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, shareholder dispute, and general business litigation. Michael also provides general business advice to various businesses and business owners as to many aspects of business and risk management.
Michael was born and raised in South Dakota and is proud of that fact. He and his wife Cathy, who is a corporate attorney at Black Hills Energy in Rapid City, are the proud parents of two remarkable daughters although that may be a conclusion reached with some inherent bias. 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 daily 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 in May of 2000, Michael had the honor of clerking for the Honorable Judge Steven Zinter in Pierre, South Dakota, before moving westward with his wife to Rapid City, South Dakota, to begin private practice in 2001.
Believing that a balance in life is important and provides perspective, Michael enjoys spending extensive time with his family. They enjoy long summer days at the family lake cabin and on the surf boat. They also travel extensively for daughters’ gymnastics and other extracurricular events, and Michael is his
daughters’ biggest fan (next to their mother). When free time allows Michael can be found engaging in the many activities the beautiful Black Hills has to offer to include riding trail and adventure motorcycles, a gravel grinder (bicycle), archery, long range shooting, trail running, snow skiing, and snowshoeing depending on the season.
In the last twenty-two years of practice, 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 referenced below.
Michael has had the opportunity and continues to represent countless professionals, ranchers, farmers, business owners, and other persons in complex and oftentimes difficult divorce litigation. This divorce litigation has involved substantial assets, valuation issues, issues pertaining to alimony, child support,
separate or inherited property, division of marital property, and premarital agreements. The hardearned experience obtained over two plus decades of litigation serves his existing clients well as Michael has now seen most, albeit not all, issues that may arise in such litigation.
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, and trials involving shareholder dispute and valuation claims. This broad range of litigation experience, whether initiating cases on behalf of his client, or defending his client in cases 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, and uncertain. Michael has also been asked by other attorneys to privately, and by agreement, mediate difficult or uncertain divorce type litigation cases and has done so with success.
Michael is a a member of various professional organizations and holds the necessary licenses to practice in both State and Federal court in South Dakota. Michael is a proud thirteen-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
- Neimitalo v. Seidel: Represented a client first in a divorce, and then in a successful civil tort action against former spouse that included an appeal to the South Dakota Supreme Court, that ultimately resulted in client’s recovery of compensation for such tort claims through settlement.
- Charlson v. Charlson: Represented a client, through an appeal to the South Dakota Supreme Court, in a South Dakota declaratory judgment action involving a Minnesota divorce case wherein the interpretation and application of the terms of a premarital agreement were to be governed by South Dakota law.
- Smith Angus Ranch, Inc. v. Hurst: Represented a ranch entity in an action against an officer for breach of fiduciary duty and self-dealing through an intermediate appeal to the South Dakota Supreme Court and ultimately in a successful settlement of the claims.
- 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
- 2023 U.S. News and World Report Best Lawyers / Best Law Firm.
- 2023 Recognized by Best Lawyers.
- 2018-2023 5-year Super Lawyer rating by Super Lawyers.
- 2023 10 Best for Client Satisfaction American Institute of Family Law Attorneys.
- 2009-2023 Sustaining Member of the South Dakota Trial Lawyers Association.
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