Up & Coming: Melissa R. Stull
Posted: 4:02 pm Fri, September 14, 2012
By Jane F. Pribek
Associate Attorney, Bowman and Brooke
Sixth-grade mock trial had a real impact on Melissa Stull.
“The idea of standing up in court and having a say for my clients, and trying to convince a judge and jury to agree with you, was very attractive to me,” said Stull, now a six-year attorney who has already tried five complex, high-stakes cases for Bowman and Brooke in Minneapolis.
Most recently, in Jennosa v. Vermeer, Stull second-chaired a product-liability three-week trial in Suffolk County, N.Y., where the court entered a directed verdict for the defense — an unusual way to prevail. Plaintiffs had been seeking several million dollars.
Before that, she successfully represented that same client in a weeklong trial in Will County, Ill., with a jury rejecting plaintiff’s suggested award of approximately $500,000 and instead returning a defense verdict in Taylor v. Vermeer.
“It was a case that I’d managed from the beginning. I’d filed the answer, and I stood up in court for the summary judgment hearing, as well as the trial and everything in between. I gave the opening statement, and gave the direct and cross-examinations of several witnesses, both fact and experts,” Stull said. “So it was a real career highlight to have so much stand-up time, in a case that I’d been heavily invested in for several years.”
In between her extensive work on that case, Stull penned a demand letter seeking policy limits regarding her husband’s uncle’s wrongful death from a motorcycle accident in 2010. The insurer paid the entire, six-figure demand.
Stull was assured when her firm offered her an associate position that she’d get extensive, meaningful litigation experience, right away. That promise was kept, to her delight.
“Appearing for court has a certain level of excitement that’s hard to match,” she said, noting that sleep is a rarity when trying a case. She added, with a laugh, “I think that made me well-prepared for motherhood.”
Stull and her husband, Jason Burgart, recently celebrated their daughter’s first birthday.