Represented Great Plains Natural Gas Co., a division of MDU Resources Group, Inc., in a contested case proceeding before the Minnesota Public Utilities Commission regarding Great Plains’ application seeking to increase rates for gas distribution service in Minnesota.
Advise a large, multistate electric and gas utility client on environmental and real estate issues pertaining to transactions in multiple states. This includes proposed sale transactions for contaminated property, including due diligence and liability allocation. We also represent the company before the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and state agencies on remediation of contaminated property, obtaining terms that limit the company’s liability for cleanup costs. We represent the company on matters in Kansas, Nebraska, Iowa and Wyoming.
Roers Investments LLC is a fast growing, Minnesota-based real estate investment and development company. Serving as outside general counsel, Minneapolis partner Anne Cotter and a team of Stinson attorneys have worked closely with founders Kent Roers and Brian Roers on structuring and financing for their development of nearly a dozen multifamily, student housing and senior living real estate projects in the past 18 months. Roers ended 2016 with a total portfolio comprising nearly $400 million worth of development across 20 + projects, with more than 1,800 apartment units. Roers also provides property management for its portfolio together with third-party management of 350 units and more than 135,000 square feet of commercial/industrial space. In 2017, Roers will complete construction on five projects while pursuing new developments to construct over 800 apartment units in five cities across three states.
We provide estate administration for a successful entrepreneur with a large family. We developed an innovate governance for a family limited partnership and established governance for new trusts. We also facilitate estate tax and succession planning for transfers from second to third generation.
A federal judge in Virginia enhanced damages and awarded attorneys’ fees to Stinson Leonard Street client Cobalt Boats in a patent infringement case against Brunswick Corp., a competing boat manufacturer. The judge awarded Cobalt compensatory damages of $5.4 million, up from the original award of $2.7 million.
In doing so, U.S. District Court Judge Henry C. Morgan, Jr. concluded that Brunswick not only willfully infringed on Cobalt’s patent, but also dragged the suit out unnecessarily through a “pattern of misconduct.”
Cobalt sued Sea Ray Boats and its parent company Brunswick in January 2015 alleging that Brunswick infringed on Cobalt’s “retractable swim step,” a partially submerged platform that allows boat passengers to easily enter and exit the water. In June of 2017 a jury concluded that Brunswick’s infringement was willful and returned a $2.7 million verdict.
This case was being closely watched in the patent and boating industries. It was one of the first to be tried following the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision in TC Heartland, where the court found that patent suits can only be filed where a defendant is incorporated or where it has committed infringement and has a regular and established place of business. Sea Ray argued it had no ties to the Eastern District of Virginia, but in a split decision the Federal Circuit denied Brunswick’s last minute request for mandamus relief three days before trial began. The claims asserted in the litigation survived an IPR invalidity challenge by Brunswick at the United States Patent and Trademark Office, and Brunswick dropped its remaining invalidity allegations during trial.
At trial Cobalt proved that the claims of Cobalt’s Swim Step patent were infringed, and that the infringement was willful, meaning the jury concluded Brunswick’s behavior was particularly egregious. Because the jury found Brunswick’s infringement to be willful, the Virginia federal court may decide to enhance the verdict up to three times the $2.7 million awarded by the jury.
Since its introduction in 2010, the patented Swim Step has been a popular feature with Cobalt’s dealers and customers. The way it flips down below the surface of the water provides an easy way for people to get in and out of the water and also provides a bench-like seat on the back of the boat that gives boaters more room to enjoy the water. After it was introduced, Cobalt saw a steady increase in sales and demand for the feature, and it is now the most popular feature on Cobalt’s boats. During trial, Cobalt proved that the Swim Step feature helped it sell boats—and helped Brunswick sell its infringing boats as well.
We represented numerous parties in multistate bankruptcy cases in the dairy sector of the agriculture industry. Stinson has successfully represented debtors and committees of unsecured creditors in ensuring maximum recovery for creditors while preserving going concern business operations. Stinson’s experience in this area has allowed it to counsel clients through the notoriously volatile ebbs and flows of the dairy business sector.
We served as counsel to Kansas City entrepreneur John Sherman in his successful bid to become a minority owner of the Cleveland Indians. The Major League Baseball team announced Sherman as a vice chairman August 19, 2016. Sherman started and developed two businesses in Kansas City. The first, LGP Services group, merged with Dynegy in 1996. Sherman later founded Inergy LP, which went public in 2001 and merged with Crestwood Holdings in 2013. He is a board member of the merged company, Houston-based Crestwood Equity Partners.
With the goal of growing and developing the firm in a way that best serves the needs of its clients in a rapidly changing legal marketplace, Stinson Leonard Street formed the National Client Strategies Board. The board includes partners from the firm’s 13 offices who will engage with many of the firm’s clients and other market leaders across a variety of industries to develop innovative ways to align the firm with the evolving legal needs of businesses. Todd Noteboom, a nationally known litigator and a member of the firm’s Board of Directors and Executive Committee, will serve as Chair.
Noteboom and the other members of the National Client Strategies Board will use client and industry leader feedback to inform important firm decisions on such key issues as lateral recruiting, investments in new markets and practice areas, technological advancements and innovations, and new methods of legal service delivery.
“Lawyers tend to prefer the status quo and, when they do consider change, often make decisions about their firms in an insular way that does not involve the clients,” Noteboom said. “This initiative will go much further than client interviews and feedback. The program focuses on partnering with our clients, making meaningful changes in how we do business, and allocating our resources to better serve the firm’s clients.” The goal is more focused collaboration and communication among the firm’s practice areas and industry groups, as well as improving the quality and efficiency of client service throughout the firm’s eight-state footprint.
The National Client Strategies Board is an integral part of the firm’s strategic plan, which, among other components, identifies opportunities to form deeper client relationships through consistent delivery of high-quality, value-based legal services. “The needs of our clients are changing all the time. In order for our law firm to continue to thrive, we need to listen carefully to our clients, work more diligently to collaborate for their benefit, and look for innovative ways to deliver the high quality and efficient legal services they expect.” said Mark Hinderks, Stinson’s managing partner. “Todd is the perfect choice to spearhead this program. Borrowing on his experience and leadership, we plan to be ahead of the curve on this one.”
Stinson Leonard Street fosters an inclusive culture of fairness, respect and equality. Our firm is improved by the diverse backgrounds, experiences and perspectives of those who work here. It’s fundamental to how we deliver innovative, forward-thinking legal services to our clients and how we engage with our communities.
Our mission at Stinson is to provide an inclusive culture built on the foundation of attracting, retaining and promoting individuals of diverse backgrounds. We know that diverse teams produce better results for our clients.
Our firm is led by a diverse group of lawyers, and we view the success of our pipeline and increased promotion of attorneys who are women, people of color, LGBTQ, and who have disabilities into leadership positions as a central part of our approach. The firm is noted to have:
- An Executive Committee that is 50 percent female.
- Administrative leadership of seven women and five men, and includes two leaders of color and one openly LGBT.
- The firm recently hired a chief diversity and inclusion officer to lead a comprehensive set of initiatives, policies and practices that leverage the full potential of all our lawyers and staff.
- In the 2017 class of 16 newly elected partners, eight were women and three were on an alternative work schedule.
DIVERSITY AND INCLUSION INITIATIVES
The firm has incorporated creating a more diverse and inclusive workplace as a core objective of its strategic plan.
The firm established a Diversity and Inclusion Department, led by its chief diversity and inclusion officer. The core D&I objectives that the firm will pursue in the upcoming years are:
Recruitment—Enhance the firm’s work product, competitive edge and access to top talent by obtaining a critical mass of diverse lawyers and staff by:
- Increasing overall diversity to ensure that we bring diverse points of view in achieving the best solutions for our clients
- Increasing leadership opportunities and development strategies for diverse lawyers
- Helping increase law school pipeline initiatives
Success—Increase retention of diverse lawyers and staff by creating an inclusive, welcoming and supportive culture by:
- Encouraging equitable and inclusive work distribution, collaboration, succession planning
- Developing an Allies Program so that everyone at the firm feels empowered to participate in making the firm a more diverse and inclusive place
- Establishing a champion/sponsor program to ensure diverse lawyers have influential advocates on their behalf
Engagement & Growth—Enhance business relationships and raise the firm’s brand as a leader in diversity and inclusion by:
- Adding value to our clients through supporting our mutual desires to create a more diverse and inclusive legal community
- Sharing our knowledge, resources, and efforts with clients and the community at large through presentations, articles, and consultations
- Partnering with clients (where possible) to support diversity-related initiatives
Accountability—Create accountability and establish incentives for diversity and inclusion by:
- Tracking and measuring various diversity-related metrics (what gets measured, gets done)
- Creating infrastructures that mitigate the effects of bias and ensure the success of diverse lawyers
- Breaking down silos to create integrated firm-wide solutions
We are a sponsor of Twin Cities Diversity in Practice, a nonprofit association of law firms and companies dedicated to attracting, recruiting, advancing, and retaining attorneys of color in the Twin Cities legal community.
We are a member of the Leadership Council on Legal Diversity, a national consortium of law firms and corporate legal departments committed to advancing diversity and inclusion in the legal profession.
- In partnership with TCDIP and LCLD, we offer summer internship programs for 1L students designed to introduce students to the practice of law early.
- We host a reception in our Kansas City and Minneapolis offices for first-year law students. Students are provided with résumé writing and interview tips, and they hear from diverse associates on the practice of law at the firm and within the greater community.
We have supported for more than a decade scholarships for diverse law students at three Twin Cities area law schools.
We educate, empower and promote diversity and inclusion through extensive training throughout the year for both staff and attorneys. We also host an annual Diversity Week.
We support alternative schedule arrangements for attorneys that do not remove an associate from consideration for partnership.
We support a number of pipeline initiatives designed to introduce and support high school students who are interested in legal careers.
We sponsor diversity and inclusion efforts hosted by affinity law student and bar associations throughout our geographic footprint.
For the sixth year in a row, the firm earned the Gold Standard Certification in 2016 from the Women in Law Empowerment Forum for integrating women into top leadership positions. Stinson is one of only 31 firms to earn the Gold Standard Certification in 2016.
In 2016 an increased score on the Human Right’s Campaign Corporate Equality Index score of 90 out of 100 in 2016; up from 85 in 2015
Led by Partner Steve Emerson, Stinson represents NorthWestern Energy, a regional natural gas and electric utility that has been sued by ExxonMobil for in excess of $100 million in property damage and lost profits allegedly arising from two electrical power outages that ExxonMobil claims shut down its 60,000 barrels per day crude oil refinery in Billings, Montana, for extended periods.