Denise S. Rahne

612.349.8500

Experience

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.

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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.

  • Named a “North Star Lawyer” by the Minnesota State Bar Association for providing at least 50 hours of pro bono legal services (2013-2016)
  • Named a "Minnesota Rising Star," Super Lawyers (2008-2013)
  • Burton Brief Award
Bar Admissions
  • Minnesota
  • South Dakota
  • U.S. Court of Appeals, Eighth Circuit
  • U.S. Court of Appeals, Ninth Circuit
  • U.S. District Court, Minnesota
  • U.S. District Court, South Dakota
  • U.S. District Court, Eastern District of Wisconsin
  • U.S. District Court, Western District of Wisconsin
Education
  • William Mitchell College of Law, J.D., magna cum laude (2003)
  • University of Minnesota College of Education and Human Development, M.Ed. in Secondary English Education (1997)
  • University of Minnesota College of Liberal Arts, B.A. in English, summa cum laude (1991)
Professional Associations
  • American Bar Association
  • Federal Bar Association
  • Minnesota State Bar Association 
  • Hennepin County Bar Association
  • Ripped from the Case Law
    Robins Kaplan LLP Wealth Planning, Administration, and Disputes Annual CLE: The Future of the Fiduciary, Minneapolis, Minnesota (September 12, 2019)
  • Minnesota CLE 2019 Probate and Trust Law Section Conference
    Minnesota CLE, St. Paul, Minnesota (June 10, 2019)
  • The Why What and How of Building a Practice
    2019 MWL Conference for Women in the Law, Minneapolis, Minnesota (April 26, 2019)
  • Representing Youth in Foster Care
    Panelist, Mitchell Hamline School of Law, 2019 Law Review Symposium, St. Paul, Minnesota (April 18, 2019)
  • Wearing the Fiduciary Hat A Primer on Responsibilities Risks and Some Practical Considerations
    Offered Privately at request of Trust Company/Family Office (February 1, 2019)
  • Options for Modifying and Terminating Trusts Does Irrevocable Really Mean Irrevocable
    Minnesota CLE, Minneapolis, Minnesota (December 17, 2018)
  • The Limits of Fiduciary Discretion for Litigators and Planners
    44th Annual Probate and Trust Law Section Conference, Minnesota CLE, St. Paul, Minnesota (June 5, 2018)
  • Its All About the Execution Best Practices and Potential Pitfalls
    44th Annual Probate and Trust Law Section Conference, Minnesota CLE, St. Paul, Minnesota (June 5, 2018)
  • Success in Patent Disputes
    University of Minnesota School of Law Student Intellectual Property Law Association, Minneapolis, Minnesota (April 11, 2018)
  • Boosting the Bottom Line: An Evidence Based Argument for Women in Leadership
    Minnesota Women Lawyers, Minneapolis, Minnesota (April 21, 2017)
  • Fighting Over the Family Jewels 7 Red Flags
    Schechter Dokken Kanter, Minneapolis, Minnesota (February 9, 2017)
  • 7 Tips for Avoiding Trust and Estate Litigation (or Achieving Early Resolution)
    Minnesota CLE Strategic Solutions for Solo & Small Firms, St. Paul, Minnesota (August 9, 2016)
  • Testator Intent and Extrinsic Evidence
    Minnesota CLE, Minneapolis, Minnesota (February 12, 2016)
  • Testator Intent & Extrinsic Evidence
    The Estate Planning, Probate & Trust Law, Minnesota CLE Conference Center (September 24, 2014)
  • Mandated Reporting Meets Privilege: When Can You Talk and When Can You Testify?
    New Law Series, Minnesota CLE, Minneapolis, Minnesota (September 17, 2014)
  • 40th Annual Probate and Trust Law Section Conference: The Life and Death of an Estates and Trusts Dispute
    Minnesota CLE, St. Paul, Minnesota (June 2, 2014)
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