Blackwell Burke is one of Minnesota’s premier litigation shops, one of the few in Minneapolis exclusively dedicated the disputes practice. The firm is the recipient of universal acclaim from all peers familiar with it and is equally cheered by its clients. One raves, “Blackwell Burke takes the time to learn my company's business and is expert at synthesizing complex information into consistent and easily-communicable themes. The firm enlists confidence with my company's legal leadership team and does so at rates and under fee arrangements that work well with a law department's budget.” The firm is equally appreciated for less easily quantified aspects of its approach, particularly the diversity of its partner mix. “Blackwell Burke is comprised of a diverse bench, in terms of gender, sex, sexual orientation, and race/ethnicity, and, most importantly, it provides significant responsibility and client contact to its diverse team members,” testifies a client.
Few would argue with the contention that the firm’s center of gravity remains founding partner, CEO, chairman and all-purpose trial lawyer Jerry Blackwell. In addition to scoring a recent landmark win for locally based but globally recognized 3M in its ““Bair Hugger” forced-air warming blanket product liability litigation, in 2021 Blackwell was thrust onto the national stage as trial counsel during what could easily be considered as one of most controversial, widely broadcasted, closely watched and intensely debated cases of the past year, or even of recent times: that of the prosecution of Derek Chauvin, the former Minneapolis police officer charged with (and eventually convicted of) the May 2020 murder of George Floyd. This incident, and its aftermath, has become a flashpoint for a reassessment of racial and social justice worldwide, particularly as it pertains to police. Blackwell joined the prosecution team on a pro bono basis, delivering impassioned and critical arguments and earning near-universal applause for his efforts. It is also worth noting that this case comes hot on the heels of another milestone victory for racial justice – sadly, another one that came posthumously – in the securing of an acquittal for Max Mason, a black circus worker that was wrongly accused (and convicted) of rape of a white woman over 100 years ago.
Beyond its unquestioned dedication to social justice matters, the firm is also a noted champion in the product liability arena, with many appointments by clients that have become local industry brand names. Jamal Faleel was retained by pet food manufacturer Blue Buffalo as lead litigation counsel and trial counsel in a case in which the defendants, an ingredient supplier and an ingredient broker, engaged in a scheme to defraud Blue Buffalo and other premium pet food manufacturers by passing off readily available, cheaper, inferior ingredients for harder to find, more expensive, premium ingredients. As a result of the defendants’ illegal scheme, Blue Buffalo was sued by one of its chief competitors and faced seven consumer class-action lawsuits, claiming it falsely advertised its products as free of poultry by-product meals. Prior to Blackwell Burke’s involvement, Blue Buffalo paid almost $90 million in settlement amounts and attorney fees. The US federally prosecuted the civil defendants and several of their employees in six separate criminal cases, alleging that the defendants sold adulterated and mislabeled food ingredients. The defendants all pled guilty and were ordered to pay millions of dollars in criminal restitution to Blue Buffalo. Mary Young is defending a Fortune 500 packaged foods company in high-profile cases across the US in which the plaintiffs claim burns and other personal injuries resulting from alleged defects in cooking spray aerosol cans. In January 2020, Young won complete summary judgment in one case involving allegations of design defect and failure to warn. “Mary is expert at managing her team to meet my needs,” confirms a client. “She is highly responsive and is constantly looking for solutions that fit within her understanding of our risk profile.” Geraldo “Jerry” Alcazar serves as national product liability counsel defending a Fortune 100 conglomerate’s fall-protection equipment, currently defending several cases in jurisdictions across the country. Alcazar also works with Blackwell in defending Delta Dental against a group of dental services providers across the nation who sued more than 50 Delta Dental members and entities and the Delta Dental Plans Association. Plaintiffs allege that the Delta Dental entities engaged in an unlawful market allocation conspiracy, a price-fixing conspiracy, and an unlawful revenue restriction conspiracy.