Stephen is a partner with the law firm of Heley, Duncan, & Melander, PLLP, in Minneapolis. With over 20 years of experience, Steve has successfully represented clients in various state and federal district and appellate courts, and arbitration proceedings before the American Arbitration Forum and FINRA. Although he handles a variety of cases, Steve’s practice is focused primarily in the areas of construction and business litigation, and appellate practice. After completing an intensive 13-week information security and data privacy certificate program at Mitchell Hamline School of Law, Steve recently expanded his practice to include cybersecurity matters.
The magazine Minnesota Law & Politics has recognized Steve as a Super Lawyer for his work representing clients in various construction matters. He has handled cases on behalf of project owners and developers, design professionals, contractors, and subcontractors that relate to the design and construction of small and large residential, commercial, and municipal projects. His work for clients includes contract review and negotiation, loss prevention and risk management, litigation, and appellate advocacy.
Business and Commercial Matters
Steve represents individuals and businesses in disputes involving contract issues, noncompete agreements, real estate, mortgage and mechanic’s liens foreclosures, civil RICO claims, business defamation, and claims under Minnesota’s consumer protection statutes, such as the Deceptive Trade Practices and Fraudulent Transfer acts. In addition, Steve has experience handling cases involving claims for personal injury, premises liability, product liability, and wrongful death.
Steve currently serves on the Minnesota Supreme Court Advisory Committee on the Rules of Civil Appellate Procedure and is a past Chair of the MSBA Appellate Practice Section Governing Council. As a respected appellate attorney, Steve has regularly appeared before the Minnesota Court of Appeals, Minnesota Supreme Court, and the Eighth Circuit Court of Appeals. He has handled appeals involving design-professionals, mechanic’s liens, mortgage foreclosures, insurance coverage, land-use issues, and various commercial and business disputes. Steve also regularly consults with other attorneys regarding appellate procedure, appealability, record and issue preservation, and overall appellate tactics and strategy. Steve has given a number of continuing legal education programs on various aspects of successful appellate advocacy.
- Minnesota (1994)
- Missouri (1996)
- Wisconsin (2011)
- United States Court of Appeals for the Eighth Circuit (2003)
- United States District Court for District of Minnesota (1996)
- United States District Court for Western District of Wisconsin (2004)
Following law school, Steve served as a law clerk for the Honorable Patrice Sutherland of the First Judicial District, and the Honorable R.A. (Jim) Randall of the Minnesota Court of Appeals. Before coming to Heley, Duncan & Melander, PLLP, Steve practiced in the areas of insurance defense and municipal law, handling cases involving personal injury defense, premises liability claims, zoning and land-use claims, and residential and municipal construction projects.
Steve was also an attorney-instructor at the University Of Minnesota Law School for its Civil Rights Moot Court program. His competition teams won the prestigious William E. McGee National Civil Rights Moot Court Competition and have received numerous honors.
- American Bar Association
- Construction Litigation Section (member)
- Minnesota State Bar Association
- Construction Law Section (member)
- Appellate Practice Section Governing Council (Past Section Chair)
- General Assembly Member (former)
- General Policy Committee (former)
- Ramsey County Bar Association (member)
- Minnesota Supreme Court Advisory Committee on the Rules of Civil Appellate Procedure (member)
- Minnesota Supreme Court Historical Society (former Board member)
Pro Bono Activities
Volunteer Attorney, Appeals Self-Help Clinic sponsored by Minnesota Law Library and MSBA Appellate Practice Section, Minnesota Judicial Center, (2019 – present)
Contractor’s Edge, Inc. v. City of Mankato, 863 N.W.2d 765 (Minn. 2015) (reversing court of appeals and ruling improperly certified partial summary judgment as final partial summary judgment does not result in immediately appealable partial judgment).
Jaunich v. Wind Energy America, Inc., A11-889, 2012 WL 5769 (Minn. App. 2012), review denied (Minn. Feb. 28, 2012) (affirming district court denial of injunction to force corporation and its board to call annual shareholder meeting).
Brothers Fire Protection Co. v. Heffron Props., A11-357, 2012 WL 118241 (Minn. App. Jan. 17, 2012) (reversing summary judgment in favor of mechanic’s lien claimants because genuine issues of material fact existed as to when the first actual and visible improvement on property began).
Premier Bank v. Dan-Bar Homes, Ltd., A10-853, 2010 WL 4941681 (Minn. App. Dec. 2, 2010) (affirming district court ruling demolition and removal of house from property was separate improvement from the condominium project to which appellant mechanic’s lien claimants had contributed, rendering lender’s mortgage prior and superior to mechanic’s liens).
Premier Bank v. Becker Dev., LLC, 785 N.W.2d 753 (Minn. 2010) (reversing district court award in favor mechanics’ lien claimant and establishing rule that blanket mechanic’s lien may not be selectively enforced against less than all of the lots subject to the lien and must be enforced on pro rate basis against each lot subject to the lien).
Dew v. Mathwig Dev. Co., A09-882, 2010 WL 1541294 (Minn. App. Apr. 20, 2010) (reversing trial court judgment awarding a $5.1 million mechanic’s lien and costs and attorney fees to contractor for 122-unit condominium project).
Lake Superior Ctr. Auth. v. Hammel, Green & Abrahamson, Inc., 715 N.W.2d 458 (Minn. 2006), review denied (Minn. Aug. 23, 2006) (affirming judgment based on the jury’s finding engineering firm did not negligently design aquarium and district court’s award of costs and disbursements to engineer).
Nelson v. Short Elliott Hendrickson, Inc., 716 N.W.2d 394 (Minn. App. 2006), review denied (Minn. Sept. 19, 2006) (affirming district court’s dismissal of plaintiff’s negligent-design claims based on statute of limitations).
Aviation Charter, Inc. v. Aviation Research Group/US, 416 F.3d 864 (8th Cir. 2005) (affirming summary judgment dismissing plaintiff aviation charter company’s claims for business defamation and violations of Minnesota’s Deceptive Trade Practices Act and the Lanham Act).
Cameo Homes, Inc. v. Kraus-Anderson Constr. Co. et al., 2003 WL 22867640 (D. Minn. 2003), aff’d 394 F.3d 1084 (2005) (dismissing contractor’s claims for breach of contract, negligence, defamation, fraud, intentional interference with prospective business advantage, civil conspiracy and violation of Davis-Bacon Act).
Travertine Corp. v. Lexington-Silverwood, 683 N.W.2d 267 (Minn. 2004) (reversing and holding nonassignment clause in contract applied and precluded assignment of right to payment to shareholder’s judgment creditor).
Nelson v. Popovich, Civ. No. 02-2923 (D. Minn. Jan. 27, 2004) (obtained summary judgment for municipality, dismissing plaintiff homeowners’ civil RICO claims relating to municipality’s denial of building permits),
Mutual Serv. Cas. Ins. Co. v. League of Minnesota Cities Ins. Trust, 659 N.W.2d 755 (Minn. 2003) (reversing holding marked police squad car is not a motor vehicle under Minnesota’s No-Fault Insurance Act),
- Panel Member, Growing Your Appellate Practice¸ Appellate Practice Institute, MinnCLE, Minneapolis, MN, March 15, 2019
- Speaker, Cyber Security – Staying Safe Online Seminar, Northwoods Credit Union, Cloquet, MN, October 8, 2018
- Lecturer, Appellate Case Preparation from Start to Finish, National Business Institute, Web Seminar, March 1, 2016
- Lecturer, Appellate Briefs: Tips and Tactics, National Business Institute, Teleconference, December 7, 2012
- Lecturer, Pre-Appeal Considerations – Successfully Navigating the Appeals Process, National Business Institute, Web Seminar, May 31, 2012
- Lecturer, Drafting A Winning Appellate Brief – Successfully Navigating the Appeals Process, National Business Institute, Web Seminar, May 31, 2012
- Co-Lecturer, Appealability in Minnesota – The Fundamentals of Appellate Jurisdiction, Appellate Practice Institute, MinnCLE, Minneapolis, MN, March 2010
- Co-authored, Vol. 2, Mark J. Heley, Stephen F. Buterin & Brian Varland, State-by-State Guide to Construction Contracts and Claims, Chapter 36 North Dakota (Michael Dodd and J. Duncan Findlay eds.) (Aspen Publishers 2006-2019)
- Co-authored, Owner/Engineer Contracts – Form and Substance for presentation before American Council of Engineering Companies (ACEC) of Minnesota, Minneapolis, MN, December 2005
- Lecturer, Advanced Legal Writing Seminar for Paralegals, National Business Institute. Minneapolis, MN, July 2002
- Lecturer, Twin Cities Claims Association Luncheon. Addressed current issues in motor vehicle liability law. Bloomington, MN, March 2002
- Note, The Eighth Amendment and the State of Mind Requirement; Falls v. Nesbitt, 16 Hamline L. Rev. 417 (1993)
- Recognized as a Super Lawyer by Minnesota Law & Politics magazine (2014-2019)
- Recognized as a Rising Star by Minnesota Law & Politics magazine (2004-2008)
- Gustavus Adolphus College, 1990, Bachelor of Arts
- Russian Studies and Political Science
- Hamline University School of Law, 1994, Juris Doctorate
- Hamline Law Review
- Dean’s List
- Mitchell Hamline School of Law, 2018
- Certificate in Cybersecurity and Privacy Law