Mr. Vollertsen received his undergraduate degree from Brown University in 1975, and went on to complete his law degree at the University of San Francisco in 1981. While at the University of San Francisco Law School, he received a Moot Court Oral Advocacy Award, and was selected as Editor-in-Chief of the University of San Francisco Law Review. In addition to publication of The NEPA and Energy Legislation: The Preemption of Judicial Review, he also edited a 10-year index of the Review’s past volumes. Upon graduation, he was invited to serve as law clerk for Chief Justice Edmond Burke of the Alaska Supreme Court. At the close of that clerkship, he joined the firm of Atkinson, Conway & Gagnon, Inc., in 1982 and was quickly made a partner in 1985. He currently serves as a managing partner of the firm, and has served in that capacity since 2000.
Mr. Vollertsen’s representative cases include cases that have demanded extraordinary litigation efforts because of their scientific or medical complexities. As the result of his dedication and the support of the Alaska Personal Injury Group, he has obtained remarkable verdicts and settlements in such matters. He is particularly proud of overturning on appeal the law that barred parents from receiving any compensation for their emotional losses when their children were killed. Gillespie v. Beta Construction ($4 million) He also obtained the first verdict in the nation against an ephedra manufacturer, including a punitive damages award that was one of the largest in Alaska’s history. That verdict also led to the FDA’s confiscation of the manufacturer’s product, and contributed to the FDA’s removal of that class of products from the marketplace. Talbot v. E’ola Products, Inc. ($13 million) He has been honored to represent many clients who have suffered the devastating consequences of traumatic brain and spinal cord injuries. He has consequently developed an expertise in handling such medically complex claims and routinely works with nationally-recognized physicians as experts in claims brought on behalf of his clients.
Mr. Vollertsen has received the highest possible rankings for legal ability (“A” for high to preeminent) and ethical standards (“V” for very high) from Martindale-Hubbell, a national peer-review organization. Martindale-Hubbell Law Directory. Mr. Vollertsen has been listed for many years in Best Lawyers in America. In 2009 and 2015, Best Lawyers in America selected him as Alaska’s “Personal Injury Litigator of the Year”. In both 2007 and 2009, Mr. Vollertsen was selected as one of Alaska’s Super Lawyers in the specialty practice of personal injury.
Mr. Vollertsen has been an invited presenter and panelist at many Continuing Legal Education seminars and Alaska Bar Association presentations concerning various trial practice subjects. He has served as the Vice-President and a Board member for the Alaska Chapter of the American Association for Justice. He also served as a Contributing Editor of the Alaska Court Review summarizing the opinions of the Alaska Supreme Court for practicing lawyers.
Mr. Vollertsen has served the community in various ways. He served as a Board member for the Brother Francis Shelter and a Co-Chair of the shelter’s rebuilding campaign that led to the construction a new shelter in 2005. He also served as an operator and Board member for the Alaska Crisis Line.
A life-long Alaskan, Mr. Vollertsen arrived in Alaska in 1957, living in Bush Alaska initially in Bethel and then a homestead in Stoney River before moving to Anchorage. He graduated from West Anchorage High School in 1971. He was able to pay for his education while working as a construction laborer through the Laborer’s Local 341, and worked in many parts of Alaska—Glennallen, Valdez, Palmer, Moose Point and Anchorage. His wife Linda’s Alaskan roots run even deeper. Her grandfather operated the first air taxi service in Nome, Mirow Air Service, which ultimately became part of Alaska Airlines. Her great grandfather, Charles Calkins, arrived in Nome for the Gold Rush in 1898, mining out of the Daisy Mine on White Mountain. Mr. Vollertsen is also a commercial fisherman, operating a set net site in Cook Inlet, and is an accomplished amateur photographer.
Adams v. Illinois Valley Paving, et al., Missouri Circuit Court, Cause no. 052-8536. Co-counsel for multiple claimants and represented the estate of an electrical engineer killed in an automobile dump truck collision caused by roadside construction work performed in violation of traffic control standards imposed by the MUTCD. The engineer’s son was also insured in the crash. He suffered spine injuries and severe intraabdominal seatbelt injuries, including loss of the duodenum and gall bladder, and injuries to the common bile duct and pancreatic duct. A recovery of $13.5 million was obtained following settlement and trial.
Durand v. ERA Aviation, Inc., 3AN-03-12347 – Lead counsel for multiple claimants, and represented an FAA technician who survived a Bell 206 Helicopter crash off of Fire Island. Liability arose out of pilot error in winter operation of the helicopter below VFR flight minimums causing the helicopter to crash into Cook Inlet. Injuries included hypothermia with cardioversion, compression fractures to the spine, burst fractures to the heels, and multiple hand fractures causing substantial physical limitations and chronic pain syndrome. Confidential multi-million dollar settlement.
Talbert v. E’ola Products, Inc., 3AN-97-4046 – Represented a young woman who suffered a vasoconstrictive cerebellar stroke while using AMP II Pro Drops, an herbal weight loss product containing ephedra. Obtained the first verdict nationally against an ephedra manufacturer, which led to the FDA’s seizure of the company’s product and assisted in the FDA’s subsequent ban on ephedra. Jury award: $1.3 million in compensatory damages and $12 million in punitive damages.
Resnick et al. v. Halliburton, Inc., 3KN-96-167 – Lead counsel representing workers injured in a workshop blast detonating oilfield explosives and destroying the Kenai Halliburton shop. Injuries included death, blindness, burns, shrapnel wounds and psychological injuries. Confidential multi-million dollar settlement.
Farnsworth v. General Motors Corp., 3AN-91-946 – Co-counsel representing a young woman injured when she submarined under a 3 point belt in a 1989 GMC Jimmy, causing severe internal and spinal injuries causing sepsis, lung failure, multi-level spinal compromise, and coma. Jury award: $2.1 in compensatory damages and $5.6 in punitive damages.
Gillispie v. Beta Construction, Inc., State of Alaska 3AN-90-8414 – Represented the family of a 14-year-old boy killed while walking in a roadway construction zone operated in violation of the MUTCD pedestrian standards. Successfully challenged and changed state law which prohibited parents from recovering emotional damages arising from the death of a child resulting in the first verdict in Alaska for parental loss of consortium damages. Jury award with add-ons in excess of $4 million.
Grenz v. Roger Hickel Construction, Dover Elevators, Inc., 3AN-98-5357 – Represented an elevator apprentice electrocuted with 480 volts by an unguarded transformer operated in violation of lockout/tagout procedures. Injuries included traumatic brain injury, spinal injuries and burns. Liability was based on the contractor’s failure to follow OSHA lock out/tag out procedures and the elevator manufacturer’s failure to shield the transformer. Settlement: $2.25 million.
Darling v. Trident Seafoods, Inc., 3AN- 99-12326 – Represented a 27-year-old man beaten with a pipe at Trident’s Akutan seafood processing plant. Injuries included a depressed skull fracture, and resulting cognitive and speech deficits. Liability was based upon negligent supervision of workers and the absence of security measures. Verdict after trial to the court: $1.25 million.
Johnson v. United States, A99-567 Civ (HRH) – Represented a 4-year-old Native boy who was misdiagnosed in a village health clinic while suffering from meningitis. Injuries included cortical blindness, deafness, and severe cognitive and motor control injuries. Settlement: $4.5 million.
Armstrong v. United States, A00-0031 (JWS) – Co-counsel representing a 16-year-old boy who suffered a seizure and was improperly treated at a village health clinic and camp facilities near Tok. Liability was based upon the failure to provide oxygen and anti-seizure medications, and the failure to provide adequate emergency medical response. Confidential multi-million dollar settlement.
Taylor v. Savage Arms, Inc., 3KN-90-922 – Co-counsel representing an 11-year-old boy struck in the head by a .22 caliber bullet from a rifle when the barrel separated from its stock due to fastener failure. Injuries included traumatic brain injury, hemiparesis, bowel and bladder incontinence, and visual field deficits. Confidential multi-million dollar settlement.
Dries v. Alaska Mining & Diving, Inc., 3AN-92-3901 – Represented a young woman who suffered near drowning while participating in a scuba diving training course with a dry suit. Injuries included traumatic brain injury and paralysis. Confidential multi-million dollar settlement.
Kreger v. Amoco, 3KN-85-1414 – Co-counsel representing an oil platform driller operating a wireline unit that failed causing him to be impaled by a falling wireline toolbar. Injuries included gangrene, loss of function, disfigurement, and economic losses. Confidential settlement.
Gundersen v. Yamaha, 3AN-89-7605 – Co-counsel representing a 5-year-old girl run over by a high performance ATV sold in violation of national standards. Injuries included traumatic brain injury and hemiparesis. Confidential settlement.
Special Needs Trusts – Trustee’s and Beneficiary’s counsel for over 25 special needs trusts serving individuals suffering from catastrophic illnesses and handicapping conditions.