Attorney of the Month, Rich Ruohonen of TSR Injury Law

Dedicated to Helping Those with Personal Injury

By Lynette Carrington

 

Attorney Rich Ruohonen has broken the typical lawyer mold in just about every way possible. From his warm, affable nature and one-of-a-kind client care, to his in-depth legal experience and his outside interests, he has taken all of his expertise and become laser-focused for the good of those he represents. Each client matters and is special; a philosophy that shines through in everything that Ruohonen does.

While in law school, Ruohonen was hired as a civil law clerk at personal injury law firm, Meshbesher & Spence, where he worked for approximately three years. “I spent a lot of time doing the same type of work at least from an issues standpoint; writing briefs, etc.,” said Ruohonen.

Initially he was interested in becoming a corporate lawyer, but looking back he is very glad he didn’t go that route. He was not taking as much of a liking to business law as he thought he would, so Ruohonen switched gears to devote his focus to helping people.

“I started to apply to personal injury firms and obtained a job right after I found out I passed the bar,” Ruohonen said. He soon became a partner at Pritzker|Ruohonen and is truly glad that he chose the personal injury legal arena in which to serve his clients. He finds it rewarding to help others and be part of a positive solution to an otherwise tragic situation, while helping his clients achieve some legal and monetary relief.

In 2009, Ruohonen saw an opportunity to take the next step in his career by joining Terry & Slane and forming TSR Injury Law with Steven Terry and Chuck Slane. this is a successful, younger and quickly growing firm built with great vision and hard work. the firm’s mantra is “Injured? It’s TSR time!” When asked what this means, Ruohonen explained, “it is more than just words, it’s a philosophy. TSR time is about aggressive representation, clear demands, fair settlements and trying cases. We have gained the respect of the legal community at large. In fact, a significant portion of our business comes from referrals by lawyers, judges and even insurance adjusters.” In explaining TSR Injury Law’s current situation, Ruohonen stated, “We have positioned our firm very well in the personal injury market and expect to be here for a long time to come.”

ON THE CASE

Ruohonen handles standard auto cases as most personal injury lawyers do, but he really enjoys the more unusual and challenging cases. Currently, Ruohonen has a case where two clients were hurt in an instance where a deck collapsed at an event. Bothclients were injured significantly. In researching the case, it turns out that a few years ago, a contractor had made some upgrades to the deck, but a proper inspection did not take place during the repairs or afterward. Ruohonen is working diligently to see that his clients are properly taken care of and that they obtain compensation.

He also handled several food poisoning cases while working at Pritzker|Ruohonen involving anything from peanut butter to lettuce to hamburger meat. But, one of the biggest cases he was ever involved in was representing a friend’s brother-in-law who was a “weekend warrior” motorcycle racer. In the case out of New York, the racer’s bike throttle stuck when performing a massive tabletop jump, causing him to completely lose control. the racer crashed as a result of this stuck throttle and severely crushed his leg. Plates, screws and multiple surgeries were not enough to save the leg and after nearly two years of pain and frustration, the leg had to be amputated. “there was a lot of litigation going on with this company for this issue and frankly, it was a great experience…part of that case was leaving no stone unturned,” stated Ruohonen. He made countless phone calls to other attorneys across the country inquiring about this particular defect. As it turned out, his hard work paid dividends when a witness was located and revealed the company knew of this very issue several months prior to the devastating accident involving Ruohonen’s client, but failed to conduct a recall at that time. Because of the diligence, investigative work and interviews, Ruohonen and his former partner were able to secure a significant settlement for his client.

Another current case being handled by the attorney is a sexual and physical assault case. the incident occurred at a drop-off day care facility. In an unfortunate and sad series of events, a little boy was severely beaten and raped by a 9-year-old child. Ruohonen is hopeful the case will be resolved by trial or settlement within the next year. “You’re almost too close to the case sometimes; you just want to fight so hard for this little kid to help him out and try to right the wrong the best you can. But you can’t change somebody’s life, when at three-and-a-half years old you’re raped and physically assaulted. there is no doubt, this incident will be with him forever,” Ruohonen recounted sadly.

Ruohonen believes personal injury attorneys should try more cases and that overall civil trials are few and far between. “I would guess I’ve probably tried more cases than any personal injury attorney my age,” said Ruohonen. “I’ve had well over 50 trials now, which in today’s terms is a lot. Much of the time insurance companies are simply not being fair to the injured victim. And if they’re not going to be fair, we’re going to try the case here at TSR.” the firm is not afraid to tackle the most challenging personal injury case and try it. Ruohonen is currently on an 11 trial winning streak.

GETTING WHAT IS FAIR FOR HIS CLIENTS

Insurance companies are not happy to have to pay in excess of policy limits in personal injury cases, but Ruohonen often gets just that for his clients. Since forming TSR, he has had several excess verdicts. “I get really frustrated when my clients are not treated fairly. I already work hard…but when I feel like someone is not being fair and making the situation worse for my client, it makes me work that much harder,” Ruohonen explained. “It’s who I am and I can’t help that.”

His clients most definitely appreciate the efforts of Ruohonen and TSR Injury Law. Ruohonen keeps in contact with many of his past clients and they often call and send Christmas cards to let him know how they are doing. “At least a few of them have become like family members,” said the attorney. One particular former client was hit by a semi more than a decade ago on I-94. the client suffered massive leg and brain injury, but Ruohonen enjoys hearing from the man and his family to revel in their successes. “It’s great to have those relationships,” he said. “It means a lot to know that they think you’ve done a good job for them and they appreciate it. You almost become a small part of their family.”

SUCCESS IN THE COURTROOM

the case wins have far outnumbered the losses for Ruohonen, with only about 10 cases out of well over 50 that were lost. “I’ve been really lucky and successful. Part of that has been picking the right cases… the ones I’ve lost are the ones that stick with me because I always wonder if there was something I could have done differently to have changed the outcome,” he noted.

He does love being in the courtroom and trying cases. In each instance, he only wants what is right and what is fair for his clients. He enjoys engaging a jury and sharing the stories of his clients in those focused efforts to persuade jury members.

CURLING
Leaving no stone unturned is an accurate statement in more ways than one for this accomplished attorney. Ruohonen is not only competitive in the courtroom; he’s just as competitive outside of it when he is throwing and sweeping stones down the ice in the sport of curling. “that’s part of who I am and it’s a big deal to me. I’ve been curling since I was 12 years old,” the attorney said. His father is from the Iron Range, where curling is a huge sport. He often participated in curling with his father and learned from watching his father and others play the sport. He became quite adept at curling and has participated in numerous national championships.

Ruohonen has now been curling competitively for over 25 years, won the national championship in 2008 with Team Brown, and went to the world championships that year finishing sixth. 2009 was the Olympic playoff s and he finished in the final four just missing an Olympic berth. He’s had the chance to travel all over the world for curling including Japan, Germany and multiple places in Canada and the United States. All of this effort in competing at this high level is aimed at attaining his goal of getting into the Olympic Games.

“Two of the last three years, we’ve lost in the national championship final game, which, if you win that game, you go directly to the world championships. this year, we lost in the national championship final which was on NBC Sports. So, year after year, curling is growing and more people are becoming interested in the sport,” Ruohonen explained. “It’s becoming a popular sport. In fact, curling was one of the most-watched sports during the last Olympics. It’s a really fun sport for people of all ages. People are now starting to understand it and the sport is finally getting the exposure and notoriety it deserves.”

Ruohonen finds that the camaraderie between players and teams in the sport of curling is exceptional. Recently, in an effort to help some curling athletes curb their expenses, Ruohonen let several college students stay at his home while they were playing in the World University Games. He says that although most of the high-level curlers are competitors on the ice, most of them are also good friends off the ice and would help a fellow curler whenever needed.

Ruohonen’s team is now looking forward to playing in the Olympic Trials and if they win, it will be on to Germany later this year in a bid to compete and hopefully grab a spot in the next Winter Olympics, which will be held in Sochi, Russia. “this fall is really busy for me with work, curling and training for the Olympic Trials.” Ruohonen’s team, Team George, qualified for the Olympic Trials earlier this year by making the national championship final game. they will compete in November and hopefully earn a spot in the Olympics for 2014. “Without question, we’re one of the top five teams in the country, most people would say probably top three, but you still need to win when it counts,” Ruohonen said.

Although his schedule is demanding, Ruohonen is able to effectively coordinate his work and sports schedule. He does this with the help of an understanding wife and family. Ruohonen has been married to his wife Sherry for 16 years, and she has endured the many weekends and dates he is absent to pursue his Olympic dreams and ardent work schedule. He also helps out when he can to coach and train his 11-year-old daughter, Hannah, in curling and softball and his 8-year-old son, Nicholas, in baseball and hockey. He also says clients, colleagues and judges are very understanding about his conflicts during the winter months and many of them ask him about it or follow his curling results online. Whether he is working hard for his clients or participating in curling, Ruohonen relishes the relationships he makes and gives his every effort to the matter at hand.

 For more information, visit  www.TSRInjuryLaw.com