J. Ric Gass
Trial Presentation Award
The J. Ric Gass Trial Presentation Award is an annual recognition of an individual lawyer, trial team, judge or law professor who has/have exhibited excellence and proficiency in the art of advocacy in a courtroom setting. The award was named after J. Ric Gass (1943-2019), 2012 President of the Litigation Counsel of America, who was one of the five founding members of Gass Weber Mullins LLC, in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. He served as both national trial and supervising counsel for insurers and self-insured corporations. Ric tried cases in virtually every civil substantive area, but his specialty areas included catastrophic injuries, trucking, product liability, and bad faith. His practice was nationwide, with cases from Miami to Hawaii. During his renowned career, he tried more than 300 cases to verdict, mostly defending corporations and insurers. The defense verdict he secured in Las Vegas in Hassanali v Custom Fiberglass was recognized as one of the “Top Ten Defense Verdicts of 2015” by Courtroom View Network. He also represented corporations and insurers as plaintiffs, and while representing a municipality and manufacturer as plaintiffs, he secured the largest jury verdict in the history of the State of Wisconsin: $104.5 million.
In addition to being a Senior Fellow of the Litigation Counsel of America, Ric was a Fellow in both the American College of Trial Lawyers and the International Society of Barristers, and was elevated to the rank of Diplomate in the American Board of Trial Advocates. He was also a member of the Federation of Defense & Corporate Counsel, the International Association of Defense Counsel, and the Defense Research Institute. He was a past president of both the FDCC and Lawyers for Civil Justice.
Ric enjoyed an AV Preeminent® rating in Martindale-Hubbell® Peer Review Rating™ for over two decades. He was selected for inclusion in The Best Lawyers in America, Chambers USA, Super Lawyers, and was also selected as a Master of the Bench in the American Inns of Court. He was board certified as a Civil Trial Advocate by the National Board of Trial Advocacy and held the rank of Senior Counsel in The College of Master Advocates and Barristers. Ric was also one of the inaugural inductees to the Wisconsin Law Journal’s Leaders in the Law.
His firm, Gass Weber Mullins, was named a “Litigation Powerhouse” in the BTI Litigation Outlook Report, one of the “Top Ten Litigation Boutiques” by National Law Journal, ACQ’s “Wisconsin Litigation Law Firm of the Year,” as a “Go-To Law Firm for the Top 500 Companies” by ALM, selected as a “Tier 1 Best Law Firm” by U.S. News and World Report, named “Wisconsin Firm of the Year” by Benchmark Litigation, and was featured in Corporate Counsel Magazine.
Ric received his B.S. from the University of Wisconsin-Stevens Point, with a major in chemistry and minors in education and mathematics, and his J.D. cum laude from Marquette University Law School in 1970, where he was a Thomas More Scholar. He was a member of the Milwaukee Bar Association and the American Bar Association, admitted to practice in all state and federal courts in Wisconsin, the Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit, and the United States Supreme Court, and was admitted pro hac vice to practice in more than 30 state and federal courts. He served as an adjunct associate professor of law at Marquette University Law School, lecturing from 1977 to 1988 in trial practice and basic and advanced evidence.
He was a national legal speaker on trial practice topics, including “Winning at Trial,” “Handling Sympathy in Jury Trials,” “Handling Catastrophic Injury Cases,” and “Bringing It Together For Trial.” Frequently a keynote speaker for state and national defense and plaintiffs’ organizations, Ric published over 28 articles and book chapters on trial techniques and tactics and gave over 225 invited presentations. He was also frequently asked to provide expert testimony on bad faith, legal malpractice, and insurance issues.
Ric served as Life Dean of the Trial Law Institute, was a charter member of the Diversity Law Institute, was the creator of the LCA’s Renaissance Symposium series, and served on the LCA’s Advisory Board.
Cecilie Loidolt (2022)
Arthur, Chapman, Kettering, Smetak & Pikala, P.A.
The inaugural recipient of the J.Ric Gass Trial Presentation Award is Cecilie Loidolt, Of Counsel at Arthur Chapman Kettering Smetak & Pikala, PA, in Minneapolis, Minnesota. Cecilie is a trial lawyer with 30 years’ experience representing medical providers in high-exposure medical malpractice cases. She has tried sixty cases to juries, including many high profile birth injury cases involving life-care plans valued in the mid to high eight figures. She has also been consulted and has served as national counsel on birth injury matters. Cecilie has expertise in defending against the “Reptile Theory,” which is frequently employed by plaintiffs’ personal injury lawyers, and has done so with acclaimed success. She is a frequent speaker on jury selection topics.
Cecilie is a Senior Fellow of the Litigation Counsel of America, having been a member since 2007. She has earned the distinctions Barrister, Order of Juris and Advocate, Order of Certus. She maintains an AV Preeminent® rating Martindale-Hubbell® Peer Review Rating™ and is repeatedly selected for inclusion in the Best Lawyers in America for medical malpractice. She has been listed as a Minnesota Law & Politics’ Super Lawyer® for over twenty years.
She was named Minnesota Lawyer of the Year in 2012, for the successful defense of several notable cases. One of those cases included the defense of a hospital for its treatment of an infant’s high fever; which resulted from a vaccine-preventable disease, and the mother’s refusal to vaccinate. The infant died. The jury found the hospital not negligent, and the mother negligent.
Recent successes include a lawsuit alleging the anesthesia team was negligent during spine surgery, resulting in paralysis from the neck down; and a large life care plan. The jury returned a verdict for the defendants. Cecilie tried the first of its kind opioid addiction case in Minnesota in May 2022. The lawsuit against the pain specialist alleged that he got the patient addicted to high-dose opioids that far exceeded CDC recommended guidelines, and that he was addicted for 23 years. Despite his 23 year use of high-dose opioids, the evidence was that the patient was not addicted. The physician attended the trial and testified via zoom, as he was delayed in Hong Kong for two years as a result of COVID. The jury found in his favor. Defense verdicts are often not reported by the media, but this one was.
While Cecilie enjoys and appreciates these accolades, her greatest career accomplishment is the gratitude of her clients, who have bestowed upon her the nicknames, “gunslinger,” “pitbull,” and “bulldog,” as a result of her tireless fight for justice for her clients.
Outside of law, Cecilie and her family are devoted to public service. Her husband, Neal, served in the military for over 34 years, having deployed twice to Iraq. Their son, Sam, serves in the military as well, and is presently deployed in Romania. The family’s mantra is “we will make it work.” As a result of her own dedication and humanitarian efforts, Cecilie proudly received the 2019 Superior Volunteer Service Award, the highest National Guard award to a civilian.
“Cecilie’s record of success and commitment to excellence in the courtroom epitomizes the career-long goal of Ric Gass to create in the next generation of lawyers the abilities and knowledge necessary to take the art of advocacy to the highest echelon,” said Litigation Counsel of America Executive Director and General Counsel G. Steven Henry. “Ric knew Cecilie well and greatly respected her body of work in the trial arena. Her accomplishments and results speak for themselves. We are delighted with Cecilie’s selection for the first LCA award given bearing the name of J. Ric Gass.”