Gislason & Hunter may be best known for its established and formidable litigation practice. Over the decades, our lawyers have tried thousands of cases to juries in state and federal courts. We can claim experience and success in virtually every area of civil litigation and appeals, with an emphasis on defending businesses in lawsuits and other disputes.
We represent diverse clients who seek powerful legal backing to protect their interests and can nimbly assemble a focused team for whatever legal challenges are at hand.
Our capabilities are on par with any firm and our litigation practice is grounded in our clients’ values. We emphasize communication and lasting relationships with clients, and we try to be fee-sensitive. A lead attorney is assigned to each case, along with an appropriate supporting cast.
Our litigators are regularly called upon for complex conflicts involving millions of dollars, but we understand that any legal dispute can be urgent and high-stakes for our clients. We represent local and regional employers, insurance companies, banks, construction firms, corporate executives, licensed professionals and individuals.
Areas of Expertise
- Banking Litigation
- Business Torts Litigation
- Civil Appellate Law
- Civil Litigation
- Commercial Litigation
- Construction Litigation
- Criminal Defense
- Employment Litigation
- Estate & Probate
- Insurance Defense
- Intellectual Property Litigation
- Mediation & Arbitration
- Medical Malpractice Defense
- Ownership Disputes & Dissolutions
- Product Liability
- Property Disputes & Land Use
- Real Estate Litigation
- Regulatory Compliance & Defense
- Workers' Compensation Defense
Our accomplished attorneys bring substantial expertise to Litigation to deliver the very best in service and results.
Cases & Clients
Traumatic Brain Injury Case
In 2014 R. Stephen Tillitt tried a traumatic brain injury case in Goodhue County against one of the leading Plaintiff’s attorneys in the state. Steve’s client had thrown his driver after a poor golf shot, and it hit his companion in the face, fracturing multiple bones and injuring his brain. At issue was the extent of the companion’s recovery and the reasonable compensation for his suffering and disability. Following five days of trial, the jury issued a damage award consistent with Steve’s pretrial evaluation.
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 Zimmerli 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.
Litigation of Preference and Fraudulent Transfer Avoidance Claims
In 2016, Jennifer Lurken successfully defended her client against avoidance actions in excess of $20 million. The client had loaned $20 million to the bankrupt debtor and the bankruptcy trustee was attempting to undue the transaction and recover not just the principal paid to the client but the interest as well. Prior to trial, as a result of Jennifer’s legal research and investigation skills, she was able to obtain a favorable settlement for the client. Jennifer routinely represents banks and other lenders in pursuing and defending fraudulent transfer claims.
King’s Cove Marina, LLC v. Zinniel Elec. Co., et al., Dakota County, No. 19AH-CV-14-2282
Successful verdict at trial defending a construction defect claim concerning the installation of a new roof and solar panel system. Our client was also successful on our counter claim for breach of contract.
Litigated Probate Claims
Litigated probate claims involving trusts, removal of personal representatives, undue influence and breach of fiduciary duties.
Successful Verdict for Secured Lender
In 2021, Jennifer Lurken obtained a trial verdict of $2.4 million for a secured farm lender, which was the full amount owed. The debtors defaulted and then denied liability to the lenders. The debtors denied the loaned funds had been received by the debtors. The debtors also defended the action by bringing counterclaims against the lender for breach of fiduciary duty, failure to supervise, and respondent superior. Prior to the trial, Jennifer obtained summary judgment on all three of debtors’ counterclaims. Thus focusing the trial on the lender’s claims.
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.
Although she finds it preferable to prevent employment disputes on the front end, Brittany King-Asamoa is experienced in litigation matters and equipped to handle employment disputes brought before the court. Her practice includes civil litigation and insurance defense, whereby Brittany frequently represents insured individuals and corporations in tort litigation. Her representation extends to all stages of litigation including written discovery, depositions, motion practice, settlement negotiations, and trial. In 2017, she assisted a local fitness facility defeat claims of negligent supervision, negligent hiring, negligent retention, and emotional distress (among other torts). Brittany performed extensive legal research and collaboratively drafted the facility’s motions for judgment on the pleadings and summary judgment.
Disputed Claims to Collateral
In 2017, Dean Zimmerli represented a bank with a blanket security interest in all 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.
Real Estate Litigation
Rick Halbur has represented many clients across Minnesota in an extensive amount of real estate litigation involving novel and complicated issues of first impression. For example, Rick has been involved in multiple mechanics lien actions, representing both plaintiffs and defendants. Rick has also litigated several easement disputes, and he has prevented future litigation by proactively drafting new easement agreements for clients. Rick has also successfully represented clients in contested actions to determine adverse claims (commonly referred to as quiet title actions) and boundary disputes involving real estate worth hundreds of thousands of dollars.
$2.6 Million Awarded in Damages
Dustan Cross obtained a court award of $2.6 Million in damages following a 5-day bench trial for breach of fiduciary duty and breach of trust by one member of a closely held business.
Successful Defense Jury Verdict
Dustan Cross obtained a successful defense jury verdict on behalf of a swine integrator following a two-week trial alleging nuisance, negligence, and trespass.
Products Liability Case
The Minnesota Supreme Court recently ruled on a products liability case that R. Stephen Tillitt has been defending for several years. Steve’s client manufactured and sold a machine that compresses materials to extract fluids. While the purchaser was using it in its hog feed operation to extract expired dairy products from containers, an untrained employee climbed into a portion of the machine ignoring a warning and without following the lockout/tagout procedure. Another employee activated the machine, crushing the man’s legs, resulting in a double amputation. The trial court granted summary judgment to Steve’s client on three separate grounds, and a three judge panel of the Minnesota Court of Appeals affirmed in 2016. The Minnesota Supreme Court accepted review of the case and reversed the lower courts on the issue of foreseeability in July 2017. The matter is now being considered by the Minnesota Court of Appeals on remand of the remaining two issues. The Supreme Court’s decision in Montemayor v. Sebright Products, Inc., d/b/a Bright Technologies, 898 N.W.2d 623 (Minn. 2017); 2016 WL 1175089 (Minn. Ct. App. March 28, 2016), has been covered by the media and will be the subject of two seminars in the future.
Dustan Cross obtained an arbitration award in a two-week construction arbitration in which the award from the panel was $2.0 Million less than the Client's final offer and $5.0 Million less than the claimant's final demand.
Successful Jury Verdict
Dustan Cross obtained a successful jury verdict for a Plaintiff business alleging lost profits arising from the breach of a non-solicitation provision in a joint venture contract, in which the jury awarded Plaintiff every dollar of damages requested.
U.S. Bank Nat’l Ass’n as Trustee v. Lamb, et. al.
U.S. Bank Nat’l Ass’n as Trustee v. Lamb, et. al.; Iowa Supreme Court Case No. 14-1536 David Nelmark served as lead counsel, drafted appellate brief, and presented the oral argument in a case of first impression with significant impact on the banking and real estate industries. 874 N.W.2d 112 (Iowa 2016)
General Commercial and Agricultural Litigation
Rick Halbur has assisted in litigation involving secured and unsecured commercial and agricultural debts. Rick’s work includes representing defendants opposing the collection of alleged debts, as well as representing plaintiffs in collecting upon debts. For example, Rick has represented clients who have been sued for alleged breaches of contracts ranging in value from a few thousand dollars to amounts in excess of $1 million. Rick also represented a client in federal court and obtained a judgment in excess of $500,000.00.
Jury Ruled in Favor of Subcontractor Responsible for Deficiencies
A Dakota County jury ruled in favor of R. Stephen Tillitt’s general and electrical contractor following an eight-day trial in 2015. The client’s customer was dissatisfied with the roof installed by the client’s subcontractor and with the performance of the solar collection system installed on top of the roof. Seven different expert witnesses testified, as well as many fact witnesses. The Court and the jury vindicated Steve’s client’s work and materials and found the roofing subcontractor responsible for deficiencies in the roof system. Following the verdict, Steve’s client received the sums the customer had refused to pay for the project.
In 2017 Cory Genelin obtained summary judgment on behalf of a large fitness center and social organization. A patron accused the organization of assault, intentional infliction of emotional distress, negligent infliction of emotional distress, negligent hiring, and negligent retention after one of the organization's employee's allegedly threatened the patron. Mr. Genelin conducted depositions of witnesses and discovery of medical records and had the entire case dismissed.
See Blue Earth County File No. 07-CV-16-516
In 2018 Cory obtained a favorable jury verdict on behalf of an in-home care business accused of negligence in securing a wheelchair occupant. Cory Genelin defeated claims for pain and suffering, wage loss, loss of consortium and medical bills in excess of $150,000.
See Olmstead County File No. 55-CV-16-8667
Rhett Schwichtenberg represents individuals and families in tort litigation cases ranging from dog bite cases to wrongful death actions.
Lender Paid in Full
In 2019, Jennifer Lurken successfully obtained full payment of over $3 million for a farm lender. Jennifer successfully negotiated an agreement whereby the debtor would sell agricultural land and equipment in an orderly manner and pay off the debt. The debtor upheld his agreement and paid the debt.
WMG Services, LLC v. IRE, LLC and Gavilon, LLC
WMG Services, LLC v. IRE, LLC and Gavilon, LLC; Southern District of Iowa, Case No. 4:13-cv-426 David Nelmark served as lead counsel for the plaintiff in a dispute involving the biodiesel industry with multi-million dollar claims and counterclaims. Obtained a substantial settlement 10 days before the start of a federal bench trial.