Kirsten is a trial lawyer and partner in the Minneapolis office of Dorsey & Whitney, and Recruiting Chair for the firm. Kirsten represents commercial clients in securities class actions, shareholder disputes, ERISA litigation, FINRA actions, advisor fee litigation, internal investigations, and other disputes relating to the financial services and healthcare industries.
Kirsten has defended financial services clients in class actions relating to the sale of municipal derivatives, reverse convertible notes, and other sophisticated securities products. She has significant experience representing broker dealers and asset managers in internal investigations, regulatory inquiries, and FINRA arbitration, and has represented multiple companies and boards of directors in shareholder disputes. Kirsten also represents ERISA benefit plan sponsors, administrators, and fiduciaries in both the retirement and health plan spaces. She has defended class action challenges to retirement plans, including stock drop, proprietary fund, and excessive fee cases, health plan claims for benefits, and provider-driven mass actions.
Kirsten has appeared in matters pending in the District of Minnesota, Southern District of New York, Central District of California, Southern District of Indiana, and Western District of Wisconsin; the Second, Seventh, Eighth, and Ninth Circuits; Delaware Chancery Court; and state courts in Minnesota, California, Iowa, Michigan, and Florida, as well as in FINRA arbitration.
Kirsten devotes a significant portion of her practice to pro bono work. Alongside a team of Dorsey lawyers, she recently won release of her intellectually disabled client, Bruce Webster, from federal death row. As a result of the firm’s work on Mr. Webster’s case, Kirsten received the 2020 HCBA Excellence Award for Pro Bono Service, and Dorsey was given the ABA’s 2020 Exceptional Service Award. She was also named the Immigrant Law Center of Minnesota’s 2018 National Advocate of the Year for her work on behalf of a child refugee during the Trump Administration’s first travel ban.
As firm Recruiting Chair, Kirsten works closely with management and recruiting staff, including a dedicated diversity and inclusion coordinator, to promote diversity and inclusion across Dorsey’s offices.
Education & Admissions
University of Michigan Law School (J.D., 2006), Associate Editor, Michigan Telecommunications and Technology Law Review
University of Wisconsin - Eau Claire (B.A., 2003), magna cum laude
- U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit
- U.S. Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit
- U.S. Court of Appeals for the Eighth Circuit
- U.S. District Court for the District of Minnesota
- Multiple pro hac vice admissions, including Delaware Chancery Court, the U.S. District Courts for the Southern District of New York, Central District of California, the Southern District of Indiana, and multiple state courts
- In re: Apogee Enterprises, Inc. Securities Litigation (U.S. Dist. Minn.): Obtained complete dismissal at the pleadings stage of a 10b-5 securities class action alleging false statements in connection with an acquisition.
- Luis v. RBC Capital Markets, LLC. Counsel for RBC Capital Markets in class action alleging breach of contract through the sale of reverse convertible notes. RBC’s motion for summary judgment was granted in full and Plaintiffs’ motion for class certification was denied as moot. Appeal pending.
- DaVita v. Gill Industries, et al. Represented four plan sponsors against DaVita’s claims for denial of health benefits claims. Defendants’ motion to dismiss was granted in full.
- Webster v. Locket. Obtained district court order, which was affirmed by the Seventh Circuit, vacating death sentence for intellectually disabled inmate on federal death row, on grounds that medical records withheld by the Social Security Administration at the time of trial, and testimony of multiple experts in week-long trial, show he is intellectually disabled and ineligible for the death penalty. Webster’s right to bring the habeas petition was litigated in the Fifth Circuit and Seventh Circuit, with the en banc Seventh Circuit finding, for the first time, that a death row prisoner has a right challenge a death sentence based on evidence of intellectual disability discovered post-appeal.
- Meiners v. Wells Fargo & Co., et al. Counsel for financial services company and other defendants in ERISA class action alleging breach of fiduciary duties relating to the inclusion of target date funds in 401(k) plan. Obtained dismissal with prejudice on Motion to Dismiss. Ruling affirmed by the Eighth Circuit.
- Counsel for trustees of more than a dozen family trusts in 30 separate actions alleging breach of fiduciary duties in trust administration.
- Almont Ambulatory Care Center, et al. vs. UnitedHealth Group, Inc., et al. Counsel for health insurance company and over 250 self-funded employee benefit plans and employer sponsors in claims and counterclaims alleging benefits due, health care fraud, disability discrimination, and breach of fiduciary duty.
- Figas v. Wells Fargo & Co., et al. Counsel for defendants in ERISA class action alleging breach of fiduciary duties relating to investment options in 401(k) plan.
- Northwest Airlines, Inc. v. Phillips. Counsel for airline seeking declaration that post-bankruptcy Target Benefit Plan was not age discriminatory under the ADEA, ERISA, or state laws. Obtained summary judgment; affirmed on appeal to Eighth Circuit.
- In re Osteotech, Inc. Securities Litigation. Counsel for defendants in putative shareholder class action seeking to enjoin merger. Obtained dismissal of all claims.
- In re Municipal Derivatives Antitrust Litigation: Counsel for investment bank in multi-district litigation in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York against a putative nationwide class of municipalities alleging antitrust violations relating to the sale of municipal derivatives.
- FINRA arbitrations. Counsel for major broker-dealer firms in numerous customer and industry arbitrations.
- ABD Consulting Services and Shinon Lindberg v. Chamberlain Capital and Paul Cameron. Counsel for investment company and its principal in suit brought by a former service provider relating to the construction and renovation of real property. Obtained dismissal of plaintiffs’ contract claims at motion to dismiss stage, successfully defended against plaintiffs’ motion to revive dismissed claims after discovery, obtained summary judgment in favor of defendants disposing of all of plaintiffs’ remaining claims, and successfully counterclaimed and obtained summary judgment for damages owed by plaintiffs. Case was not appealed.
- Minnesota Valley Regional Railroad Authority v. Hanson Communications. Counsel for defendants in declaratory judgment action brought by regional rail authority seeking to regulate telecommunication providers’ right to use public right of way. Obtained summary judgment in favor of defendants and dismissal of all claims.
- Terminal Transport v. Minnesota Insurance Guaranty Association. Counsel for defendant state guaranty fund in district court and regulatory actions regarding coverage of workers’ compensation claims under a high deductible policy. Obtained summary judgment in favor of all claims against defendants; unanimously affirmed on appeal.
- Feinwachs v. Minnesota Council of Health Plans. Counsel for defendant health insurance industry association against tortious interference and defamation claims. Obtained summary judgment and dismissal of all claims; affirmed on appeal.
- Webster v. Daniels. Pro bono counsel for intellectually disabled federal prisoner seeking review of death sentence under 28 U.S.C. 2241. Obtained Seventh Circuit en banc decision granting evidentiary hearing.
- Counsel for multiple non-citizens challenging unlawful prolonged detention practices and 2017 refugee ban.
News & Resources
News & Press Mentions
Events & Speaking Engagements
- Debriefing: The Supreme Court Arguments on Health Care Reform (April 2012)
- Retirement Plan Litigation: Lessons Learned and Challenges Ahead, Midwest Pension Conference (March 2011). See presentation material here.
Industries & Practices
- Banking & Financial Institutions
- Benefits & Compensation
- Class Action Litigation
- Commercial Litigation
- Corporate Governance & Compliance
- ERISA Litigation
- Financial Services Regulatory
- Government Enforcement & Corporate Investigations
- Healthcare Litigation
- Securities & Financial Services Litigation & Enforcement
- Tax Controversy & Litigation
- Trusts & Estates Litigation
Professional & Civic
- Received the Hennepin County Bar Association’s 2020 Excellence Award for Pro Bono Service
- Received Dorsey’s 2020 Scales of Justice Award for outstanding achievement in pro bono service
- Named the Immigrant Law Center of Minnesota’s 2018 National Advocate of the Year for her work on behalf of a child refugee during the Trump Administration’s first travel ban
- Received Dorsey’s 2015 Scales of Justice Award for outstanding achievement in her representation of an intellectually disabled death row inmate
- University of Minnesota Law School, Adjunct Associate Professor (Center for New Americans, Federal Immigration Litigation Clinic)