A fierce competitor, Michael Sabers enjoys a fast-paced litigation practice that includes multiple types of civil litigation. This litigation includes but is not limited to complex divorce, commercial and business, shareholder dispute, real estate dispute, and personal injury.
Michael was born and raised in South Dakota. He and his wife Cathy, who is a corporate attorney at Black Hills Energy in Rapid City, are the proud parents of two beautiful girls. Following in the family footsteps of his father, a trial lawyer in Sioux Falls before being appointed a South Dakota Supreme Court Justice, Michael became a trial lawyer. His sister Susan was also a practicing trial lawyer in Sioux Falls before her appointment by the Governor to the South Dakota Circuit Court as a Judge in 2012.
Taught at an early age that there is no substitute for hard work and the will to win, Michael applied those principles throughout his education and now applies them to the practice of law. Such work ethic allowed him to excel in athletics and academics, obtaining state and college champion hurdle titles while also graduating Magna Cum Laude from Saint John’s University in Collegeville, Minnesota. Michael subsequently attended the University of South Dakota Law School, obtaining dean’s list and high-grade honors. While at USD he was published in the South Dakota Law Review and became the Managing Editor in his third year. Upon graduation, Michael had the honor of clerking for the Honorable Judge Steven Zinter in Pierre, South Dakota, before moving with his wife to Rapid City, South Dakota, to begin private practice in 2001.
Believing that a balance in life is important, Michael enjoys spending time with his family. They enjoy long summer days boating on local lakes, skiing, riding bicycles and motorcycles, and traveling extensively for both pleasure and the girls’ numerous gymnastics and related events. Michael is his daughters’ biggest fan (next to their mother) and also volunteers as the president of the gymnastics booster club and organizes meets. When free time allows he can be found, engaging in the many activities the Black Hills has to offer; including road and mountain bicycling, adventure and trail motorcycling, trail running, and skiing or wakeboarding depending on the season.
In the last nineteen years, Michael has been the lead counsel on many types of divorce and other civil litigation cases. Although believing all of his client’s cases are important and deserving of equal attention, some examples of Michael’s reported cases, settlements, or recent issues are provided for below.
Michael has had the opportunity and continues to represent countless professionals, ranchers, farmers, business owners, and other persons in complex divorce litigation. Divorce litigation has involved substantial assets, valuation issues, and issues pertaining to alimony, child support, and division of marital property. Some recently litigated issues due to divorce that Michael is or has handled are listed.
Michael has also tried many court and jury trials throughout the State of South Dakota. These trials include, but are not limited to divorce, contract dispute, personal injury, and trials involving shareholder dispute and valuation claims. This broad range of litigation experience, whether initiating a lawsuit on behalf of his client, or defending his client in a lawsuit brought by another party, has given Michael the hard earned training necessary to be a steady hand on the rudder when litigation ultimately becomes contentious, difficult, or uncertain.
Michael is also a member of various professional organizations and holds the necessary licenses to practice in both State and Federal court in South Dakota. Michael is an eleven year Sustaining Member of the South Dakota Trial Lawyer’s Association and also is a member of the Pennington County Bar Association. Throughout his legal career, Michael has presented to local groups on a variety of legal topics including but not limited to valuation, expert testimony, and trial issues.
Areas of Practice
- Complex Divorce Litigation
- Prenuptial Agreements
- Child Support
- Property Valuation
- Asset Valuation
- Child Custody
- Estate Disputes
- Real Estate Litigation
- Personal Injury
- Workers’ Compensation
- Shareholder Disputes
- Lender Liability
- Insurance Litigation
- Lawyer Discipline
- South Dakota, 2001
- University of South Dakota School of Law, Vermillion, South Dakota
- J.D., Doctor of Jurisprudence – 2000
- Law Review: South Dakota Law Review, Managing Editor, 1999 – 2000
- Saint John’s University, Collegeville, MN
- B.A. magna cum laude – 1997
- Major: Political Science
- The Eighth Circuit’s Misinterpretation of Flores in Christians v. Crystal Evangelical Free Church, South Dakota Law Review, Vol. 45, Issue 2, 1999
- Andersen v. Andersen: Successfully represented a client up to and including oral argument before the South Dakota Supreme Court in a divorce, declaratory judgment, and probate action wherein spouse of client passed away prior to a Judgment and Decree of Divorce being entered. 2019 SD 7.
- Epic Outdoor Advertising v. Zoning Board of Adjustment of Rapid City: Successfully represented Epic Outdoor Advertising and favorably settled a zoning and property rights dispute of client in an action against the Zoning Board of the City of Rapid City (2019).
- Lamar Outdoor Advertising v. Epic Outdoor Advertising v. City of Rapid City: Successfully defended Epic Outdoor Advertising in a declaratory judgment action brought by a competitor wherein competitor challenged the right of Epic Outdoor Advertising to settle a zoning and property rights dispute with the City of Rapid City (2020 SD 54).
- Holecek v. Sundby, Representing a commercial developer client faced with a quiet title action, Michael obtained an affirmance of a favorable Summary Judgment ruling for his client before the South Dakota Supreme Court. (SD 128 2007)
- Monte Utter v. Employer, South Dakota Department of Labor, Representing an injured claimant, Michael pursued permanent and total disability benefits and ultimately mediated and obtained a favorable outcome for claimant. (SD 2016)
- Fechner v. Case, Working in coordination with a former partner, Michael had the honor of arguing before the South Dakota Supreme Court and obtaining the affirmance of a defense verdict in favor of the client. (SD 2008)
- Johnson v. Cross Roads Auto Body Inc. , Representing an injured worker, Michael obtained the affirmance of the finding of compensability from the South Dakota Supreme Court through the issuance of an Order Directing Issuance of Judgment of Affirmance. (SD 2007)
- Bear Country U.S.A. v. Shareholders, Representing four minority shareholders in a shareholder dispute involving a fair value and minority oppression component, Michael’s clients obtained a judgment value for the respective share buyout in the amount of roughly eighteen million, one hundred thousand dollars ($18,100,000.00) for his four clients. (Seventh Judicial Circuit, State of South Dakota)
- Technology Funding Group, L.L.C. v. The First Western Bank of Sturgis, Representing an ownership group of a local gun maker forced into bankruptcy by its lender, Michael’s client brought a lender liability claim against a local lender and obtained a settlement in the amount of one million, seven hundred thousand dollars ($1,700,000.00) plus a waiver of the lender’s two million dollars ($2,000,000.00) claim in the pending bankruptcy case involving the underlying local gun company. (Federal District Court of South Dakota)
- Ft. Pierre Quality Construction v. Ackley, Working in coordination with a former partner, Michael was able to obtain the reversal of a trial court ruling which pertained the application of an offset for the application of old age social security benefits to a worker’s compensation claimant. (SD 38 2004)
- In Re: Discipline of Russell, Michael had the opportunity to represent and defend a local lawyer through the disciplinary process and ultimately before the South Dakota Supreme Court. (SD 17 2011)
Honors and Awards
- 2020 U.S. News and World Report Best Lawyers / Best Law Firm.
- 2019 National Academy of Family Law Attorneys; Nationally Ranked Top 10 Attorney Award for Excellence in the Field of Family Law.
- 2016: National Academy of Family Law Attorneys, Inc. Top 10 under 40 for State of South Dakota
- 2015: Selected by Super Lawyers to the 2013-2014 South Dakota Rising Stars list in the area of divorce and Family Law.
- 2015: U.S. News and World Report; Best Law Firms in South Dakota;
- 2015 – 2019: American Institute of Family Law Attorneys “10 Best” Attorneys for South Dakota for Client Satisfaction in the practice area of Family Law.
Professional Associations and Memberships
- State Bar of South Dakota
- South Dakota Trial Lawyers Association
- American Bar Association
- Association of Trial Lawyers of America (ALTA)
Past Employment Positions
- Hon. Steven Zinter, Sixth Judicial Circuit, Law Clerk, 2000 – 2001