Robins Kaplan partner Elizabeth Fors is hailing passage of the Minnesota Survivorship Statute, which expands damages that families can pursue after loved ones die.
Fors, legislative co-chair of the Minnesota Association for Justice, said the plaintiffs’ bar group had pushed the law for more than a decade.
The law, effective in May, allows for a person’s full damages to survive death, according to a Robins Kaplan statement. Before, the claim of a person alleging medical malpractice who then died from an unrelated cause would end when that person died. Now, the action survives, and family can continue claims for pain and suffering.
“It’s essentially allowing all damages from the medical malpractice or wrongful death to be included,” Fors said. “The justice is not just for families who are still living but also for the individual who dies and what they endured until their death.”
Fors and Robins Kaplan partner Chris Messerly obtained the largest medical malpractice wrongful death verdict in state history, more than $20 million, in 2017.
Name: Elizabeth Fors
Title: Partner, Robins Kaplan
Education: B.A., speech communications, University of Minnesota; paralegal certificate, Inver Hills Community College; J.D., Hamline University School of Law
Q: Best way to start a conversation with you?
A: Dogs or baseball or hockey.
Q: Why law school?
A: This is my second career. For about 10 years out of college, I did sports TV as a producer. I wanted a change. I wanted something, ironically, that had more stable work hours and then became a trial attorney where the hours are just as crazy. When I was younger, I thought I’d be an attorney. My brother-in-law, who’s an attorney, said you need to get your paralegal certificate and make sure this is what you want to do. Otherwise, you’re going to go to law school and have no clue and have all this debt. I went to paralegal school, got my certificate and worked for a solo practitioner who does malpractice and personal injury. I realized right away this is what I want to do. I went to law school so I could become a malpractice attorney.
Q: What are you reading?
A: The last book that I just loved was “Everyone in My Family Has Killed Someone,” by Benjamin Stevenson. It’s a quirky novel that I got a laugh from.
Q: Pet peeve?
A: Slow drivers in the left lane.
Q: Best part of your work?
A: My clients. Getting to know them and their stories and being a voice for them.
Q: Most challenging?
A: Not being able to do enough for them. Whether it’s statute of limitations, that they can’t bring a case, or whatever I do, it’s not going to change the situation. We can’t rewrite history, and that’s the hardest thing.
Q: Favorite activity away from work?
A: I love knitting, hanging out with my dog and watching sports.
Q: Where would you take someone visiting your hometown?
A: We’d go to Matt’s Bar and get a Jucy Lucy. It’s down the street from where my father grew up. It’s a good place to get a different insight into Minneapolis. If it was good enough for President Obama when he visited Minneapolis, it’s good enough for us.
Q: Legal figure you admire?
A: My mentor Chris Messerly. And Justice Alan Page. He not only on the football field reached the highest levels but then became a Supreme Court justice for our state as a second career. For me with this being my second career, it’s cool to see people succeed in that way.
Q: Misconception that others have about your work?
A: That we hate doctors. It’s not about the doctors, it’s about helping people that are experiencing the worst times of their lives and getting their stories out there and their voices heard.
Q: Favorite book, movie or TV show about lawyers?
A: “The Verdict” with Paul Newman. It’s a malpractice case. I didn’t know when I saw it years ago that that’s what I was going to do later. His closing argument is fantastic. It’s well-written and the gotcha moment on the stand is awesome.