Chris Messerly began his career at Robins, Kaplan, Miller & Ciresi L.L.P. in 1981 as a part-time messenger, weekend receptionist, and clerical aid. Since then, he has committed the last 26 years of his life as an attorney representing families and individuals who have been injured in cases involving medical malpractice, personal injury, products liability and harm caused by wrongdoers. Aside from attending college for four years in Maine, Chris has lived his entire life in Minnesota. He and his wife of 31 years have three children (a physical therapist, a graduate Ph.D. physics student, and a junior in college).
The following are examples of cases in which Chris has helped individuals and families*:
- Pro Bono Legal Services for the Survivors and Those Who Lost Loved Ones in the I-35W Bridge Collapse. Chris Messerly was the spokesperson and a leader of a 17 law firm consortium providing legal services to the over 100 survivors and those who lost loved ones on August 1, 2007 when the I-35W Bridge in downtown Minneapolis collapsed into the Mississippi River. Our firm provided free legal services to its clients. In 2008, we helped secure a legislatively created $37 million compensation fund for survivors and those who lost loved ones. In 2009, we recovered additional compensation from PCI Corporation, the construction company which placed thousands of pounds of construction material on the bridge the day it collapsed. In August 2010, URS Corporation, the company hired by the State to provide engineering services on the bridge, agreed to pay more than $40 million to settle the Consortium clients' claims. An additional $1.5 million was recovered from URS which all attorneys representing those on the bridge donated for the construction of a memorial. In total, more than $77 million was recovered for survivors and those who lost loved ones. Robins, Kaplan, Miller & Ciresi L.L.P. attorneys and staff devoted more than 20,000 pro bono hours to the case. For his efforts, Chris was featured in "After the Collapse: Personal injury lawyer Chris Messerly tackles the 35W bridge collapse," Minnesota Super Lawyers magazine (June 2011).
- For a young mother and wife who suffered severe brain damage due to paramedics' negligence, Chris obtained an $11.1 million verdict that allowed the family to modify their house so that the mother/wife could move from a nursing home to her own home to live with her family. The verdict also allowed the family to obtain around-the-clock care for their mother/wife, to repay past medical costs, and to provide a safe and secure future for the family.
- Chris represented a teenage boy who suffered a severe brain injury when the car in which he was riding collided head-on with a truck. The $10.3 million verdict allowed his parents to buy an accessible home and pay for a care provider for their son. The recovery paid back all past medical costs and provided for all future care, rehabilitation, and security.
- A girl suffered brain damage at birth due to medical malpractice. As a result, she suffered permanent injuries that would require care and treatment for the rest of her life. Chris obtained a $4.4 million verdict to provide for all of the young girl's needs so that neither she nor her parents would have to worry about being able to pay for her future care. The recovery also paid back the taxpayers of the State of Minnesota who had been paying the girl's significant medical expenses.
- Chris obtained a $2.5 million verdict on behalf of a Wisconsin farmer and his wife. Due to the failure of a neurosurgical team to promptly diagnose and perform surgery on a severe back condition called cauda equina syndrome, the farmer can no longer work on his farm and has lost significant function of his bowel and bladder and much of the use and feeling of both of his legs. The money recovered provided the funds to allow the family to keep their farm and provide for future medical expenses and loss of income.
- Chris represented a woman who suffered facial scars and depression when she requested a light chemical peel by dermatologist, Dr. Patrick Carney of Skin Speaks Spa, M.D., who then proceeded to perform a deeper acid peel. Although our client asked for the procedure to stop when she was in pain, the doctor continued. After seven days of trial, the jury unanimously awarded our client $986,639.
- Chris prevailed in the Supreme Court of Wisconsin to help a young mother and her son. Chris provided free legal services in a case in which it was discovered several years later that paternity blood tests had been wrongly interpreted to exclude the man who had actually fathered the child. As a result, a young mother struggled to raise her son without support of the father. Chris convinced the Supreme Court to allow an exception to the law requiring the case to be reopened within a very short time period. As a result, the mother was allowed, on behalf of her son, to obtain support from the father who had wished to avoid responsibility. Cynthia M.S. v. Michael F.C., 511 N.W.2d 868 (Wis. 1994)
- Chris helped make new law in Minnesota to help children who are victims of child abuse. In Becker v. Mayo, Chris represented a catastrophically brain injured child who had been beaten repeatedly by her birth father. She was taken more than once to the same hospital emergency room. The trial court and court of appeals ruled that physicians could not be held responsible for their refusal to report suspected child abuse. Chris challenged those rulings in the Supreme Court and prevailed for the child so that doctors who choose not to report child abuse can be held accountable.