Archive

  1. 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.

  2. Todd A. Scharnhorst

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    Todd has been recognized by his peers as a preeminent lawyer in the areas of medical malpractice, catastrophic injury, and brain injury. He has been consistently recognized in Best Lawyers in America, Best of the Bar published by the Kansas City Business Journal, Super Lawyers Magazine, and Best Lawyers in Kansas City published by Ingram’s Magazine. For many years, Todd has been recognized as one of the top 50 lawyers in Kansas City, and one of the top 100 lawyers in the states of Missouri and Kansas, by Super Lawyers Magazine.

    “Our firm has grown from two lawyers and one employee to what we have today ― a recognized and respected litigation boutique, known for its excellent work, sophistication, industry knowledge, and results.  We handle complex, high-exposure litigation as well as any firm, large or small.”

    Results

    • Defense verdict in a case involving birth injury and fetal laceration during a c-section delivery. Plaintiff alleged permanent and progressive injury and disfigurement following severe laceration to her eyelid, canalicular system, and conjunctiva through negligent use of a scalpel while making entry into the uterus. Alleged damages exceeded $925,000.
    • Defense verdict in a case involving a female patient with primary thyroid lymphoma. Plaintiff alleged primary thyroid lymphoma is treated with chemotherapy, rather than surgical resection. Defendant admitted this diagnosis is, in fact, generally treated with chemotherapy, though argued other surgical indications existed. Plaintiff challenged the absence of a pre-operative biopsy and the decision to proceed with surgery without a diagnosis. Total thyroidectomy was attempted. Plaintiff alleged complications during surgery which resulted in airway trauma, prolonged endotracheal intubation, a tracheotomy, esophageal injury, and the need for supplemental feedings via a PEG tube.
    • Unanimous defense verdict in a case alleging permanent lower extremity nerve paralysis.  Following a total hip replacement, the plaintiff experienced massive blood loss in the hip and thigh and was alleged to have developed compartment syndrome.  Plaintiff alleged the standard of care required immediate return to the operating room for hematoma evacuation and nerve decompression.  The surgeon, in exercising his professional judgment, determined the risks of immediate exploration greatly outweighed the potential benefits. The patient was returned to the OR four days later when it was believed he was better able to withstand a second operative procedure.
    • Achieved defense verdict in lawsuit involving allegations of peripheral nerve injury. Plaintiff alleged permanent and severe injury as a result of instruments used during cervical spine surgery.
    • On behalf of a regional medical center, achieved voluntary dismissal of an eight-figure claim pursued by a young patient diagnosed with locked-in syndrome. The patient suffered an acute ischemic stroke following two visits to the medical center’s emergency department. After thorough preparation of key fact witnesses and retention of the nation’s leading experts on posterior-circulation stroke, plaintiff agreed to voluntarily dismiss all claims against the defendant facility.
    • Achieved unanimous defense verdict in pharmacy malpractice case. Plaintiff alleged the failure to fill a prescription following gastrointestinal surgery resulted in surgical site failure, a near-fatal bleed, and the need for emergent operative invention. The patient later required a Roux-en-Y gastrojejunostomy. Plaintiff’s theory was propounded and supported by her treating surgeon. Defendant pharmacy acknowledged the prescription was not filled, though established this was not a departure from the standard of care and did not result in the surgical site failure.
    • Successfully argued cases relating to the professional and medical malpractice statutes of limitation before the Kansas appellate courts. See Bonin v. Vannaman, 261 Kan. 199, 929 P.2d 754 (1996); P.W.P. v. L.S., 969 P.2d 896, 266 Kan. 417 (1998).
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    • Achieved defense verdict while representing a national exercise equipment manufacturer. Plaintiff alleged defects in design of a treadmill resulted in a large fire which partially destroyed an apartment complex.
    • Obtained voluntary dismissal of suit alleging negligence in the performance of a gastrointestinal surgical procedure. Procedure resulted in unintended perforation of the patient’s bowel, requiring extensive surgical repair and hospitalization. Achieved a full and final dismissal for the physician alleged to have caused the perforation.
    • Achieved summary judgment for construction contractor which allegedly caused devastating neurologic injuries, including quadriplegia. Case continued against co-defendants, resulting in a multi-million dollar jury verdict in favor of the injured plaintiff.
    • Achieved voluntary dismissal of claims against a long-term care facility alleged to have over-anticoagulated a patient who died from a gastrointestinal bleed. Through retention of a leading hematology expert, identified and pursued causation defenses which established over-anticoagulation would not have explained the patient’s condition, resulting in voluntary dismissal of all claims against the defendant facility.
    • In a nationally-publicized case, represented the surviving parents of a 10-year-old boy who died following a tragic amusement park accident. On behalf of child’s heirs, achieved the largest wrongful death settlement in Kansas history involving a minor. This followed extensive ride inspections, data analysis, accident reconstruction, choice of law arguments, and identification of numerous target defendants among those who designed, constructed, and managed the amusement ride.
    • Extensive experience in the defense and management of Kansas Medical Malpractice Screening Panels. Aside from serving as the court-appointed chairman on numerous screening panels, Todd has successfully defended every screening panel respondent he has represented, resulting in a favorable panel decision for each respondent physician.
    • Extensive experience with the management and defense of professional malpractice claims throughout the continental United States.
  3. Kathleen V. Meara

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    “My father practiced law for over forty years. He taught me that being an attorney is an honorable profession that requires hard work and dedication. I believe in those principles and strive to exhibit them in every case.”

    Born and raised in Kansas, Kathleen spent the first seven years of her legal career defending doctors, hospitals, and practice groups against medical malpractice claims venued in New York City’s five boroughs as well as Nassau and Suffolk County. Since returning to Kansas City to be closer to her family, Kathleen has expanded her expertise to other personal injury matters including motor vehicle, trucking, and wrongful death.

    Kathleen is an active member of the Association of Women Lawyers of Greater Kansas City and a devoted KC Current fan (KC Baby!). Outside of the office, Kathleen enjoys reading science fiction, listening to podcasts, and taking her dogs, Cassian and Otis, on adventures.

    Results

    • Obtained voluntary dismissal for nurse practitioner in failure to diagnose breast cancer medical malpractice case where, through discovery, was able to show the nurse practitioner instructed patient to follow recommendations by interpreting radiologist to follow up for additional imaging.
    • Successfully argued appeal before New York Appellate Division, 2nd Department on behalf of a primary care physician in a medical malpractice case where caselaw held that an internist could not be held liable for specialist physician’s negligence when internist had referred patient to physician for specialized care.
    • Prevailed on numerous oral arguments regarding Motions in Limine to preclude or limit expert testimony in state and federal court matters.
    • Proven track record in implementing effective defense strategy to obtain a favorable settlement or prepare a matter for trial.
  4. 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.
  5. 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.

  6. Natalie A. Frank

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    “If you take pride in your work, results are maximized. The members of this team take an enormous amount of pride in their work, and I am grateful every day to work alongside people who not only want to achieve the best results for our clients, but who cultivate an environment that fosters the skills necessary to litigate effectively and successfully. I am part of a truly amazing team.”

    Outside the firm, Natalie serves as an advisor to the UMKC chapter of her undergraduate sorority, Chi Omega. She enjoys engaging in a variety of exercises to stay active, including yoga, running, and strength training. She also loves to travel and takes any chance she can to visit her sister, who currently lives and practices in Memphis, Tennessee.

    Results

    • Defense verdict in a case involving birth injury and fetal laceration during a c-section delivery. Plaintiff alleged permanent and progressive injury and disfigurement following severe laceration to the child’s eyelid, canalicular system, and conjunctiva through negligent use of a scalpel while making entry into the uterus. Alleged damages exceeded $925,000.  Obtained summary judgment of the mother’s emotional distress claim prior to trial.
    • Obtained summary judgment in a Kansas state court medical negligence case where damages were alleged to be in excess of $1.5 million.
    • Routinely facilitates optimal resolutions representing physicians in Missouri and Kansas state medical Board investigations concerning a wide range of patient care issues.
  7. Bret A. Clark

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    Bret has successfully litigated a wide range of claims involving birth injury, catastrophic injury, and death. He also works with health care providers at all stages of litigation, including investigation of complaints well before suit is filed.

    “At SAKG, I have the privilege of working with experienced trial attorneys who are dedicated to providing quality service to all clients.  We strive to ensure clients receive the attention, guidance, and results they deserve.”

    Bret joined the firm as an associate in 2012. Prior to going to law school, Bret was a collegiate athlete. He lives with his wife and two sons in Overland Park, Kansas.

    Results

    • Defense verdict in a case involving a female patient with primary thyroid lymphoma.  Plaintiff alleged primary thyroid lymphoma is treated with chemotherapy, rather than surgical resection.  Defendant admitted this diagnosis is, in fact, generally treated with chemotherapy, though argued other surgical indications existed.  Plaintiff challenged the absence of a pre-operative biopsy and the decision to proceed with surgery without a diagnosis. Total thyroidectomy was attempted.  Plaintiff alleged complications during surgery which resulted in airway trauma, prolonged endotracheal intubation, a tracheotomy, esophageal injury, and the need for supplemental feedings via a PEG tube.
    • Achieved successful verdict in case where the plaintiff suffered a brain injury involving multiple subdural hematomas and nerve palsy.
    • Served as second chair and achieved a unanimous defense jury verdict in a case alleging permanent lower extremity nerve paralysis. Following a total hip replacement, the plaintiff experienced massive blood loss in the hip and thigh and was alleged to have developed compartment syndrome. Plaintiff alleged the standard of care required immediate return to the operating room for hematoma evacuation and nerve decompression. The surgeon, in exercising his professional judgment, determined the risks of immediate exploration greatly outweighed the potential benefits. The patient was returned to the operating room four days later when it was believed he was better able to withstand a second operative procedure.
    • Served as lead counsel and obtained successful jury verdict in a wrongful death case. Following hernia repair surgery, the patient presented to emergency department on two occasions with complaints of abdominal pain and was alleged to have developed bowel ischemia. Plaintiff alleged emergency medicine providers were negligent in failing to recognize and appropriately treat the patient’s acute abdomen. The patient passed away approximately 24 hours following second emergency department presentation.
    • Successfully litigated catastrophic brain injury case involving labor and delivery. Plaintiff alleged defendant health care provider failed to timely recognize and respond to fetal distress, causing extensive injury to both the infant and delivering mother.
    • Achieved positive resolution in numerous bowel injury cases in which plaintiffs alleged damages in excess of $1 million. These include allegations of intraoperative errors and the alleged failure to diagnose bowel injury postoperatively.
    • Successfully litigated case involving a minor patient who suffered paralysis during posterior spinal surgery. Plaintiff alleged extensive injury to the patient’s spinal cord during operative process.
    • Successfully resolved claims involving peripheral nerve injuries, anoxic encephalopathy, compartment syndrome, acute ischemic stroke, pulmonary embolism, loss of airways, ocular injuries, claims of delayed diagnoses of various conditions, failure to diagnose various conditions, and numerous types of alleged intra-operative errors on behalf of hospitals and physicians in both Kansas and Missouri.
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    • Extensive experience litigating long-term care matters throughout Kansas and Missouri, including claims involving falls, the development of pressure sores, and injuries resulting from medication errors, among many others.
  8. Steven G. Brown

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    “It is a pleasure to practice law with others who have a passion for it and believe wholeheartedly in the idea of zealous advocacy for firm clients.”

    Steve has tried a number of cases to verdict, including a jury verdict in his client’s favor in his initial first chair jury trial, which was a surgical malpractice case arising from an esophageal dilatation procedure.

    Results

    • Served as primary counsel in multi-million dollar case brought under Federal Torts Claims Act arising from physician’s alleged failure to diagnose cauda equina syndrome in pregnant patient.
    • Achieved summary judgment for major bank in foreclosure case in which borrowers sought to enforce a claimed loan modification under various theories, including fraud, negligent misrepresentation, and violation of the Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organization Act (“RICO“).
    • Served as member of trial team in three-week product liability case involving severe brain injuries to minor child arising from automobile manufacturer’s alleged failure to properly design and manufacture seat. Achieved settlement prior to start of closing arguments.
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    • Served as primary counsel in numerous medical negligence cases involving a wide variety of issues, including: failure to timely diagnose and manage a cerebellar infarct; failure to timely diagnose and treat acute monocytic leukemia; failure to properly diagnose and manage various issues related to pregnancy and childbirth; and failure to properly perform various surgical procedures.
    • Served as primary counsel in personal injury case against a multinational corporation in which plaintiff alleged he suffered severe renal injuries because the corporation failed to properly load powdered products on a truck, which caused the products to become displaced during transport and subsequently fall on him.  Successfully resolved case via settlement.
    • Prevailed on motion to dismiss in foreclosure case on behalf of major bank in which borrowers contended, among other things, that bank was not proper note holder, that bank perpetrated fraud against borrowers, and that bank had no standing to foreclose against borrowers.
    • Drafted amicus brief in case involving the applicability and scope of the “loss of chance“ theory of recovery in medical negligence cases in Kansas.
    • Drafted all appellate briefing and presented oral arguments to the United States Court of Appeals for the Tenth Circuit in case involving claims for malicious prosecution that had been previously dismissed on summary judgment at the district court level.
  9. Paula L. Brown

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    “All cases are ultimately stories to be told. We are passionate about transforming our clients’ stories into winning strategies.”

    After graduating from the University of Utah with a degree in broadcast journalism but prior to attending law school at the University of Missouri – Kansas City, Paula worked as a news anchor and reporter for KODE-TV in Joplin, Missouri. Unbeknownst to her at the time, Paula’s on-air broadcasting experience would help develop and refine many of the invaluable skills that cause her to excel as a trial lawyer, including the ability to communicate clearly and react quickly on her feet. As one of her former clients stated, Paula has an “honorable presence in the courtroom and a tenacious attention to detail” while also being “quick and agile in dealing with the ebb and flow in the courtroom.”

    Paula has substantial first-chair trial experience, achieving favorable defense verdicts in high-exposure medical malpractice and railroad injury trials. She has also secured significant plaintiff’s verdicts and settlements in personal injury and employment cases.

    Results

    • $11.1 million verdict for mother in wrongful death action against landlord for failing to inspect and install adequate smoke alarms in a rental home.
    • Won verdict in favor of railroad against injured driver who claimed grade crossing was “abnormally dangerous” and should have had lights and gates.
    • Secured verdict for railroad in wrongful death action alleging inadequate warnings by conductor during shove of railcars across street.
    • 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 misappropriated sales orders and confidential client information to benefit the competitor.
    • Achieved unanimous defense verdict in railroad worker’s claim of head strike leading to neck fusion and loss of employment. Verdict returned by jury in under 20 minutes.
    • Defended and obtained defense verdict in Buchanan County, Missouri, for surgeon from whom plaintiff sought significant damages, alleging her ureter was crushed during surgery on ovaries. Obtained unanimous defense verdict following jury trial.
    • Obtained favorable result for insurance company in action brought by Attorney General of Pennsylvania seeking more than $3 million in damages and penalties for alleged consumer protection violations.
    • Served as lead counsel and successfully defended gynecologist who allegedly burned patient with heat-sterilized speculum during gynecological surgery.
    • Obtained entry of directed verdict after close of plaintiff’s evidence in jury trial of premises liability action against hospital.
    • Obtained substantial confidential settlement for client who sustained injuries to testicle after physical therapy incident and wheelchair fall in transport van
    • Appellate briefing and oral argument before Missouri Court of Appeals and Missouri Supreme Court.
    • Representation of licensee before Missouri State Board of Nursing
  10. Collin B. Altieri

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    “It is an honor to work with such fine attorneys and people, handling a wide range of complex litigation matters for our clients.”

    Collin has tried cases to juries and judges in the state and federal courts of Missouri and Kansas, and spent much of his career with an Am Law 100 law firm in Kansas City. He has been recognized by his peers as “Best of the Bar” in his field and frequently speaks to physicians, nurses, dentists, administrators, and members of the bar on topics ranging from best practices to malpractice law.

    Results

    • Achieved complete defense verdict in case where the patient died from infective endocarditis.
    • Achieved court judgment and successfully argued on appeal a case with fraud and malpractice claims against a hospital.
    • Achieved multiple dismissals of malpractice cases against hospitals, physicians, and health care providers.
    • Successfully litigated and resolved claims invoking the Fraud Claims Act and civil litigation involving patients suffering from acute ischemic stroke, fetal morbidity and mortality, locked-in syndrome, myocardial infarction, spinal cord infarction, herpetic encephalitis, anoxic-ischemic encephalopathy, subdural hematoma, fractures, pulmonary emboli, and a myriad of other issues.
    • Annually tried cases on a pro bono basis for impoverished clients with probate and guardianship needs.

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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