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The POWER 30: John Dornik

Minnesota Lawyer//February 22, 2021

The POWER 30: John Dornik

Minnesota Lawyer//February 22, 2021

It has been widely reported that dollar stores are frequently scenes of violence toward and between customers, employees and criminals who target the stores. In 2016 a gunman killed one man and paralyzed another in a Dollar Tree in Burnsville. 

Plaintiffs have been unable to hold the stores responsible in the absence of a duty to customers. But in Burnsville, an argument broke out between an employee and a customer. The employee got out of the store but the customer shot two others. One died and the other is paraplegic. The District Court certified to the Court of Appeals the question of whether the employees own conduct created a duty of the store to warn or protect the customer. 

The survivor is represented by Siegel Brill attorney John Dornik and his associates Blake Shepard, Elliot Olson and William Christopher Penwell. 

Dornik’s practice is about half medical malpractice and half other personal injury and products liability. In 2020 he resolved six cases for seven figures. 

One was a case settled confidentially for a man who was injured when an airboat he was riding in flipped and the fan took his legs.

In a medical malpractice case, a woman diagnosed with cervical cancer was told biopsies of her lymph nodes were negative. They weren’t, and she died of cancer at the age of 41, leaving a spouse and children. 

Another malpractice case was failure to diagnose Kawasaki disease in a young child. It is a disease of unknown cause that causes blood vessels to become inflamed, resulting in heart disease. The child will require a transplant, and other complications from the disease may ensue. Since the child is only 2 years old, the damages will be substantial, Dornik said.

Dornik also represented Jamar Clark’s siblings in their lawsuit against the city of Minneapolis. Clark was killed in 2015 by Officer Dustin Schwarze, who was not charged with a crime and was removed as a defendant in the civil case. Clark’s DNA was found on the gun of another police officer in a confrontation with Clark when the shooting occurred. That case settled for $200,000.

The process of litigation continues despite COVID and the scarcity of court dates, Dornik said. “Cases that should be settled are settling,” he said. But he recently filed a case in Douglas County that won’t get to trial until 2023. Arbitration is not always an alternative that defendants will accept, he said. “I’d be happy to arbitrate if we could find an arbitrator.” 

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