John E. Varpness

John joined Fisher Bren & Sheridan, LLP in January 2019 after over 40 years with Jim Martin and the firm that ultimately became Gislason, Martin, Varpness & Janes, P.A. He has spent his entire career as a civil litigator, practicing in multiple areas including construction litigation, personal injury/wrongful death, fire/explosions, subrogation, products liability, premises liability, toxic torts and professional liability (engineers). John has tried over 150 cases in Minnesota and Wisconsin courts.

John has been a peer-reviewed AV lawyer by Martindale Hubbell as well as a Super Lawyer in construction litigation for several years. He graduated in the top five of his class at the University Of Minnesota School Of Business (with High Distinction) and obtained his Juris Doctorate from William Mitchell College of Law in 1979.

John’s experience as a civil trial lawyer has resulted in long-standing relationships with, and knowledge of, many of the players in the civil defense community in Minnesota and Wisconsin, including attorneys, judges and ADR professionals giving him important insights essential to the successful representation of his clients.

Selected Cases:

  • John has tried a wide variety of civil cases to verdict, including complex multi-party construction litigation, products liability cases for large U.S. corporations, toxic tort litigation, professional liability claims for a multi-national design-engineering firms as well as fire and personal injury cases.
  • John has been recognized as a leader in addressing contractual indemnity claims arising out of construction contracts. He has frequently taken the lead in defending those claims in complex multi-party litigation as well as being a presenter at various seminars on that topic over the years.


  • William Mitchell College of Law, J.D., 1979
  • University of Minnesota School of Business, with High Distinction, 1975

Bar Admissions:

  • Minnesota
  • Wisconsin
  • U.S. District Court, District of Minnesota
  • Eighth Court of Appeals
  • United States Supreme Court

Practice Areas:

  • Catastrophic Loss
  • Construction Litigation
  • Industrial accidents and workplace safety
  • Insurance Coverage
  • Personal Injury
  • Product Liability
  • Professional Liability (Engineers)
  • Toxic Torts/Asbestos defense
  • Wrongful death

Awards and Honors:

  • Selected to MN Super Lawyers® list 2022.

John E. Varpness
(612) 332-0100 main
(612) 902-2752 direct dial
(612) 332-9951 facsimile

Legal Administrative Assistant:
Kim Ledbetter
(612) 902-2760