V. John Ella

Firm: Fafinski Mark & Johnson
Location: Minneapolis - MN

  • 775 Prairie Center Drive, Suite 400
    Eden Prairie, MN 55344
  • Tel : (952) 995-9500
  • Fax : (952) 995-9577

V. John Ella has handled dozens of appeals before the Minnesota Court of Appeals, the Minnesota Supreme Court, the 8th Circuit Court of Appeals, and the Federal Circuit Court of Appeals. He also has obtained successful verdicts in jury trials and court trials in federal and state district courts in both Minnesota and Iowa and litigated or arbitrated non-compete disputes in Iowa, Florida, Minnesota, North Dakota, New York, and Wisconsin.

Mr. Ella has been named as a Minnesota “Super Lawyer” in the area of appellate law.  He is a member of the Appellate Law Section of the Minnesota State Bar Association and the Association of the Bar of the United States Court of Appeals for the Eighth Circuit. Mr. Ella clerked for judges in both state court and federal court.

Mr. Ella has represented clients with appeals involving claims of breach of contract, business licensing, civil service rules, constitutional law, claims under 42 U.S.C. § 1983, the corporate practice of medicine doctrine, defamation, denial of benefits under the Employee Retirement Income Security Act (ERISA), employment law, the employee duty of loyalty, the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA), immigration, marital status discrimination, non-competes, professional negligence and malpractice, retaliation, sexual harassment, unemployment benefits, and whistleblowing, among other issues.  Mr. Ella’s experience includes bringing and defending appeals and cross-appeals, filing petitions for writs of certiorari, petitions for interlocutory appeals, appellate motion practice, oral argument, and settlement of cases on appeal. Mr. Ella offers competitive flat fee rates for most appeals.

Mr. Ella practices in all aspects of commercial litigation, employment law, and business law, with an emphasis on unfair competition and defending employment claims. Mr. Ella is the author of Executive Employment Law – A Handbook for Minnesota Executives published in 2018 by Mill City Press as well as over one hundred articles or book chapters for various legal publications. He frequently lectures on the topic of workplace privacy and employee monitoring. He also speaks on common law fraud and was co-author of the Summary Guide to Fraud, Misrepresentation and Deceptive Trade Practices. Mr. Ella also taught legal writing at the University of Minnesota Law School.

Mr. Ella is certified by the Minnesota State Bar Association as a Labor and Employment Law Specialist. He is also certified as an Information Privacy Professional (CIPP/US) by the International Association of Privacy Professionals (IAPP). He served as a public member of the Minnesota Board of Medical Practice from 2010 to 2018 and served as Chair of the Minnesota State Board of Legal Certification.

Mr. Ella was a Law Clerk for Judge Carol B. Amon, Eastern District of New York from 1996-1997 and for Judge William E. Kalar, Ninth Judicial District of Minnesota from 1994-1995. After ten years as an attorney at a local general practice firm he spent almost ten years at the nation’s second-largest labor and employment defense firm as a partner where he represented many Fortune 500 and large global corporations in all aspects of employment law. He joined Trepanier MacGillis Battina in 2016.


  • Tufts University, B.A. (1990)
  • University of Minnesota Law School, J.D. (1994) cum laude


  • Minnesota Top 100 Super Lawyer (2014)
  • Minnesota Law and Politics “Top 40” Employment Law Attorney (2006-2008)
  • Super Lawyer (2002-2020)
  • AV rated by Martindale Hubbell
  • Named to “Best Lawyers” in 2019 and 2020
  • Named to “POWER 30” list of employment law attorneys by Minnesota Lawyer (2021)
  • Premier Appellate Lawyers, Exclusive Featured Attorney for Minneapolis (2021)

Jurisdictions Admitted:

  • Minnesota Supreme Court (1994)
  • District of Minnesota (1995)
  • Eighth Circuit Court of Appeals (1996)
  • U.S. Court of International Trade (1995)
  • U.S. Court of Veteran’s Appeals (1996)
  • Western District of Wisconsin (1999)
  • U.S. Supreme Court (2000)
  • State of New York (2005)
  • U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit (2006)
  • Eastern District of Wisconsin (2007)
  • Iowa Supreme Court (2008)
  • Southern District of Iowa (2009)
  • Northern District of Iowa (2009)


Fafinski Mark & Johnson

Most disputes can be resolved through negotiation or trial. Sometimes the dispute is unresolved despite a trial, and legal errors can occur. When the outcome justifies the expense, an appeal to a higher court can be the only practical solution.

Success on appeal requires a fundamental shift in strategy and emphasis. On appeal, the focus shifts away from developing evidence and proving facts, and moves to legal precedent. Effective appellate advocacy demands a formulation of the issues focused on what is important to the panel of judges assigned to decide the case. Our appellate attorneys bring years of in-depth experience and skill to the complexities of appellate practice. They add breadth and depth to existing litigation support for firm clients in the early stages of litigation.

FMJ appellate attorneys provide both a legal and a practical assessment of cases in which an appeal is under consideration, either because it is needed to remedy a wrong trial result, or because the opposing party initiates an appeal. We serve both existing clients and clients represented at trial by other counsel, working closely with trial counsel to successfully meet the new challenges posed by the appellate process with maximum efficiency. Whether our client is seeking the appeal or is responding to an appeal brought by an adversary, we have the ability to synthesize and analyze the record and the law, as well as narrow the case focus to those issues most likely to bring client benefit and appellate success.

Our appellate attorneys optimize client results, bringing years of experience to every case, not only in state and federal courts, but also in federal appellate courts around the country, including the United States Supreme Court. Those appeals address issues across a wide range of subjects, including:

  • Aviation
  • Railroad
  • Business litigation
  • Contracts
  • Bankruptcy
  • Insurance coverage litigation
  • Real estate
  • Employment law
  • Title IX
  • Federal preemption
  • Products liability
  • Serious personal injury
  • Wrongful death

FMJ attorneys have years of experience in assessing, briefing and arguing appeals at all levels of courts throughout the United States. Whether it is advising our existing clients or partnering with outside counsel, we are prepared to develop and execute a winning appeal strategy.