Briggs and Morgan’s appellate practice group has advocated on behalf of clients in nearly all federal circuit courts and in most state courts throughout the Upper Midwest, with particular strength and frequency in Minnesota appellate courts and the Eighth Circuit Court of Appeals.
Briggs’ depth of experience stems from an understanding of the intricacies of appellate procedural rules and the art of crafting effective written and oral arguments. The firm has extensive experience with the state judiciary. Nearly fifty of our attorneys are former judicial clerks, with many having clerked for the Minnesota Court of Appeals and Minnesota Supreme Court. The strength of our appellate practice is heightened with the experience of Sam Hanson, former justice of the Minnesota Supreme Court and former Minnesota Court of Appeals judge, and Eric Magnuson, former Chief Justice of the Minnesota Supreme Court. We also have a former U.S. Supreme Court law clerk and several former law clerks for the U.S. Court of Appeals on our roster.
In addition, several attorneys have held, and currently hold, leadership positions with the American Academy of Appellate Lawyers, the Defense Research Institute, the MSBA Appellate Section and Appellate Council, the Eighth Circuit Bar Association, and Minnesota Defense Lawyer’s Amicus Curiae Committee, are contributing authors to leading appellate treatises; and routinely present at Continuing Legal Education seminars and other forums on Appellate issues. As a service to clients, Briggs and Morgan regularly monitors pending appeals, and often issues appellate alerts on its website because staying current on issues pending review is critical. As a service to clients, Briggs regularly monitors pending appeals. See Minnesota Supreme Court Watch
Briggs' appellate services include appellate advocacy and consultation and amicus representation.
Appellate Advocacy and Consultation
Our approach is best described as collaborative. Briggs’ appellate attorneys consult with trial counsel (both within and outside the firm) at the outset to shape a strong appellate strategy and direction.
Effective appellate advocacy requires knowledge of the technical aspects of appeals, objectivity and judicial perspective. Briggs’ practice is led by respected former Minnesota Supreme Court justices, which enhance our ability to provide clients with a critical case analysis from the extraordinary viewpoint of a judge.
Appellate counsel advise trial counsel and amicus curiae on:
- Case assessment: Objective evaluation of the merits, prioritizing issues for argument, preparing the record on appeal, and satisfying technical demands of the appellate rules of procedure;
- Brief preparation: Writing, editing or critiquing briefs for effectiveness;
- Oral arguments: Developing responses to potential questions from the court or organizing moot court sessions prior to argument.
Whether the goal is to preserve a favorable outcome or overturn a negative one, we assist in crafting persuasive arguments and strengthening appeals. To achieve this, we conduct mock arguments to help clients focus and prioritize issues on appeal.
Briggs' appellate counsel offers skilled representation of amicus curiae on matters of significance to diverse civic and trade groups. In this capacity, we organize amicus support and frequently write and file amici briefs on behalf of interested parties.
The following provides an overview of recent, significant litigation for which our firm was involved:
- Hoffman v. Northern States Power Co. (utilities and filed rate doctrine): Minnesota Supreme Court concluded filed-rate doctrine precluded claims seeking damages due to inspection and maintenance services and primary jurisdiction doctrine required injunctive relief claim to be referred to the Minnesota Public Utilities Commission.
- SCI Minnesota Funeral Services, Inc. v. Washburn-McReavy Funeral Corp. (merger/acquisition dispute): Minnesota Supreme Court rejects mutual mistake arguments in stock transaction, holding that one company obtaining 100% control of another company in a $1 million stock sale also acquired $2 million in real estate assets owned by the target company even though the target company’s ownership of such assets was unknown to the particular seller and buyer representatives negotiating and executing the deal.
- Kramer v. Perez (statutory spam e-mail): Eighth Circuit Court of Appeals reversed $236 million judgment in anti-spam e-mail case.
- St. Paul Fire & Marine Ins. Co. v. A.P.I,. Inc. (bad faith and breach of fiduciary duty judgment against insurer): Minnesota Court of Appeals reversed jury verdict of $52 million against insurance company that had denied coverage for asbestos-related claims.
- In re Hubbard (administrative law): Minnesota Supreme Court limits agency rulemaking by holding that rules adopted by the DNR, requiring local governments to seek DNR certification of zoning variances, were invalid as in excess of the statutory authority expressly given to the DNR and in conflict with the powers delegated to local governments.
- Lundeen v. Canadian Pacific Railway. Co. (federal preemption): Multimillion-dollar personal injury litigation from catastrophic train derailment—which led to congressional hearings and revision of Homeland Security Bill—resulted in Eighth Circuit decision that plaintiffs’ negligence claim was preempted by Federal Railroad Safety Act.
- McIntosh County Bank et al. v. Dorsey & Whitney LLP (professional malpractice): Minnesota Supreme Court reversed court of appeals, ruling that an implied contractual attorney-client relationship cannot exist when an attorney is unaware of a third party’s identity, communications have not taken place, and there is no notice to the attorney of representation.
- Frieler v. Carlson Marketing Group, Inc. (employer liability in sexual harassment): Minnesota Supreme Court rejected use of “knew or should have known” standard from Minnesota Human Rights Act in favor of federal standards.
- Plains Commerce Bank v. Long Family Land & Cattle Co., Inc. (tribal law): U.S. Supreme Court ruled that tribes do not have authority to adjudicate claims against non-members based simply on activities of non-members on fee land within a reservation, adopting the bright line rule urged in an amicus brief filed by Briggs and Morgan.
- Culpepper v. Irwin Mortgage Corp. (mortgage lending practices – yield spread premiums): Eleventh Circuit Court of Appeals affirmed decertification of the class and summary judgment to defendant lender after 11 years and four appeals.