Tom is a partner in Taft’s Product Liability and Personal Injury, Energy and Insurance Coverage and Recovery practices. He primarily practices in the areas of property and personal injury defense, insurance coverage litigation, energy and land use, and product liability and general commercial litigation. Tom is a qualified neutral under Rule 114 of the Minnesota General Rules of Practice.
Property and Personal Injury Defense
Tom has litigated a wide range of property and personal injury cases ranging from trucking railroad crossing, FELA and other transportation defense to fire and explosion litigation. He is experienced in the evaluation, investigation, management and trial of complex multi-party property and personal injury cases. His experience includes:
- Investigating suspected electrical contract in the death of a construction project manager.
- Defending industrial property owner in third-party liability suit brought by electrician injured in fall from a lift.
- Investigating suspected electrical contact fatality at an electric utility substation.
- Defending a railroad in a jury trial in a FELA case arising out of a claimed career-ending injury. The jury returned a complete defense verdict of no liability at trial.
- Obtaining summary dismissal of a claim against a utility alleging $20 million in property damage arising out of an electrical fire at an Iron Range taconite plant.
- Obtaining summary dismissal of a personal injury claim asserted by an injured truck driver against a landfill owner for injuries sustained in a railroad crossing accident. The injured driver alleged that the landfill owner was responsible for conditions at a private railway crossing.
- Defending a national trucking company in a wrongful death claim arising out of a rear-end collision for which the truck driver was charged with criminal negligence.
- Defending thousands of individual claims alleging toxic exposure arising out of a train derailment in North Dakota.
- Defending a major railroad against multiple personal injury and property damage claims alleging toxic exposure to diesel fuel spilled during years of train refueling operations.
Insurance Coverage Litigation
Tom works closely with corporate clients in managing risk, including annual coverage and policy review, loss notification and defense tender, claim analysis and litigating coverage denials. Tom’s experience includes:
- Winning an Eighth Circuit appeal declaring that an excess policy was triggered by a combination of prior settlement amounts and guarantee fund payments. The excess carrier had claimed that prior payments advanced in settling related claims arising out of the same occurrence did not count toward the excess policy threshold.
- Obtaining a favorable settlement on behalf of a clothing distributor in a bad faith claim against a primary/excess insurer’s failure to settle a multi-million-dollar personal injury claim within limits.
- Obtaining a favorable settlement from an insurer on behalf of food wholesaler for seafood contaminated in a fire at a cold storage facility.
Energy and Land Use
Tom represents utility companies in municipal franchise negotiation and disputes, placement of utility facilities in municipal and state rights-of-way, and in contractor and service provider disputes. Tom’s experience includes:
- Advising and defending utilities in actions by municipalities for relocation compensation relating to utility facilities located in municipal and state rights-of-way.
- Obtaining a favorable settlement of a municipal contractor claim asserting delay damages allegedly caused by weather-delayed utility relocations on a municipal road design/build project.
- Representing utilities in negotiating and defending terms of municipal franchise agreements.
Product Liability and General Commercial Litigation
Tom has a wide range of product liability and general commercial litigation experience ranging from defending manufacturers and distributors, ERISA claims and regulatory compliance, including:
- Obtaining a favorable jury verdict for a waste recycling company in a breach of contract and negligence action.
- Winning an Eighth Circuit appeal dismissing RICO and fraud claims asserted by shareholder dissenters from a “freeze-out” merger.
- Investigating, defending and successfully defeating sexual harassment claims asserted against a retail company.
- Obtaining a favorable settlement on behalf of an online retailer for claims asserted by a web developer.
- Obtaining summary judgment on behalf of a compressor manufacturer for property damage claims arising out of a warehouse fire at a dairy processing plant.
- Representing a creditor in successfully obtaining a temporary restraining order prohibiting allegedly fraudulent pre-bankruptcy asset transfers.
Rising Star, Minnesota Super Lawyers
- Vermont Law School (1992)
summa cum laude
- Cornell University (1985)
- State - Minnesota
- State - Wisconsin
- State - North Dakota
- Federal - 8th Circuit Court of Appeals
- Federal - Eastern District of Wisconsin
- Federal - District of Minnesota
- Federal - Western District of Wisconsin
- Federal - District of North Dakota
- Defended thousands of claims and numerous trials stemming out of a North Dakota derailment.
- Handled appeals to Minnesota Court of Appeals and Minnesota Supreme Court to protect energy company tariffs against a class action attacking tariffs on filed rate doctrine and primary jurisdiction grounds.
- Obtained summary judgment in railroad crossing accident case regarding claims of negligence against adjoining landowner.
- Obtained summary judgment on behalf of electric utility dismissing $20 million claim property damage and business interruption.
Speeches and Publications
- “Civil Lit A to Z: Case Management-Deposition Practice,” Minnesota Continuing Legal Education (May 2019)
- “Homeowners Insurance Liability Coverage: New Interpretations,” National Business Institute (Feb. 2017)
- “Resolving First-Party Insurance Coverage Disputes” (Oct. 2015)
- Minnesota State Bar Association
Former Vice Chair, 4th District Ethics Committee
- Hennepin County Bar Association
- Wisconsin State Bar Association
- North Dakota State Bar Association