Bill Pentelovitch is a business trial lawyer with more than 43 years of experience and hundreds of jury, bench, and arbitration trials, as well as dozens of appeals in state and federal courts, to his credit. For three decades he has practiced nationally in the areas of non-compete, trade secret and unfair competition litigation, and intellectual property licensing and royalty disputes. In addition, Bill is a leading trial lawyer in Minnesota in the area of ownership and governance disputes in closely-held corporations, limited liability companies, and partnerships. His wide-ranging trial practice over the past four decades has encompassed virtually every type of dispute in which businesses can become embroiled, representing a wide variety of financial institutions, medical device and pharmaceutical companies, manufacturing companies, real estate and construction companies, and professional service firms in breach of contract, business tort, and statutory liability cases.
Bill also had the unusual opportunity to be involved in litigation to resolve legal questions which had been raised concerning the issuance of bonds to build the Hubert H. Humphrey Metrodome in 1979, and then again 35 years later to resolve similar questions which had been raised concerning issuance of bonds for the Metrodome's replacement, the new stadium for the Minnesota Vikings. In 1979 Bill represented the Minnesota Vikings, and in 2014 he represented the City of Minneapolis. In each case Bill prevailed; in 1979 before the district court and Minnesota Supreme Court, and in 2014 before the Minnesota Court of Appeals. Bill also represented Hennepin County in an action brought by bondholders challenging the redemption and refinancing of bonds issued to construct a refuse-to-energy facility. At various times in his career Bill has represented not only the Vikings, but the National Football League, the National Hockey League, and the Minnesota Timberwolves.
Outside the realm of business litigation, Bill has handled a number of interesting and unusual matters. He was involved in representation of plaintiffs in litigation to desegregate the Minneapolis public schools in the 1970s; was trial and appellate counsel in the 1980s for Planned Parenthood of Minnesota in a reproductive freedom case that was ultimately resolved in the United States Supreme Court; negotiated with civic authorities on behalf of protesters at the 2008 Republican National Convention to protect their rights to freedom of speech and assembly; represented U.S. Senator Al Franken in three appearances before the Minnesota Supreme Court during the canvass of the contested 2008 senatorial election; and represented the League of Women Voters, Common Cause, and the American Civil Liberties Union of Minnesota before the Minnesota Supreme Court in a challenge to a proposed constitutional amendment which would have imposed onerous identification requirements on people seeking to exercise their right to vote. Bill has filed amicus curiae briefs in the Minnesota Supreme Court on behalf of a variety of business clients as well as on behalf of non-profit organizations such as the Multistate Commission on Interstate Taxation, Jewish Community Action, and the American Civil Liberties Union.
Bill's successes as a trial lawyer and appellate advocate have been recognized by many organizations. He is a Fellow of the International Academy of Trial Lawyers, which holds itself out as being comprised of the 600 best trial lawyers in the world. Since 2003, he has been continuously ranked as one of the Top 100 Minnesota Super Lawyers®; and in 2011 he was ranked as one of the Top 10 Minnesota Super Lawyers®. Chambers USA has ranked Bill as one of the top ten commercial trial lawyers in Minnesota since 2003, and he has been listed in The Best Lawyers in America® since 1995. Since 1988, Bill has been board certified as a civil trial specialist pursuant to the Rules of the Minnesota Supreme Court by the Minnesota State Bar Association; and he has also been board certified as a civil trial advocate by the National Board of Trial Advocacy. Bill has held an AV® rating from Martindale-Hubbell for more than 30 years and currently holds an AV® Preeminent™ rating.
Bill has tried dozens of cases involving disputes representing business entities, majority owners, and minority owners. In a seminal case thirty years ago, Bill won the first major shareholder oppression case under the revised Minnesota Business Corporation Act, recovering over $33 million for his clients. In 2005, Bill's advocacy resulted in a court ordering that his client who had been forced out of a small business be paid nearly $300 million for his interest. In 2008, he led a trial team that obtained a judgment of nearly $60 million for limited partners in a dispute with general partners and trustees in a complex series of trusts and limited partnerships in a western state. In 2009, Bill successfully defended the world's largest granite quarrier and fabricator in a lawsuit brought against it by minority shareholders. Most recently, Bill successfully represented a professional services firm in a dispute with a retired partner that resulted in forfeiture of retirement benefits valued at in excess of $10 million.
In the areas of non-competes and trade secrets, Bill regularly tries temporary injunction trials and trials on the merits throughout the country enforcing his clients' non-compete agreements. In the past decade he has successfully defended three different misappropriation of trade secret cases; in each case the plaintiff sought to recover $100 million or more, and in each case the plaintiff recovered nothing. One case was won before a three arbitrator panel, another before a judge sitting without a jury, and the third before a jury.
Bill has significant experience in litigating disputes regarding the scope of patent licenses and the payment of patent royalties. Most recently, a Maslon team led by Bill won summary judgment from the Delaware Superior Court dismissing a nearly quarter-billion dollar claim for past royalties against his client; that dismissal was affirmed by the Delaware Supreme Court. In the past he has settled or won arbitrations in the United States and Europe awarding future royalties to his clients that have resulted in the clients receiving hundreds of millions of dollars of royalties over time.
Bill also led a Maslon team that obtained a decision from the Delaware Court of Chancery which expanded the range of fiduciary duties of parent corporations. He also negotiated a $56 million settlement of a breach of fiduciary claim on behalf of creditors of a bankrupt corporation in an action brought against its former chief financial officer.
Beyond business litigation, in 2012 Bill represented the League of Women Voters, Common Cause, and other civic organizations and individuals in appearances before the Minnesota Supreme Court challenging ballot questions for proposed amendments to the Minnesota Constitution which were ultimately defeated by voters. In 2008, Bill represented now U.S. Senator Al Franken in three separate cases before the Minnesota Supreme Court in connection with the canvas of the 2008 election. He also represented Planned Parenthood of Minnesota in the trial and appeals of its successful challenge to a Minnesota statute severely restricting the rights of minors to obtain abortions, which was ultimately resolved favorably by the U.S. Supreme Court.
Representative Published Decisions
- St. Jude Medical S.C., Inc. v. Cormier, 2013 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 61477 (D. Minn., April 30, 2013). Successfully obtained dismissal of lawsuit as barred by prior judgment.
- Ward v. Olson, 2013 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 50002 (D. Minn., April 8, 2013). Successful claim for excessive use of force by police officers.
- E.I. du Pont de Nemours & Co. v. Medtronic Vascular, Inc., CA No. N10C-09-058 JRS CCLD (Del. Super. Ct. Mar. 13, 2012), aff'd, (Del. Sept. 19, 2013). Successfully obtained summary judgment dismissing quarter billion dollar claim for patent royalties; decision affirmed by Delaware Supreme Court.
- Annex Medical, Inc. v. Sebelius, 2013 U.S. Dist LEXIS 2699 (D. Minn., January 8, 2013). Amicus curiae in support of constitutionality of Affordable Care Act.
- C.H. Robinson Worldwide, Inc. v. Lobrano, 695 F.3d 758 (8th Cir. 2012). Successfully obtained dismissal of lawsuit as barred by prior judgment.
- League of Women Voters Minnesota v. Ritchie, 819 N.W. 2d 622 (Minn. 2012). Pro bono representation of civic organizations and individuals challenging ballot question for proposed amendment to Minnesota Constitution, which amendment was subsequently defeated by voters.
- U.S. Bank, N.A. v. Cold Spring Granite Co., 802 N.W. 2d 363 (Minn. 2011). Successfully defended challenge to reverse stock split and acquisition of fractional shares without a dissenters' rights hearing.
- Medtronic, Inc. v. Carmichael, 2011 U.S. Dist LEXIS 62354 (D. Minn. 2011)
- Medtronic, Inc. v Hughes, 2011 Minn. App. Unpub LEXIS 52 (Minn. Ct. App, January 18, 2011). Successfully enforced noncompete agreement.
- U.S. Bank N.A. v. Cold Spring Granite Company, 788 N.W.2d 160 (Minn. Ct. App. 2010)
- Travel Tags, Inc. v. UV Color, Inc., 690 F. Supp. 2d 785 (D. Minn. 2010)
- Coleman v. Ritchie, 2009 WL 20954 (Minn.)
- Coleman v. Minnesota State Canvassing Board, 2008 WL 5352937 (Minn.). Represented U.S. Senator Al Franken in three cases before the Minnesota Supreme Court in connection with the canvass of the 2008 election.
- Coleman v. Ritchie, 758 N.W.2d 306 (Minn. 2008)
- Merrill Corporation v. R.R. Donnelley & Sons Company, 2008 WL 3162490 (D. Minn.)
- Cargill, Incorporated v. JWH Special Circumstances, LLC, 959 A. 2d 1096 (Del. Ch. 2008). Obtained a decision from the Delaware Court of Chancery which expanded the range of fiduciary duties of parent corporations.
- Cengage Learning, Inc. v. Earl, 2008 WL 4857938 (D. Minn.)
- Medtronic, Inc. v. Endologix, Inc., et. al., 2008 WL 80353 (D. Minn.)
- AXCAN SCANDIPHARM INC. v. ETHEX CORPORATION, KV Pharmaceutical Company, et. al., 2007 WL 3095367 (D. Minn.)
- CardioVention, Inc. v. Medtronic, Inc., 483 F. Supp. 2d 830 (2007). Successfully defended misappropriation of trade secret case; plaintiff sought to recover $100 million or more, but recovered nothing.
- InterMetro Industries Corp. v. Jonathan Scott Kent, 2007 WL 518345 (M.D. Pa.)
- Curtis 1000, Inc. v. George B. Martin and David L. Bean, et. al., 2006 WL 2981305 (M.D. Tenn.). Obtained ruling against two former sales representatives of client in breach of non-compete agreement agreements.
- LeMond Cycling, Inc. v. PTI Holding, Inc., 2005 WL 102969 (Minn.). Obtained multi-million dollar verdict in favor of client in a breach of "best efforts" clause in license agreement.
- Afremov v. Amplatz, 2005 WL 89475 (Minn.). Represented plaintiff in shareholder oppression case resulting in purchase of client's shares; involved numerous contested hearings and appeals.
- Unity Church of St. Paul, et al. v. State of Minnesota, 694 N.W.2d 585 (Minn. 2005)
- Lupient v. Londo, 2004 WL 117600 (Minn. Ct. App.)
- MedCam, Inc. v. MCNC, 2004 WL 1790184
- Afremov v. Amplatz, 2004 WL 77851 (Minn. Ct. App.)
- Solvay Pharmaceuticals, Inc. v. Ethex Corp., 2004 WL 742033 (D. Minn.)
- Community Housing Corporation of America v. Alternative Building Concepts, Inc., 2003 WL 22999294 (Minn. Ct. App.)
- Haley v. Forcelle, 669 N.W.2d 48 (Minn. Ct. App. 2003)
- Strickland v. Medtronic, Inc., 97 S.W.3d. 835 (Tex. Ct. App.-Dallas 2003)
- Medtronic, Inc, v. NuVasive, Inc., 2003 WL 219984480 (Tenn. Ct. App.)
- Watkins, Inc, v. Lewis, 346 F.3d 841 (8th Cir. 2003)
- Hogle v. Zinetics Medical, Inc., 63 P.3d 80 (Utah 2002). Represented defendant in contest of "fair value" of minority shareholders' stock; claimants awarded nothing.
- Bennett v. Medtronic, 285 F.3d 801 (9th Cir. 2002)
- Watkins Incorporated v. Lewis, 2002 WL 31319491 (D. Minn.)
- Berreman v. West Publishing Company, 615 N.W.2d 362 (Minn. Ct. App. 2000)
- Kallok v. Medtronic, Inc., 573 N.W.2d 356 (Minn. 1998). Seminal case nationally on issue of recovering attorneys' fees in non-compete cases.
- Sulzer Intermedics, Inc. v. Born, Inc., 1998 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 7111 (E.D. Mich., April 13, 1998)
- Medtronic, Inc. v. Sun, 1997 WL 729168 (Minn. Ct. App.). Finding of "competitive devices."
- Hedged Investment Partners, L.P. v. Norwest Bank Minnesota, N.A., 578 N.W.2d 765 (Minn. Ct. App. 1997)
- Cefis v. Cefis, 555 N.W.2d 333 (Minn. Ct. App. 1996)
- Hillard v. Medtronic, Inc., 910 F. Supp. 173 (M.D. Pa., 1995)
- First Tech Capital v. Alfred N. Koplin & Co., 1995 WL 38771 (Minn. Ct. App.)
- In re Hennepin County 1986 Recycling Bond Litigation, 540 N.W.2d 494 (Minn. 1995)
- St. Jude Medical, Inc. v. Medtronic, Inc., 536 N.W.2d 24 (Minn. Ct. App. 1995)
- Rich v. Roth, 1994 WL 149408 (Minn. Ct. App.)
- Barry v. Barry, 28 F.3d. 848 (8th Cir. 1992)
- Barry v. Barry, 824 F. Supp. 178 (D. Minn. 1993)
- Morrison v. Northern States Power Co., 491 N.W.2d 675 (Minn. Ct. App. 1992)
- Norwest Financial Leasing, Inc. v. Morgan Whitney, Inc., 787 F. Supp. 895 (D. Minn. 1992)
- IBM Corp. v. Seagate Technology, 941 F. Supp. 98 (D. Minn. 1992)
- Beaubaire v. Priorwood Townhomes Ltd. Partnership I, 1992 WL 320991, Fed. Sec. L. Rep. P. 97-284 (D. Minn. October 27, 1992)
- Siedare Associates, Inc. v. Firstar Shelard Bank, N.A., 1991 WL 238330 (Minn. Ct. App.)
- Rosemount Cogeneration Joint Venture v. Northern States Power Co., 1991 WL 13729, 1991-1 Trade Cases, P 69, 351, RICO Bus. Disp. Guide 7697 (D. Minn., January 18, 1991)
- Hodgson v. Minnesota, 497 U.S. 417 (1990)
- Grossman v. American Family Mutual Insurance Company, 461 N.W.2d 489 (Minn. Ct. App. 1990)
- Medtronic, Inc. v. Eli Lilly & Co., 1990 WL 61161 (D. Minn. 1990)
- In re Endotronics, Inc., 1990 WL 29769 (D. Minn. 1990)
- Rosenberg v. Pillsbury Co., 718 F. Supp. 1146 (S.D.N.Y. 1989)
- Carlock v. Pillsbury Co., 719 F. Supp. 791 (D. Minn. 1989)
- Minnesota Vikings Football Club, Inc. v. Metropolitan Council, 289 N.W.2d 426 (Minn. 1979)
Minnesota State Bar Association: Member; Civil Trial Certification Council 2009-2016
Hennepin County Bar Association: Member; Committee on Ethics 1978-1980, 1990-1991
American Civil Liberties Union of Minnesota: Board Member 2008-present; President 2015-2016; Board Chair 2016-2017
Minnesota Civil Liberties Union Foundation: Board Member 2015-present; Board Chair 2017
Sabes Jewish Community Center: Board Member 2008-present; Vice President of Board 2014-present; Member of Executive Committee 2014-present
St. Paul Conservatory for Performing Artists: Board Member 2017
Minneapolis Jewish Federation: Board Member 2010-2012
The Blake School: Board of Trustees 1998-2004; Chair of Governance Committee 2003-2004
Planned Parenthood of Minnesota & South Dakota, Inc.: Director and General Counsel 1997-2001
Talmud Torah of Minneapolis: past Board Member
Adath Jeshurun Congregation: Architectural Selection Committee, past Member
WESAC Baseball, Inc.: past Treasurer
Legal Advice Clinics: past Board Member
Commendation for Distinguished and Meritorious Service, Planned Parenthood of Minnesota, South Dakota, North Dakota, 2016
Sidney Barrows Lifetime Commitment Award, Twin Cities Cardozo Society, 2014
North Star Lawyer, Minnesota State Bar Association, 2012-2013, 2015 (North Star Lawyer is a designation that recognizes members who provide 50 hours or more of pro bono legal services in a calendar year.)
Proclamation of William Z. Pentelovitch Appreciation Day, City of Minneapolis, 2014
Attorney of the Year, Minnesota Lawyer, 2012
Notable Practitioner in Minnesota for Litigation, Chambers USA, 2003-2016
Best Lawyers' Minneapolis Litigation – Banking & Finance Lawyer of the Year, 2013
Selected for inclusion in The Best Lawyers in America®, 1995-2017
Local Litigation Star, Benchmark Litigation, 2008-2011, 2013-2016
Eighth Circuit Litigation Star, Benchmark Appellate, 2012-2013
Fellow, International Academy of Trial Lawyers, 2007-present
Fellow, Litigation Counsel of America
Listed in America's Leading Business Lawyers, 2003-2004, and 2005-2006 Client's Guide as one of the seven top general commercial litigators in Minnesota
Recognized on Minnesota Super Lawyers® list, 1994-1995, 1997-2016 (Minnesota Super Lawyers® is a designation given to only 5 percent of Minnesota attorneys each year, based on a selection process that includes the recommendation of peers in the legal profession.)
Top 10 Minnesota Super Lawyers® list, 2011 (The "Top 10" list represents attorneys who received the highest point totals overall in the yearly Minnesota Super Lawyers® balloting, research, and blue ribbon review process.)
Top 100 Minnesota Super Lawyers® list, 2003-2016 (The "Top 100" list represents attorneys who received the highest point totals overall in the yearly Minnesota Super Lawyers® balloting, research, and blue ribbon review process.)
AV Preeminent, Martindale-Hubbell® (AV Preeminent and BV Distinguished are certification marks of Reed Elsevier Properties, Inc., used in accordance with the Martindale-Hubbell® certification procedures, standards and policies.)