Attorney Spotlight: Beth Jenson Prouty

January 25, 2024

It is our firm's 50th anniversary year and we are highlighting attorneys that play an important role in our firm's success. Today, we introduce you to Beth Jenson Prouty. 

What made you interested in appellate law?
When I was growing up, no one in my family was a lawyer, but I always dreamed about going to law school. I loved to read, write, research, and argue. I didn’t know it then, but these are all skills used by an appellate lawyer! 

After law school graduation, I clerked for the Minnesota Supreme Court. The lessons I learned there make it one of the highlights of my career. During my first few years at Arthur Chapman, I wrote complex motions and appeals across a variety of areas. One day, the firm was hiring for its Insurance Coverage Group. It initially didn’t even occur to me to apply until a partner sold me on the group, telling me it would fit my skill set of research, writing, and appeals. He was right! I hit the ground running with two appeals to the Minnesota Court of Appeals and one to the Eighth Circuit in my first year of coverage work.  
Over the past 14 years, I’ve handled multiple appeals before the Eighth Circuit and the Minnesota Supreme Court and Court of Appeals. Many have focused on insurance coverage, but they’ve also included claims of medical malpractice, construction, business disputes, and procedural questions.

Do you have any interesting stories, memories you’d like to highlight? 
My first appellate case is still one of my favorite. In the case, the liability claim alleged that the fertilizer the insured sold did not produce the quantity of corn that the insured said it would. There was no claim that the fertilizer harmed the crop so that it produced less than it would have if no fertilizer had been applied. Rather, the claim was that the fertilizer failed to enhance the production of the corn crop to its anticipated yield. The Minnesota Court of Appeals held the claim was not covered as it did not allege “property damage.”

Another recent highlight was arguing before the Minnesota Court of Appeals on the issue of whether claims for COVID business interruption coverage can allege “direct physical loss or damage.” Other courts have almost uniformly held that it does not, but it was an issue of first impression for Minnesota appellate courts. The Court of Appeals held that a claim that COVID was “likely” on the premises – without any evidence that it was “actually” on the premises – was not sufficient to survive a motion to dismiss. The “likelihood” of something present cannot cause “direct physical loss or damage.”

Can you share a learning experience that significantly influenced your approach to practicing law?
Early on in my career, I had a client say to me as I was getting ready to argue a motion, “Fight for me.”
That has stayed with me. As lawyers, we get to be the spokesperson for our clients. And every case is uniquely personal to each client. In my practice, I try to make sure that my clients know that their case matters to me and that I am advocating for them.

Are there specific habits or practices that contribute to your overall well-being?
I am a fan of exercise and hiking. Not only does it help me handle stress and refocus, I find that the physical challenges I overcome make me better equipped to face challenges elsewhere.