in the Thull v. Techtronic case at some length recently. After all, it is one of the very rare civil cases to go to trial and, even more rare, these are adversaries (the lawyers, that is) who have had another go-round once before.

It is interesting to get indirect experience of a civil trial even when one is not a player. For example, I don’t think I would have known in advance that a “final pretrial conference” would go nearly 5 hours and the “final status conference” another two hours a day-and-a-half later…

Today is showtime up in Duluth…

Webb Golden Valley LLC v. Global One Golden Valley LLC: MN Supreme Court Grants Cert

US 131 M 6 68th St interchange 300x200 Webb Golden Valley LLC v. Global One Golden Valley LLC: MN Supreme Court Grants CertIf you are like most people, you have never given much though, if any, to the legal and property complications that might arise when a road is being rebuilt.

Some public entity or another (or, likely, more than one) has to buy up property, build/rebuild the road, and when the building is through, maybe the public entities have left over property, to put back into private hands?

Such a scenario never occurred to me as a possibility before reading the Minnesota Court of Appeals’ decision in Webb Golden Valley LLC v. Global One Golden Valley LLC.  But I guess this happens. And there is apparently some uncertainty as to how the governmental entities can dispose of its “left-overs….”

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Will Someone Explain Why the Minnesota State Court System Cannot Make Civil Filings Public?

Starr 070906 8887 Impatiens hawkeri 300x225 Will Someone Explain Why the Minnesota State Court System Cannot Make Civil Filings Public?

Impatiens Hawkeri, b/k/a Impatients…

Answer: No. Not really. Not for a VERY LONG TIME…

Beau Berentson, Director of Minn. Judicial Branch Communications and Public Affairs wrote me letter this past week: “Looking ahead, we have…begun discussing the possibility of providing remote access to court documents.” (emphasis added).

Berentson continues: “The system we will need to build will be far more sophisticated then [sic] the federal court’s PACER system. Unlike the federal courts, many cases in Minnesota district court are either confidential case types or contain confidential documents.”

Who ever heard of federal courts dealing with, ummm, terrorism, organized crime, trade secrets, allegations of corporate espionage, social security numbers, credit card data breaches, health records, private tax records, or embarrassing private information where privacy interests outweigh prurient public curiosity? If I had the time, I’d link to hundreds of federal cases dealing with the most important confidential and secret information imaginable….But I hope you get the point.

In short, I am not buying the Minnesota Judicial Branch’s excuses and foot-dragging. Neither should you.

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“Something is rotten…right here in the United States…” (or maybe not?)

Bernhardt Hamlet2 206x300 Something is rotten...right here in the United States... (or maybe not?)

Sarah Bernhardt plays Hamlet, Photographer: James Lafayette, c. 1885–1900

Regular readers of Minnesota Litigator know that I go on walk-abouts to neighboring jurisdictions when I think a neighbor’s news might be of interest to Minnesota Litigator readers. A recent sanction from the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Iowa got my attention and it might deserve some of yours, too, if you are a civil litigator.

Something is rotten, but contrary to Marcellus’s suggestion to Horatio, it’s not in Denmark.  Rather, it’s in discovery in modern federal civil litigation right here in the United States. Over two decades ago, Griffin Bell—a former United States Attorney General, United States appeals court judge, and private practitioner—observed: ‘The criticism of the civil justice system has reached a crescendo in recent years. Because much of the cost of litigation is incurred in discovery, the discovery process has been the focal point of considerable criticism.’ How little things have changed.

(footnotes omitted). This is the introductory passage from an order by U.S. District Court Judge Mark W. Bennett (N.D. Iowa), in Security National Bank of Sioux City, as Conservator for J.M.K., a minor, Plaintiff, v. Abbott Laboratories, 299 F.R.D. 595 (N.D. Iowa) sanctioning defense counsel for what the Court viewed as deposition misconduct.

(Incidentally, Twin Cities lawyers, Robert J. King, Jr. and Stephen C. Rathke, represented the plaintiff in the case. At the time they were both with the Lommen Abdo firm. Now King has moved on and Rathke is of counsel with the firm and he recently formed Rathke Mediation, LLC.)

The Court’s anger and frustration at defense counsel’s conduct are obvious from the opinion. But is the Court’s sanction correct?

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Legal Malpractice Claim Survives After Appeal and Serves as Caution for Trust & Estates Lawyers

Danger Land Mines 225x300 Legal Malpractice Claim Survives After Appeal and Serves as Caution for Trust & Estates Lawyers

Photo by Jonathan Rotondo-McCord

We begin our analysis by quoting the late, great Tallulah Bankhead ‘There is less in this than meets the eye.’…. An attorney is asked to draft a power of attorney for his elderly client. The document is drafted by a secretary. The lawyer never meets the client. Neither the lawyer nor the secretary ever discusses the ramifications of signing the document with the client. The document allows the attorney-in-fact to transfer all of the client’s assets to himself. Days after the client signs the document, that is precisely what happens. (citation omitted)

Minnesota Court of Appeals Judge Francis Connolly reversed a trial court decision throwing out a legal malpractice claim. Minnesota Court of Appeals Chief Judge Matthew Johnson dissented from Judge Connolly’s decision, which was joined by Minnesota Court of Appeals Judge Carol Hooten.

As a lawyer who takes on legal malpractice claims for plaintiffs, I found the decision interesting and, by and large, a positive development. On the other hand, Judge Johnson raises strong points in his dissent. (Also, the case is unpublished so you could say that my calling the decision “a positive development” is little more than wishful thinking.)

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