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2022 Attorneys of the Year: Patrick Arenz

Samantha Stetzer//February 16, 2023//

Patrick Arenz, Robins Kaplan LLP

Patrick Arenz, Robins Kaplan LLP

2022 Attorneys of the Year: Patrick Arenz

Samantha Stetzer//February 16, 2023//

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In early September 2015, Brian Short murdered his wife and three children before dying by suicide in their Greenwood, Minnesota, home.

According to attorney Patrick Arenz, this may have never happened had medical and mental health professionals at Park Nicollet, a nonprofit health care center in Minnesota, acted under the proper standard of care.

That’s the crux of the argument Arenz, a partner at Robins Kaplan, will present to a jury later this year — a trial he helped Short’s family win in 2022.

“The evidence at trial will show that Brian’s condition was treatable and this tragedy was preventable; indeed, Brian and his family would be alive today if Park Nicollet delivered basic, reasonable care to him,” Arenz wrote in an email to Minnesota Lawyer.

In the months prior to the tragedy, Short sought treatment from Park Nicollet and was prescribed an antidepressant. As the summer continued, Park Nicollet’s treatment for Short failed to comply with standards of care that are necessary when working with patients with severe diagnoses, Arenz argued.

“It’s an emotional case,” Arenz said in an interview with Minnesota Lawyer. “Obviously, it’s a really important case for [Short’s family].”

After filing a suit against Park Nicollet in 2018, Arenz and Short’s family prepared for a civil trial. However, in 2020, Park Nicollet filed a motion of summary judgment.

Then, in 2022, the courts determined that Short’s family could present their case to a jury.

Should a jury side with the family, this case could provide more accountability — in the same way many other civil cases have done, Arenz argued.

“It means that when people seek help for mental health care, they can expect that their doctors and providers are going to do their job and act reasonably, and that’s a very important expectation and doctrine for Minnesotans,” Arenz said in an interview.

In addition to this case and numerous recognitions for his work as an attorney in 2022, Arenz was also serving as lead trial counsel for two screenwriters in a copyright case regarding the Pirates of the Caribbean franchise against Walt Disney Studios.

That case settled out of court confidentially, after Arenz — once again — defeated the opposing counsel’s motion for summary judgement.

Read more about Minnesota Lawyer’s superb class of Attorneys of the Year for 2022 here.

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