January 12, 2018

FaegreBD Pro Bono Lawyers Michael Cockson, Adam Nodler and Isaac Hall Named 2017 ‘Attorneys of the Year' by Minnesota Lawyer

A Faegre Baker Daniels pro bono trial team has been named to Minnesota Lawyer’s 2017 'Attorneys of the Year’ list in the group category for a series of landlord-tenant casework.

Michael Cockson, Adam Nodler and Isaac Hall are being recognized for their leadership of the firm’s tenant remedies legal team. The team has been working tirelessly to achieve relief for tenants renting apartments from two Twin Cities landlord moguls—Stephen Frenz and Spiros Zorbalas. Beginning as an action seeking much-needed repairs in a Minneapolis apartment building, the case evolved into a complex, 17-day trial when the team uncovered falsified documents and fraud. Furthermore, the case revealed Zorbalas’ ongoing involvement and ownership of affected properties, in violation of a City of Minneapolis ban on Zorbalas holding an interest in a rental license. The city has since revoked all of its rental licenses for the Frenz-Zorbalas rental properties, finding that the licenses were issued under false pretenses.

Moreover, the team won the appointment of an administrator to manage needed repairs. In addition, the team also achieved one of the largest rent abatement awards in Hennepin County Housing Court history for tenants, as well as a six-figure sanctions award against the landlord for litigation misconduct. These actions have paved the way for better tenant living conditions and ensured those perpetrating the fraud were exposed and held accountable. The team’s ongoing work on behalf of tenants residing in Frenz-Zorbalas apartments is resulting in long-lasting improvements to the policies and practices needed to provide safe and affordable rental housing in Minneapolis.

Cockson, Nodler and Hall will be honored at an awards banquet on Feb. 7, 2018 at the Hyatt Regency in downtown Minneapolis.

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