Bob Gilbertson is a trial lawyer’s trial lawyer. He has handled litigation and arbitrations in 35 states for clients pursuing or defending claims involving business disputes, non-competes, intellectual property, products liability, insurance, and industrial catastrophes. He has tried cases in all of these areas, and has on many occasions been engaged specifically for trial when settlement prospects have faded and the specter of trial has become more real. Bob has developed substantive expertise in several areas of law, but, regardless of subject matter, his core competency is in the courtroom. He asks the kinds of questions judges and jurors would ask, and helps make complicated ideas understandable.
Beyond his work for clients, Bob serves as a member of the Minnesota Commission on Judicial Selection, as president of the Laura Baker Services Association’s board of trustees, and as the managing partner of our firm.
Clients turn to Bob to handle disputes of many kinds:
Bob has been handling business disputes for 30 years. Clients turn to him to protect their interests in disputes over contracts, fraud claims, and all manner of business torts. Bob has recently, for example, successfully represented a national-brand-name software provider defending against contract and fraud claims, a university accused of fraud and misrepresentation, and a pair of business executives pursuing contract claims against a Fortune 150 company. Bob led a team that represented a Fortune 100 company and won summary judgment, affirmed by the Eighth Circuit (Superior Seafoods, Inc. v. Tyson Foods, 620 F.3d 873 (8th Cir. 2010)), on fraud and other claims arising out of the purchase and subsequent sale of a business.
Non-Competes / Trade Secrets
Clients in the consulting, high-tech, food, manufacturing, medical-device, and other industries regularly ask Bob to advise them when adding or losing key employees, and to handle the litigation that sometimes results. For example, Bob worked with co-counsel to score a key victory against a medical-device giant in Medtronic, Inc. v. Ernst, 182 F. Supp. 3d 925 (D. Minn. 2016).
Bob has deep experience pursuing and defending patent, trademark, trade-secret, trade-dress, and false-advertising actions. He has led many successful efforts to enforce IP rights or defend against such claims. For example, he led teams that won a judgment of non-infringement in Reshare Commerce, LLC v. State Farm, et al. (D. Minn. 2013) and a dismissal of a patent-infringement action in Ductcap Products v. J&S Fabrication (D. Minn. 2009). He is at home in district courts, the International Trade Commission, and the Patent Trial and Appeal Board. Bob focuses on learning the technology involved in IP cases in a way that will help him teach it to judges and juries.
Bob has handled products-liability cases in 19 states and has taken such cases to trial in Arizona, Illinois, Michigan, Minnesota, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, and Tennessee. For example, Bob successfully pursued products-liability claims arising from a Minnesota fire that caused more than $50 million in damage, and successfully defended an industrial-machine manufacturer against a series of products-liability claims around the country. As with IP cases, Bob enjoys the opportunity in products-liability litigation to learn technology from experts and teach it to non-experts.
MDL / Class Actions
Bob represents clients in Multi-District Litigation proceedings and class actions alleging fraud, antitrust, RICO, and other claims. For example, he secured summary judgment in a putative nationwide consumer class action in Edwards v. Danka (M.D. Tenn. Oct. 17, 2006). Across 16 different states, Bob has defended 36 putative class actions, some seeking billions of dollars in damages. The one litigation class that was certified in those cases was reversed on appeal.
Bob has handled dozens and dozens of property, liability, and other insurance-coverage disputes and enjoys the contract-interpretation challenges that they present. The client he and his team represented prevailed, for example, in such a dispute in St. Mary’s Foundry v. Employers Ins. of Wausau, 332 F.3d 989 (6th Cir. 2003).
When a major fire or explosion occurs, Bob helps clients navigate loss investigations, insurance claims, and litigation over insurance and liability issues. He has represented clients in litigation arising out of large catastrophes such as the 1991 Americold warehouse fire in Kansas, the 1999 Olympic pipeline explosion in Washington, and the 2009 North Star Foods fire in Minnesota. In 2010, a client Bob represented prevailed in an Iowa Supreme Court decision (Royal Insurance v. FM Global, Iowa 2010) dismissing negligent-inspection and breach-of-contract claims. He has brought and defended dozens of claims arising out of such disasters.
Bob has handled or consulted on appeals in a dozen different jurisdictions. In 2008, for example, he argued the appeal in Hackert v. First Alert, 271 F. Appx 31 (2d Cir. 2008), in which the Second Circuit affirmed a district-court judgment in favor of the client he represented. Bob enjoys the intellectual challenge of appeals and finds his appellate experience helpful at the trial-court level as well.
Since the first month of Bob’s career, he has represented refugees seeking asylum in the United States. For example, he led a team representing a young man from Somalia in Hassan v. Reno, Civ. 00-01091 (D. Minn. May 3, 2000), in which a team he led obtained a temporary restraining order barring a deportation. Bob deeply appreciates the chance to represent clients in the thing that is most important in their lives. If you want to hear a remarkable story, ask Bob about his first asylum client.
- The Best Lawyers in America (2013-present)
- Minnesota Super Lawyers (2014-present)
- Chambers USA Notable Practitioner (2019)
- Minnesota State Bar Association North Star Lawyer (2012-15, 2017)
- Recognized by the above publications/organizations for Business Litigation, Intellectual Property Litigation, Insurance Law, Appellate, and Pro Bono
- Super Lawyer, Minnesota Law & Politics (1999)
- Rising Star, Minnesota Law & Politics (1999, 2001-02)
- Led teams that received the Volunteer Award, The Advocates for Human Rights (1998 & 2004)
- United States Supreme Court
- U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal, First, Second, Sixth, and Eighth Circuits
- U.S. District Courts for the
- Northern District of Illinois
- Eastern District of Michigan
- District of Minnesota
- District of North Dakota
- Eastern District of Wisconsin
- Member, Minnesota Commission on Judicial Selection, appointed by Minnesota Gov. Tim Walz (2019-present)
- Minnesota State Bar Association
- American Intellectual Property Law Association
- American Bar Association, former Tort Trial & Insurance Practice Section (ABA-TIPS)
- Former Chair, Business Litigation Committee (ABA-TIPS)
- Former Vice-Chair, Property Insurance Law Committee (ABA-TIPS)
- Presenter, Advanced Attorney-Client Privilege for In-House Counsel, Hennepin County Bar Association, Corporate Counsel Section (June 2020)
- Presenter, Privilege in Multiparty Litigation — The Joint Defense and Common Interest Privileges, Pressure on the Privilege, Minnesota CLE (September 2019)
- Adjunct Professor, William Mitchell College of Law — Appellate Advocacy (2004)
- Co-Author, Recent Developments in Business Torts Law, Tort Trial & Insurance Practice Law Journal (Winter 2003)
- Co-Author, Recent Developments in Business Torts Law, Tort Trial & Insurance Practice Law Journal (Winter 2002)
- Contributor, Property Insurance Annotations — Fire and Extended Coverages, 3d ed. (1998), published by the ABA TIPS Property Insurance Law Committee
- Co-Author, For Spoliating Parties, Courts Don’t Spare the Rod, National Law Journal (September 8, 1997)
- Instructor, University of Michigan Law School — Legal Writing and Advocacy (1990-1991)
- President of the Board of Trustees of Laura Baker Services Association, a non-profit organization that has been serving people with developmental disabilities for over 100 years in Northfield, Minnesota (member, 2012-present)
- Member of the Carleton College Alumni Annual Fund Board (2019-2021)
- Member and officer of the Board of Directors of Circle Lake Association, a non-profit organization dedicated to improving water quality and the community around Circle Lake in Forest Township, Minnesota (2010-2018)