W. Knapp Fitzsimmons

Partner Minneapolis
Contact Info


Knapp is a partner in Taft's Commercial Litigation and Construction practices. He practices primarily in the areas of:

  • Construction law and litigation
  • Banking and creditors’ rights litigation
  • Real estate and landlord/tenant litigation
  • Environmental litigation and counseling
  • General commercial litigation

Knapp’s construction practice includes representing construction, real estate development and engineering companies and owners in disputes involving alleged construction defects, contractual disputes and mechanic’s lien actions. Knapp also has extensive experience counseling clients on transactional matters and drafting construction-related agreements. Among other representative experience, Knapp assisted in defending a manufacturing client against a negligence claim in excess of $33 million and obtaining summary judgment under Minnesota’s improvement to real property statute of limitations in a matter relating to a public utility construction project. Associated Elec. & Gas Ins. Servs. v. BendTec, Inc., 822 F.3d 420 (8th Cir. 2016).

In his banking and creditors’ rights practice, Knapp has successfully represented numerous banks and lending institutions in pursuing both monetary and foreclosure remedies, including resolving title and priority disputes. Knapp assisted in prosecuting a complex commercial foreclosure and breach of contract action on behalf of a national bank through which Taft obtained damages in excess of $12 million on summary judgment, successfully defending a national bank against tortious interference and related claims in a multimillion dollar litigation stemming from a commercial borrower’s attempt to sell bank collateral, obtaining the appointment of temporary and permanent receivers on emergency and ex parte bases to manage the affairs of commercial borrowers and preserve bank collateral, and prosecuting a complex agricultural foreclosure and obtaining a finding of priority over another lender on summary judgment.

Knapp’s real estate and landlord/tenant practice includes prosecuting and defending actions between commercial landlords and tenants, representing sellers and purchasers of real property, and representing condominium and homeowners associations in various matters.

In his environmental litigation practice, Knapp has represented large, multi-national corporations regarding asbestos liability, defended a large, multi-national manufacturer in connection with a superfund site and potential CERCLA and related liability under state environmental laws, and counseled clients regarding officer/director liability under CERCLA and related state laws in numerous jurisdictions.

Knapp also represents a broad range of individual and corporate clients in all manners of business and commercial disputes, including matters involving employment contracts and non-compete agreements, manufacturing and supply agreements, general contract claims, and corporate governance and shareholder and partnership disputes. Additionally, Knapp has extensive experience defending personal injury actions, particularly in connection with construction and other jobsite injuries.

He is also a certified civil mediation and arbitration neutral under Minnesota Practice Rule 114.

While attending law school, Knapp served as a staff member for the Journal of the National Security Forum and a research assistant for Professor A. John Radsan and an extern for the Honorable Gregg E. Johnson.


  • Recipient, Minnesota Justice Foundation Private Practice Award (2013)

  • North Star Lawyer, Minnesota State Bar Association


  • William Mitchell College of Law

    summa cum laude
    Dean's List
    CALI Excellence for the Future Award

  • Wake Forest University

    magna cum laude


  • State - Minnesota
  • Federal - 7th Circuit Court of Appeals
  • Federal - 8th Circuit Court of Appeals
  • Federal - District of Minnesota

Notable Matters

  • Counseled client regarding remediation obligations and allocation/contribution claims under the Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation, and Liability Act (CERCLA).
  • Defended an engineering firm against a multimillion-dollar negligence claim asserted by a city following a slope failure at an MSW landfill.
  • Defended former officers/directors in complex, securities fraud litigation involving allegations that defendants made misrepresentations in connection with the sale of timeshares and participated in the unlicensed sale of securities.
  • Defended former regional manager and new employer in action by former employer seeking damages and injunctive relief relating to manager's noncompetition agreement.
  • Defended numerous construction contractors, architects, engineers and developers in complex commercial and residential construction defect actions in court and arbitration.
  • Obtained appointment of temporary, and later permanent, receiver on emergency, ex parte basis to manage the affairs of commercial borrower and prevent waste of bank's collateral, an income-producing commercial property.
  • Prosecuted a complex commercial mortgage foreclosure and breach of contract litigation on behalf of a national bank and obtained damages in excess of $12 million on summary judgment.
  • Prosecuted foreclosure action involving agricultural property and contentious priority dispute with other lender.
  • Represented bank in pursuing misrepresentation and contractual claims against entity and its principals who sold lease participations to bank where it was later revealed that lessee operated a Ponzi scheme.
  • Represented homeowners in construction defect action against contractor in arbitration and obtained judgment for all damages sought.
  • Represented national bank as trustee of trust containing assets in excess of $70 million in connection with contentious, high-profile estate dispute. 
  • Represented national bank in related lawsuits involving a multimillion-dollar construction loan default by developer, appointment and termination of a receiver, a mechanic's lien foreclosure action by a general contractor, and title insurance litigation.
  • Represented personal representative of estate in complex estate dispute involving claims asserted against the estate by a conservator.

Speeches and Publications

  • 2016-10-24, “Enforcing Arbitration Awards in Minnesota,” Co-author, Practical Law, Thomson Reuters