September 15, 2021. Melissa Stull led the Civil Litigation Section Advocate Award event honoring Judge Kevin Burke and three civil litigators from the trial team that prosecuted Derek Chauvin—Jerry Blackwell, Steve Schleicher, and Lola Velazquez-Aguilu. Melissa also moderated the conversation with Blackwell, Schleicher, and Velazquez-Aguilu, asking the group questions about the Chauvin trial, why they decided to put their civil practice on hold to take on the Chauvin prosecution, and how their civil litigation experience translated to success in this landmark case.
September 17, 2021. Melissa Stull presented at the Torts Litigation and Ethics XII seminar in St. Paul on Friday. Melissa offered insights on recent cases and trends in Minnesota products liability law.
August 16, 2021. In Amador v. 3M Co. (In re Bair Hugger Forced Air Warming Devices Prods. Liab. Litig.), __ F.4th __, 2021 U.S. App. LEXIS 24255 (8th Cir. 2021), the Eighth Circuit Court of Appeals reversed summary judgment in favor of defendant 3M, reviving plaintiffs’ negligence and strict liability claims in a Multidistrict Litigation (MDL) involving nearly 6,000 lawsuits. Plaintiffs allege that they suffered periprosthetic joint infections (PJIs) due to the use of 3M’s Bair Hugger device during orthopedic-implant surgeries. The Bair Hugger is “a forced-air device used to keep patients warm during surgery so as to stave off hypothermia-related complications that can arise during or after surgery.” Plaintiffs allege that the forced-air warming device introduced microbes into the surgical site during surgery, either by creating “currents that carry ambient bacteria from nonsterile areas of the operating room to the surgical site” or by blowing bacteria present inside the device out into the operating room, and thereby caused the PJIs.
After the first bellwether trial, which resulted in a jury verdict for 3M, the MDL court excluded plaintiffs’ engineering and general-causation medical experts and granted summary judgment to 3M, dismissing all MDL claims. On appeal, the Eighth Circuit applied the standard for the reliability inquiry of the Daubert test, concluding that the MDL court erred in excluding plaintiffs’ engineering expert when the physics underlying his model are reliable. The court further found that the fact that the model was developed for litigation goes to weight rather than admissibility. Regarding plaintiffs’ general-causation medical experts, the 8th Circuit determined that the experts’ causation theories were not so fundamentally unsupported that they should be excluded. Any weaknesses in the experts’ theories may be tested by cross-examination and admission of contrary evidence. With plaintiffs’ expert reinstated, the Eighth Circuit reversed the MDL court’s grant of summary judgment.
To read more about the Amador opinion, click here.
To read the Amador opinion, click here.
July 15, 2021 – Soule & Stull was proud to sponsor the Minnesota American Indian Bar Association golf event for the eighth consecutive year. The event raises money for law school scholarships for American Indian students. Lieutenant Governor Peggy Flanagan, pictured with George and Melissa, spoke at the event. George and Melissa’s foursome was made complete with Anton van der Merwe and Sarah Karlgaard.
April 7, 2021. The Supreme Court of the State of New York, Appellate Division: Second Judicial Department issued its opinion affirming the jury verdict in favor of defendant Vermeer Manufacturing Company. George and Melissa tried the case to a jury in Suffolk County, NY in the fall of 2018. After a seven-day trial, the jury returned a verdict in favor or Vermeer, rejecting the plaintiff’s claims that Vermeer marketed and sold its brush chipper with no or inadequate warnings or instructions. The trial court denied the plaintiff’s request for a new trial, and the plaintiff appealed. Melissa Stull argued the case to the New York Appellate Division on January 21, 2021. The Appellate Court held “that the verdict was based upon a fair interpretation of the evidence presented to the jury, and thus, the Supreme Court properly denied the plaintiff’s motion pursuant to CPLR 4404(a) to set aside the verdict as contrary to the weight of the evidence and for a new trial.” You may read the opinion here.
May 7, 2021. Melissa Stull spoke on a panel with Molly Hough of Bassford Remele and Seth Zawila of Robins Kaplan, moderated by Ret. Judge. Dan O’Fallon for the MSBA continuing education course “Working Up the New Case.” The panel gave a nuts and bolts presentation about developing a new case from initial notification through discovery.
April 14, 2021. Melissa Stull spoke at the Practising Law Institute Manufacturing and Consumer Products Law Institute webcast about recent developments in product litigation. Melissa presented with Sarah-Jane Dobson of Kennedys in London, Archis Parasharami of Mayer Brown in Washington, DC, and Graham Owens of National Association of Manufacturers in Washington, DC. Melissa discussed the apparent manufacturer doctrine, personal protective equipment labeling litigation, and PREP Act immunity.
U.S. Supreme Court decides that manufacturer may be sued in state where accident occurred when manufacturer engages in activities in the state
March 25, 2021. In Ford Motor Co v. Montana Eighth Judicial District Court, 592 U.S. ___ (2021), the U.S. Supreme Court revisited the issue of specific jurisdiction for manufacturers with national markets. Ford involved an appeal of two product liability cases involving vehicle accidents in Montana and Minnesota. In both cases, the vehicles were originally sold outside the forum state and later resold to individuals in Montana and Minnesota. Ford sought to dismiss both claims for lack of personal jurisdiction because it had not designed, manufactured, or sold the vehicles in the forum states. The Court concluded that “[w]hen a company like Ford serves a market for a product in a State and that product causes injury in the State to one of its residents, the State’s courts may entertain the resulting suit.” Based on this decision, a manufacturer may be subject to personal jurisdiction where the accident involving its product occurred even if the manufacturer did not manufacture or sell the specific product in that state. A manufacturer’s connections with the forum state may be sufficient to establish personal jurisdiction if the manufacturer regularly markets, sells, and services products in that state.
To read more about the Ford opinion, click here.
To read the Ford opinion, click here.
March 25, 2021. Minnesota Governor Tim Walz today appointed George Soule a member of the Campaign Finance and Public Disclosure Board. The Board’s four major programs are campaign finance registration and disclosure, public subsidy administration, lobbyist registration and disclosure, and economic interest disclosure by public officials. George has been involved in politics, campaigns and elections in Minnesota for over 50 years, starting as a high school student. He has worked on countless campaigns for city, county, judicial district, congressional, state and national candidates. George’s appointment is subject to advice and consent by the Minnesota Senate and House.
March 29, 2021. George was guest speaker today at Professor Oscar Flores’s Economics class on Negotiations at Minnesota State University Moorhead. George spoke about negotiations in his law practice, especially in mediations, and ethics in negotiations. George graduated as an Economics major from MSU Moorhead and now serves on the Minnesota State Colleges and Universities Board of Trustees.
George Soule & Anna Veit-Carter author article on voting rights and election litigation in Minnesota in 2020
March 2, 2021. George and Anna’s article DEMOCRACY GOES TO COURT: Litigating voting rights and election administration in Minnesota in 2020 was released today in the March 2021 issue of Bench & Bar of Minnesota. Minnesota political parties, voter organizations, voters, and election officials fought in court over many aspects of voting and elections. The lawsuits continued after the election, contesting the results of several Minnesota races. The article reviews the key Minnesota legal battles over voting and elections in 2020.
A copy of the article is here.
MSBA publication Bench & Bar featured the Civil Litigation Section’s donation drive that Melissa helped coordinate. The MSBA Civil Litigation Section hosted a drop off donation event at the Soule & Stull offices in December for My Very Own Bed, a non-profit organization that supplies bedding for children in need. In addition to virtually donated items, the Council members gathered a box full of new bedding, stuffed animals, and books to donate. Hot chocolate, cookies, and cheer were served to those that stopped by. The event even gathered some passersby and neighbors, who were eager to donate with enthusiasm and the spirit of giving!