Archive

  1. Michele F. Sutton

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    With a M.B.A. in Operations and Quantitative Analysis, Michele synthesizes keen analytical skills with her legal experience to assist the firm’s clients reach resolution of their commercial disputes.

    “Whether working through the legal and factual aspects of a case with my client or explaining a complex legal issue to the Court, I love being a problem solver.  The satisfaction of helping my client reach a desired resolution is magnified by the privilege of doing so with a team of attorneys I both like and respect.”

    Prior to joining the firm, Michele clerked for the Honorable Harold Lowenstein at the Western District of the Missouri Court of Appeals. In addition to honing her research and writing skills, Michele gained valuable insight into both trial and appellate practice. Michele has put her appellate experience to work, briefing cases before the United States Court of Appeals for the Eighth Circuit and the Missouri Court of Appeals.

    Results

    • Member of team that represented regional grocery retailer in putative class action brought on behalf of Missouri consumers.  Putative class sought more than $7 million in damages arising from alleged mislabeling of nutritional contents of food supplement.  Obtained dismissal of action with prejudice prior to commencement of discovery.
    • Member of team that achieved Eighth Circuit Court of Appeals reversal of an award against a medical care services company in long-running dispute with the Department of Labor, in which the Eighth Circuit found the Department overstepped its authority by initiating a company-wide investigation despite only finding reasonable cause to investigate one specific (and limited) issue for one employee.
    • Member of team that successfully prosecuted claims of breach of contract and fraud on behalf of bank after it successfully foreclosed on collateral pledged by debtor which included a minority stake in a privately held family business.
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    • Member of team that obtained temporary restraining order in Alabama on behalf of chemical manufacturer and against key employee of distributor who had taken a position with competitor, resolving the litigation by agreement to prevent misappropriation and dissemination of manufacturer’s trade secrets.
    • Member of team that obtained summary judgment in federal court for manufacturer in breach of contract claims brought by a supplier involving issues of executory contracts in bankruptcy. See Permacel Automotive, Inc. v. Kohler, No. 08-00804-cv-W-FJG, 2010 WL 2516924 (W.D.Mo. June 14, 2010).
    • Assisted in defense of insurer after close of discovery in commercial litigation brought by finance company, obtaining successful outcome at trial.
    • Part of team defending financial institutions in consumer class actions pending in federal and state court in Missouri arising from residential second mortgage loans and alleged violations of the Missouri Second Mortgage Loan Act.
    • Member of team that successfully defended EPC contractor in JAMS arbitration arising from design and construction of an oil-gas hydrocracker refinery in Utah. Mechanical subcontractor sought $12 million in damages for alleged delays, disruptions, and productivity losses. Participated in expedited arbitration and two-week evidentiary hearing that resulted in an arbitration award less than client’s final settlement offer.
    • Member of the team that achieved summary judgment against employee on behalf of energy provider. The former employee alleged disability discrimination and retaliation under the ADA, as well as off-the-clock work.
    • Assisted in defense of manufacturer’s transportation department and driver in personal injury and death claims arising out of collision on an interstate between tractor trailer and minivan. The representation included the trial of minor child’s claims for traumatic brain injury (TBI) resulting in significant permanent injury.
    • Member of team that successfully defended computer manufacturer in suit alleging the manufacturer’s monitor caused a commercial fire after our investigation demonstrated that the product at issue was not, in fact, manufactured by our client.
    • Obtained summary judgment in contract dispute between retail business owners arising out of a terminable-at-will royalty agreement.
  2. Rachel M. Smith

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    “I am proud to work at a firm that encourages collaboration and makes client relationships a priority.  As a young attorney, the ability to learn from experienced attorneys and to create strong client relationships is extremely important to me.”

    Rachel attended college at the University of Arkansas where she was a member of the University of Arkansas Pom Squad and Chi Omega Fraternity. After completing her undergraduate studies, Rachel attended the University of Arkansas School of Law, where she served as the Research Editor of the Arkansas Law Review, a teaching assistant for a first-year Legal Researching and Writing class, worked as a research assistant to one of her professors, and was on the leadership board of the Student Bar Association.

    Rachel currently lives in Parkville, MO with her husband, Chris, and their dogs, Caddy and Millie.  In her free time, Rachel enjoys traveling, spending time with friends and family, and being outdoors.

  3. Anne Lindner Saghir

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    One of the most fulfilling aspects of being an attorney is the opportunity to advocate for othersHelping SAKG’s clients navigate difficult legal challenges in our evolving legal landscape is both rewarding and a privilege.

    An experienced litigator, Anne Lindner Saghir focuses her practice on personal injury claims and commercial litigation.  Anne represented defendants and plaintiffs in a variety and types of lawsuits at every stage of litigation from claim investigation through trial and appeal.  Anne also handles insurance coverage disputes.  

    Anne effectively navigates the legal issues facing her clients with strong communication skills, resourcefulness and consistent attention to detail.  

    Prior to joining Scharnhorst Ast Kennard Griffin P.C., Anne worked at well-respected firms in St. Louis, Missouri; Tampa, Florida; and Madison, Wisconsin. This professional path built a proven track record of practicing in a wide variety of jurisdictions and venues while utilizing traditional and alternative dispute resolution methods to achieve favorable outcomes for clients. 

    In addition to private practice, Anne advocates for foster children as a volunteer attorney and guardian ad litem with CASA of Jackson County. 

     

  4. Alex A. McKenna

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    “It is a privilege to begin my legal career with so many talented and well-respected attorneys here at SAKG. I look forward to working with them to achieve the results our clients desire.”

    Twice a Jayhawk, Alex is a graduate of the University of Kansas School of Law. Prior to graduation, he served on the Editorial Board of the Kansas Journal of Law & Public Policy and worked in-house for both a university and a Kansas City-based biotechnology company. Alex has experience in a wide variety of commercial litigation matters, including trade secret misappropriation, contract disputes, employment disputes, and many other issues arising from business operations.

    Alex lives in Lawrence, Kansas with his wife, Addyson, and their chocolate Labrador Retriever, Hershey. Outside of the firm, Alex enjoys traveling, various outdoor pursuits, and rooting on his Kansas Jayhawks.

  5. Andrew J. Lewis

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    “I am honored to have the opportunity to practice with the talented lawyers at SAKG, who share my passion for seeking creative solutions to our clients’ complex problems.”

    Outside the office, Drew serves as a mentor to students at Kansas State University and the University of Illinois. Drew lives in Kansas City and enjoys going to concerts, playing the piano, and rooting on the Kansas City Chiefs, Kansas City Royals, and K-State Wildcats.

    Results

    • Achieved summary judgment in Missouri state court personal injury case where damages were alleged to be in excess of $1 million.
    • Obtained a favorable settlement on behalf of janitorial company on eve of trial where alleged damages were claimed to be in excess of $2 million.
    • Won $6 million verdict for small Kansas City awards company whose general sales manager began working for a large competitor before quitting his job and secretly misappropriating sales orders and confidential client information to benefit the competitor.
    • Extensive experience serving as lead counsel on a variety of personal injury matters.
    • Served as second chair in a bench trial that spanned 18 months and involved the prosecution of an energy developer’s claims against former employees for misappropriation of trade secrets, breach of confidentiality agreements, civil conspiracy, unfair competition, and breach of fiduciary duty claims.
  6. Jeffrey A. Kennard

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    Although Jeff advises clients at all phases of a construction project, the principal focus of his practice is dispute resolution.  For more than two decades, he has been privileged to advise EPC contractors, general contractors, construction managers, subcontractors, design professionals, and owners concerning disputes arising from a wide variety of construction projects, including: petroleum and biofuel refineries; food processing facilities; military facilities and government housing; earthen dams; sports stadiums; commercial office buildings and high-rise towers; heavy highway, transportation, and civil; distribution facilities; and condominium, apartment, retail, and mixed-use developments.

    “The key is not the ‘will to win’ . . . everybody has that.  It is the will to prepare to win that is important.” — Bobby Knight

    In addition to trying and arbitrating a wide variety of construction disputes, Jeff has also tried several commercial, professional liability, and premises cases to verdict or award.  These matters included: successfully prosecuting a claim in bankruptcy court to assume executory supply contracts worth more than $500 million, obtaining a complete defense verdict for a publicly-traded mortgage company in a $50 million breach of contract action, and successfully defending an international hotel franchisor in a premises liability action in which the plaintiff sought more than $1 million in damages.

    Jeff serves as a mediator and arbitrator and is a member of the American Arbitration Association’s National Panel of Construction Arbitrators.

    Results

    • Served as lead counsel and successfully defended international EPC contractor in arbitration arising from design and construction of Pennsylvania biodiesel facility under cost-plus contract. Owner of facility sought $18.8 million in damages arising from alleged design defects and alleged “mismangement” of project. Asserted counterclaim on behalf of client to recover unpaid fees.  Following three-week evidentiary hearing, arbitrators awarded client entire amount of counterclaim and awarded owner less than one percent of its claimed damages.
    • Represented regional grocery retailer and served as lead defense counsel in putative class action brought on behalf of Missouri consumers.  Putative class sought more than $7 million in damages arising from alleged mislabeling of nutritional contents of food supplement.  Obtained dismissal of action with prejudice prior to commencement of discovery.
    • Served as lead counsel for EPC contractor and surety in Miller Act action brought by excavation subcontractor seeking additional compensation for work performed on project at military base in Georgia.  After completing targeted discovery and defeating claimant’s motion for summary judgment, successfully negotiated nominal settlement.
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    • Served as lead counsel and successfully defended architect and engineers in arbitration arising from roof renovation of domed sports arena in South Dakota. Design-builder sued clients and sought $1.2 million in damages arising from alleged design errors. Design-builder dismissed all claims and paid clients’ fees after third day of hearing.
    • Served as lead counsel and successfully defended EPC contractor in arbitration arising from design and construction of oil-gas hydrocracker at Utah refinery. Mechanical subcontractor sought $12 million in damages for alleged delays, disruptions, and productivity losses. Initially obtained dismissal of suit, which was filed in Utah federal court, based on venue-selection clause in subcontract notwithstanding Utah statute that invalidated such clauses.  Then, pursuant to parties’ agreement to resolve dispute via expedited arbitration and two-week evidentiary hearing, subcontractor obtained $3.6 million award, which was within range of acknowledged liability and less than final settlement offer.
    • Served as lead counsel and successfully defended design-builder in lawsuit arising from construction of Oklahoma food processing facility. Owner sought $850,000 in damages for alleged design and construction defects. Client was awarded summary judgment on all claims, plus its attorney’s fees and costs.
    • Served as lead counsel and successfully defended EPC contractor in action brought by mechanical subcontractor in Texas state court seeking damages for disruptions and productivity losses on refinery project in Oklahoma.  After completing investigation and case analysis, successfully negotiated nominal settlement at mediation.
    • Represented ammonium nitrate producer in AAA arbitration against supplier of anhydrous ammonia seeking refund of portion of tariff reparations that supplier recovered from pipeline operator in action before Surface Transportation Board.  Overcame supplier’s legal defenses, including the parties’ prior execution of a release that arguably barred claims, and successfully obtained award for full amount of client’s claim.
    • Served as lead counsel and defended lawsuit brought by residential homeowner against multiple parties, including our client, which manufactured windows, alleging more than $2.2 million in damages due to alleged construction defects and failure of building envelope.  After developing evidence that performance of windows exceeded specifications and contractor did not properly install windows in accordance with manufacturer’s guidelines, successfully negotiated favorable settlement at mediation.
    • Served as lead counsel and represented Canadian manufacturing company in commercial arbitration before the International Centre for Dispute Resolution.  Client asserted claims against Global 500 international company for wrongful termination of distributorship agreement. Following seven-day evidentiary hearing, client was awarded all claimed damages, plus reimbursement of all administrative expenses and costs.
    • Served as lead counsel and defended engineering firm in multi-defendant personal injury action arising from collapse of dust collector system in industrial facility in St. Louis. Upon completing investigation and early assessment, successfully negotiated settlement of claims against client for nominal amount.  Plaintiff later obtained jury verdicts against remaining defendants that collectively exceeded $2.5 million.
    • Served as lead counsel and successfully defended regional grocery store chain in several jury trials throughout greater Kansas City area.
    • Successfully litigated a variety of matters before state and federal courts throughout the United States. Hall v. BNSF Railway Company, 958 F.3d 672 (8th Cir. 2020); Beumer Corp. v. ProEnergy Servs., LLC, 899 F.3d 564 (8th Cir. 2018); Oyler v. Hy-Vee, Inc., 539 S.W.3d 742 (Mo. Ct. App. 2017); Baker v. NNW, LLC, 2015 WL 12843831 (W.D. Mo. 2015); U.S. ex rel. Trinity Indus. Servs., LLC v. Federal Ins. Co., 2014 WL 794000 (M.D. Ga. 2014); CMH Mfg., Inc. v. Hensel Phelps Constr. Co., 2014 WL 897341 (W.D. Tex. 2014); U.S. ex rel. Nowak Constr. Co. v. Liberty Mut. Ins. Co., 2013 WL 6017154 (D. Kan. 2013); Brahma Group, Inc. v. Benham Constructors, LLC, 2009 WL 1065419 (D. Utah 2009); Cargill, Inc. v. LGX LLC, 2007 WL 527725 (E.D. Penn. 2007); Hills Pet Nutrition, Inc. v. Nutro Products, Inc., 2005 WL 5932647 (C.D. Cal. 2005); Ellefson Plumbing Co. v. Holmes & Narver Constructors, Inc., 143 F. Supp. 2d 652 (N.D. Miss. 2000); In re Fleming Cos., Inc., 2004 WL 385517 (Bankr. D. Del. 2004); Hernandez v. Hardage Hotels I, LLC, 1999 WL 233323 (D. Kan. 1999).
  7. Taylor J. Jurgens

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    “It is an honor to work with a group of professionals that work collaboratively as a team in order to understand our clients’ objectives and strive to achieve the best possible outcomes.”

    Taylor received his undergraduate degree from the University of Nebraska-Kearney and his juris doctorate degree from Creighton University in 2016 and 2019, respectively.  Prior to moving to Kansas City and joining SAKG, he was a litigation associate with a full-service law firm in Omaha, Nebraska.

    Taylor is currently admitted to practice in Iowa and Nebraska.  He is in the process of obtaining licensure in Missouri and Kansas.

    In his free time, Taylor enjoys golfing, road trips, cheering on the Chiefs and Royals, and spending time with his three dogs, Cooper, Chloe, and Howie.

  8. Sean P. Hamer

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    “Relationships matter. I view my role as a partner with clients to successfully develop strategies for avoiding circumstances likely to result in lawsuits and to aggressively and cost-effectively defend lawsuits when they arise. Whether in the boardroom or the railyard, my focus is on developing an intimate understanding of a client’s business and people in order to be in a position to immediately and effectively assemble the resources necessary to address any issue that may arise in any matter.”

    Sean’s litigation experience includes a record of success in jury verdicts and pre-trial motion practice. He regularly serves on initial response teams for the investigation of grade crossing accidents, occupational injuries and catastrophic incidents involving the National Transportation Safety Board and other federal agencies. Sean has also served as national discovery coordination counsel for a Class I railroad and is often asked to assist counsel in other jurisdictions where the client is concerned about its exposure.

    Results

    • Obtained a unanimous defense verdict in an FELA cumulative trauma case brought by a former mechanical department employee who claimed permanent, debilitating injuries from driving a vehicle over rough roads in a railyard.
    • Obtained summary judgment in the defense of litigation arising out of nationally-publicized derailment of a passenger train resulting in over 60 personal injury claims.
    • Obtained summary judgment on the claim of a railroad locomotive shop employee claiming cumulative trauma injuries to multiple parts of his body. The plaintiff’s liability case hinged on the testimony of a well-known plaintiff’s expert. Successfully moved to strike the expert and obtained summary judgment finding that plaintiff lacked evidence of negligence and claims were time barred.
    • Obtained voluntary dismissal of action by intermodal ramp operations employee related to collision of switch engine with standing railroad cars.
    • Litigated multiple foreign fatality grade crossing accidents resulting in involuntary dismissals and favorable resolution of cases.
    • Defended Class I railroad in action arising out of rollover of company vehicle. Plaintiff alleged defective condition with company vehicle caused vehicle hy-rail equipment to drop causing rollover resulting in severe injuries. Successfully defended case demonstrating that vehicle was not defective and incident was caused by Plaintiff’s impaired driving while under the influence of excessive and abusive dosage of medication.
    • Coordinated numerous investigations of grade crossing accidents, occupational injuries and catastrophic incidents involving the National Transportation Safety Board and other federal agencies. Investigations included assembling teams of investigators with varying expertise depending on the particular needs of each incident.
    • Defended ammunition manufacturer in case arising from explosion in construction area of manufacturing facility resulting in six injuries including severe burn injuries to a contractor employee.
    • Defended insurers of a minor league baseball team in coverage and equitable garnishment lawsuit arising out of wrongful death action from death of game patron after falling while climbing a portable rock wall.
    • Defended former executive of video hardware and technology solutions company in action alleging breach of design and manufacturing contracts for company’s products. Secured favorable resolution in favor of executive and voluntary dismissal of claim.
    • Oversaw extensive investigations related to financial institution bond claims including witness interviews, financial record collection and review, bond coverage analysis and claim negotiation.
  9. Jim Griffin

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    He is a fellow of the American College of Trial Lawyers, has received the prestigious ranking as a “Band 1” trial lawyer by Chambers USA, and has been consistently recognized in Best Lawyers in America in several areas, including bet-the-company litigation. In 2013, Chambers USA aptly noted that clients prize Jim “for his determination to win cases as well as his excellent trial presence.”

    “I am motivated by a desire to perform excellent work – to properly analyze complex cases, determine the best course of action and execute the strategy. Everything else follows from that.”

    Jim has been the lead lawyer in more than 40 jury trials, many bench trials, and several multi-week arbitrations in Missouri, Kansas, and other states. He earned his law degree from the University of Virginia in 1983. He spent the first 30 years of his career with a local AmLaw 200 firm, Husch Blackwell LLP, where he served as its head of litigation and mentored young trial lawyers.

    Results

    • First chair trial lawyer in over 40 jury trials, two multi-week arbitrations and numerous bench trials.
    • Received directed verdict for national law firm at the close of plaintiff’s evidence in a jury trial in Jackson County, Missouri.
    • Received arbitration award for healthcare provider for $8,000,000 in a payment dispute with a payor.
    • Received defense verdict for a railroad in a claim that lung cancer was caused by asbestos and diesel fume exposure in Wyandotte County, Kansas.
    • Received defense verdict for insurers in claim for insurance coverage for cleanup costs due to groundwater pollution in Jackson County, Missouri.
    • Litigated a wide variety of complex contract and fraud claims in a wide variety of industries.
    • Successfully managed class actions involving real estate closing practices, retail fees charged customers, medical monitoring (asbestos), insurance claims practices, airline ticketing practices, natural gas measurement, municipal bond fraud, tax preparation software and others.
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    • Represented Special Litigation Committee of mutual fund board in derivative litigation over allegedly improper investments.
    • Recently tried and prevailed in two preliminary injunction trials – one against the FTC and the other over a large hotel management contract.
    • Litigated a wide variety of consumer claims in a wide variety of industries including automobile financing, retail, airline ticketing, and title insurance.
    • Represented WireCo in arbitration proceedings filed by a computer consultant that designed and installed ERP software for WireCo’s multiple manufacturing and management offices. WireCo counterclaimed for breach of contract, professional negligence and punitive damages. The consultant sought over $3 million from WireCo, but the arbitrator awarded a net of $2.2 million to WireCo, including punitive damages.
    • Recovered tens of millions of dollars in settlements for businesses and individuals in commercial disputes.
    • Represented former Westar Energy Chief Strategic Officer in third pending federal criminal trial on charges arising out of actions taken during his tenure. After convincing Justice Department to drop charges shortly before the trial was to begin, took the lead in arbitration proceedings against Westar for termination benefits and other claims. The arbitration matter settled confidentially, but Westar reported in its SEC filings and to the press, that it paid Mr. Lake a total of $26 million.
    • Represented several defendants in a nationwide class action in Western Kansas against most participants in the natural gas pipeline industry alleging improper measurement of natural gas at all natural gas wells in the United States on private land. Selected to be one of the lead counsel of the defense group, taking the lead in factual and expert depositions and arguing class certification motions. The class was not certified.
    • Represented hedge fund manager in $30 million arbitration claim filed by another hedge fund with which the client had a contractual relationship. Confidential, but extremely positive, result after two-week arbitration before JAMS in Los Angeles.
    • Represented Jacobs Engineering Group, a construction manager, in a trial in the District of Columbia Superior Court. Jacobs acted as the construction quality manager on a major remodeling project at the State Department. Plaintiff claimed he was seriously injured as a result of negligence by Jacobs. After three weeks of trial, the court granted a directed verdict based on the lack of a duty, which was affirmed by the District of Columbia Court of Appeals.
    • Represented Salina Regional Health Center in a qui tam lawsuit brought by a disgruntled physician. Obtained summary judgment, affirmed on appeal in a precedent-setting case Conner v. Salina Regional Health Center, 543 F.3d 1211 (10th Cir. 2008).
    • Represented Providence Medical Center in case alleging wrongful termination of privileges. Obtained summary judgment.
    • Specialized in product liability cases including automobile equipment, asbestos, beryllium, pesticides, medical devices, gas turbines, farm equipment and cigarettes.
    • Served as mediator, arbitrator, and expert in legal malpractice cases.
  10. Gregory M. Frias

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    “I am honored to work with dedicated attorneys and staff who provide our clients with realistic and actionable solutions to complex legal matters.”

    Before joining the firm, Greg represented clients in cases involving automobile and trucking product defects, wrongful death, and dangerous consumer products. Greg also served as the law clerk to the Honorable Justine E. Del Muro. Greg graduated from Culver-Stockton College, where he was member of the men’s soccer team. After completing his undergraduate degree, he attended the University of Missouri – Kansas City School of Law.

    Outside the office, Greg enjoys being outdoors, playing soccer and golf, and rooting on the Chiefs, Royals, and Sporting Kansas City.

The choice of a lawyer is an important decision and should not be based solely upon advertisements. Past results afford no guarantee of future results. Every case is different and must be judged on its own merits.

1100 Walnut Street, Suite 1950
Kansas City, MO 64106-2197
P: 816.268.9400  F: 816.268.9409

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