Jonathan W. Dettmann



Jon Dettmann helps clients achieve outstanding litigation outcomes through both trial and appeal. He litigates in a broad range of areas, including environmental disasters and oil spills, government claims and administrative actions, and disputes involving antitrust, contracts and intellectual property. He works personally with clients to guide them through complex legal issues and proceedings to meet their objectives.

He has tried many cases before judges and juries in both state and federal courts, and he has successfully argued several appeals. He leads the firm’s recovery litigation practice, which has recovered hundreds of millions of dollars for the firm’s clients.

Complex Civil Litigation

Jon has extensive experience in large, multi-party cases, including:

He represents several corporations pursuing Sherman Act antitrust claims against the four major U.S. railroads, currently pending as separate direct actions in MDL 2925. In re: Rail Freight Fuel Surcharge Litigation (No. II), No. 20-00008 (D. D.C.).

For nearly 10 years, Jon represented more than 1,000 commercial fishermen and related businesses across the Gulf Coast whose livelihoods were upended by the Deepwater Horizon oil spill. The case for his clients proceeded as a direct action where each client was an individual plaintiff with their own claim. See Thanh Hai, Inc., et al. v. BP American Production Co., et al., 2:11-cv-03180 (E.D. La.) (MDL No. 2179). In a parallel case he represented over 600 commercial fishing vessels in a breach of contract action involving BP’s Vessels of Opportunity program. See Hong Van Truong, et al. v. BP American Production Co., et al., 2:11-cv-02766 (E.D. La.) (MDL No. 2179). Both actions resulted in substantial individualized settlements for the firm’s clients.

In Alaska, he was a member of the team representing over 2,500 commercial fishermen in the renowned litigation against Exxon Mobil arising from the Exxon Valdez oil spill, culminating in the landmark decision in Exxon Shipping Co. v. Baker, 554 U.S. 471 (2008). He now represents the Bristol Bay Regional Seafood Development Association in protecting Bristol Bay and the world’s most valuable wild salmon fishery against the development of the Pebble Mine.

He led teams representing clients in dozens of federal lawsuits involving hurricane damage to commercial and residential properties under the National Flood Insurance Program. See First American Bank and Trust v. Certain Underwriters at Lloyd’s of London, No. 2:13-cv-6270 (E.D. La. 2015) (jury verdict for client, affirmed by 5th Circuit).

He has litigated several intellectual property cases involving patent infringement, patent licenses, trade dress and trademarks. See, for example, Shakopee Mdewakanton Sioux Community v. FBCV, LLC, No. 2:10-cv-10 (D. Nev. 2011) (represented SMSC in obtaining summary judgment for infringement).

Government Litigation

Jon has extensive experience in government litigation and administrative law, including:

He represents Black farmers and ranchers in litigation against the United States Department of Agriculture, alleging claims of racial discrimination in the agency’s loan and subsidy programs. Pride v. U.S.D.A., 1:23-cv-02292 (D. D.C.).

For several years he has represented health insurers in Tucker Act claims involving two provisions of the Affordable Care Act. The first, involving the Risk Corridors program, resulted in tens of millions of dollars in payments to his clients in the wake of Maine Community Health Options v. United States, 140 S. Ct. 1308 (2020), where he represented the Association for Community Affiliated Plans as an amicus party. The second, involving cost-sharing reductions, resulted in the successful appellate decision in Community Health Choice, Inc. v. United States, 970 F.3d 1364 (Fed. Cir. 2020).

In Minnesota, he represented a software developer in securing an over $7 million settlement with the State of Minnesota for a contract claim related to HealthMatch. ACS State and Local Solutions, Inc. v. State of Minnesota, through its Commissioner of the Department of Human Services, No. 62-cv-08-9261 (2nd Judicial District Court, Minn.).

Across the country, he has represented clients in challenging and defending federal agency actions and has extensive experience in administrative law. He successfully argued a precedent-setting appeal under the Wilderness Act in Wilderness Watch v. Mainella, 375 F.3d 1085 (11th Cir. 2004), and he wrote the appellate briefs for intervenors in defense of the federal government’s reintroduction of gray wolves to Yellowstone National Park in Wyoming Farm Bureau Federation v. Babbitt, 199 F.3d 1224 (9th Cir. 2000).

Teaching Experience and CLE

Throughout his career Jon has taught CLE courses on a wide range of legal topics, including health care litigation against the federal government (2019, 2018), the Deepwater Horizon litigation (2018, 2015), federal government contracts (2012, 2011), and climate change laws and regulations (2009). In 2014, he spoke about the relationship between historic preservation and wilderness at the conference for the 50th Anniversary of the Wilderness Act in Albuquerque, New Mexico.

In 2010, he taught the Administrative Law class at William Mitchell College of Law.

Interest in Innovation and History

In 2017, Jon led the team that won the firm’s Innovation Challenge for development of Campsite, an extranet-based collaboration platform for cross-office litigation teams to efficiently organize and coordinate large-scale litigation projects.

He is currently working on a series of articles on lessons for litigators from the Second World War. The first installment, “Brevity: The Call for Clearer Thinking,” was published in April 2022. Part two, “Infamy: The Opening That Changed World History,” was published in October 2022, and part three, "Carrier: The Case of Faulty Transmission" was just published in September 2023.

Related Policy, Advocacy & Consulting Services


Bar Admissions


Court Admissions

U.S. Court of Appeals for the Tenth Circuit
U.S. Court of Appeals for the Eleventh Circuit
U.S. Court of Appeals for the Eighth Circuit
U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit
U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit
U.S. District Court for the District of Minnesota
U.S. Supreme Court


University of Virginia School of Law
J.D. Law Review (1995)

Yale University
B.A. (1990)

Insights & Events

Other Perspectives
  • Lessons From the Deepwater Horizon Oil Spill Litigation
    Loyola University New Orleans College of Law, March 2018
  • The Impact of the BP Oil Spill
    Loyola University New Orleans College of Law, November 2015

Leadership & Community

Pro Bono

  • Served as lead counsel on cases involving the protection areas of the National Wilderness Preservation System from Florida to Alaska.

Civic Activities

  • The Steger Center (Ely, Minnesota) — Advisory Board, 2022-present
  • Climate Generation, A Will Steger Legacy (Minneapolis, Minnesota) — Advisory Board, 2019-present; Board of Directors, 2010-19; Board President, 2018-19
  • River Grove Elementary School (Marine on St. Croix, Minnesota) — Founding Board, 2016-19
  • Wilderness Watch (Missoula, Montana) Board of Directors, 2003-11; Board President, 2010-11
  • William Mitchell College of Law — Adjunct Professor of Law, Administrative Law, Spring 2010


  • Minnesota Super Lawyers — Rising Stars, 2004
Awards Methodology
No aspect of these recognitions has been approved by the highest court of any state.
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