After working as a partner for two nationally ranked law firms, Sam founded CrossCastle to combine the rigor and expertise of large firms with the flexibility and efficiency of a smaller organization. As a litigator, Sam has successfully represented clients in a broad spectrum of litigation and business and civil rights disputes. He has substantial experience with non-competition, trade secret, and restrictive covenant litigation. Sam has unique expertise representing churches and faith-based organizations in religious liberty and land use matters. In addition to litigation, Sam counsels clients regarding employment matters, negotiations, and disputes. He regularly advises business, executive, and faith-based clients on all aspects of employment relationships and employment law compliance.
As an advocate, Sam Diehl has successfully litigated and resolved disputes for clients in matters related to: trade secrets, non-competition and restrictive covenants; injunctions; contract matters; discrimination and whistleblower claims; administrative charges and government investigations; zoning and land use; and constitutional claims. Sam regularly advises clients ranging from small businesses to multi-national organizations who rely on his depth of experience and ability to defend their interests when necessary.
As an employment advisor, Sam regularly counsels clients through difficult termination and discipline issues, hiring, leaves and accommodations, and wage and hour issues. He also helps companies navigate employment law issues that accompany corporate mergers and acquisitions. Sam has handled numerous internal investigations for heavily regulated institutions and employers facing allegations of harassment, discrimination, and other serious concerns. He also regularly drafts and negotiates employment agreements for executives and key employees and trains managers and employees on compliance with employment laws.
In addition to commercial clients, Sam represents colleges and universities, religious organizations, and other non-profit organizations. He has substantial experience representing churches and other religious organizations in employment matters, sensitive investigations, land use, constitutional claims, and other matters. Sam has defended colleges and universities in litigation brought by students and employees, and he has investigated matters related to student, employee, and leadership misconduct. He has also worked with federal agencies to resolve disputes related to charges of discrimination and other issues.
Sam’s work with government agencies is informed by his significant work experience in Washington, D.C. where he was as a subcommittee staff director for the U.S. House Committee on Agriculture, an appointee at the U.S. Department of Labor, and a legislative staff member in the U.S. House of Representatives.
Spearheaded successful litigation and advocacy efforts resulting in reversal of decisions to cancel high school football and volleyball in Minnesota
Obtained $2.65MM for plaintiff after two-week trial of First Amendment claims
Obtained multiple temporary and permanent injunctions in federal and state court on behalf of former employers barring former employees from competing
Defeated multiple temporary and permanent injunction motions in federal and state court on behalf of federal and state court on behalf of new employers in trade secret and non-compete litigation, including obtaining dispositive dismissals
Successfully tried employment discrimination claims, obtaining verdict for employer defendant
Obtained multiple summary judgment victories for employers on discrimination, retaliation, and whistleblower claims in federal and state court
Successfully defended lower court summary judgment orders and trial verdicts for employers at the Eighth Circuit and Minnesota Court of Appeals
Obtained summary judgment for defendant in $7 million-dollar commercial contract dispute
J.D., cum laude, University of Minnesota Law School, 2007, Editor, Minnesota Law Review
B.A., Princeton University, 1999
- Minnesota Bar
- North Dakota Bar
- Eighth Circuit Court of Appeals
- U.S. District Court for the District of Minnesota
- U.S. District Court for the District of Nebraska
- U.S. District Court for the District of Colorado
- U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Wisconsin
Pamela Abbate Dattilo
Partner – Minneapolis
Pamela is an experienced litigator, trial attorney and external investigator who handles a full range of shareholder, partnership, non-compete, sexual misconduct and employment disputes. She has successfully litigated before state and federal agencies, in private arbitrations, in state and federal courts, and before appellate courts around the country. Pamela is licensed in Minnesota, but has represented companies in complex litigation in Florida, Illinois, Texas, Michigan, California, Ohio, Indiana, Wisconsin, and numerous other states. Pamela is frequently called on to handle disputes that are complex, highly contentious, or likely to go to trial. She has obtained multi-million dollar verdicts and awards on the plaintiff side (representing companies and individual minority shareholders), and she has obtained complete defense verdicts on the defense side. Pamela is also sought after for complex and sensitive employment and school investigations, particularly those involving allegations of sexual misconduct, which must be handled with the utmost care and professionalism.
While Pamela handles a wide range of disputes, she has particular expertise—both in litigation and counseling—in closely held business disputes, non-compete disputes, and business tort cases. “Business torts” include claims arising out of confidentiality, non-compete or non-solicitation agreements, claims involving trade secrets and/or breach of fiduciary duty claims. Pamela also has considerable experience both defending these claims and representing clients who are pursuing them.
Pamela’s approach to litigation and dispute resolution is creative, strategic, and persistent. She is a fierce advocate for her clients. With respect to investigations, Pamela’s approach is pragmatic and neutral, with a high regard for the integrity of the investigation process. Every investigation is handled with the utmost care and attention to detail – with the hope of avoiding litigation. When avoiding litigation is not possible, Pamela’s investigative work often provides the basis for a strong defense for companies who follow her guidance and adopt her findings.
- Conducted several high-risk and potentially high-profile sexual assault/harassment investigations for companies, schools, and non-profits.
- Conducted several investigations for Fortune 100 and Fortune 500 companies into allegations of misconduct by senior executives.
- Member of legal team that conducted an internal investigation of a Big Ten athletic department following allegations of sexual harassment and the athletic director’s resignation.
- Co-lead investigation of a state legislator accused of sexual misconduct.
- Conducted multiple investigations into “group claims” of age discrimination for large companies.
- Conducted investigation of a senior VP of a medical device company accused of retaliation and bullying.
- Conducted investigation of a VP of a construction company accused of sex discrimination and harassment.
- Conducted investigation into a variety of legal and ethical concerns raised about conduct by an Executive Director of a non-profit agency.
- Conducted investigation of a sales manager of a medical device company following a sexual assault allegation by a third party.
- Conducted investigation of a VP of a medical device company accused of gender discrimination and FMLA retaliation.
- Conducted investigation of a General Counsel accused of retaliation and discrimination.
- Conducted investigation of a VP of a technology company accused of harassment, retaliation, and other misconduct.
- Guided dozens of companies and schools through internal investigations conducted in-house.
- Assisted companies with developing internal processes and policies for conducting internal investigations.
- Presented on best practices for conducting employment investigations and how to effectively use computer forensics experts in conducting internal investigations on numerous occasions.
Noncompete, Trade Secret, Business Litigation
- Obtained $3.9 million jury verdict against former owner and officer on claims of breach of contract (non-compete), breach of duty and civil theft.
- Obtained six-figure damage award following a bench trial in a breach of employee non-solicitation agreement case.
- Obtained judgment in favor of our client, an IT staffing company, on a tortious interference with contract claim brought against our client after they hired an employee with a non-compete agreement with his prior employer. Judgment was sustained on appeal and resulted in the Minnesota Supreme Court recognizing for the first time that reliance on advice of counsel is a defense to tortious inference with contract.
- Successfully defeated motion for preliminary injunction in the Middle District of Florida by former employer against multiple employees that accepted employment for another company operating in the same transportation logistics industry. See Blue-Grace Logistics LLC v. Fahey, 340 F.R.D. 460 (M.D. Fla. 2022).
- Granted motion for summary judgment, dismissing all claims against clients for allegedly violating non-competition covenants under Florida law, by establishing that former employer did not have a legitimate business interest that justified non-competition restriction. See Blue-Grace Logistics LLC v. Fahey, No. 8:21-CV-2523-KKM-MRM, 2023 WL 424285 (M.D. Fla. Jan. 26, 2023).
- Successfully transferred non-competition and non-solicitation case from the Western District of Texas, where the employer was headquartered, to the Northern District of Illinois, where the employees resided. See DM Trans, LLC v. Scott, No. 1:21-CV-505-RP, 2021 WL 2864885 at *1 (W.D. Tex. July 8, 2021).
- Defeated motion for preliminary injunction in the Northern District of Illinois against five employees that resigned to work for a competitive company in the transportation logistics industry. See DM Trans, LLC v. Scott, No. 21 C 3634, 2021 WL 4963606, at *1 (N.D. Ill. Oct. 26, 2021).
- Defended district court’s denial of motion for preliminary injunction to the Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals, resulting in a precedential decision affirming win in lower court. See DM Trans, LLC v. Scott, et al., 38 F.4th 608 (7th Cir. 2022).
- Successfully moved to dismiss claims in the Middle District of Florida against employees for allegedly violating non-competition and non-solicitation restrictions while employed by new employer. See Paramount Transportation Logistics Servs., LLC v. Traffic Tech, Inc., No. 2:21-CV-831-JES-NPM, 2022 WL 861584, at *6 (M.D. Fla. Mar. 23, 2022).
- Successfully reversed decision by the Southern District of Ohio entering a preliminary injunction in the Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals based on procedural due process arguments rooted in the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure. See Total Quality Logistics, LLC v. Traffic Tech, Inc., No. 22-3148, 2023 WL 1777387, at *1 (6th Cir. Feb. 6, 2023).
- Secured emergency temporary restraining order against former employees that were secretly diverting customers from employer to separate business while still employed. Case settled for high six figures shortly after emergency relief was entered.
- Obtained judgment as a matter of law for client seeking to enforce a non-compete agreement in an Asset Purchase Agreement when the seller threatened to violate the covenants and sought a Court-modification to the non-compete.
- Obtained numerous Temporary Restraining Orders for clients seeking to enforce non-compete contracts.
- Obtained seven-figure settlements in several non-compete, trade secret and business tort cases.
- Defended international insurance broker in non-compete/business tort litigation in federal and state court, including obtaining partial summary judgment.
- Represented mortgage lender in lawsuit seeking enforcement of its employee non-solicitation agreements; summary judgment obtained on breach of employee non-solicitation agreement claims.
- Assisted numerous employees, officers, directors and employers in negotiating resolutions of non-compete and fiduciary duty disputes and avoiding litigation.
- Davies v. Waterstone Capital Management, LP: 856 N.W.2d 711 (Minn. Ct. App. 2015) (further review denied, Minnesota Supreme Court; denied U.S. Supreme Court); obtained reversal of a district court decision and vacated arbitration award of $11 million against an employer arising from the termination of a highly compensated employee.
- Rebischke v. The Tile Shop: Federal District Court (MN)—obtained summary judgment for employer in FLSA collective action involving salary deduction allegations.
- Ahle et al. v. Veracity Research Co.: Federal District Court (MN)—defended national private investigation company in misclassification FLSA collective/class action.
- Thomas et al. v. Cascade Mortgage Co.: Federal District Court (MN)—defended mortgage lender in minimum wage/overtime FLSA collective/class action case.
- Defended owners and officers of iron ore processing plant sued individually in an overtime FLSA collective action case.
- Defended agricultural cooperative sued for negligence by a temporary employee who claimed extensive injuries and damages exceeding $30 million as a result of a work place injury.
- Obtained reversal by appellate court of a ruling that our client, an individual sued for worker’s compensation benefits, was an “employer” under Minnesota’s Worker’s Compensation laws. Appellate court ruling in our client’s favor was upheld by the Minnesota Supreme Court.
- Obtained summary judgment on a disability discrimination and failure to accommodate lawsuit against a Minnesota hospital in Minnesota State District Court.
- Obtained dismissal of a race discrimination lawsuit in Minnesota State District Court on a Rule 12 motion to dismiss.
- Obtained dismissal of a race discrimination, retaliation, and workers’ compensation retaliation lawsuit in Minnesota State District Court on a Rule 12 motion to dismiss.
- Sternquist v. Pal Mgmt., Inc.: Court of Appeals (MN)—obtained reversal of an unemployment law judge’s determination that our client, an employee who was subjected to harassment, did not quit for a “good reason” caused by the employer.
- University of St. Thomas School of Law, J.D., 2009, summa cum laude
- University of St. Thomas, B.A., 2006, magna cum laude
- Minnesota Bar
- Eighth Circuit Court of Appeals
- Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals
- Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals
- Eleventh Circuit Court of Appeals
- U.S. District Court for the District of Minnesota
Senior Associate – Minneapolis
Tara Kennedy combines years of experience at one of the world’s largest law firms with creativity, tenacity, and dedication. Tara represents clients in complex civil litigation in federal and state courts around the country and handles internal investigations in response to agency inquiries. She has opposed state and municipal governments in Colorado, Florida, Georgia, Pennsylvania, Texas and other state courts. Tara has also conducted internal investigations for clients under regulatory scrutiny from the Department of Justice, the Federal Bureau of Investigation, the Department of Health and Human Services, and the Minnesota Departments of Commerce and Human Rights in matters related to the False Claims Act, money laundering, civil rights, consumer protection, and other areas of law. Her experience spans a range of industries including health care, life sciences, food manufacturing, professional sports, and financial services.
University of Minnesota Law School, J.D., cum laude (2018)
University of Dallas, B.A. in History, magna cum laude, Phi Beta Kappa (2013)
- Minnesota Bar
- U.S. District Court for the District of Minnesota
Partner – Minneapolis
Nick litigates complex issues of legal doctrine before the U.S. Supreme Court and other courts nationwide. In several years at a Washington, DC appellate practice, Nick participated in the U.S. Supreme Court litigation on the constitutionality of the Affordable Care Act, the Defense of Marriage Act, and Arizona’s immigration enforcement law. He also litigates before the state appeals courts in Minnesota and across the country. And because tough issues don’t arise only on appeal, Nick frequently assists with advocacy in trial courts as well. Among many other trial-court cases, he has lent his skills in legal analysis and factual storytelling to the defense of South Carolina’s voter-ID law and to major sports leagues in concussion and publicity-rights litigation.
Nick frequently files briefs challenging or defending the admissibility of complex scientific or technical evidence. Clients also turn to him for legal and technical analysis on issues before administrative agencies, and for strategic counsel about how to deal with complex legal situations.
Notre Dame Law School
J.D. magna cum laude, Notre Dame Law Review (note editor) (2008)
St. Olaf College
B.A. in Economics, cum laude (2005)
U.S. Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit, Hon. Thomas M. Hardiman, 2009- 2010
U.S. District Court for the District of Eastern Michigan, Hon. Stephen J. Murphy, 2008-2009
District of Columbia
U.S. Supreme Court
U.S. Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit
U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit
U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit
U.S. Court of Appeals for the Eighth Circuit
U.S. District Court for the District of Minnesota
U.S. District Court for the Western District of Pennsylvania
Partner – Minneapolis
Harry Niska is an experienced counselor and advocate for businesses and individuals. He has extensive litigation experience representing plaintiffs and defendants in trial and appellate courts across the country in a variety of commercial and constitutional disputes, including contract, fraud, First Amendment, and antitrust litigation. He also frequently advises political candidates, party units, and other organizations on campaign finance issues and election law. He also has significant experience advising businesses on legal strategy issues, currently serving as general counsel for two construction companies. He practiced for several years at Kirkland & Ellis in Chicago and Ross & Orenstein in Minneapolis. In addition to his private practice experience, he has also twice served as a law clerk on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Eighth Circuit: first as a law clerk to Judge Roger L. Wollman from 2005-2006, and later as a clerk to Judge David R. Stras when he was elevated to the Eighth Circuit in 2018.
- University of Minnesota Law School, J.D., magna cum laude, 2005, Articles Editor, Minnesota Journal of International Law, Order of the Coif
- Concordia College, B.A., Political Science, 2002
- Roger L. Wollman, U.S. Court of Appeals for the Eighth Circuit (2005–06)
- David R. Stras, U.S. Court of Appeals for the Eighth Circuit (2018)
- U.S. Court of Appeals, Second Circuit
- U.S. Court of Appeals, Eighth Circuit
- U.S. Court of Appeals, Eleventh Circuit
- U.S. District Court, Central District of Illinois
- U.S. District Court, Minnesota
- U.S. District Court, Northern District of Indiana
Seminars & Publications
- How Loud is Your State’s Voice at the High Court?: Comparing State Attorney General Activity at the U.S. Supreme Court, Federalist Society – Minnesota Lawyers’ Chapter (Feb. 7, 2017).
- Litigating in the Wake of a Class Action: How to Maximize Your Client’s Interests, Hennepin County Bar Association (Dec. 15, 2015) (with Matt Veenstra).
- That’s Not Plausible: IqbalOne Year Later, Hennepin Lawyer (June 2010) (with John Orenstein).
- The European Union TRIPS over the U.S. Constitution: Can the First Amendment Save the Bologna That Has a First Name?, 13 Minn. J. Global Trade 413 (2004).
- Former vice chair, City of Ramsey Charter Commission
- Board member, Connection Church
- Youth baseball and basketball coach
Ryan D. Wilson
Of Counsel Attorney – Minneapolis
Ryan Wilson is a litigator with experience in federal and state courts, both at the trial and appellate level. Ryan returns to CrossCastle after running for Minnesota State Auditor, falling short by a historically narrow margin. Before entering private practice, Ryan clerked for Justice G. Barry Anderson of the Minnesota Supreme Court. He graduated Mitchell Hamline School of Law, where he finished first in his class, was an editor of the law review, and finished first in the Rosalie E. Wahl moot court competition.
Ryan also has significant work experience outside of the practice of law. In 2006, Ryan founded and led a medical device research firm as its CEO. After successfully leading the company through its sale, Ryan became the general manager of the global medical device division of the resulting combined company which he helped grow until its initial public offering.
In addition to his law degree, Ryan has an MBA with concentrations in strategic management and corporate finance, and a BS in Chemistry from the University of Minnesota. Ryan has been an active member of his community, coaching baseball and hockey, and serving on community boards and his city’s planning commission. Ryan is married with five children and is a member of Holy Name of Jesus Catholic Church.
J.D., Mitchell Hamline School of Law, summa cum laude
B.S., University of Minnesota
Operations and Accounting Manager – Minneapolis
Jaclyn has a passion for Cross Castle’s work and serving its clients. She brings a wealth of experience to the firm, including project management, organizational development, human resources, and bookkeeping. Before joining the firm, Jaclyn worked for several faith-based and non-profit organizations in the Twin Cities and earned her Bachelor of Science degree in Human Resource Development from the University of Minnesota.