“Anything more than five minutes for lunch is a waste of time, unless it’s for business.”
– Jeno Paulucci

Tom brings 40 years of experience and a strong track record of success to his practice representing accounting professionals, national corporations, and businesses in the Midwest. He prevails in complex litigation and achieves highly favorable results for his clients in settlements, motions, and trials, as well as guiding clients in the prevention of future liability exposure. Tom chairs Moss & Barnett's nationally acclaimed Accountant Law team, which was named a Tier One National "Best Law Firm" in Professional Malpractice Law-Defendants by U.S. News – Best Lawyers®. He also was selected an unprecedented three times as The Best Lawyers in America' Minneapolis Professional Malpractice Law – Defendants “Lawyer of the Year.”

Tom has extensive experience defending accountants facing claims of professional malpractice in actions throughout the nation. He protects the livelihoods and reputations of CPAs and has defeated numerous complex claims alleging improprieties in financial audits, disclosure statements, conflicts of interest, negligence, and other wrongdoings. He is the author of a well-regarded treatise in this area of law, Accountant Liability (J. Wiley & Sons, 1991), and writes extensively on the topic of professional liability.

Tom’s business litigation achievements span a wide range of state and federal courtrooms, including bankruptcy and tax courts and other dispute resolution venues. His major areas of litigation include unfair competition/trade secret thefts, shareholder rights, contracts, and intellectual property.

Professional Leadership

Tom led Moss & Barnett in a variety of leadership positions from 1993-2018, including as director, president, and chief executive officer. He has also been a thought leader as an active speaker for professional associations, on panel programs, and seminars. He became a familiar voice to the 30,000 weekly listeners as the host of “Minnesota Law,” an interview and call-in radio program he hosted from 2008-2012 on WCCO Radio.

Tom was awarded an honorary membership by the Minnesota Society of Certified Public Accountants (MNCPA) in 2017. Only five other individuals have been granted honorary membership in the society for their dedication and contributions to the MNCPA and the CPA profession without being a certified public accountant.

Experience

  • Defense of $8 million claim for theft of trade secrets, including employee disloyalty, breach of non-solicitation agreement, and aiding and abetting. Our client was charged after successfully recruiting more than half the plaintiff company’s workforce for a new branch of its truck parts company. Plaintiff contended that the employee “lift-out” irreparably damaged their North Dakota business. After a three-week jury trial in North Dakota federal court, the jury returned a defense verdict on all counts.
  • Exoneration of Ponzi scheme auditor. Our client, a CPA firm, was accused of negligently failing to detect the fraud after the collapse of a massive Ponzi scheme resulting in $116 million in damages. After a two-week trial, the arbitration panel rejected the claim and awarded a total defense victory to our client.
  • Resolution of claims and continuity of client relationship. Our client, the auditor of a nonprofit organization, did not detect a scheme to skim cash from the proceeds of the charity’s annual fundraiser. Our representation included a private investigation and negotiations with the board to rebate the audit fee. At the conclusion of the engagement, not only were all claims resolved, but the audit relationship was preserved and continued.
  • RICO charges dismissed. The disgruntled heir of a family fortune sued the decedent’s CPAs for damages under the Racketeer Influenced Corrupt Organization Act. We argued that the allegations of fraud and common enterprise lacked credibility, and the claim was dismissed by federal court.
  • Settling a former shareholder’s claims. The majority owner of a successful company was sued by a former minority shareholder she had previously bought out. Our team of trial lawyers first persuaded the court to dismiss the employment claim, then resolved the rest of the claim successfully.
  • Swift action protects brand, shuts down IP infringement. When the brand name of a highly successful food product was misappropriated to sell an energy drink to young men as a faux illegal drug, our litigation lawyers and trademark team combined forces. The result was the entire removal of the infringing product from shelves within days, which sent a loud message ensuring the integrity of our client’s brand.
  • Medicare reimbursement lawsuit dismissed for no payment. After a hospital chain was sold to another operator, the buyer and the seller “tag teamed” a lawsuit in an effort to squeeze the CPA firm of the sold chain into paying assessments. We used creative discovery to demonstrate that the parties specifically bargained for the risk of a future Medicare assessment in their purchase price. The suit was dismissed without any payment.
  • Successfully defended multimillion-dollar failed audit claim arising out of alleged international money laundering and stock market manipulation trading scheme by clarifying the scope of the accountant's priority defense in Minnesota.
  • Sustained will against forgery claim. The client was named as sole beneficiary of his mother’s estate, but his sister challenged the will on the grounds that their mother’s signature had been forged by the client. On appeal, after the probate court overruled the forgery claims, the Minnesota Court of Appeals stated that the opinion of the sister’s handwriting expert was effectively “undermined” by Tom’s cross-examination.

Credentials

Education

University of Minnesota Law School, J.D.; cum laude; National Moot Court Team, second place, Eighth Circuit; American College of Trial Lawyers Medal for Excellence in Advocacy

University of Minnesota Twin Cities, B.A.; Phi Beta Kappa

Admissions

  • Minnesota
  • U.S. District Court for the District of Minnesota
  • U.S. Bankruptcy Court for the District of Minnesota
  • U.S. Court of Appeals for the Eighth Circuit
  • U.S. Tax Court

Honors & Recognitions

Minnesota Society of Certified Public Accountants, honorary membership (2017)

The Best Lawyers in America, "Lawyer of the Year," Professional Malpractice Law – Defendants, Minneapolis (2014, 2016, 2019)

The Best Lawyers in America (2005-present)

Minnesota Super Lawyers (2003-present)

America's Top 100 Attorneys®, Lifetime Achievement Selection

Minnesota Society of Certified Public Accountants, Friend of the Profession Award (2008)

John F. Kennedy High School, Outstanding Alumnus Award (1994)

News & Insights

News

Speaking Engagements

Publications

Multimedia

Affiliations

Professional Associations

  • American Bar Association
  • Minnesota State Bar Association
  • Hennepin County Bar Association

Board Memberships

  • Director, The Fund for the Legal Aid Society (2009-present)
  • Trustee and board chair, Courage Center Foundation (2002-2008)
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