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The POWER 30: Michael Ciresi

Minnesota Lawyer//March 21, 2022//

Michael Ciresi

Michael Ciresi, Ciresi Conlin

The POWER 30: Michael Ciresi

Minnesota Lawyer//March 21, 2022//

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The Bair-Hugger MDL against 3M for its allegedly defective forced-air warming device is “back on track” after it was remanded last August by the 8th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, says Michael Ciresi, one of the attorneys for the plaintiffs. The plaintiffs say the device, which brings warm air to surgery patients, results in infection. The circuit court reversed the decision of District Court Judge Joan Ericksen, who ruled the plaintiffs’ expert evidence inadmissible.

Trial has finished in another of Ciresi’s cases, Minnesota v. Otto Bremer Trust, and is in the hands of Judge Robert Awsumb. Ciresi represents the trustees because the state sued to remove them — Charlotte Johnson, Brian Lipschultz and Daniel Reardon — after the trustees decided to sell one of the trust’s assets — Bremer Financial Corp., including Bremer Bank.

So Ciresi, one of Minnesota’s premier trial lawyers (lead attorney in the 1998 Minnesota tobacco settlement) in injury cases as well as other areas, had a little time to philosophize. When he looks at the legal profession from a national point of view, he said, “Where I would dig in is the antitrust area.” Congress has investigated the big four tech companies — Apple, Facebook, Google and Amazon — “but nothing has come to fruition.”

At a more state level, Ciresi said his office has been swamped with phone calls, many about criminal issues and many implicating how society addresses discrimination.

The times call for “real considered leadership” by lawyers, Ciresi said, to avoid overreaching argument that exacerbates divisions among people and is likely to backfire. Lawyers need to stick to facts to effect change and not simply exploit social division, Ciresi said. Former Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin was convicted in a trial that focused on the particular issues of that case, he pointed out.

How lawyers address issues in courtrooms can effect real change, he said, pointing to the history of products liability jurisprudence.

Ciresi is concerned that the divisiveness of society is seeping into the practice of law. “We have to fight against this tendency and there’s a lack of leadership to fight it,” he said.

Attorneys should not be goaded into unprofessional, or worse, actions by clients, he said. Clients may want lawyers to take actions that “dance in the shadows of ambiguity,” he said. “It’s important that senior lawyers understand that and direct younger lawyers in the right way to practice,” he said.


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