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About Strain Morman Law Firm

Strain Morman Law Firm is rooted in the belief that we serve our clients the way we want to be served. We believe every client needs unparalleled and personalized legal counsel when it comes to their specific battle.

Our seasoned lawyers are well-versed in various legal fields and are committed to delivering proper representation. Based in Sturgis, SD, we can handle anything, from business and trial litigation to personal injury and estate planning.

Our History

Today, Strain Morman Law Firm is the product of more than a century of dedicated and professional legal practice in Sturgis and the surrounding areas. Our modern incarnation can be traced to 1955 when attorney Dale Morman (1927-2009) joined attorney Percy Helm to reinforce and expand the law firm. We had already gained a solid foothold in the Sturgis community with a strong reputation for professionalism and service in the early decades of its existence.
Joining in 1967 was attorney Keith Smit, who, along with Dale Morman, practiced for many years under the name Morman Smit Law Firm. In 1994, after the gradual addition of several more attorneys, the firm simplified its name to the Morman Law Firm. This moniker remained until 2014 when it became the Strain Morman Law Firm in the wake of additional staff changes. A fixture in Sturgis since 1906, the firm’s commitment to professionalism and service continues today.

Dale L. Morman (1927-2009)

Dale L. Morman, a founding partner of the Morman Law Firm, was born in Crofton, Nebraska, in April 1927. In January of 1945, he was drafted into the U.S. Army, serving after World War II until 1947. He began his studies at the University of South Dakota in Vermillion, South Dakota, upon returning to the United States. Again, in 1950, he was asked to serve his country during the Korean War. In the fall of 1952, he resumed his studies at the University of South Dakota. In 1954 he received his Bachelor of Arts Degree and Bachelor of Law Degree. At this time, he was admitted to the South Dakota State Bar. He then moved to Pierre, South Dakota, in 1955 and was appointed Stanley County State’s Attorney. In August of 1956, he went into partnership with Percy Helm in Sturgis, South Dakota. Mr. Morman held one elected position – Meade County State’s Attorney 1958-1962 and one appointed position – Sturgis City Attorney 1965-1966. In 1967, he began his affiliation with Keith Smit and commenced the practice known as Morman and Smit. We added subsequent attorneys over time, and in 1995, his practice was renamed the Morman Law Firm.

Dale was very active in all civic aspects in the City of Sturgis and Meade County. He developed a reputation for being a preeminent estate planner, probate attorney, corporate law, and trial lawyer. He served as a mentor for many attorneys who practiced under him and had a lasting impact on the people who he considered to be his friends. Dale was also an active pilot and skeet shooter, attending numerous tournaments across the western United States during his hay day. He continued his passion for skeet shooting and hunting over the years. Mr. Morman passed away on May 21, 2009.

Keith R. Smit (1941-2021)

Keith R. Smit had been practicing law in Sturgis for over 43 years and was considered one of the preeminent corporate and probate attorneys in South Dakota. Mr. Smit was born in Alta, Iowa, in June of 1941. He attended the University of South Dakota in Vermillion, South Dakota, where he received his Bachelor of Science Degree in Business Administration in 1964 and majored in Economics. In 1967, he received his Juris Doctor and was admitted to the South Dakota State Bar. He came to practice with Dale L. Morman in Sturgis, South Dakota. According to Mr. Morman, “I had to hire him as a partner, or he was going to open up a law office across the street and put me out of business!” Mr. Morman wisely chose the former, and the two worked together until Mr. Morman died in 2009. He immediately put his experience in running businesses to work. His tax planning and probate planning background created a unique opportunity for legal services for clients in the Black Hills and West River area.

Over the years, Mr. Smit was actively involved in the community, donating his time and financial assistance to public improvement projects, such as the Sturgis Community Center, Woodle Field and Jeff Smit Memorial Track, and other economic projects. He has, on numerous occasions, held the position of Sturgis City Attorney, working under different mayors to promote and develop economic projects which have benefited the City of Sturgis specifically, and the area in general. Keith consulted with practicing attorneys at the Strain Morman Law Firm in estate planning, probate law, corporate law, real estate law, and banking


Meet the Lawyers


Michael Strain

His peers have recognized Michael Strain as one of South Dakota’s outstanding trial lawyers. In 1995, he was selected as South Dakota Trial Lawyer of the Year. He has also been labeled as “Super Lawyer” by the Great Plains Super Lawyers Magazine. Mr. Strain has developed a stellar record as a trial attorney in civil and criminal jury trials throughout his career, trying over 100 cases to verdict and bringing numerous others to settlement. His litigation practice has ranged from minor car accidents to civil rights litigation, medical malpractice cases, business litigation cases, and murder trials. Mr. Strain has obtained numerous “not guilty” verdicts in criminal trials and has brought many substantial civil verdicts and settlements. His litigation practice is focused on business litigation, civil rights, personal injury, medical malpractice, and criminal law. From 2002 to 2007, Mr. Strain won 19 civil jury trials in a row.

A few examples of Michael’s cases include

Civil Rights

Grassili v. Barr, et al.: Obtained a $4,505,522 jury verdict (including punitive damages) in a civil trial against the California Highway Patrol for retaliation against a citizen. Pretrial offer, $0.

Business Litigation

Family Products LLC v. Infomercial Ventures Partnership: Won in arbitration against Family Products for misuse of intellectual property rights and breach of contract relative to the showing of the John Beck Real Estate Infomercials. Said arbitration resulted in a confidential settlement between the parties.

Personal Injury

  • Lone Wolf v. Duckwall Alco Stores, Inc.: Obtained a $2,000,000 verdict in Federal District Court in Nebraska for a Native American who slipped and fell at the Defendant’s store.
  • Klutman v. Sioux Falls Storm: Obtained a $500,000 verdict for a youth whose knee was injured at the Sioux Falls Arena while playing clinic football.
  • Harvey v. Manning.: Obtained a $150,000 verdict for a trip and fall in Douglas, Wyoming.
  • Fasthorse v. Hook: Obtained a $175,000 verdict for a woman who was T-boned and had $6,000 in chiropractic expenses.
  • Loen v. Sandbolt: Obtained a $135,000 verdict for a woman who was rear-ended with $7,000 in medical expenses.

Bad Faith Insurance

Bertelsen v. Allstate Insurance Company: Obtained a $1,650,000 jury verdict (including punitive damages) in a civil trial against Allstate Insurance Company for failing to pay the medical benefits due under their auto policy. Said jury verdict ultimately resulted in a confidential settlement between the parties.

Criminal Defense

  • State v. Hoadley: Mr. Strain was instrumental in obtaining a life sentence for Darrel Hoadley, where his Co-defendants received the death penalty.
  • Strain has received numerous “not guilty” verdicts in criminal jury trials.

After obtaining his law degree at the University of South Dakota, Vermillion, he clerked for the Eighth Judicial Circuit, State of South Dakota, for one year before commencing his practice at the Morman Law Firm in Sturgis. Michael continued his trial education by being a student and subsequently a staff member for several years at the Gerry Spence’s Trial Lawyers College in Dubois, Wyoming. Michael is a member of the South Dakota Trial Lawyers Association, the American Association for Justice, and is licensed to practice law in South Dakota and Wyoming.

Further, Mr. Strain has conducted legal trial seminars in California, Georgia, Louisiana, Ohio, South Dakota, Texas, West Virginia, Montana, and Wyoming over the last ten years, including several seminars sponsored by the Consumer Attorneys of California and San Diego. Mr. Strain is very active in post-graduate education and conducts legal presentations at seminars nationwide.

Currently, Michael’s practice is focused on local, state, and national practices. Through affiliation, Michael represents clients in many other Federal and State Courts throughout the United States. Michael is known for taking cases on behalf of injured people who have nowhere else to go to seek justice.

Contact  Strain Morman Law Firm at 605-347-3624 to receive great legal advice and dedicated representation.