Former Minnesota Supreme Court Justice and U.S. Attorney David Lillehaug is Senior Counsel at Fredrikson.
He focuses his practice on corporate and governmental investigations, administrative law, and complex civil litigation. He is available to serve as a special master, arbitrator, mediator and expert witness.
During seven years on the Supreme Court, Justice Lillehaug sat on more than 600 cases and wrote over 140 opinions. Legal scholars have focused on his jurisprudence on the standards for dismissal and summary judgment in civil cases. He acted as the Court’s liaison to the rules of evidence and criminal procedure committees, the ADR Board, tribal courts and the Lawyers Professional Responsibility Board.
Before serving on the Court, David practiced at Fredrikson for 11 years. His clients included Fortune 100 companies, Minnesota’s governor, three U.S. Senators, the state House of Representatives, the University of Minnesota, the City of Saint Paul, tribal nations and many pro bono litigants. In 2009, as lead local counsel, David tried and won a seven-week U.S. Senate election contest trial before a special three-judge panel.
As part of the firm’s White Collar & Regulatory Defense practice, David dealt frequently with the U.S. Attorney’s Office, the Minnesota Attorney General’s Office, state regulatory agencies, and county and city attorneys. He has considerable experience litigating False Claims Act cases and in leading internal investigations.
David has a niche in complex construction litigation, having founded and chaired the state bar association’s construction law section. Over the years, he has represented building owners, contractors and design professionals in lawsuits, arbitrations and regulatory proceedings. He is an Honorary Fellow of the American College of Construction Lawyers.
- Government Shutdown Litigation: Special Counsel to the Governor in connection with Minnesota’s 2011 government shutdown. Representation included constitutional litigation before the Minnesota Supreme Court, six injunction motions before the Ramsey County District Court, and seventy Special Master hearings before the former Chief Justice of the Minnesota Supreme Court.
- Pet Food Contamination Cases: Acted as litigation general counsel for international pet food manufacturer in connection with massive product recall due to contaminated ingredient from China. Representation included developing and implementing litigation strategy; supervising defense of over 100 consumer class actions; negotiating $24 million MDL settlement; settling customer cross-claims and insurance coverage issues; and defending FDA investigation.
- School Design Litigation: Attorney for a national architectural and engineering firm, on claims arising out of the design and construction of an $85 million high school. Claims of $7 million were dismissed through motion practice. After a positive verdict in a summary jury trial, the remaining claims were settled just before a scheduled seven-week trial. Legal issues in the case included: Minnesota’s expert opinion disclosure statute, contractual liability limitations on change orders, and novel claims under trade practices statutes.
- Pipeline Design Arbitration: Attorney for the owner of a natural gas pipeline, on claims for professional negligence against a pipeline engineering company. After three days of arbitration, the claims were settled confidentially. Legal issues in the case included: delegation of design issues to contractors; inspection responsibilities of engineers and contractors; the legal effect of warnings contained in soils reports; and the collateral estoppel effect of an arbitrator’s holdings and award in a previous arbitration between owner and contractor.
- Chemical Plant Claim: Attorney for the owner of a chemical plant managed by a major commodities production company. Client made a multi-million dollar claim for damages, including lost production and repair costs, arising out of equipment breakdowns and vapors emitted by the manager’s adjacent plant. The claim was settled through negotiation by amendment to the management contract, worth at least $2.5 million to the client.
- Parkland Easement Arbitration: Attorney for suburban park district seeking post-taking compensation for permanent and temporary pipeline easements through a park reserve. Pipeline construction destroyed or damaged 4,000 trees and shrubs. After two weeks of hearings, the arbitrator awarded $2 million, including approximately $300 per tree. The award was 230% more than the amount deposited by the pipeline company (based on its appraisals) prior to the taking.
- University of Minnesota Independent Investigations: Retained by the University’s General Counsel to perform independent investigations in sensitive matters. Lengthy privileged reports were prepared that served as the basis for legal advice to the President and the Regents.
- Indian Tribe Investigations: Retained by two tribal governments to perform independent investigations. The first related to real estate development and construction, and the second related to a $2.4 million loan. The first investigation resulted in federal criminal charges. Both investigations led to changes in governance.
- Defense of Various Government Investigations: Successfully represented clients in non-public investigations by the U.S. Department of Justice, the Minnesota Attorney General, the Minnesota Department of Commerce, the Minnesota Department of Health, Minnesota OSHA, the Minnesota Campaign Finance Board, several County Attorneys, and the Minneapolis City Attorney.
- Minneapolis Police Department Investigation: Attorney for the Deputy Chief of the Minneapolis Police Department responding to an investigation commenced and publicized by a new Chief of Police. Representation included defending the Deputy Chief in a Bureau of Criminal Apprehension investigation, countering the Chief’s media statements, and responding to a City personnel investigation. The Deputy Chief was completely vindicated.
- United State ex rel. Johnson-Pochardt v. Rapid City Regional Hospital: U.S. District Court, District of South Dakota, 252 F.Supp.2d 892 (D.S.D. 2003). Attorney for the relator in a health care False Claims Act case venued in the U.S. District Court for the District of South Dakota. The case settled for $6.5 million. In awarding the relator a 24% share of the recovery, out of a possible 25%, the Court stated that the client’s disclosure of the fraud was “nearly flawless” and that “her attorneys’ crucial contributions” had led to a record-breaking settlement.
- Harvard Law School, J.D., cum laude, 1979
- Augustana College, B.A., summa cum laude, 1976
- Minnesota, 1979
- U.S. District Court for the District of Minnesota, 1979
- U.S. Court of Appeals for the Eighth Circuit, 1981
- Judicial Clerkship, U.S. District Court Judge Harry MacLaughlin, 1979-1981
- AV Preeminent® Peer Review Rated, Martindale-Hubbell, 2023
- North Star Lawyer, Minnesota State Bar Association, 2021
- Attorney of the Year, Individual Recognition for Outstanding Service to the Profession, Minnesota Lawyer, 2020
- Awards from the Mitchell Hamline Law Review, the Minnesota Urban Debate League, the MSBA Mock Trial Program, the Minnesota County Attorneys Association, the Academy of Certified Trial Lawyers of Minnesota and the American Constitution Society Minnesota Lawyers Chapter
- Honorary Doctor of Laws Degree from Augustana University, 2019
- MSBA Author’s Award; Mondale Fellow, Humphrey School of Public Affairs, 1990
Civic & Professional
- Minnesota Supreme Court, Associate Justice 2013-2020
- U.S. Attorney for the District of Minnesota, 1994-1998
- Minnesota State Bar Association (MSBA), Founding Chair, Construction Law Section, 1989-1991
- MSBA Civil Litigation Section, Governing Council, 1987-1990
- Saint Paul Chamber Orchestra, Board of Directors, 2010-2019
- Augustana College, Board of Trustees, 2010-2013
- Humphrey School of Public Affairs, University of Minnesota, Advisory Council, 2010-2013
- American Constitution Society, Minnesota Chapter, Advisory Council, 2004-2009, 2021-present