Defense is the name of the game for Bowman and Brooke co-managing partner Alana Bassin, and she demonstrated that last year with a big win on behalf of German energy conglomerate Siemens.
As national product liability counsel for the company, Bassin was lead trial counsel in a case stemming from a 2011 incident in which an electrician at a gas plant in west Texas was severely burned when a compressor at the plant where he was working exploded during startup. The electrician claimed that Siemens Energy was responsible for the explosion, arguing that the company failed to conduct a sufficiently thorough hazard analysis. He also alleged that the company didn’t take reasonable steps to form a standard-compliant safety program that could have prevented the explosion.
The Siemens case, set in rural Winkler County, presented plenty of challenges, according to Bassin.
“English wasn’t the first language for a lot of the jurors, some of whom hadn’t made it out of high school,” she said. “It was against three well-known, local plaintiffs’ law firms. It was a very technical case. We had to explain to the jury in highly technical terms that it wasn’t Siemens’ fault.”
During a jury trial, Bassin demonstrated that Siemens exercised reasonable care in its work at the plant and was not the cause of the incident. The jury eventually awarded the plaintiff $30 million, finding Southern Union Gas Services 90 percent liable and Saulsbury Industries Inc. 10 percent liable, with Siemens found without liability.
“The appeals process was tough,” said Bassin. “After the verdict awarded $30 million, the plaintiffs tried to undo the verdict by arguing that the jurors hadn’t disclosed some things during the voir dire process. They tried to vacate the verdict, and that led us through more months of uncharted territory.”
Bassin thrives in such arduous cases by traveling the country defending clients in personal injury, catastrophic injury and wrongful death claims. Those clients include Minnesota’s own Honeywell, American Medical Systems (now owned by Boston Scientific), and HB Fuller, as well as Siemens Industries and long-term care provider Golden Living.
She’s also on the board of WomenWinning, a multi-partisan, pro-choice women’s organization with both a state and federal political action committee. At the firm, Bassin is also chair of Bowman and Brooke’s diversity committee. In that role she recently helped the firm adopt a charter and 60-point Diversity and Acts of Inclusion Checklist. She has also led firm discussion on millennials in the workplace, pushing for education and coaching initiatives.
Bassin is also on Bowman and Brooke’s strategic planning committee.
“I find that all those roles overlap,” she said. “We want a strong, viable firm that’s also a good place to work.”