Gaskins Bennett Birrell Schupp LLP
333 South Seventh Street
Suite 3000 Minneapolis, MN 55402
Jeff is a partner practicing primarily in the areas of civil rights, personal injury, and commercial litigation. His experience ranges broadly from representing criminal defendants to assisting in the representation of national banks in complex commercial litigation. Jeff has first and second chair trial experience. He has argued motions before state and federal courts in Minnesota and other jurisdictions. Jeff has significant experience litigating and advising clients on non-compete and other related employment/business matters. Jeff's civil rights cases have been covered by the StarTribune, St. Paul Pioneer Press, City Pages, and KSTP.
In 2013, Jeff was named a Minnesota “Rising Star,” as published in Mpls/St. Paul Magazine and Twin Cities Business. The Rising Star list is intended to identify the best attorneys who are 40 or under, or who have been practicing for 10 years or less. Less than 2.5 percent of the lawyers in the state are named to the list.
Jeff joined G|B|B|S in April of 2008, after practicing at Oppenheimer, Wolff & Donnelly. He attended the University of St. Thomas School of Law as a Dean's Scholar, and graduated in the top-ten of his class. In law school, he was a member of the National Moot Court and Constitutional Moot Court teams, and received Dean's Awards for Pretrial Litigation, Negotiation, and Small Firm Practice. Jeff has also served as an Adjunct Professor for the University of St. Thomas School of Law moot court program, and as a mentor for the University of St. Thomas School of Law's mentor program.
Representative Experience Personal Injury and Civil Rights Smith v. Gorman et al. U.S. District Court, District of Minnesota (2013) Total Settlement: $3,075,000
Federal civil rights wrongful death action on behalf of the next of kin of David Cornelius Smith, who died at the hands of two Minneapolis police officers. Smith was a mentally ill man, who had committed no crime, but was acting bizarrely at the Minneapolis YMCA. The officers arrived, a struggle ensued, and Smith was ultimately handcuffed and placed in the prone position with weight on his back for 4 1/2 minutes. The officers failed to monitor his condition during the restraint, and Smith died from complications of mechanical asphyxiation. This is the second highest payout for a police brutality case in Minneapolis history.
Kappel et al. v. Garland et al. Hennepin County District Court, Minnesota (2013) Total Settlement: $318,000
Negligence action on behalf of two students, who sustained injuries during a baton training course that was part of the law enforcement educational program at Hennepin Technical College. One student suffered a detached retina and the other suffered a torn ACL. Their injuries occurred within minutes of one another, while they were performing the instructor's ill-conceived drill. The college and instructor moved for summary judgment on grounds of statutory and official immunity, respectively. Both motions were denied and this settlement followed.
Jorgenson v. City of Mankato U.S. District Court, District of Minnesota (2013) Total Settlement: $160,000
Federal Civil Rights action for excessive force. Jorgenson sustained serious burn injuries as a result of being subjected to 20+ Taser cycles by two Mankato police officers.
Liend v. City of Stillwater U.S. District Court, District of Minnesota (2012) Total Settlement: $150,000
Federal Civil Rights action for excessive force. Liend sustained a break and other injuries to her arm after a Stillwater police officer violently wrenched on her arm.
Spelbrink et al. v. City of Saint Paul U. S. District Court, District of Minnesota (2012) Total Settlement: $90,000
Federal Civil Rights action for excessive force and wrongful arrest. Spelbrink and his friend were wrongful arrested and subjected to excessive force by two Saint Paul police officers. Spelbrink suffered facial injuries as a result. Coverage of this case can be seen at St. Paul paying $90K to men who claim unlawful seizure in downtown parking ramp.
Karim El-Ghazzawy v. Berthiaume et al. U.S. District Court, District of Minnesota 708 F. Supp. 2d 874 Eight Circuit Court of Appeals, 636 F.3d 452 (2011) Total Settlement: $325,000+
Represented a local attorney against a Bloomington police officer, Pawn America, and a Pawn America employee for unlawful arrest and defamation. The District Court for the District of Minnesota (Kyle, J.) denied all defendants' motions for summary judgment. The denial was preceded by the Court granting El-Ghazzawy's motion to amend his complaint to seek punitive damages against the employee and vicariously the pawnshop on the defamation count. El-Ghazzawy and the pawnshop subsequently reached a confidential settlement. The defendant officer appealed, and the Eighth Circuit affirmed the denial of qualified immunity. Following the denial, a settlement was reached with the defendant officer in the amount of $325,000. This case was selected by Minnesota Law & Politics as a 2009 “Lawsuit of the Year.”
Kelly v. Dakota County U.S. District Court, District of Minnesota (2011) Total Settlement: $315,000
Dakota County Sheriff's Deputy slammed Kelly into a wall, causing her to suffer a concussion, abrasions to her face, and a broken leg. This is the first successful prosecution of a police brutality claim against Dakota County in over 20 years.
Morris v. Saint Paul U.S. District Court, District of Minnesota (2011) Total Settlement: $270,000
Saint Paul police officer threw Morris, a woman, through her glass door. As a result, she sustained a severe gash to her arm, which required hundreds of stitches and surgery to repair. Settlement reached after Court denied the City's Motion for Summary Judgment from the bench. This settlement equals the highest amount Saint Paul has ever paid in a non-death, police brutality settlement.
Besser v. Allstate U. S. District Court, District of Minnesota (2009) Total Settlement:$250,000 (UIM policy limits)
Plaintiff was a rear-seat passenger in an automobile that collided head-on with a school bus. Plaintiff lost several teeth, and suffered scarring on her arm, hip, and face. Plaintiff underwent three bone graftings and numerous dental procedures and oral surgeries. Plaintiff obtained the UIM policy limits after previously recovering the insurance limits from the driver's insurance carrier.
Ringwelski v. Drussell Well Drilling Winona County District Court, Minnesota (2008) Net Verdict: Approximately $300,000
Second-chaired trial for personal injuries sustained as a result of an LP gas explosion.
Business & Commercial Obtained dismissal for a former CEO on federal RICO charges.
Represented insurance agency against former executive and executive's new business venture for claims of breach of duty of loyalty, tortious interference, civil conspiracy, and other claims. Successfully dismissed executive's counterclaim for unequal pay on summary judgment, and a confidential settlement was subsequently reached.
Represented telecommunications provider in action for breach of contract against a customer for the costumer's failure to pay for professional services rendered. After successfully defending the customer's motion for summary judgment, and after successfully dismissing customer's counterclaim for breach of contract on summary judgment, a confidential settlement was reached.
Brokered, on behalf of a corporate plaintiff, a settlement in excess of $400,000 just prior to arbitration in the course of a confidential, AAA arbitration proceeding for breaches of insurance producer contracts.
Assisted corporate client in successfully resolving State Attorney General investigation.
Obtained ex parte temporary restraining order on behalf of commercial recycling company, alleging claims of tortious interference with business relationships, trespass, and conversion.
Assists clients in responding to subpoenas and settling matters related to copyright “trolling” lawsuits.
Publications Co-author, “CAFA's Political Compromise and the Resulting Impact on MDL Transfer,” ABA Mass Tort Newsletter (Summer 2007)
Author, El Monticulo (“The Mound”): The Disparate Treatment of Latin American Baseball Players in Major League Baseball, U of St. Thomas J. Law & Pub. Policy (Spring 2008)
Memberships Hennepin County Bar Association
Minnesota State Bar Association
American Bar Association
Court Admissions Minnesota, 2006
U.S. District Court, District of Minnesota, 2007
U.S. District Court, Eastern District of Wisconsin, 2008
U.S. District Court, District of Nebraska, 2009
U.S. Court of Appeals, Eighth Circuit, 2010
U.S. District Court, District of North Dakota 2011
Civic Involvement Board of Directors, National Ataxia Foundation