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Paul D. Peterson
Paul D. Peterson

2021 Attorneys of the Year: Paul D. Peterson

circle-excellence2021 was a year of renewed opportunities for Paul D. Peterson, a founding partner of Harper & Peterson, PLLC, a Woodbury law firm that focuses on personal injury and civil litigation.

Among last year’s highlights was a ruling by the Minnesota Supreme Court reinstating a wrongful death lawsuit filed by heirs of a 4-year-old boy who died in February 2013 after being physically abused by his father’s girlfriend.

The Supreme Court reversed a ruling by a Pope County District Court that dismissed the case, which claimed that Pope County and three child protection workers were negligent in the death of Eric Dean. Peterson’s firm filed the lawsuit alleging negligence on the part of the child protection workers, who failed to notify law enforcement officers despite multiple reports of child abuse in the Dean home in Starbuck.

The Supreme Court found that immunity didn’t apply to the social workers. The ruling returned the case to the lower court for further proceedings, including a possible trial.

The case led to significant reforms to state laws regarding child abuse, including more response to and investigations of abuse reports, and more funding and workers for the child protection system. The alleged abuser, Amanda Peltier, was convicted of first-degree murder in 2014.

In another 2021 case involving reversal of fortune for Peterson and one of his clients, a jury awarded a woman injured in a car accident $1.2 million in a retrial of a Dakota County personal injury lawsuit. Peterson’s client was originally awarded a smaller amount, but a new trial was ordered due to misconduct on the part of the opposing lawyer.

“After the first trial, my client had a legitimate feeling that the system was not providing a fair process.” Peterson says. “It was helpful to her peace of mind, regardless of the outcome, to have what she felt was a fair trial,”

Last year’s highlights for Peterson were not limited to the courtroom. He also was named to become president of the Minnesota State Bar Association later this year.

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

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