Wartnick v. Moss & Barnett
Minnesota Supreme Court
490 N.W.2d 108 (1992)
Norman Wartnick (plaintiff) owned Midwest Florist Supply Company (Midwest). Robert Nachtsheim was a Midwest salesperson. Wartnick purchased a key-man-insurance policy on Nachtsheim’s life. Wartnick paid the premium even after Nachtsheim left Midwest and started a competing business. Two weeks later, Nachtsheim was murdered. Wartnick retained attorney Phillip Gainsley (defendant) to claim the insurance proceeds and represent Wartnick in the murder investigation. Nachtsheim’s widow, Betty, sued Wartnick for unjust enrichment. When deposed, Wartnick asserted the Fifth Amendment (the Fifth) to questions about Nachtsheim’s murder. Betty’s attorney successfully lobbied the legislature to amend the wrongful-death statute to remove any limitations period for actions alleging murder. Betty then sued Wartnick for wrongful death. Gainsley offered Wartnick for another deposition but only if Betty’s attorney agreed not to use Wartnick’s first deposition. In his trial opening, Gainsley revealed that Wartnick had declined the police’s request to take a polygraph examination. Wartnick’s deposition responses were admitted, and the jury was instructed it could draw an adverse inference from Wartnick’s Fifth assertions. The jury found that Wartnick had murdered Nachtsheim or caused his murder. Wartnick sued Gainsley for malpractice for instructing Wartnick to assert the Fifth without understanding the ramifications, not permitting Wartnick to make an informed decision about the Fifth, advising the jury that Wartnick had refused the polygraph, not adequately investigating Nachtsheim’s murder, and not unconditionally offering Wartnick for another deposition. To support his summary-judgment motion, Gainsley provided testimony from two experts. Wartnick provided opposing testimony of five experts. Gainsley was granted summary judgment. The court of appeals affirmed. Wartnick appealed.
Rule of Law
Holding and Reasoning (Gardebring, J.)
What to do next…
Unlock this case brief with a free (no-commitment) trial membership of Quimbee.
You’ll be in good company: Quimbee is one of the most widely used and trusted sites for law students, serving more than 688,000 law students since 2011. Some law schools—such as Yale, Berkeley, and Northwestern—even subscribe directly to Quimbee for all their law students.Unlock this case briefRead our student testimonials
Learn more about Quimbee’s unique (and proven) approach to achieving great grades at law school.
Quimbee is a company hell-bent on one thing: helping you get an “A” in every course you take in law school, so you can graduate at the top of your class and get a high-paying law job. We’re not just a study aid for law students; we’re the study aid for law students.Learn about our approachRead more about Quimbee
Here's why 688,000 law students have relied on our case briefs:
- Written by law professors and practitioners, not other law students. 43,000 briefs, keyed to 988 casebooks. Top-notch customer support.
- The right amount of information, includes the facts, issues, rule of law, holding and reasoning, and any concurrences and dissents.
- Access in your classes, works on your mobile and tablet. Massive library of related video lessons and high quality multiple-choice questions.
- Easy to use, uniform format for every case brief. Written in plain English, not in legalese. Our briefs summarize and simplify; they don’t just repeat the court’s language.