William Z. Pentelovitch
In his nearly five decades as a business trial lawyer, Bill Pentelovitch has tried hundreds of business disputes before judges, juries, or arbitrators, and he also has argued dozens of appeals in state and federal courts. He has practiced nationally in the areas of non-compete, trade secret, and unfair competition litigation, and he has tried and won intellectual property licensing and royalty disputes collectively involving over $1 billion. In addition, Bill has been a leading trial lawyer in Minnesota in the area of ownership and governance disputes in closely held corporations, limited liability companies, and partnerships.
Bill’s wide-ranging trial practice 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 and interpretation cases.
Bill also frequently serves as a mediator in complex business cases, as well as an American Arbitration Association arbitration panelist for commercial and employment cases.
Bill has tried dozens of cases involving disputes representing business entities, majority owners, and minority owners. In a seminal case in the 1980s, Bill won the first major shareholder oppression case under the revised Minnesota Business Corporation Act, recovering over $33 million for his clients. In subsequent years Bill's advocacy resulted in: a court ordering that his client who had been forced out of a successful small business be paid nearly $300 million for his interest; obtaining 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 Nevada; the successful defense of the world's largest granite quarrier and fabricator in a lawsuit brought against it by minority shareholders; an eight-figure settlement of a post-closing dispute between the seller of a U.S. business and the Japanese corporation that bought that business; and successful representation of 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 has regularly tried temporary injunction trials and trials on the merits throughout the country enforcing his clients' non-compete agreements. In the past decade or so 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. 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 led a Maslon team that obtained a decision from the Delaware Court of Chancery which expanded the range of fiduciary duties of parent corporations to subsidiary entities. 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.
Bill also has an active practice representing clients as amicus curiae in state and federal courts. In recent years he has represented the ACLU of Minnesota as amicus curiae in a range of matters including whether parents had standing to assert that the legislature was failing to fulfill its constitutional duties regarding educating children; whether the provisions of the Affordable Care Act regarding contraception were unconstitutional; and whether Minnesota’s same day voting registration procedures were proper. He also recently represented the Multistate Commission on Interstate Taxation as amicus curiae before the Minnesota Supreme Court on an important question regarding interpretation of the Multistate Compact on Interstate Taxation.
Representative Published Decisions
- Seshadri Raju, M.D., P.A. v. Medtronic, Inc., Case No. 3:17-cv-357, 2021 WL 1232102 (S.D. Miss. March 31, 2021). Successfully obtained summary judgment dismissing plaintiff's trade secrets misappropriation claims and preventing plaintiff from seeking statutory damages or attorney's fees on copyright infringement claims. Also obtained a ruling striking plaintiff's expert witness reports, while denying plaintiff's request to strike defendant's expert report.
- Medtronic, Inc. v. Sherland, 2018 WL 6729773 (December 24, 2018). Successfully obtained affirmance of temporary restraining order in noncompete case.
- Cruz-Guzman v. State, 916 N.W. 2d 1 (Minn. 2018). Successfully Represented ACLU of Minnesota as amicus curiae in case which decided that Minnesota courts have jurisdiction to determine whether legislature is complying with the Education Clause of the Minnesota Constitution.
- Medtronic, Inc. v. Petitti, 2018 WL 3520858 (Minn. Ct. App. July 23, 2018). Successfully obtained affirmance of temporary restraining order in noncompete case and remand for further proceedings.
- Lapidus v. Lurie, LLP, 2018 WL 3014698 (Minn. Ct. App. June 18, 2018). Successfully obtained affirmance of forfeiture of $11 million in retirement benefits due to breach of noncompete agreement following full trial on merits.
- Otto v. Wright County, 2018 WL 1833098 (Minn. April 18, 2018). Represented 17 amici curiae in case involving application of the Single Subject and Title Clause of Minnesota Constitution.
- Works Computing, Inc. v. Peterson, 2018 WL 1247391 (D. Minn. March 9, 2018). Successfully obtained remand of non-compete dispute case to state court.
- Aveka, Inc. v. Regenhard, 2018 WL 333506 (D. Minn. Jan. 8, 2018). Opposed motion relating to deposit of disputed funds with court.
- Medtronic Sofamor Danek, Inc. v. Gannon, 2017 WL 5135556 (D. Minn. Nov. 3, 2017). Successfully obtained remand of non-compete dispute case to state court.
- Medtronic Sofamor Danek, Inc. v. Gannon, 2017 WL 4685041 (D. Minn. Oct. 16, 2017). Successfully obtained remand of non-compete dispute case to state court.
- UnitedHealth Group Incorporated v. Executive Risk Specialty Insurance Company, 870 F.3d 856 (8th Cir. 2017). Served as appellate counsel in insurance coverage dispute.
- LEI Packaging LLC v. Emery Silfurtun, Inc., 2017 WL 3531512 (D. Minn. Aug. 16, 2017). Obtained judgment of over $4 million in dispute relating to defective equipment.
- Otto v. Wright County, 899 N.W.2d (Minn. Ct. App. 2017). Represented amicus curiae in case involving Single Subject and Title Clause of Minnesota Constitution.
- Valspar Corporation v. Sherman, 2016 WL 5477076 (D. Minn. Sept. 28, 2016). Successfully obtained remand of non-compete dispute to state court.
- Bison Advisors LLC v. Kessler, 2016 WL 4415036 (D. Minn. Aug. 18, 2016). Successfully obtained partial summary judgment in trade secret/non-compete dispute.
- Kimberley-Clark Corp. v. Commissioner of Revenue, 880 N.W. 2d 844 (Minn. 2016). Successfully represented amicus curiae in important case interpreting Multistate Compact on Interstate Taxation.
- Minnesota Voters Alliance v. Simon, 885 N.W. 2d 660 (Minn. 2016). Represented amicus curiae in support of successful motion to dismiss case challenging same day voter registration procedures.
- LEI Packaging LLC v. Emery Silfurtun, Inc., 2015 WL 9412524 (D. Minn. Dec. 22, 2015). Successfully defeated motion to dismiss action for damages due to failure to properly design and install major piece of industrial equipment.
- St. Jude Medical S.C., Inc. v. Cormier, 745 F. 3d 325 (8th Cir. 2014). Successfully defeated appeal of dismissal of action for breach of covenant not to compete.
- Bison Advisors LLC v. Kessler, 2014 WL 5489289 (Oct. 30, 2014). Successfully defeated motion for temporary injunction in trade secret/non-compete dispute.
- MMMT Holdings Corp. v HSGI Holdings, Inc., 2014 WL 2573290 (W.D. Wash. June 9, 2014). One of several decisions in dispute over post-closing asset appraisal that was successfully settled on client’s behalf.
- 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. DuPont 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 multimillion-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)
Board Certified Civil Trial Advocate, National Board of Trial Advocacy, since 1995
Minnesota State Bar Association Board Certified Specialist in Civil Trial Law, since 1988
Lifetime Achievement Award, Minnesota State Bar Association, 2020 (The Lifetime Achievement Award is presented to an experienced member of the State Bar who has continually displayed commitment and contributions to the Bar, the legal profession, and/or the public throughout their career.)
Fellow, International Academy of Trial Lawyers, 2007-present
Recognized in Chambers USA: America's Leading Lawyers for Business, General Commercial Litigation/Senior Statesman, Minnesota, 2003-2023
Sidney Barrows Lifetime Commitment Award, Twin Cities Cardozo Society, 2014
Attorney of the Year, Minnesota Lawyer, 2012
Top 10 Minnesota Super Lawyers® list, 2011, 2017-2019, 2021 (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.)
Pro Bono All Star, Minnesota State Bar Association, 2020 (Pro Bono All Star is a designation that recognizes MSBA members who have been recognized as North Star Lawyers for seven or more years.)
Recognized on Minnesota Super Lawyers® list, 1994-1995, 1997-2022 (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 100 Minnesota Super Lawyers® list, 2003-2021 (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.)
North Star Lawyer, Minnesota State Bar Association, 2012-2013, 2015-2020 (North Star Lawyer is a designation that recognizes members who provide 50 hours or more of pro bono legal services in a calendar year.)
Selected for inclusion in The Best Lawyers in America®, 1995-2021
Commendation for Distinguished and Meritorious Service, Planned Parenthood of Minnesota, South Dakota, North Dakota, 2016
Proclamation of William Z. Pentelovitch Appreciation Day, City of Minneapolis, 2014
Best Lawyers' Minneapolis Litigation—Lawyer of the Year, 2013
Local Litigation Star, Benchmark Litigation, since 2008
Labor & Employment Star – Midwest, Benchmark Litigation, since 2008
Eighth Circuit Litigation Star, Benchmark Appellate, 2012-2013
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
AV Preeminent, Martindale-Hubbell®