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Legal Briefs

Web Admin//August 21, 2000

Legal Briefs

Web Admin//August 21, 2000

Governor announces Court of Appeals finalists

Gov. Jesse Ventura recently announced four candidates for an upcoming vacancy on the Minnesota Court of Appeals. The vacancy will occur with the resignation of the Honorable Jack Davies effective Sept. 1, 2000. Judge Davies’ position is an at-large seat.

The seven-member committee that reviewed resumes for this position recommended Judge Louise Dovre Bjorkman, Wilbur Fluegel, Samuel Hanson and Rosanne Nathanson to Gov. Ventura for his consideration. He is likely to consider the committee’s recommendations within the next few weeks.

Bjorkman, who lives in Roseville, is a 2nd District Judge in Ramsey County, a position she has held since 1998. From 1985 to 1998, Bjorkman was an attorney and partner in the Minneapolis law firm of Rider, Bennett, Egan and Arundel, where she specialized in civil appeals cases. She is currently chair of the Tort and Insurance Practice Section Appellate Advocacy Committee of the American Bar Association.

Fluegel practices at the Fluegel Law Office in Minneapolis. Prior to becoming a solo practitioner, he was an attorney and the managing partner of the law firm of Wentzel and Fluegel in Minneapolis from 1994 to 1999, an attorney with the law firm of Sieben, Grose, Von Holtum, McCoy and Carey in Minneapolis, where he was the head of the appellate and motion practice department from 1990 to 1994, and a trial attorney with the firm from 1980 to 1990.

Hanson is a partner in the Minneapolis law firm of Briggs and Morgan, specializing in civil litigation and regulated and industries. He has been an attorney with the firm since 1966 and served as its president from 1988 to 1993. Hanson was a law clerk for Minnesota Supreme Court Justice Robert Sheran from 1965 to 1966 and a law clerk for Hennepin County District Court Judge Douglas Amdahl from 1964 to 1965.

Nathanson is currently of counsel to the Minneapolis law firm of Leonard, Street and Deinard, practicing primarily in the area of family law. She has been as associate attorney and shareholder with the firm since 1988. Nathanson was an associate attorney with the Minneapolis law firm of Pepin, Dayton, Herman and Graham from 1987 until its merger with Leonard, Street and Deinard in 1988. She was also employed by the Minneapolis law firm of Trawick and Smith as an associate attorney from 1980 to 1987 and a law clerk from 1978 to 1980.

Employment suit settles after $2.3 million verdict

Two days after a jury returned a $2.3 million verdict against the Duluth Clinic for defaming, discriminating against and acting maliciously toward two former employees, the clinic settled the lawsuit, according to a report in the Duluth News Tribune.

A Chisholm doctor and his wife, a nurse, agreed to the settlement before the two sides began a second part of the trial over punitive damages. Terms of the agreement were not disclosed.

The lawsuit was brought by Dr. William L. Wilson and his wife, Margaret, after they were fired in 1997 from the clinic’s Chisholm office. William Wilson claimed the clinic fired him for no reason and tried to keep him from his patients. Margaret Wilson claimed the clinic fired her because she was married to William Wilson and kept her personal medical records from her when she needed to show them to a specialist.

The jury agreed, deciding the clinic owed the couple for interfering with William Wilson’s prospective patient contracts and for defaming him. The jury also said the clinic acted maliciously with respect to either its termination of Mrs. Wilson’s employment or the loss of her medical records and discharging her under a pretext or cover-up for marital status discrimination.

City agrees to settle wrong-way crash lawsuit

The city of Minneapolis agreed last week to pay $500,000 to the family of a man who died when his limousine was struck by a stolen car that city police were chasing the wrong way on Interstate Hwy. 94, according to a report in the Star Tribune.

To settle a federal civil rights lawsuit filed by the family of Brian Feist, the city also agreed to pay attorneys fees that could go as high as $250,000.

Feist, 38, was killed Aug. 11, 1996, in a crash that eventually prompted the Minneapolis Police Department to change its policy on pursuits, barring officers from driving the wrong way on interstate highways.

Normally, the city’s liability in a lawsuit is capped at $300,000, but because this was a federal civil rights suit, the cap didn’t apply.

After meeting in closed session with city attorneys for more than 30 minutes, the Minneapolis City Council voted 10-0 without discussion to approve the settlement for the unusually high amount.

The decision to settle was prompted by a decision last month by the 8th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals affirming a decision by U.S. District Court Judge Ann Montgomery and allowing the suit to proceed.

Montgomery will rule on the amount of attorneys fees the city must pay.

Hatch files amicus brief in ADA case

Minnesota Attorney General Mike Hatch recently filed a friend of the court brief with the Supreme Court of the United Sates. The brief supports the application of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) to the states.

Hatch filed the brief on behalf of the attorneys general of 13 other states. He argues that the Oct. 26, 1999, ruling by the 11th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals denying state governments immunity from the ADA, should be affirmed.

The case involves two separate suits brought against the University of Alabama at Birmingham and the Alabama Department of Youth Services, under the ADA and the Rehabilitation Act, respectively.

A U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Alabama dismissed the suits on the grounds that the 11th Amendment prohibits citizens from suing states in federal court. The Court of Appeals consolidated the cases on appeal and held that the states do not have blanket sovereign immunity from suits by citizens and that Congress can give citizens the right to sue states.

The U.S. Supreme Court granted Alabama’s petition for certiorari. Oral arguments are scheduled for Oct. 11.

Legal briefs are compiled from AP wire, staff reports and news releases.

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