Sharon Van Dyck brings more than 25 years of experience in civil litigation to FMJ, at both the trial and appellate court levels. Her experience in complex motion and appellate practice extends not only to the Minnesota courts, but also to federal appellate courts around the country. A well-known appellate advocate, Sharon has briefed and argued more than 100 appeals on behalf of her clients.
Understanding that appeals are won or lost based on how a case is presented in the trial court, Sharon has extensive experience working as part of a trial team. Working side by side with lead trial lawyers, Sharon brings an appellate perspective to the process of formulating legal strategy, selecting winning legal arguments, and briefing and arguing the inevitable motions that position a case to succeed at both the trial and appellate levels. She understands the interplay between legal analysis and in-depth factual evidence, making her a powerful asset before and during trial, as well as on appeal.
She has been named one of Minnesota’s “Super Lawyers” consistently since 1999, as well as to Super Lawyers’ “Minnesota’s Top 50 Women” list every year since 2010. In 2008, Sharon was named one of Minnesota’s “Attorneys of the Year” by Minnesota Lawyer. She has testified before the Transportation Committee in Congress about the impact of proposed legislative amendments to federal law, and before committees in both houses of the Minnesota legislature about the practical ramifications of proposed state legislation.
Sharon successfully argued before the Minnesota Supreme Court that the six-year statute of limitations, rather than the expired two-year statute of limitations, applied to a patient’s negligence action against a blood bank, in Kaiser v. Memorial Blood Center, Inc., 486 N.W.2d 762 (Minn. 1992), reinstating her client’s claim, which the trial court had dismissed. Back at the trial court, the case settled for a substantial sum shortly before trial.
Sharon succeeded in reversing the dismissal of her client’s claim in Englund v. Minnesota CN Partners/Minnesota Joint Ventures, 555 N.W.2d 328 (Minn. App. 1996), establishing that violation of the terms of an on-sale liquor license forms the basis for a dram shop action.
After the trial court dismissed her client’s claims, and the Minnesota Court of Appeals upheld that dismissal, Sharon convinced the Minnesota Supreme Court to overrule both decisions, holding that a child abuse victim is not collaterally estopped from challenging the applicability of an intentional act exclusion in the perpetrator’s insurance policy based on the perpetrator’s criminal conviction. Illinois Farmer’s Ins. Co. v. Reed, 662 N.W.2d 529 (Minn. 2003). Sharon’s client’s claims were reinstated.
In Kastner v. Star Trails Ass’n, 646 N.W.2d 235 (Minn. 2003), the Minnesota Supreme Court adopted the Collateral Order Doctrine, a federal court doctrine that permits an immediate appeal of an otherwise unappealable order. In advocating that this doctrine be adopted in Minnesota, Sharon was able to save her client the considerable time and expense associated with being forced to go through a trial before a dispositive issue can be reviewed by an appellate court.
In Thompson v. Hirano Tecseed Co., Ltd., 456 F.3d 805 (8th Cir. 2006), Sharon convinced the Eighth Circuit Court of Appeals to reverse a trial court’s dismissal of her client’s product liability case, holding that the trial court impermissibly decided questions of fact. Her client’s claims were reinstated. The case was successfully resolved shortly before trial.
From the drafting of the Complaint through final resolution at the Minnesota Supreme Court, Sharon acted as the motion-practice team member and appellate counsel to a team of lawyers who successfully brought claims on behalf of four families against BNSF Railway Company for the death of their children at a railroad crossing. Sharon succeeded in persuading the trial judge that evidence had been hidden, destroyed, and fabricated. The result was a $24 Million jury verdict in favor of the families, and a $4.2 Million sanctions award against the railroad for litigation misconduct. Frazier v. Burlington Northern Santa Fe Corp., 811 N.W.2d 618 (Minn. 2012).
Hired by a Montana firm after the dismissal of all of their client’s claims on the basis of the Railway Labor Act’s preemption of Montana law, Sharon successfully argued for reversal on appeal to the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals in Wolfe v. BNSF Railway Company, 749 F.3d 859 (9th Cir. 2014). Her client’s claim for mismanagement and employee negligence were successfully reinstated for trial.
Indiana University (BS, high distinction 1974)
William Mitchell College of Law (JD, magna cum laude 1987)
State Bar Admissions:
Minnesota State Bar
Federal Bar Admissions:
U.S. Supreme Court
U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit
U.S. Court of Appeals for the Eighth Circuit
U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit
U.S. Court of Appeals for the Eleventh Circuit
U.S. District Court, District of Minnesota
U.S. Court of Federal Claims
Named a Minnesota “Super Lawyer” every year since 1999 (an honor given to only 5% of lawyers in Minnesota)
Top 100 Minnesota Super Lawyers, 2003 – 2005, 2010
Top Appellate Lawyer, Minnesota Law & Politics, 2003 – 2007, 2009
Super Lawyers’ Minnesota Top 50 Women every year since 2010
Attorney of the Year, Minnesota Lawyer, 2008
Excellence Award, Minnesota Trial Lawyers’ Association, 1994 – 1995
Excellence Award, Minnesota Trial Lawyers’ Association, 1999 – 2000
AV Rating, Martindale Hubbell’s Highest Rating for Professional Skills and Integrity
Professional Associations and Memberships
Minnesota State Bar Association
American Bar Association
American Bar Foundation
American Association for Justice
Minnesota Association for Justice (Past President)
Amdahl Inn of Court
“Getting Involved Can Change the Law”, Minnesota Trial, Vol. 22, No. 2 at 8, Spring, 2008
“A Clear Path For Railroad Negligence Cases”, Trial, 44, No. 2 at 50, February, 2008
“Recovery of Medical Expenses in a Personal Injury Case”, MTLA Magazine, Vol. 31, No. 2, Spring, 2006
“Scheibel: No-Fault Apportionment Revisited”, MTLA Magazine, Vol. 26, No. 1, Winter, 2001
“Determining ‘Full Recovery’ Under the MN Anti-Subrogation Statute”, MTLA Magazine, Vol. 24, No. 1 Winter, 1999
“Minnesota’s New Subrogation Law”, MTLA Magazine, Vol. 21, No. 1, Winter, 1996
The Rest of the Story:
Sharon’s non-lawyer time is spent indulging her passion for classical music, reading, and traveling. She and her husband enjoy international trips, working out, and spending time with their four children and grandchildren.