Former "King of Torts" David Moskal dies

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David John Moskal, 1955-2009.
Disbarred attorney David John Moskal, who became embroiled in legal controversies in Colorado while on supervised release from federal prison for stealing millions from clients in Minnesota, died August 3 in Summit County. No cause of death has been released. An obituary notice on a mortuary website asks that memorial contributions be sent to suicide prevention groups.

First in his class at the William Mitchell College of Law, Moskal quickly became a rising star among personal-injury lawyers, making partner at a large Minneapolis law firm by the time he was 33. He ingratiated himself with doctors and chiropractors, mowed clients' lawns, made no secret of his staunch Christianity -- and scored multimillion-dollar cases. A law journal dubbed him a "King of Torts."

But Moskal was disbarred after federal prosecutors charged him with stealing $2.4 million over several years from client settlements, other attorneys and his own firm. The money apparently went to support a lavish lifestyle, including a house with a pool in a tony suburb, a condo in Steamboat Springs and a lakefront cabin in a resort area. Moskal blamed clinical depression for his behavior, pleaded guilty to three counts of fraud and received a five-year sentence.

In 2003, Moskal was placed on supervised release and moved to Colorado. He worked for an attorney referral service and then for a medical group and became a key figure in a complicated, costly series of lawsuits between medical providers and the Mintz Law Firm, which were the subject of my 2007 feature "High Trauma."

A Jefferson County judge ultimately ruled in favor of Moskal's employer, the medical providers, in the high-stakes brawl, awarding them $286,000 in damages; the cases are now under appeal. Moskal himself was back in court for having allegedly represented himself as an attorney and accessing patient medical records in violation of his conditions of release, and his federal supervision was extended another three years. In a statement to Westword, he expressed gratitude to his current employer and denied any wrongdoing: "I have served my time and paid resititution.... I have worked hard to put my past behind me and regret that it is being used against others who bear no responsibility for my past actions."

Moskal was 54-years old. He is survived by a son, two daughters, and three siblings, including a brother in Fort Collins and a sister in Longmont.

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