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May 1, 2017

Court Overturns $27.7 Million Jury Verdict in Favor of the Defense in Minnesota Aviation Litigation Product Liability Case

In a Minnesota aviation product liability case, a Ramsey County Minnesota District Court judge has ruled in favor of the defense and overturned a 2016 jury verdict that had awarded the plaintiff $27.7 million. The defense team was led by HAWS-KM shareholders Dan Haws and JP Gatto.

Following a jury trial in 2016 that spanned four-weeks, the Ramsey County District Court judge granted HAWS-KM’s motion for Judgment as a Matter of Law and overturned the jury’s $27+ million verdict. While HAWS-KM and its client were sympathetic to the plaintiff’s injuries, they knew that the accident was not caused by the alleged manufacturing defect in the defendant’s product. There were many reasons why the pilot lost control of his plane the day of the accident, but the manufacturer’s product was not one of them.

Despite strong evidence supporting the defense position, in February of 2016, a jury (with a dissent) returned a verdict in favor of plaintiff awarding in excess of 27 Million dollars, finding a manufacturing defect was the cause of the accident. HAWS-KM filed a motion for Judgment as a Matter of Law, asserting that the plaintiff, through his expert, engaged in speculation without adequate foundation to offer his opinions, thus failing to meet its burden to prove that the defendant’s product caused the accident. The defense also stated that plaintiff’s counsel and their experts engaged in misconduct during the trial which prejudiced the jury and resulted in an improper verdict based on bias and prejudice, which would require a new trial regardless of the plaintiff’s failure to prove a product defect caused the accident. Had the jury received only properly admissible evidence, as confirmed by the Judge, and absent attorney misconduct, the plaintiff’s manufacturing defect claim would have been rejected as well.

Plaintiff filed a motion in an effort to reverse the Court’s dismissal of his claim, which the Court denied, and affirmed the complete dismissal of the plaintiff’s case.  The Court’s Order reversing the jury verdict is a significant victory for the defense and restores faith in our legal justice system.

Dan Haws, a seasoned trial and appellate attorney with more than 25 years of experience, focuses his practice on the areas of Aviation LitigationProduct Liability Defense, Commercial LitigationFinancial Services and Business LitigationInsurance Related Litigation, and Transportation Litigation. He has successfully tried more than 50 jury trials to verdict throughout the Midwest and has handled numerous cases on appeal to the Eighth Circuit Court of Appeals, serving as lead trial counsel on most of the appeals. Dan was elected to the American Board of Trial Advocates (ABOTA. He has an AV® Preeminent™ Peer Review Rating in the distinguished legal directory, Martindale-Hubbell®* and has been selected for inclusion in Minnesota Super Lawyers®, 2003-2016 Editions. He was also named a “top personal injury lawyer” in defense by Minnesota Law & Politics. Dan is admitted to practice in all state, federal and appellate courts in Minnesota, Wisconsin and Iowa, and the U.S. District Court – District of North Dakota.

John Paul (JP) Gatto has significant trial and appellate experience and focuses his practice on the areas of Aviation LitigationProduct Liability Defense, Commercial LitigationConstruction LitigationEnvironmental LitigationInsurance Related Litigation, and Transportation Litigation. He has represented a wide variety of clients from large corporations, including equipment manufacturers and pharmaceutical manufacturers, to small businesses and individuals. JP has handled a wide variety of claims including personal injury, warranty disputes, contract claims, claims for lost profit or business income, claims for violations of trade secrets, issues of insurance coverage, and other general litigation matters up to and through trial and any subsequent appeals. He has been selected for inclusion in Minnesota Rising Stars®, 2014-2016 Editions. JP is licensed to practice in the state courts of Minnesota and Wisconsin, as well as Minnesota Federal courts and the Eighth Circuit Court of Appeals.

*AV® is a certification mark of Reed Elsevier Properties Inc., used in accordance with the Martindale-Hubbell® certification procedures, standards and policies.



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