2022 Trials and Verdicts

February 8, 2022

Defense Win in MMPA Consumer Fraud Case

Matthew Koehler won a trial in St. Louis County in a case involving the Missouri Merchandising Practices Act and breach of contract claims. The client was a roofing contractor from which the plaintiffs were seeking damages of more than $33,000 plus statutory attorneys’ fees. The jury returned with a defense verdict.

Successful Missouri Supreme Court Ruling in Class-Action Case

Benjamin McIntosh and Timothy Wolf achieved a successful result for their client in a class-action case that went to the Missouri Supreme Court. The trial court originally sided with their client on a motion to compel arbitration of the named plaintiff’s claim. The plaintiff appealed to the Western District after the defendant prevailed at the trial court, and the appellate court held the trial judge improperly granted the motion to compel arbitration because the arbitration agreement—by default—selected an arbitration organization that was no longer available. In a unanimous opinion, the Supreme Court fully agreed with all of their arguments and said the delegation clause applied and the issue of whether the agreement was enforceable without the chosen arbitrator was itself a question for a substitute arbitrator. In an enormous footnote, the court also agreed that, even without the delegation clause, their client would have won on the merits. The court adopted all arguments for why this case was distinguishable from a prior decision at the center of this case, Hunter, in that footnote.

Summary Judgment in Medical Malpractice Case

Joseph Callahan and Zachary Brand secured summary judgment on both compensatory and punitive damages against their client, a psychiatrist charged with negligence in failing to order a 14-year-old child to be admitted to the hospital following an emergency room evaluation the night before her death by suicide. The trial was set to begin May 16 in St. Charles County before Judge Michael Fagras. Plaintiff’s latest demand was in excess of $1 million. The motion hinged on the testimony of plaintiff’s only expert who testified the suicide the next day was the result of a sudden decision secondary to an intervening, precipitating event wherein the teen went on the Internet and reacted to bullying by her classmates. Judge Fagras concluded the plaintiff’s expert’s testimony as to their client’s negligence “was speculative at best and void of any evidentiary value.”

Defense Win in $8-Million Bad Faith Case

T. Michael Ward and Taylor Connolly secured a defense win in a jury trial for their insurance company client. Plaintiff sought damages against defendant insurance company, asserting counts for equitable garnishment and bad faith, arising out of an underlying judgment entered in favor of plaintiff against the defendant insurance company’s insureds back in February 2020. In the equitable garnishment/ bad faith case, plaintiff claimed the insurance company waived its applicable policy exclusion that negated coverage for the underlying action and judgment as well as claimed the insurance company acted in bad faith for refusing to accept policy limit demands to settle the underlying case. The stipulated amount of the damages sought by plaintiff at the equitable garnishment/bad faith jury trial totaled $8,087,397.27. After two and a half hours, the jury returned a complete defense verdict, finding in favor of the insurance company.

Defense Win in Veterinarian Liability Case

Miranda Bukowski won a bench trial in a case involving surgery on a dog.  Plaintiff claimed the veterinarian failed to fully explain the dog’s condition and treatment and was not up front about the prognosis prior to a second surgery. The veterinarian testified that in fact she did fully explain the dog’s prognosis to the plaintiff, in person, following the initial exploratory surgery. She testified that, in follow-up conversations, she did not go into great detail with the plaintiff, as she had previously explained everything and time was of the essence. The judge entered judgment against the plaintiff and in favor of the vet clinic and doctor.

Summary Judgment in Favor of Insurers Affirmed by the Eighth Circuit

John Cooney and Russell Watters achieved a favorable result for their clients AMCO and Depositors Insurance Company with an 8th Circuit decision affirming a summary judgment wherein the courts upheld the employment-related practices exclusion in a commercial general liability policy and umbrella policy as valid and not ambiguous. This was a big win potentially relieving the insurance client from paying judgments in excess of $20-million entered following the entry of a 537.065 agreement. It was a nearly three-year battle with a successful conclusion.