The 2017 Trial Techniques Seminar Recap
Wednesday, September 6, 2017
The 2017 Trial Techniques Seminar, organized by Jessica Schwie of Jardiane Logan & O’Brien, PLLP, was held in Duluth, Minn., August 17-19. This year’s theme was “Swimming to Superior.”
The event started off with a MDLA board meeting, where past presidents were invited to discuss the strategic planning process that will be happening in March.
The educational sessions began with Ben McAninch of Blethen, Gage, & Krause, PLLP and Jeannie Provo-Petersen of Provo-Petersen & Associates, PA, leading a discussion which included a mock cross-examination which was focused on helping fact witnesses prepare for these areas of examination. The Honorable Eric Hylden, Minnesota State District Court, St. Louis County, provided an overview of the Expedited Litigation Track (ELT) program, explaining the features and operation of the new procedures. Thomas E. Marshall, Engelmeier & Umanah, PA, discussed his view from the plaintiff’s side in a landmark Equal Pay Act decision. Cecilie M. Loidolt, Bassford Remele, PA, presented on preparing experts for testimony, the use of technology as an aid to the presentation of their testimony, how to make it interesting, and how to make defense experts look good on the stand. Michael D. Hutchens, Meagher & Geer, PLLP, walked us through the discovery, experts, and independent medical examinations that should be considered to disprove or minimize the emotional distress damages. Steven J. Wells, Dorsey & Whitney, LLP and Paul Jepsen, DecisionQuest, provided an interactive program presenting key issues and topics for juror voir dire. He asked the audience to indicate how they think jurors would respond, provided commentary from the presenters on potential juror responses, and then showed and described actual juror responses. Amy Mass discussed effective communication and negotiation strategies when handling cases. In addition, she addressed habits and myths and whether there really is a difference in the communication, persuasion and negotiation styles of men and women. Joan Bibelhausen, JD Lawyers Concerned for Lawyers, discussed how implicit bias discussions in the legal profession must include mental health (including substance use) and stress issues. We also heard an informative discussion with Amy Mass, The Hanover Insurance Group, on “Leaning In to Your Career.” The day ended with the evening’s festivities at the Great Lakes Aquarium.
The second day started with discussion led by Morgan A. Godfrey and Christopher E. Celichowski of O’Mera, Leer, Wagner & Kohl, PA, on how to defend damage claims in workers’ compensation and personal injury claims, review discovery considerations and selection of necessary experts and review potential damages. Paul Rocheford of Arthur, Chapman, Ketterling, & Smetak, PA, presented strategies for mediation and how things one mediator has experienced as effective and may be less effective for others. Jana O’Leary Sullivan of the League of Minnesota Cities Insurance Trust, informed attendees on the preparation needed to handle inquiries by the media, fallout from ignoring media requests, and impacts to clients during and after a media storm. The conference ended with Andre Loyd, Ph.D., a biomechanical engineer with Crane Engineering & Brendan Tupa, Law Offices of Thomas P. Stilp, presenting on what a biomechanical engineer can do and the attorney perspective—whether to hire or not hire such an expert, timing of hiring, how to use such an expert, and arguing for and against the opinion coming in.
The annual meeting was held at noon on Friday. During the meeting, Matt Thibodeau of Thibodeau, Johnson & Feriancek, PLLP, was elected as secretary of MDLA. Joining Tibodeau on the board is Chris Angell of David M. Werwie & Associates, Stephanie Angolkar of Iverson Reuvers Condon, and Cally Kjellberg-Nelson, Quinlivan & Hughes, PA.
The annual meeting is also a time to honor individuals that have volunteered countless hours for MDLA. Each year the MDLA president has the privilege of bestowing upon a member the President’s Award to recognize a special or extraordinary contribution to the association.
In 2017, president Troy Poetz selected the MDLA’s Diversity Committee as the recipient of President’s Award. Under the leadership Jason Hill, the Trial Academy sold out and received rave reviews for attendees. Jason has also volunteered for the Law Improvement Committee.
Each year the MDLA recognizes one new lawyer with the Deb Oberlander Award. A new lawyer is defined as an attorney who has been practicing for eight years or less. In order to win the award, a young attorney must meet a thorough list of criteria involving their current practice, involvement with the MDLA and other organizations, leadership/mentoring activities, community service, and their performance. In 2017, the MDLA selected Colleen McGarry (Fox Rothschild LLP) as the recipient of the award. Colleen joined Fox Rothschild in September 2016 and has been an active member of the MDLA since she joined the organization in 2014. She is one of the founding members of the Diversity Committee and currently serves as the committee’s chair. This year, she led the committee in planning a successful event regarding implicit bias, which included facilitating group discussion and planning a post-event reception. In addition to her work on the Diversity Committee, Colleen has participated as a presenter at the 2015 and 2016 Mid-Winter Conferences and contributed to the Diversity Committee's article in the Fall 2016 Minnesota Defense Magazine. In her practice, Colleen is a skilled litigation attorney who represents clients in a wide range of complex business and commercial disputes. Her experience ranges from defending companies in general liability, products liability and mass toxic torts in state and federal courts to counseling individuals in estate planning and income tax matters.
Troy Poetz honored Thomas Marshall (Engelmeier & Umanah, PA) and Richard Thomas (Burke & Thomas, PLLP) for their years of service as chairs of MDLA’s Law Improvement Committee.
A special thank you to the event sponsors:
Duluth Aquarium Sponsor: Jardine Logan & O'Brien
Mobile App Sponsor: Exponent
Opening Reception Sponsor: Stich, Angell, Kreidler, Unke & Scattergood, PA
Law Firm Sponsor: Bassford Remele PA; Goetz & Eckland, PA; Larson King LLP
Lanyard Sponsor: David Riley, CPA
Continental Breakfast Sponsors: Blethen Gage & Krause PLLP and Crane Engineering
Break Sponsors: EvaluMed; Integrity; OMeara, Leer, Wagner & Kohl, PA; Pfefferle Kane LLP; SEA Limited
Wireless Internet Sponsor: Rajkowski Hansmeier Ltd.
Electricity Sponsor: Tomsche Sonnesyn & Tomsche PA
Women's Breakout Sponsors: Jardine Logan & O'Brien; Lind Jensen Sullivan & Peterson PA
Exhibitors: Exponent; Minnesota Dept. of Labor & Industry; Minnesota Lawyers Mutual Insurance Company; SEA Limited