• April 24, 2015

49134Update (April 24, 2015):  What more does the fight between Zimmerman | Reed v. Genevieve Zimmerman (Ms. Zimmerman is unrelated to adversary “Bucky” Zimmerman of Zimmerman | Reed) and against Meshbesher & Spence need? Apparently, another Zimmerman on the case. Last month, St. Paul attorney Jacob Zimmerman made an appearance in the case along with “Gus” (“Mind if we call you Zimmerman?”) Nicklow as additional counsel for Ms. G. Zimmerman.

What more does the fiasco need? A motion to amend to add additional information about Ms. Zimmerman’s defamation claim and also a motion to add a punitive damages claim against Zimmerman | Reed? Bien sûr! Got it. (As of March 23, 2015.)

Anything else? Oh, yeah. A stipulation to move this circus into confidential arbitration. FINALLY. Entered into this week. A bit late to claw back the many insults, accusations, and over-the-top nuttiness sprinkled throughout the court file (like sprinkled in here), but now I can say (I think), as I wrote below, “Nothing more to see here. Move along…”

Update (January 27, 2015): Minnesota Litigator often gets tips from lawyers as to interesting cases, decisions, or legal issues, which is great (keep them coming!), but, as valuable, Minnesota Litigator often gets inquiries (please keep them coming too!).

No case seems to have prompted more curiosity than the lawsuit brought by the Minneapolis personal injury and consumer rights law firm of Zimmerman Reed (“ZR”) against Genevieve Zimmerman and the Minneapolis personal injury law firm of Meshbesher & Spence, Ltd. (which I call “ZvZ”). I first wrote about it in late September (see below). “What up with that case?” I have been asked repeatedly in the past few months.

Too bad the Minnesota court system is still extremely difficult to track on-line and also costly! Instead of being able to track “ZvZ” in my skivvies from home as I do with most of my Minnesota Litigator work out of the U.S. federal district court (D. Minn.), I have to send one of my wretched peons into the bowels of the Hennepin County Government Center records office to review and buy civil filings at $10-a-pop. (And seeing as how I am a solo practice, I have to send myself…Rest assured I dress appropriately as is fitting an officer of the court.)

(Alternately, fine Minnesota Litigator readers sometimes provide me with a state court filing or two, by the way, which is extremely appreciated.)

But I digress. Here is the latest information I have gleaned about ZvZ:

Plaintiff Zimmerman Reed’s emergency TRO motion was not very successful. The law firm of Briol & Associates has withdrawn as counsel for Defendants Genevieve Z and the Meshbesher firm. Meshbesher will now go it alone with Konstandinos “Gus” Niklow in the lead. Maybe this signals Defendants’ confidence in the case that they are holstering the hired guns?

Plaintiff Zimmerman Reed might be in some hot water for failure to abide by court orders in the case (see here).

Defendants have served 500 (five hundred) discovery requests on Plaintiff (116 document requests, 313 requests for admission) and it seems that Ms. Zimmerman may have been deposed in the case in December.

Note in Hennepin County Judge Susan Robiner’s Order following Status Conference that Zimmerman Reed appears to have had a rather stingy view of what is part of and not part of a client file (page 5). Furthermore, Judge Robiner notes that “both parties want the opposing party to be required to comply strictly with the rules of civil procedure. Both parties want themselves excused from strict compliance.” Order following Status Conference (page 6). Both parties failed to certify that they engaged in good faith efforts to resolve discovery disputes before going to court with their discovery disputes as the rules of civil procedure require. Order following Status Conference (page 7).

In short, it is clear that everyone is on their best behavior. Nothing to see here. Move along…(This fee-asco is scheduled for trial in August of 2015 and I will assign a minion to track its “progress” in the mean time, rest assured.)

Here, linked, by the way, is Genevieve Z and the Meshbesher firm’s amended answer and counterclaim. If you can spot the changes from the earlier version (aside from the insertion of a new Para. 12 in amended counterclaim and insertion of Count VI for Deceptive Trade Practices at the end), let me know.

Original post (September 26, 2014): Kudos and recognition to Minnesota Lawyer writer, Patrick Thornton, for bringing my attention to the Zimmerman|Reed v. Meshbesher & Spence et al. lawsuit in an article published on 9/22/2014 in Minnesota Lawyer (behind a paywall). It’s a well-written piece.

Clients are people (for the most part) but sometimes they are fought over by lawyers as if the clients were so many money-bags.

Plaintiffs’ personal injury lawyers hold themselves out to the world as if they are crusaders for justice, but this is not necessarily how they all behave from day-to-day. In fact, some will argue that some of these lawyers never behave that way. Some are greedy, opportunistic, exploitative, shallow, unscrupulous, and downright ugly.

The recent case of Zimmerman|Reed v. Meshbesher & Spence, now pending before Hennepin County District Court Judge Susan M. Robiner, gives us a peak inside two Minnesota personal injury institutions. The perspective we get may or may not be damning in the minds of most Minnesota Litigator readers. The discussion of “developing clients” (Zimmerman Reed Complaint, Para. 6) and “secur[ing] clients” (Zimmerman Reed Complaint, Para. 7) and fighting over ownership interests (more or less) in “institutional clients” (Zimmerman Reed Complaint, Para. 10) suggests that this lawsuit is entirely about money. Clients are people, not assets, but good luck finding any indication that they’re being treated as anything other than assets in these papers…

And when local lawyers hire local lawyers to fight with local law firms, there will be blood.

The Zimmerman Reed firm has brought a 10-count complaint against Meshbesher & Spence and former Zimmerman lawyer, Genevieve Zimmerman (apparently unrelated to Charles “Bucky” Zimmerman, the named partner in Zimmerman Reed). The Zimmerman Reed law firm basically accuses Meshbesher & Spence and Genevieve Zimmerman of stealing clients — that is unethical and tortious conduct.

Defendants have their own counterattacks.

“Mr. [Charles “Bucky”] Zimmerman…achieved a reputation for settling cases below value and then awarding himself and others…a disproportionate share of resulting attorneys’ fees.” (Meshbesher & Spence Answer and Counterclaim at Para. 17.)

Zimmerman and fellow Zimmerman Reed partner, J. Gordon Rudd, Jr., are alleged to have misappropriated law firm funds and otherwise violated ethical rules.  (Meshbesher & Spence Answer and Counterclaim at Paras. 51-54; see, also, Paras. 62, 86, 151-99.)

The Zimmerman Reed firm is alleged to have a partnership agreement that violates Minnesota ethics rules.(Meshbesher & Spence Answer and Counterclaim at Para. 79.)

Perhaps the most surprising news in the Meshbesher & Spence Answer and Counterclaim is the allegation that Zimmerman|Reed “wrongfully, unlawfully, and maliciously defamed Ms. Zimmerman’s character in a letter to Hon. Judge Donovan Frank” (D. Minn.). (Meshbesher & Spence Answer and Counterclaim at Para. 190-196.) (Woe. Careful there, eh? Is Zimmerman|Reed admitting to having placed a Zimmerman|Reed lawyer in a position that she was ill-equipped to perform for thousands of injured plaintiffs?)

A final note: what better advertising and marketing for a lawyer and a law firm than to be hired by local powerhouse law firms?

Congratulations to Briol & Associates for being hired by Defendant Meshbesher & Spence, to Anthony Ostlund Baer & Leuwagie for being hired by Plaintiff Zimmerman|Reed and Bassford Remele for being hired by Ms. Genevieve Zimmerman as she prepared for and made the jump from one firm to the other. (Meshbesher & Spence Answer and Counterclaim at Para. 101.)


Abandon all hope as you pass through these gates…(William Blake illustration to Dante’s Inferno)

Onward and downward with the donnybrook

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