When complex dynamics create obstacles to a successful outcome, trial lawyer Denise Rahne helps clients achieve meaningful results both in and outside the courtroom. Denise serves corporate and individual clients facing a wide variety of active and potential litigation. She both leads and collaborates on large and mid-size legal teams and has significant experience in traditional and alternative-dispute forums. With a particular practice focus on disputes involving estates, trusts, fiduciaries, and closely-held corporations, her record of results also includes matters involving a range of commercial disputes, including intellectual property.
Tactical and practical, Denise crystallizes the issues in dispute and then leads the litigation conversation. Her unwavering commitment to her client’s best interests serves to drive successful case resolutions—whether through settlements, summary judgments or, when necessary, full trial or other litigation proceedings. Because Denise never loses sight of the desired outcome, her approach to legal representation is also innovative, efficient, and effective―helping clients preserve limited or contested assets.
Her skills and insight have earned Denise multiple leadership roles beyond the courtroom. Within the firm, she currently heads the Estate and Trust Litigation Practice Group, chairs the Hiring Committee, and serves on the Diversity Committee. In addition, she serves the broader community as a board member of multiple non-profit organizations:
- College Possible Minnesota (chair)
- The Children’s Law Center
- Twin Cities Diversity in Practice
- Twin Cities Iron Ranger Association (committee member)
A former teacher and school program leader, she contributes her time and talent to these organizations because of her belief in the enduring importance of equal education opportunities and justice for all children to our success as a society.
Fiduciary Litigation Matters
Achieved favorable resolution for beneficiaries and the proposed successor trustee in a dispute involving a series of family trusts.
Negotiated resolution to long-standing family dispute regarding actions taken by personal representative and trustee of family trust.
First-chair attorney for five-day arbitration in highly complex shareholder dispute.
Lead counsel for multi-party shareholder dispute, including successful defense of motion for temporary injunction, extensive pretrial matters, and negotiation of favorable resolution prior to trial.
A Ramsey County jury awarded $30.1 million to four Minnesota non-profits that the firm represented in an action against Wells Fargo Bank, N.A. The four non-profits-Minnesota Workers’ Compensation Reinsurance Association, Minnesota Medical Foundation, The Minneapolis Foundation, and Robins, Kaplan, Miller & Ciresi Foundation for Children-participated in a securities lending program run by Wells Fargo. The jury found that Wells Fargo breached its fiduciary duty and violated the Minnesota Consumer Fraud Act. On April 16, 2012, the Minnesota Court of Appeals issued its opinion affirming the trial court. On June 27, 2012, the Minnesota Supreme Court denied Wells Fargo's petition for review. The final judgment, plus additional post-trial attorneys’ fees paid by Wells Fargo, totaled more than $57 million. Minnesota Workers’ Compensation Reinsurance Association et al. v. Wells Fargo Bank, N.A.
General Commercial Litigation Matters
Negotiated highly favorable product liability settlement for product manufacturer in class action with significant damage demands.
Part of team that secured summary judgment for product manufacturer in complex multi-defendant personal injury suit.
Co-counsel representing Minnesota Vikings’ former wide receiver Bernard Berrian against attempted extortion plot. Obtained ex parte temporary restraining order in U.S. District Court returning client’s property and enjoining defendants. The case subsequently settled on confidential terms.
Part of team that achieved dismissal of consumer fraud claim and individually argued successful appeal to uphold dismissal. Baker, Corey & Jamie; et al. v. Best Buy; et al.
Negotiated favorably settlement payment to client in dispute over interpretation of lease and related cost sharing.
Successfully obtained dismissal for foreign corporation on motion to dismiss on basis of personal jurisdiction.
First chair for five-day arbitration defending client in dispute over breach of agent agreement.
Intellectual Property Matters
Judge Richard A. Posner ruled in favor of our client, Promega Corporation, in a suit that it initiated against one of its competitors. In an opinion dated June 12, 2013 from the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Illinois, Judge Posner ruled that certain claims of U.S. Patent No. RE43,096, asserted against Promega, are invalid. Promega prevailed in its arguments that the claims of the ’096 patent were invalid due to the breadth of the claim constructions that Defendants sought and obtained. Certain asserted claims were invalid for lack of written description support. While the patent describes an improvement to DNA sequencing, the breadth of the claims encompassed technologies that Caltech did not invent, including the PCR-based methods on which Promega’s accused products are based. The asserted claims were additionally invalid as anticipated or obvious in view of the prior art, including a prior art patent to Caltech, which expired years ago. Judge Posner also found certain claims invalid for obviousness type double patenting. Defendants appealed various aspects of Judge Posner’s decision and the judgment. Six days after oral argument, the Federal Circuit summarily affirmed the judgment, awarding Promega a complete victory in the case. Promega Corporation v. Applied Biosystems, LLC, Life Technologies Corporation, and California Institute of Technology.
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