Biography

An experienced litigator with first-chair trial experience, Chris has successfully defended clients at trial and on appeal, has prevailed in class action lawsuits as well as product and premises liability claims, recovered millions of dollars in insurance coverage disputes, and routinely advises and defends attorneys, doctors, nurses, architects, and appraisal management companies from professional liability claims. 

Representative Experience

Class Action

  • Motion to dismiss granted in putative class action involving 60,000 corn growers who sued their former counsel under the federal Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations (RICO) Act, as well as under various Minnesota statutes and common law theories. The putative class sought disgorgement of our clients’ attorney’s fees in excess of $100 million. (Kellogg v. Watts Guerra, LLP, et al., Case No. 18-2408-JWL, United States District Court for the District of Kansas)

Insurance Coverage

  • Secured a judgment of over $1.8 million in a coverage dispute between excess insurers arising out of a construction defect claim. The judgment included 100% of the client’s attorney’s fees. The case settled shortly after Chris defeated the defendant insurer’s motion to stay enforcement of the judgment.
  • Recovered over $1 million in coverage dispute arising out of multiple insurers’ duty to defend a common insured from a construction defect claim
  • Routinely advises insurers regarding duties to indemnify and defend

Trial Counsel

  • Lead counsel in trials conducted in Minnesota and Wisconsin.

Professional Liability

  • Dismissal of claims asserted against appraisal management company in the United States District Court for the Eastern District of Wisconsin
  • Successfully represented attorneys, doctors, nurses, design professionals and appraisal management companies in Minnesota and Wisconsin

Product Liability

  • Tried to verdict personal injury claim against global crane and lifting equipment manufacturer in which liability and damages were contested
  • Summary judgment in multimillion-dollar product defect claim involving a quadriplegic who fell from a ladder (Lenzen v. Garon Products, Inc., 2011 WL 5177713 (D. Minn. 2011))
  • Developed nationwide defense strategy for global crane manufacturer used to secure dismissals in asbestos claims across the country
  • Summary judgment in numerous product liability claims arising out of manufacture and/or sale of asbestos-containing products

Casualty Litigation

  • Summary judgment dismissing first-party claim arising out of broken pipe and resulting water damage in insured’s home. (Syfko v. Encompass Indemnity Co., 2013 WL 4409430 (D. Minn. 2013))

Employment Law

  • Defended claims under the Minnesota Whistleblower Act and Minnesota Vulnerable Adults Act

Business Litigation

  • Summary judgment in breach of contract action arising out of delivery of wind turbine equipment, resulting in dismissal of plaintiff’s claim and award of over $125,000 for the client
  • Summary judgment dismissing all claims brought by purchaser under Interstate Land Sales Act and under state statutory and common law theories (Streambend Properties III, LLC v. Sexton Lofts, LLC, 2012 WL 38338 (D. Minn. 2012)); (Streambend Properties II, LLC v. Ivy Tower Minneapolis, LLC, 2011 WL 839390, (D. Minn. 2011))

Education

  • University of Minnesota Law School  (J.D., 1998)
    • National Moot Court Competition Team, Member
    • Maynard Pirsig Moot Court, Finalist
  • Hamline University  (B.A., 1995)
    • Political Science and Philosophy
    • summa cum laude
    • Phi Beta Kappa

Bar Admissions

  • Minnesota, 1998
  • California, 2007
  • North Dakota, 2010
  • Wisconsin, 2010

Court Admissions

  • United States District Court, Minnesota
  • United States District Court, Eastern and Western Districts of Wisconsin
  • United States District Court, Eastern District of Arkansas

Professional and Community Activities

  • California State Bar Association
  • Minnesota State Bar Association
  • North Dakota State Bar Association
  • Wisconsin State Bar Association
  • Claims and Litigation Management Alliance (CLM)
  • Professional Liability Underwriting Society (PLUS)

Speeches and Presentations

  • Rising Star, Minnesota Law & Politics (2005-2009, 2011, 2013)

Professional Recognition

  • Rising Star, Minnesota Law & Politics (2005-2009, 2011, 2013)