Michael A. Collyard

612.349.0975

Michael Collyard

Michael A. Collyard

Partner

Chair, Banking and Financial Fraud Litigation;
Chair, Ediscovery Group
Michael Collyard

Experience

Mike is a battle-tested trial lawyer who has won headline-grabbing cases and secured the largest jury verdict in Minnesota history—a $564 million verdict and total award of over $1.1 billion. 

He has been described publicly by colleagues as a “once in a generation trial lawyer” who “absolutely outworks everyone.” A former Robins Kaplan trial lawyer described Mike in the Star Tribune newspaper as “the best trial lawyer I have encountered in 42 years of practice…His ability to take complexity and reduce it to lay language for jurors is unmatched.” A major client described Mike as “a rock” who is “tenacious.” A court reporter who handled one of Mike’s trials years ago (that successfully settled before verdict) commented that Mike’s opening statement and cross-examinations were among the best she’s seen in 20 years of handling federal jury trials. 

Financial and Commercial Litigation

Mike has successfully handled multi-billion and multi-million-dollar cases on both sides of the “v.” On the plaintiff side, Mike recently tried and won a $1.1 billion award against BMO Harris Bank for BMO’s role in the Petters Ponzi scheme, one of the biggest Ponzi schemes in U.S. history. Mike tried the case to a jury for a month and proved BMO aided and abetted breaches of fiduciary duty. During that case, Mike also proved that BMO intentionally destroyed millions of pages of evidence with the intent to keep that evidence out of the courtroom and two federal judges granted Mike’s client an adverse inference jury instruction where the jury was allowed to presume the destroyed evidence was harmful to BMO. BMO has reserved over a billion dollars to pay the judgment and was ordered to post a $1.158 billion bond as it tries to appeal the jury’s verdict. 

In another recent plaintiff case, Mike served as co-lead counsel for John. F. Kennedy, the Receiver for Education Corporation of America (ECA) where he helped secure a $28 million settlement without having to take a single deposition in the case. 

On the defensive side, Mike successfully handled a multi-billion-dollar defense case for a major bank against the People of the State of California where his client paid $0 to settle the case, while another major bank in a companion case (who used a large, international defense firm) had to pay eight figures to settle. As part of Mike’s strategy to win that case, Mike brought a third-party suit against nearly every major bank in the country who ultimately paid the state of California to settle the case.  

Mike isn’t afraid to take the biggest, most complex cases to a jury in order to hold bad actors accountable and to seek justice for his clients. His broad range of experience includes representing receivers, bankruptcy trustees, litigation trusts, banks, hedge funds, individuals, and companies of all sizes. 

He has sued nearly every major bank in the country and many massive corporations of all types, as well as officers and directors of companies. His breadth of knowledge and experience has allowed him to handle cases in a variety of diverse areas including:

  • Commercial litigation
  • Fraud
  • Breach of fiduciary duty
  • Ponzi schemes
  • General business disputes
  • Unfair competition
  • Antitrust
  • Intellectual Property disputes

Mike takes a hands-on approach to every case and runs his teams lean. He takes great pride in doing things differently than other lawyers typically do. He does so with creativity and a very strategic endgame in mind; whether it’s writing briefs, taking depositions, preparing witnesses, arguing motions, or talking with judges and juries. His refusal to become complacent with anything he does in life contributes to his success and shows in his results. 

Pro Bono
 
Mike has handled numerous pro bono cases in many different areas of the law. For example, in a case of first impression in Minnesota, he represented a guardian ad litem at trial seeking the termination of a mother's parental rights to her one-year-old daughter. During the trial, the mother agreed to voluntarily terminate her parental rights and thanked Mike for―what she called―his “passionate opening statement” which made her realize that termination was best for her daughter. The child was later adopted by her foster parents who had cared for her since the day she was born.
 
Personal
 
Mike and his wife have four kids who are very loud, creative, and funny. He is very active outside the office and is usually playing electric guitar, big mountain skiing, riding single-track trails on his mountain bikes, golfing with his kids, playing hockey with his former college teammates, or riding his motorcycle.


* Past results are reported to provide the reader with an indication of the type of litigation in which we practice and does not and should not be construed to create an expectation of result in any other case as all cases are dependent upon their own unique fact situation and applicable law.
 

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Kelley v. BMO Harris Bank, N.A.
Served as lead counsel for Douglas Kelley, the Trustee of the BMO Litigation Trust in the largest Ponzi scheme cases in U.S. history. In November 2022, Mr. Collyard secured a $564 million jury verdict, the largest in Minnesota history. In June 2023, a federal judge in St. Paul issued an Order for BMO Harris Bank to pay pre- and post-judgment interest on the $564 million jury verdict, bringing total liability to over $1 billion in favor of Mr. Collyard’s client.

John F. Kennedy Receiver for Education Corporation of America
Served as co-lead counsel for John F. Kennedy, the Receiver for Education Corporation of America (ECA), a privately held company that operated for-profit colleges across the United States. The company abruptly announced its closure in late 2018, leaving thousands of students unable to complete their education. The claims brought against former officers and directors of ECA alleged that they breached their fiduciary duties of care. Mr. Collyard helped secure a favorable $28 million settlement.

The People of the State of California v. U.S. Bank National Association, et al.
Served as lead counsel for U.S. Bank in a multi-billion-dollar case brought by the People of the State of California for alleged unfair competition related to foreclosed properties. The case settled on the eve of a several-month trial, after Mr. Collyard sued a dozen of the largest banks who serviced the properties at issue. The plaintiff sought billions of dollars in alleged fines and a permanent injunction that would change the way trustees and servicers do business together. The case settled after the plaintiff agreed to drop its request for an injunction and agreed that U.S. Bank as trustee should pay $0.

MASTR Adjustable Rate Mortgages Trust 2006-OA2, et al. v. UBS Real Estate Securities, Inc.
Served as lead counsel for U.S. Bank as a securitization trustee in a mortgage backed securities case against UBS. That case was being handled by Quinn Emanuel and Mr. Collyard was brought in to first chair a $2 billion-dollar evidentiary hearing in New York federal court where his client was accused of intentionally destroying critical evidence. The judge found that Mr. Collyard proved U.S. Bank acted in good faith and denied UBS’s request for terminating sanctions in its entirety. His client subsequently received nearly a billion dollars in a settlement on behalf of the trusts at issue.

Rubloff Development Group, Inc., et al. v. SuperValu, Inc., et al.
Represented SuperValu, Inc. in a complex antitrust and racketeering case in federal court in Illinois. The plaintiffs’ initial demand was approximately $30 million. Mr. Collyard argued, and won, a motion to dismiss the case, removing it from the claims against SuperValu. As a result, the plaintiffs agreed to dismiss their remaining claims and settling the case for $0.

  • Named to "Power 30: Best Business Litigators in Minnesota," by Minnesota Lawyer (2023)
  • Listed in The Best Lawyers in America (2024 edition)
  • Listed in “500 Leading Litigators in America,” Lawdragon (2024)
  • Named a "Minnesota Super Lawyer," Super Lawyers (2023)
  • Listed in the “Top 100 Verdicts for 2022,” The National Law Journal (2023)
  • Named to annual list of “Plaintiffs' Attorneys Trailblazers,” The National Law Journal (2023)
  • Named a “Stand-out Lawyer,” Thomson Reuters (2023)
  • Named an "Attorney of the Year," Minnesota Lawyer (2022)
  • Listed as a "Top Trademark Professional," World Trademark Review 1000 (2019-2020)

Mr. Collyard is involved in various community affairs. He has served on the Deans Advisory Board at the Mitchell Hamline School of Law. In addition, he has mentored law students at the University of St. Thomas Law School for more than a decade. He has also served as a Guest Professor at the University of St. Thomas Law School.  

Mr. Collyard also frequently serves as a faculty member on Robins Kaplan’s Exceptional Advocate Training Program, which teaches trial skills to the firm’s associates. 

Mr. Collyard is a member of The Sedona Conference® Working Group on Electronic Document Retention and Production (WG1).

Bar Admissions
  • Minnesota
  • New York
  • U.S. Court of Appeals, Eighth Circuit
  • U.S. Court of Appeals, Federal Circuit
  • U.S. District Court, Central District of Illinois
  • U.S. District Court, Minnesota
  • U.S. District Court, Northern District of Illinois
  • U.S. District Court, Southern District of New York
Education
  • Mitchell Hamline School of Law, J.D., magna cum laude; Primary Editor, Hamline Law Review
  • University of St. Thomas, B.A. in Business and Political Science
Professional Associations
  • American Bankruptcy Institute
  • American Bar Association (Intellectual Property Section)
  • American Intellectual Property Law Association
  • Commercial Receivers Association
  • Federal Bar Association
  • Hennepin County Bar Association
  • International Trademark Association
  • Minnesota Intellectual Property Law Association
  • New York Intellectual Property Law Association
  • National Association of Federal Equity Receivers (NAFER)
  • Turnaround Management Association (TMA)

  • Criminals, Bad Bankers, and Document Destruction
    Robins Kaplan LLP 2023 Trial Advocacy Seminar, Minneapolis, Minnesota (November 16, 2023)
  • Unlocking Trial Strategies: Inside the $1 Billion BMO Harris Case
    • Mitchell Hamline School of Law, St. Paul, Minnesota (November 14, 2023)
    • University of St. Thomas School of Law, Minneapolis, Minnesota (November 13, 2023)
    • University of Minnesota School of Law, Minneapolis, Minnesota (November 9, 2023)
  • The Aiding and Abetting that Led To a $1 Billion Dollar Judgment and the Biggest Jury Verdict in Minnesota History
    Lying, Cheating, and Stealing Seminar 2023: Secrets and Solutions for Handling Messy Business Disputes, Minneapolis, Minnesota (October 4, 2023)
  • Scandals & Stories that Make Receivers Infamous
    Commercial Receivers Association (CRA) Annual Conference, St. Louis, MO (August 22, 2023)
  • Patent Litigation Cost Containment
    Robins, Kaplan, Miller & Ciresi L.L.P., (March 21, 2013)
  • Chief Judge Rader's Model Order: Considerations and Applications in Ediscovery
    Co-Presenter, Minnesota Intellectual Property Law Association CLE, Minneapolis, Minnesota (May 21, 2012)
November 16, 2023
2023 Trial Advocacy Seminar
Know Your Story. Tell Your Story.
Minneapolis
October 4, 2023
Lying, Cheating, and Stealing Seminar 2023
Michael Collyard - Lying, Cheating, and Stealing Seminar 2023
Minneapolis, MN
August 22, 2023
Commercial Receivers Association Conference
Michael Collyard - Commercial Receivers Association Conference
St. Louis, MO
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