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. 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.
  3. 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.
  4. Scott R. Ast

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    Scott leverages his firsthand insight and business acumen to provide practical advice that puts each client’s business goals front and center. He has significant first chair jury trial experience in the state and federal courts. Scott’s experience includes multi-week trials of high exposure business disputes and personal injury claims. Scott has successfully litigated commercial disputes involving mergers and acquisitions, lending transactions, trade secrets, product liability and transportation cases.

    “The firm’s success is driven by superior client service. This focus has created a workplace culture of respect, civility and productivity.”

    Scott has also acted as national counsel in the investigation and defense of claims involving fires and alleged product failures.

    Results

    • $11.1 million verdict for mother in wrongful death fire case against landlord for failing to provide adequate smoke alarms and failing to inspect rental home.
    • Won defense verdict in Oregon federal court in case involving claims of misappropriated trade secrets and tortious interference.
    • Prevailed with defense verdict in Wyandotte County in case alleging brain injury and permanent disability from head strike.
    • Successfully defended railroad against wrongful death claim by trespassers and motorists at grade crossings.
    • Navigated claims of trade secret misappropriation against manufacturer which had contracted with former employee of competitor, and avoided prolonged litigation
    • Participated in numerous fire origin and cause investigations arising from events that resulted in catastrophic injuries, death and millions of dollars in damage.
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    • Defend manufacturers against product liability claims involving consumer products and components parts.
    • Defended 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.
    • 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. The majority owners had attempted to block the redemption of the stock at the fair and agreed value.
    • Secured voluntary dismissal for defendant after plaintiff’s expert admitted his opinion – that the cause of a house fire was our client’s component part – was unsupported by the evidence.
    • Represented recreational boat component part manufacturer in wrongful death action tried out of state which arose from carbon monoxide poisonings allegedly caused by defects in design in which jury was asked to award over $200 million.
    • Achieved a unanimous defense verdict for manufacturer of exercise equipment in product liability action arising out of commercial structure fire.
    • Defended product liability cases involving battery technologies such as lithium-ion, lead-acid and nickel–cadmium (NiCd) in which products were alleged causes of fires and acid burns.
    • Obtained a defense verdict for medical device manufacturer in jury trial in Kansas City, Missouri, against allegations of design and warnings defects leading to permanent injuries.
    • Achieved dismissal of tractor manufacturer in wrongful death claims allegedly caused by failure of equipment to include roll over protection system (ROPS).
    • Extensive defending manufacturers and sellers in cases involving toxic exposures to acids, benzene, asbestos, carbon monoxide, heavy metals and other chemicals.
    • Recovered nearly all amounts claimed in breach of contract claim arising out of an asset sale in which the buyer failed to pay the agreed purchase price for the assets of a chemical manufacturer.
    • Obtained summary judgment in contract dispute between retail business owners arising out of a terminable-at-will royalty agreement.
    • Obtained temporary restraining order on behalf of chemical manufacturer and against key employee of distributor resulting in prompt resolution of misappropriation of trade secrets case.
    • Obtained summary judgment in federal court for manufacturer sued by supplier alleging breach of a requirements contract for component parts and damages exceeding $1 million.
    • Represented conveyor manufacturer in multimillion dollar contractual indemnity claim arising out of failure of material handling equipment.

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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