Brandon E. Vaughn


Brandon Vaughn

Brandon E. Vaughn


Chair, Black Firm Member Resource Group
Brandon Vaughn


Incisive and tenacious, Brandon Vaughn is a dedicated advocate for those who have been injured or lost a loved one due to another party’s negligence. Brandon is committed to championing his clients’ interests, understanding the challenges they face, and helping them to secure compensation for their losses.  He is currently investigating a number of wrongful death matters, including the premature death of a Minnesota man receiving 24-hour nursing home care and the wrongful death of a college athlete as a result of alleged hazing in a national sorority.

Brandon’s advocacy in challenging, complex cases earned him recognition from several professional organizations. He has been included on Super Lawyers’ “Minnesota Rising Stars” list every year since 2013, and in 2016, he was named an “Up and Coming Attorney” by Minnesota Lawyer.

In addition to his medical malpractice and personal injury practice, Brandon has provided pro bono representation to clients in the areas of family law and immigration law. Brandon currently chairs Robins Kaplan’s Recruiting/Hiring Committee and has also served as co-chair of the firm's Diversity Committee. 

Brandon has taken leadership roles in numerous professional organizations, including Twin Cities Diversity in Practice, the Hennepin County Bar Association, and the Young Lawyers Division of the National Bar Association. He was also selected as a fellow for the Leadership Council on Legal Diversity (LCLD). Outside of his legal practice, Brandon spends his spare time mentoring youth in the Twin Cities and playing a wide variety of sports including softball, tennis, basketball, and golf.


Client v. Gene Kirkpatrick: The District Court, East Central Judicial District in North Dakota, issued an opinion on July 8 in a civil action for damages for wrongful death, ordering judgments of $4,406,139.50 as compensation for economic damages, $5 million as compensation for non-economic damages and the maximum $250,000 for exemplary damages. The family of Dr. Philip Gattuso of Fargo, N.D., who was killed in October 2009, had sought damages in the civil action following the July 2011 conviction of conspiracy to murder and life sentencing of the defendant, Gene Kirkpatrick, of Jones, Okla. Kirkpatrick had arranged for his son-in-law, Dr. Gattuso, to be killed following the death of his daughter Valerie, Dr. Gattuso’s wife, to attempt custody of their young daughter. Valerie Gattuso had passed away in March 2009 following complications from surgery. We also represented the Gattuso family in that medical malpractice lawsuit, which had settled confidentially.

A man was driving a pickup truck on a sunny day down a lonely country highway. He chose to look at this cell phone and did not see a young mother riding her bike. Tragically, he struck her, killing her instantly. The mother left behind her husband and two daughters, ages one and four. Brandon was successful in helping the family by settling the case for $6 million without the need to start a lawsuit. One of the things the family plans to do with the money is pay for the construction of a bike trail so families can more safely enjoy bike rides.

An otherwise healthy baby suffered severe and permanent neurological damage when a hospital and nurse/midwife made the decision to let the mother's labor continue in a manner which injured the baby. The baby's many physical and developmental special needs require round-the-clock care, adaptive equipment and a team of medical, educational and rehabilitative specialists. The $4.5 million settlement obtained for the baby will allow him to be cared for through his life in manner which meets his complex needs and, additionally, reimburses state and private insurers for prior contributions to his care.

In May 2017, obtained a jury verdict of more than $2 million in St. Paul, Minnesota, for a young woman who developed compartment syndrome in the hospital that went undiagnosed and untreated after the placement of an intraosseous line in her leg. Because the compartment syndrome went untreated, the woman experienced permanent nerve damage leading to a permanent foot drop. The woman now has difficulty with mobility and is required to wear a foot brace to help her with walking.  

$1.7 million settlement for negligent failure to timely diagnose and treat oral cancer.

In 2010, our then-16-year-old client was examined by a neurologist after suffering from headaches, nausea, and visual changes. The neurologist stated that she likely suffered from a pseudotumor, but failed to order the MRI scan required to rule out a real tumor. Ultimately, the client’s symptoms did not improve over the next two months and an MRI was eventually ordered. The MRI identified a large tumor in the patient’s brain. Unfortunately, during the two-plus-month delay the tumor applied constant pressure to the client’s optic nerve, resulting in permanent vision loss. The defendant argued the client’s delay in coming back for further evaluation despite no improvement caused her vision loss. The case resulted in a $1.6 million settlement; the client plans to use the proceeds to assist in her future care needs and improve her quality of life.

Obtained a $1.25 million settlement for a now 69-year-old Minnesota woman who experienced a severe massive intracranial hemorrhage on the left side of her brain.  Once the hemorrhage was identified the defendant neurosurgeon failed to remove most of it because he operated on the wrong side of the brain.  Defendant doctor denied any wrong doing.  The client experienced bilateral ataxia (lack of voluntary coordination of muscle movement), bilateral dysmetria (lack of coordination and inability to gauge distance leading to “overshooting” and “undershooting” the intended position), balance and walking difficulties, and partial dysarthria (difficulty articulating words) because the defendant doctor failed to remove the hemorrhage timely and injured healthy brain tissue when the doctor was operating on the wrong side of the brain.  Defendant doctor argued that our clients deficits would have been the same because the severe hemorrhage caused our clients deficits and they were not caused by the doctor.

Negotiated $900,000 settlement for the next of kin of a 75-year-old female immigrant who was killed in a vehicle collision.

Achieved a $750,000 settlement for a teenage girl who sustained second degree burns to her scalp after a hair lightening procedure at a beauty salon.  The burn left a large bald spot in the back of her head that is quite noticeable.  Unfortunately, after three surgeries, she still is left with a significant bald spot in the back of her head.  With this settlement, the young woman will be able to explore hair treatment options she needs to give her greater self-confidence, and assistant her options to reduce the appearance of the bald spot.

$750,000 settlement for failure to supervise and use a shower chair’s safety devices while showering a developmentally disabled vulnerable adult resulting in her death.

$700,000 settlement for failure to diagnose and treat carotid artery disease resulting in a catastrophic stroke.

In 2004, as a teenager, C.S completed an Antegrade Continence Enema- Malone (“ACE”) procedure to relieve her chronic constipation and urinary symptoms due to her spina bifida.   The ACE procedure is a surgical procedure in which allowed C.S. to have a traditional bowel movement.  The ACE was an irrigation system where C.S. was able to insert a catheter in an opening near her belly button that ran fluid through her bowel to help push the stool through the bowel. In 2011, a doctor performed a diagnostic laparoscopy and noted that the appendix was densely adherent to the abdominal wall and that this could be conceivably causing C.S.’s pain.  The doctor removed the appendix without consulting C.S. or her family about why it was placed where it was. Because the appendix was removed, the connection allowing irrigation facilitating rectal stooling was gone.   As a result, C.S. no longer had independent bowel management and relied on her mother to manually extract stool for approximately 18 months.  She now has a new bowel evacuation regiment that gives her similar relief, but rather than the irrigation starting near the belly button, the irrigation begins from the rectum. Defendants argued that the ACE procedure was not functioning at all, and at best poorly, at the time it was disconnected.  Defendants argued that the ACE procedure was not going to provide C.S. with assistance with her bowel evacuation much longer and she ultimately was going to need a new system to evacuate her bowel anyway, despite it being disconnected. The case settled for $500,000.

$500,000 settlement for a 46-year-old woman and her husband following a 31-month delay in diagnosing our client’s endometrial cancer.  Our client was diagnosed with a genetic condition that increased the likelihood of her developing endometrial cancer. Because of that diagnosis she elected to have her uterus, fallopian tubes, and ovaries removed to reduce the likelihood of developing endometrial cancer.  Tissue from the uterus, fallopian tubes, and ovaries were sent to pathology to diagnose potential cancer following their removal.  Endometrial cancer was present in the tissue submitted to the pathologist but the pathologist failed to diagnose it, resulting in a delay in diagnosing our client’s cancer.  The Defendant argued the pathologist’s failure to diagnose the endometrial cancer did not change our client’s prognosis or course of cancer treatment. 

$300,000 settlement resulting from negligent nursing home care for a 56-year-old client who was required to undergo a below-the-knee amputation after a wound on his foot became badly infected. In 2010, the client was admitted to a nursing home in Duluth after having a transmetatarsal amputation (surgery to remove part of the forefoot). While in the nursing home, the man’s wound dressing became wet, a condition that went unreported for days. By the time he was finally evaluated by his physician, his surgical wound had become so necrotic and infected that amputation was the only option. The case was challenging, because our client struggled with managing his diabetes and the defendant nursing home argued that, because of the poorly controlled diabetes, he was going to have wound healing difficulties and ultimately need a below-the-knee amputation even if they were not negligent.

$251,800 jury verdict awarded to a 53-year-old businessman with prior history of cough, occasional shortness of breath, and other health issues who had a five-to-seven minute exposure to anhydrous ammonia while driving down a road when a tractor pulling an anhydrous ammonia tank allowed anhydrous ammonia to escape into the atmosphere. Due to defendants negligence, and exposure to anhydrous ammonia the businessman was thereafter diagnosed with irritant-induced asthma. 

In November 2009, an operator of an excavator hit a young laborer with the 2,000 pound excavator bucket causing that laborer a pelvic injury that improved without long term problems.  Brandon and partner Phil Sieff, whom represented the injured laborer, tried the case before a Duluth jury for one week.  The jury returned a verdict in favor of Brandon’s client, including $250,000 in punitive damages.

K.W., age 74, was at a Minnesota nursing home for rehabilitation as she underwent palliative chemotherapy for her terminal breast cancer.  She also had a number of other serious medical conditions that limited her life expectancy.  K.W. had signed a Provider Orders for Life Sustaining Treatment (POLST), in which she gave the directive to provide “CPR/Attempt Resuscitation” if she had no pulse or was not breathing.  A nursing assistant discovered K.W. to have irregular breathing and informed a nurse, who came in K.W.’s room and panicked.  The nurse did not initiate CPR or any other life-saving procedures and instead, watched K.W. die.  The Minnesota Department of Health conducted an investigation and documented neglect. This case settled shortly after it was put in suit for $200,000.

$200,000 settlement for wrongful death of inmate in county jail.

Secured a $175,000 settlement for an 80-year-old woman who did not receive her blood-thinning medication while admitted to a nursing home for over a week, which resulted in the development of a large number of blood clots in her legs. Treatment of the blood clots required surgery on both legs. The client died of causes unrelated to the negligence in the midst of litigation, leaving past medical expenses as the only recoverable damages. The client was unable to recover for the pain and suffering associated with the nine months of wound care, additional hospitalization, and trips to the doctor to treat her legs.

$150,000 settlement for surgical negligence during right compartmental fasciotomy resulting in complete injury to peroneal nerve.

Represented the Guardian ad Litem for a thirteen year-old boy in rural Minnesota who was diagnosed with Hodgkins Lymphoma. The boy's parents refused conventional medical treatments, despite their high success rate, claiming those treatments violated their spiritual beliefs.  Left untreated, the child's cancer had a greater than 90% chance of causing death. After a two-day trial, a judge determined that the child was medically neglected by his parents and ordered him to undergo chemotherapy. The mother then fled the state with the child. The media focused a great deal of attention on the case until the mother and the child returned to Minnesota. The child has now completed his prescribed chemotherapy.

Chambers 2019
Super Lawyers 2018
The National Black Lawyers- Top 100
  • Recipient of Minnesota Lawyer's Diversity and Inclusion Award (2021)
  • Shortlisted for “Diversity and Inclusion Lawyer of the Year Award,” Chambers (2021)
  • Listed in The Best Lawyers in America (2021-2022 editions)
  • Named to Lawyers of Color's Nation's Best List (2019)
  • Named a "2019 Diversity Leader" by Profiles in Diversity Journal (2019)
  • Named an “Up and Coming Attorney” by Minnesota Lawyer (2016)
  • Named a “North Star Lawyer” by the Minnesota State Bar Association for providing at least 50 hours of pro bono legal services (2014-2016)
  • Named a “Minnesota Rising Star,” Super Lawyers (2013-2018)
  • Bolder Options, Mentor
  • Minneapolis Public Schools: 100 Strong Who Care, Guest Speaker
  • Just the Beginning Foundation: Summer Legal Institute, Guest Lecturer
Bar Admissions
  • U.S. District Court, Northern District of Illinois
  • U.S. District Court, Western District of Wisconsin
  • U.S. District Court, Minnesota
  • U.S. District Court, North Dakota
  • Minnesota
  • Wisconsin
  • University of Wisconsin Law School, J.D., Frederick Douglass Moot Court Competition 
  • University of Illinois at Urbana- Champaign, B.A., English
Professional Associations
  • American Bar Association
  • American Association for Justice (Leadership Academy 2018)
  • The Black Biglaw Pipeline; Board of Directors, (2018-present)
  • Leadership Council on Legal Diversity (LCLD) Fellow (2017)
  • Minnesota Association for Justice, Board of Governors (2018-present)
  • Minnesota State Bar Association, Assembly member (2014-2015; 2019-present), Elections and Appointment Committee (2014-2015)
  • Minnesota Association of Black Lawyers, Board Member (2010-2012)
  • Twin Cities Diversity in Practice; Board of Directors (2019-present); Young Lawyers Group, Executive Leadership Board (2011-2016)
  • Hennepin County Bar Association; President (2021-present), President-Elect (2020–2021), Treasurer (2019-2020), Secretary (2018-2019), Board of Directors (2014-2018), Finance and Planning Committee (2012-2016, 2018-present)
  • National Bar Association, Young Lawyers Division; Secretary (2016-2017), Vice Chair (2017-2018)
  • American Bar Foundation, Fellow

  • How to Handle a Personal Injury Case...And Win!
    Minnesota CLE, Webinar (September 22, 2021)
  • Diversity and Working Through Difference
    Hennepin County Bar Association Institute for Leadership in the Legal Profession, Webinar (March 31, 2021)
  • Big Law 101: What It Is & What To Expect
    The National Black Law Student (NBLSA), Webinar (March 4, 2021)
  • Ethics: Insights About Race, Stress and Professional Responsibility
    2020 Criminal Justice Institute, Webinar (August 20, 2020)
  • Expert Witness Seminar
    Minnesota Association for Justice Center for Legal Education, Minneapolis, Minnesota (March 4, 2020)
  • Deposition Skills Workshop
    National Bar Association Annual Convention, New York, New York (July 23, 2019)
  • Diversity and Working Through Difference
    Hennepin County Bar Association’s Law Firm Leadership Training, Minneapolis, Minnesota (April 3, 2019)
  • Candid Advice for New Lawyers
    The 2019 New Lawyer Experience, Minneapolis, Minnesota (January 18, 2019)
  • What is Partnership Really Like
    HCBA and MSBA New Lawyers Sections, Minneapolis, Minnesota (April 12, 2018)
  • Job Panel for 2Ls and 3Ls
    Minnesota Affinity Bar Legal Career & Networking Symposium, Minneapolis, Minnesota (February 21, 2018)
  • Technology in the Courtroom
    Anoka County Bar Association, Anoka, Minnesota (February 1, 2018)
  • Cross-Examination, Including Expert Witnesses: How to Trap A Mouse!
    NBA Civil Trial Advocacy Boot Camp (July 29, 2017)
  • Affinity Bars Student Job Symposium This Summer and Beyond
    Affinity Bars, Minneapolis, Minnesota (March 21, 2017)
  • The “Do Over” I Really Wish I Had
    Chart Your Own Career Course Conference, Orlando, Florida (February 4, 2017)
  • Candid Advice for New Lawyers
    Minnesota CLE, Minneapolis, Minnesota (January 20, 2017)
  • Pleadings Best Practices
    American Bar Association, Webinar (December 5, 2016)
  • Civil Rights The March Continues Commemorating VLNs 50 Years of Service to the Community
    Volunteer Lawyers Network, Minneapolis, Minnesota (June 15, 2016)
  • Cyber Wars Strategies and Developments in the Discovery of Social Media Content
    Panel Moderator, Robins Kaplan LLP Trial Advocacy Seminar, Minneapolis, Minnesota (October 6, 2015)
  • Lawyers on Nonprofit Boards Roles and Responsibilities Exposures and Opportunities
    Hennepin County Bar Association, Minneapolis, Minnesota (February 27, 2014)
  • Justice in 2013 Top Trial Court Outcomes of 2013
    Minnesota Association for Justice, Minneapolis, Minnesota (December 5, 2013)
  • Once an Adult Twice a Child Protecting Elderly from Abuse and Financial Exploitation
    The National Center for Victims of Crime 2013 National Conference, Phoenix, Arizona (September 9, 2013)
  • Advantages of Adaptive Leadership: Essential Tools for Lawyer Leaders (Panelist)
    Webcast, Hennepin County Bar Association (November 16, 2012)
  • Nothing is Lost (but sometimes hidden) in Cyberspace: The Role of Social Media and Social Networking Sites in Litigation
    Minnesota Association for Justice, Alexandria, Minnesota (August 17, 2012)
  • Notice, Early and Often: How to Ethically Balance Clients' Needs and Medicare's Wants
    MAJ Center for Legal Education, Minneapolis, Minnesota (November 29, 2011)
  • Why Should a Health Lawyer Care if Proposed Medical Malpractice Reform Hurts Trial Lawyers and Muzzles the Jury?
    2011 Health Law Institute, Minneapolis, Minnesota (June 9, 2011)
  • 2011 AAJ Winter Convention
    2011 AAJ Winter Convention, Loews Miami Beach Hotel, Miami, Florida (February 8, 2011)
  • Pro Bono Project: Representation of Guardian Ad Litem in High Profile Case
    2010 Medical Malpractice Conference,University of Minnesota Law School, Minneapolis, Minnesota (April 22, 2010)
March 31, 2021
WEBINAR | Diversity and Working Through Difference
Brandon Vaughn - Hennepin County Bar Association
August 19-20, 2020
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