Mesothelioma & Asbestos
Accidents & Injuries
Michael R. Strom
Mike Strom is the Treasurer and former President and Managing Partner of Sieben Polk, and has been a trial lawyer with the firm since 1985. He has obtained several recoveries for his clients in excess of one million dollars. He has represented Plaintiffs in Minnesota’s four largest recoveries in asbestos personal injury claims. His eight million dollar verdict on behalf of a Koch Refinery employee in 2001 stands as the largest asbestos verdict in Minnesota history. In March of 2008, he obtained a 4.6 million dollar damage award on behalf of an NSP pipefitter. In 2014, he was part of the trial team that obtained a $4.5 million award on behalf of a Taconite Harbor laborer. In addition to toxic torts, Mr. Strom focuses his practice in the area of complex products liability, premises liability, and general personal injury. He has been a partner and shareholder of the firm for many years.
Mr. Strom’s accomplishments have led to his being named Plaintiff’s Product Liability “Lawyer of the Year” for 2020 by “Best Lawyers.” He has similarly been honored as a “Super Lawyer” by Minnesota Law & Politics, Twin Cities Business Monthly, and Mpls St. Paul Magazine since 2004. Mr. Strom has been voted a “Top 100” Super Lawyer six times, placing him in the top one percent of Minnesota attorneys as ranked by his peers. He has also been repeatedly recognized as one of Minnesota’s “Top 40” Plaintiff personal injury attorneys by Minnesota Super Lawyers. For many years, he has also been selected as one of the “Best Lawyers in America.” He has further obtained an AV attorney ranking in Martindale Hubbell, the highest ranking available from that publication. Finally, Mr. Strom received a perfect 5.0 peer rating from lawyers.com.
In addition to his extensive trial practice, Mr. Strom heads the firm’s appellate department, and recently defeated asbestos product manufacturer John Crane’s appeal of a $3,689,193.00 judgment in Newinski v. John Crane, Inc., WL 1752011 (Minn. Ct. App. June 23, 2009), rev. denied, (Minn. Sept. 16, 2009). Mr. Strom had previously tried the case to a Ramsey County jury in March of 2008. The jury returned a verdict for $4,611,492.00, and had determined that Crane was responsible for 55%. Mr. Strom successfully argued in post-trial motions that Crane was jointly and severally liable for 80% of the verdict under Minnesota law, raising Crane’s liability from $2,536,320.60 to $3,689,193.00, an increase of $1,152,872.40 for his clients.
Another aspect of Mr. Strom’s support of asbestos victims is his service as a member of the claimants’ committee of the Western Asbestos Settlement trust, which administers claims of individuals suffering diseases caused by exposure to asbestos by various entities including MacArthur Corporation, one of the most prevalent former asbestos contractors in Minnesota.
Mr. Strom also argued successfully on behalf of the Plaintiff in the Minnesota Supreme Court’s landmark decision of Gray v. Badger Mining Co., 676 N.W. 2d 268 (Minn. 2004). The decision overruled a Court of Appeals decision that would have deprived injured workers from recovering damages against manufacturers of defective products if the worker’s employer knew of the product’s dangers.
Mr. Strom recently served on the Products Liability subcommittee assigned to assist the District Court Judges Association in drafting Minnesota’s newest civil jury instruction guide, the purpose of which is to assist trial courts and practitioners in properly advising jurors of the law applicable to the case before them. He had previously served on the General Law subcommittee for the previous edition of the guide.
In addition to presenting continuing legal educational programs to fellow attorneys, Mr. Strom served from 2001 to 2009 as an adjunct professor at the William Mitchell College of Law teaching first year law students legal research, writing, and analysis. He has also contributed materials to publications of the Minnesota Association for Justice, and served for many years on the prestigious Amicus Committee.
Mr. Strom is frequently asked by other attorneys to serve as a case arbitrator, and is a certified neutral of the American Arbitration Association. He further serves as an arbitrator of asbestos claims for the Eagle-Picher Industries Personal Injury Settlement Trust, and routinely serves as a case evaluator for other attorneys through the MAJ case evaluation service.
Mr. Strom is an honors graduate of the University of Minnesota Law School, and completed his undergraduate training at Carleton College, where he was elected a member of Phi Beta Kappa and graduated Magna Cum Laude. He has been a member of the Minnesota State Bar since October of 1985, and is currently licensed to practice before the Supreme Court of the United States, the Eighth Circuit Court of Appeals, the United States District Court for the District of Minnesota, and Minnesota’s state court system. He has also been admitted to practice pro hac vice to litigate cases in the state and federal courts in Ohio, and also Wisconsin.
In addition to serving as a Master and membership committee co-chair of the Warren E. Burger Inn of Court for many years, Mr. Strom is a member of the Minnesota State Bar Association, the Minnesota Association for Justice, and the American Association for Justice.
Mike Strom is a lifelong Minnesotan, and lives with his wife Pamela and two children in Minneapolis.
Areas Of Practice
- Mesothelioma and Asbestos-Related Cancers
- Wrongful Death
- Products Liability
- Workplace injuries or deaths involving dangerous products or equipment
- Premises Liability
- Personal Injury
- State and Federal Appeals
- Minnesota, 1985
- U.S. District Court District of Minnesota, 1986
- U.S. Court of Appeals 8th Circuit, 1989
- U.S. Supreme Court, 1990
- University of Minnesota Law School, Minneapolis, Minnesota
- J.D. - 1985
- Honors: cum laude
- Honors: Dean's List
- Carleton College, Northfield, Minnesota
- B.A. - 1982
- Honors: magna cum laude
- Honors: Phi Beta Kappa
- Minnesota's New Jury Instruction Guides: The Substance and the Process, MTLA Magazine, (Spring 2007)
- Scientific and Expert Testimony in Federal and Minnesota State Courts, NBI Seminars, (March 2007), updated 2008
- Evidence, Experts, and Hearsay in the Courtroom, NBI Seminars, (March 2007 and April 2008)
- 2018—Part of trial team obtaining a multi-million dollar verdict on behalf of former NSP employee, recently upheld on appeal
- 2014 – Obtained $4,516,250.00 verdict with Patrick DeBlase of DeBlase, Brown, Eyerly on behalf of accountant who contracted mesothelioma as a result of asbestos exposure at taconite plant. Client worked for just four months at the plant, working as a laborer to earn college money in 1957. Client recalled cutting, mixing, and handling pipe covering and asbestos muds. Partner Chad Alexander also served on trial team
- 2014 – Mr. Strom and partner Chad Alexander recovered over $635,000 on behalf of mesothelioma victim who had worked as a mechanic at service station from 1961-77. Client's chief exposure was to asbestos-containing friction materials
- 2014 – Recovered over $1.4 million for Butler Taconite millwright and pump mechanic suffering from mesothelioma. Defense unsuccessfully argued that client’s secondary diagnosis of pancreatic cancer should limit or preclude recovery
- 2013 - Obtained over $2.5 million in settlement for farmer who had earlier been exposed to asbestos while working as a union pipefitter. The client contracted mesothelioma, an asbestos-related cancer of the lining of the lung. The case settled shortly before trial following the trial court's denial of Defendants' motions for summary judgment.
- 2012 - Secured over $2 million for airline mechanic, who had contracted mesothelioma as a result of on the job asbestos exposure. Plaintiff identified asbestos used within aircraft engines manufactured by several different defendants, as well as asbestos used within the airframe and standard airline maintenance materials.
- 2011 - Recovered over $1 million dollars for retired railroad worker who contracted mesothelioma as a result of exposure to asbestos early in his career during steam locomotive overhauls. The Plaintiff was also exposed to asbestos during the original construction of a taconite plant on Minnesota's Iron Range.
- 2011 - Negotiated multi-defendant settlement in excess of $1.8 million on behalf of nursery and greenhouse owner/operator suffering from mesothelioma. The Plaintiff was exposed to asbestos from a variety of materials used on the job, including asbestos boiler insulation, gaskets, transite sheets, and agricultural grade vermiculite.
- 2011 - Recovered settlements totaling over $1.16 million for commercial estimator suffering from mesothelioma. Plaintiff's only known asbestos exposure occurred when he would visit construction sites to take measurements for industrial steel railings, stairways, and walkways fabricated by his employer.
- 2010 - Represented Plaintiffs in two companion cases arising out of asbestos exposure at a Minnesota refinery during the 1960s and 70s. First Plaintiff was a pump mechanic exposed to asbestos from internal gasket and packing material that he routinely scraped and sanded during pump maintenance, which ultimately resulted in him contracting mesothelioma. Second Plaintiff was the spouse of another pump mechanic, who was exposed to asbestos brought home on her husband's clothing as a result of his asbestos work. Both cases culminated in settlements in excess of $1 million.
- 2010 - Wrongful death suit on behalf of office worker, whose only known asbestos exposure occurred when she was in high school. Her father operated a rural school bus line and replaced bus brakes. Plaintiff was exposed to asbestos visiting her father after school at the bus maintenance garage located next door to family home, and contracted mesothelioma just before her fiftieth birthday. Claim ultimately settled for just over $1 million.
- 2009 - Obtained over $1.05 million in wrongful death suit brought on behalf of brazier in aeronautics industry. Plaintiff contracted mesothelioma as a result of asbestos released from transite panels that he routinely abraded in performing his duties.
- $4.6 million jury award in March 2008 for NSP worker in case against gasket manufacturer, affirmed by Minnesota appellate courts on appeal.
- Seven figure aggregate settlement in 2007 for outside delivery man exposed to asbestos in various industrial plants.
- $625,000.00 settlement in 2006 for wrongful death of thirteen-year-old boy killed during roll over of unstable modified golf car. Case prosecuted by attorneys Michael S. Polk and Michael R. Strom.
- $1.65 Million jury verdict in 2003 for refrigeration worker exposed to asbestos in case tried by Mr. Strom and his partner Scott Hertogs.
- $8.05 Million jury verdict in 2001 for pipe fitter exposed to asbestos at refinery.
- $1.35 Million settlement on behalf of a burn victim in a service station explosion in Columbus, Ohio.
- Several total settlements in asbestos product liability cases in excess of one million dollars.
- Conda v. Honeywell International, 2018 WL 2293530 (Minn. Ct. App. May 21, 2018)
- Newinski v. John Crane, Inc., WL 1752011 (Minn. Ct. App. June 23, 2009), rev. denied, (Minn. September, 16, 2009).
- Conda v. Honeywell International, 2018 WL 2293530 (Minn. Ct. App. May 21, 2018) (Court of Appeals affirmed that 2003 amendment to Minnesota’s joint and several liability statute applies only to cases arising out of conduct that occurred after the amendment’s effective date. As a result, Minnesota essentially retains joint and several liability in asbestos cases)
- Newinski v. John Crane, Inc., WL 1752011 (Minn. Ct. App. June 23, 2009), rev. denied, (Minn. September, 16, 2009). (Defendant’s joint and several liability for entire award is not dependent on statutory “reallocation,” the purpose of which is to reduce the burdens of point and several liability where the defendant makes the required showing of uncollectibility of judgment(s) against other at fault parties
- Gray v. Badger Mining Corp., 676 N.W. 2d 268 (Minn. 2004); Supreme Court imposed duty to warn on supplier of bulk material regardless of whether employer has general knowledge of material's dangers. Decision overruled Court of Appeals ruling finding no duty.
- Doten v. ACandS, Inc., et al., 1997 WL 118248 (Minn. Ct. App. Mar. 18, 1997); Court of Appeals affirmed $1.5 Million verdict against in asbestos personal injury case, including $ 500,000.00 punitive damage award against Owens Corning Fiberglas.
- Swanson v. Timesavers, et al., 1997 WL 104917 (Minn. Ct. App. March 11, 1997); Court of Appeals affirmed $766,000.00 verdict in favor of employee who lost two fingers in an industrial sander. Court rejected assertions that employee assumed the risk, that no manufacturing defect existed in the sander, and that co-employee was not grossly negligent.
- Dodge v. Jose's American Grill, 1995 WL 25209 (Minn. Ct. App. Jan. 24, 1995); Court of Appeals rejected
- Board of Regents of the University of Minnesota v. Royal Insurance Co., 517 N.W. 2d 888 (Minn. 1994); Minnesota Supreme Court rules insurer’s “pollution exclusion” did not apply to bar coverage for damage to University of Minnesota Buildings caused by asbestos fiber release, overruling decision of Court or Appeals
- Ind. School Dist. 622 v. Keene Corp., 511 N.W. 2d 728 (Minn. 1994); Minnesota Supreme Court affirmed $820,750.00 compensatory damages verdict against asbestos manufacturer for cost of removing asbestos fireproofing from Tartan high school in Oakdale, Minnesota. Court rejected manufacturer's claim that was entitled to comparative fault finding against other settled entities not at trial.
- Keene Corp. v. Cass, 908 F. 2d 293 (8th Cir. 1990); court rejected civil rights action filed against court and plaintiff's counsel for enforcing orders compelling discovery against corporation despite it's claims of privilege.
- Mr. Strom has represented well over one thousand individuals and families over the course of approximately thirty years of practice. He has also represented the State of Minnesota, the Regents of the University of Minnesota, several Minnesota School Districts, and several private building owners in litigation to recover asbestos abatement costs.
- Minnesota’s New Jury Instruction Guides: The Substance and the Process, MTLA Magazine (Spring 2007)
- Scientific and Expert Testimony in Federal and Minnesota State Courts, NBI Seminars (March 2007), updated 2008
- Evidence, Experts, and Hearsay in the Courtroom, NBI Seminars (March 2007 and April 2008)
Honors and Awards
- Top 100 Super Lawyer, Top 40 Plaintiff Personal Injury Attorney, Minnesota Law & Politics, Twin Cities Business Monthly, and Mpls St. Paul Magazine. Listed in “Best Lawyers in America”
- AV-rated, Martindale Hubbell
- Best Lawyers 2020 “Lawyer of the Year,” Plaintiff’s Product Liability – Minneapolis
- Honored in “The Best Lawyers in America” for many years
Professional Associations and Memberships
- Minnesota State Bar Association
- Minnesota Association for Justice
- American Association for Justice