A personal injury attorney was suspended Wednesday from practicing law in Minnesota for at least five years for stabbing a man in the rib cage in the lobby of a posh hotel in downtown Minneapolis.
Michael J. Riehm’s “misconduct warrants an indefinite suspension with no right to petition for reinstatement for a minimum of five years,” the state Office of Lawyers Professional Responsibility concluded in its ruling.
The alcohol-fueled clash occurred early on New Year’s Day 2014 at Manny’s Living Room and Prohibition Bar on the main level of the W Minneapolis Hotel in Foshay Tower.
The dispute ignited when the victim, Daniel Kerkinni, 31, of Edina made a joke about his beauty queen fiancée and Riehm’s wife. Riehm then stabbed the victim with a steak knife, puncturing his lung.
In its ruling, the state lawyers office also cited “an improper referral and fee-sharing arrangement” that Riehm had with an attorney in another firm. Riehm received more than 100 referrals, took on 23 cases from them, and paid $11,000 to the other attorney, the ruling read.
A telephone message was left Wednesday with Riehm seeking his reaction to the panel’s findings.
Riehm, 42, of Minneapolis, already has been convicted of felony first-degree assault and put on supervised probation for seven years for his attack on Kerkinni.
Also, a jury this spring awarded the victim $200,000 in damages, with most of the money awarded for Kerkinni’s medical expenses, and smaller amounts for “pain, disability and emotional distress” and loss of earnings.
The operators of Manny’s Steakhouse and the hotel were also sued, but not found liable by the judge. Kerkinni’s lawsuit contended that the bar and hotel employees failed to do enough to break up the confrontation involving an “obviously intoxicated” Riehm.
The suit alleged that a drunken Riehm became “verbally and physically agitated when Kerkinni made “an offhand joking remark” to Riehm’s wife while the two women were talking in the bar.
The criminal complaint against Riehm further detailed that Kerkinni heard Riehm’s wife, Heather Griego, compliment his fiancée, Sitania Syrovatka, on her looks. Kerkinni then explained to Griego that Syrovatka, a model and 2002 Miss South Dakota, “was already taken.” That comment upset Griego and Riehm, according to the charging document.
Riehm and Kerkinni got in a shoving match that bar security broke up. Sometime later, Griego tried to kick Kerkinni in the groin. Riehm intervened, and again bar security broke up the two.
However, as Kerkinni was getting ready to leave, Riehm confronted him in the lobby and “thrust at [Kerkinni]” in the rib cage with a large restaurant-style steak knife. The stabbing punctured and deflated Kerkinni’s lung.