Minnesota Lawyer Honors Six Robins Kaplan Attorneys as 2017 Attorneys of the Year

November 27, 2017

Minneapolis, MN—November 27, 2017—Robins Kaplan LLP® announced today that Richard Allyn, Eric Magnuson, Chris Messerly, Patrick Arenz, Peter Surdo, and Elizabeth Fors have been named 2017 Attorneys of the Year by Minnesota Lawyer. Honorees were selected based on their leadership in the profession, involvement in major cases and newsworthy events, and commitment to public service. Only 36 attorneys were selected throughout the state.

Richard Allyn, partner at Robins Kaplan and former Minnesota Solicitor General, has experience litigating large catastrophic property and casualty disputes and losses. This year, he successfully co-represented the White Bear Lake Restoration Association pro bono in a lawsuit concerning declining water levels in White Bear Lake. The court found that the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources (DNR) failed to protect the popular lake by mismanaging groundwater pumping permits in the area, and the DNR was ordered to take several actions to maintain sustainable water levels in the lake.

Eric Magnuson, partner at Robins Kaplan and the former Chief Justice of the Minnesota Supreme Court, will also be inducted into Minnesota Lawyer’s Circle of Excellence this year, a recognition reserved for attorneys who have repeatedly been named Attorney of the Year. Magnuson has handled more than 500 appeals throughout his career, and secured two significant victories this year: in Leiendecker v. Asian Women United of Minnesota, the Minnesota Supreme Court declared the Minnesota anti-SLAPP statute unconstitutional; and in Adams v. Toyota Motor Corp.,Magnuson was brought in at the appeal stage to preserve an $11.4 million trial verdict in a fatal unintended-acceleration case.

Chris Messerly, partner at the firm, has spent more than 30 years representing families and individuals who have been injured in cases involving medical malpractice, personal injury, and products liability. In August, he helped secure the largest medical malpractice wrongful death verdict in Minnesota history: a $20.6 million jury verdict in the death of a 30-year old woman who went to an emergency room with a fever and nausea three days after giving birth, but was sent home, only to pass away less than a day later.

Patrick Arenz, principal and chair of Robins Kaplan’s Pro Bono Committee, focuses his practice on litigating high-stakes intellectual property cases. He recently achieved a precedent-setting pro bono victory, when he secured a decisive jury verdict in a federal lawsuit on behalf of a sex tourism victim who was raped by a U.S. citizen in Laos when she was 14 years old. This was believed to be the first civil jury verdict ever in a sex tourism case. Arenz also secured a final judgment of over $6 million in favor of his client Megdal Associates in an IP license dispute. 

Peter Surdo, prior principal at Robins Kaplan with more than a decade of experience litigating high-stakes cases, secured a recent victory in a pro bono case that has drawn national attention. He secured the voluntary termination of parental rights of a Minneapolis man who pled guilty to dismembering and disposing of the remains of a young girl’s mother. The voluntary termination paved the way for an adoption in the best interests of the young child.

Elizabeth Fors, associate at the firm, focuses her practice on helping those who have been injured from medical malpractice or personal injury. Along with Chris Messerly, she helped secure the largest medical malpractice wrongful death verdict in Minnesota for the family of a young mother who died less than a week after giving birth.

All six attorneys will be featured in a special Attorneys of the Year edition of Minnesota Lawyer and honored at an awards dinner in February. The complete list of winners is available here.

Eric J. Magnuson


Chair, Appellate Practice
Pronouns: he/his

Chris Messerly

Retired | Inactive

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