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Vital expertise for what matters.

Dean Zimmerli focuses his practice civil litigation related to agriculture, environmental regulation, banking and finance, commercial disputes and general litigation. In addition, Dean also regularly advises clients on issues related to business formation and contract drafting and negotiation. Dean acquired a valuable work ethic growing up on a family farm in southwest Minnesota, and this experience provides him with a full understanding of agribusiness issues. Dean provides service to his clients addressing their full range of legal needs through conducting research, drafting documents and collaborating with other Gislason & Hunter LLP attorneys. Outside of work, Dean enjoys spending time with his wife, Chelsey, as well as fishing, woodworking and helping with his family’s farm.

Areas of Expertise

Agriculture Law & Agribusiness

  • Purchase & Leasing
  • Planning, Zoning & Land Use
  • Environmental Regulation
  • Water Rights & Wetland Mitigation
  • Ag Financing & Debt Restructuring
  • Agribusiness Formation & Transactions
  • Agriculture Contracts
  • Ag Litigation
  • Food Safety & Animal Rights Controversies

Business & Corporate Law

  • Business Entity Law and Formation, including LLC’s, Partnerships and Corporations
  • Partner & Shareholder Agreements
  • Contracts
  • Creditors' Rights
  • Data Privacy & Security

Finance & Banking

  • Loan Transactions
  • Loan Workouts
  • Collection Actions
  • Portfolio Management
  • Bank Litigation
  • Reorganization & Bankruptcy
  • Commercial Lending


  • Commercial Litigation
  • Ownership Disputes & Dissolutions
  • Business Torts Litigation
  • Construction Litigation
  • Banking Litigation
  • Real Estate Litigation
  • Property Disputes & Land Use
  • Regulatory Compliance & Defense
  • Mediation & Arbitration
  • Civil Appellate Law
  • Product Liability

Real Estate, Environmental Law & Land Use

  • Eminent Domain
  • Compliance & Permitting
  • Transactions & Due Diligence
  • Environmental Litigation

Trusts & Estates

  • Estate & Probate Litigation


  • Trespass and Property Lines

    In 2016 Dean Zimmerli tried a case to a jury involving a claim that the defendants had crossed onto Dean’s clients’ property and cut down dozens of old-growth trees, even after defendants’ had been warned about the location of the property line. This case involved a disputed version of events between the plaintiffs and the defendants, as well as competing expert testimony concerning the valuation of the damaged trees. At the conclusion of the trial, the jury agreed that the defendants had trespassed on Dean’s clients’ property, awarded damages for the lost trees, and vindicated Dean’s Clients’ property rights. Dean has been involved in other disputes concerning property lines or disputed claims to real property, obtaining successful resolutions for the client.

  • Disputed Claims to Collateral

    In 2017, Dean Zimmerli represented a bank with a blanket security interest in all of the borrower’s equipment other personal property. After the borrower’s business failed, the client realized many pieces of equipment has been hidden and given to a family member of the borrower. Dean was successful in obtaining a temporary injunction from the court against the family member prohibiting the family member from transferring or selling the collateral, and eventually the collateral was all reclaimed by the bank. Prior to a jury trial on the outstanding issues in the case, legal research by Dean concerning security interests and ownership questions led to a favorable settlement for the bank. Dean has represented banks and other lenders in numerous cases involving foreclosure, security interests, bankruptcies, priority disputes, and loan defaults.

  • Environmental and Permitting Litigation

    Dean Zimmerli has been involved in several appeals to the Minnesota Court of Appeals concerning agricultural producers and environmental law and permitting issues. For example, Dean researched complex areas of water regulation under the Federal Clean Water Act and assisted in briefing questions about the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency’s ability to regulate farming and irrigation practices as part of a stream improvement project. Dean has also defended a new swine facility that was approved by the County board but opposed by a vocal minority of nearby landowners in a case before the Minnesota Court of Appeals. Dean has assisted farmers in responding to administrative orders from the DNR and other governmental entities.