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Home / Special Sections / Attorneys of the Year / 2021 Attorneys of the Year: Kathleen Flynn Peterson and Robert King Jr.
Kathleen Flynn Peterson and Robert King Jr.
Kathleen Flynn Peterson and Robert King Jr.

2021 Attorneys of the Year: Kathleen Flynn Peterson and Robert King Jr.

Matt Thein was driving down a rural road near Willmar in July 2018 when a truck from a local farm failed to yield the right of way. The resulting accident left Thein with multiple injuries, most of which had healed or were healing by the time his case went to trial.

But Thein had a traumatic brain injury and mild cognitive impairment as a result. Kathleen Flynn Peterson and Robert King of Ciresi Conlin had to convince a jury that although Thein looked fine, he actually wasn’t — and the right course of action would be to award him damages.

To make sure the jury understood Thein’s injuries, Flynn Peterson and King’s team created exhibits that showed each injury and its long-term effects. “It reaffirmed for me the power of a clean and clear demonstrative exhibit,” King says.

Flynn Peterson and King also conducted focus groups to find out how the case might be perceived. They discovered that participants were concerned about Thein, but they also worried about his wife, who might have to care for Thein eventually.

“He was very lucky to heal without any significant physical disability,” Flynn Peterson says. “But it’s well known that even mild cognitive impairment accelerates the cognitive decline that often comes with aging.”

The trial was Flynn Peterson and King’s first since the pandemic began. By the time of trial, the case had been continued twice already. Medical witnesses testified by Zoom, and Peterson only took her mask off to deliver closing arguments. “It was an interesting time to try a case,” King says.

The jury believed Flynn Peterson and King, and awarded the plaintiff $13.14 million.

“It was really about people’s willingness to award money if the evidence supported it,” Flynn Peterson says. “We got a jury that was willing to do that.”

Read more about Minnesota Lawyer’s superb class of Attorneys of the Year for 2021 here.

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