Partner Laurel Stevenson has been recognized by the Missouri Women’s Justice Awards Selection Committee as a recipient of the 2017 Litigation Practitioner Award. The award is given to female litigators who demonstrate leadership, professionalism and a passion for improving the quality of the justice system or contributing to the betterment of the profession.
Partner Laurel Stevenson assisted a firm from Wisconsin in obtaining summary judgment for a defendant in a products’ liability case arising out of a fire. The client purchased a company who had manufactured wood stoves. The asset purchase agreement contained provisions regarding liabilities of the manufacturer. The plaintiffs sued multiple defendants for the fire which occurred in a residence, including the the successor company to the manufacturer of the stove. Plaintiffs alleged multiple theories against the successor company, including breach of implied warranty. Following extensive briefing and a hearing on summary judgment, judgment was entered for the client on all of plaintiffs’ claims.
The firm had three trials between the first part of January and mid-February of 2017, all resulting in defense verdicts. One involved a defense verdict in Greene County following a four-day jury trial. Associate Phil Quinn secured a defense verdict in Greene County following a two-day jury trial. Partner Jeff Laney also had a defense verdict in a rural county outside of Springfield following a two-day trial.
One of the firm’s founding members, Grant Haden, lost his battle with leukemia on Thanksgiving Day 2016. He, along with Randy Cowherd and Rob Bullock, formed the firm nearly three decades ago with a vision to serve Springfield and beyond. Grant never forgot his roots in Douglas County, Ava, Missouri, often sharing stories with friends and foes alike that were both delightful and frightful, and always entertaining. The firm is forever grateful for all that Grant brought to our lives, both personally and professionally. Visitation will be November 30, 2016 from 4:00-6:00 p.m. at Gorman Scharpf , 1947 E. Seminole Street, Springfield, MO. The funeral will be on Thursday, December 1 at 11:00 a.m. at First and Calvary, 820 E. Cherry Street, Springfield, MO.
Plaintiff, a diabetic, claimed that due to inadequate operating and training practices, he suffered a heatstroke during a heat advisory while doing repair work in a partially enclosed building. Plaintiff was eventually hospitalized, and claimed a permanent brain injury and more than $2.3 million in damages. Lead counsel Laurel Stevenson with assistance from partner Jeff Laney defended multiple allegations, including the failure to advise plaintiff of the risk of consuming excess water, and the failure to advise plaintiff of the importance of electrolyte replacement. The defense focused primarily on the reasonableness of the defendant’s work practices, and the plaintiff’s pre-existing occurrences of hyponatremia/low sodium, occurrences which were unknown to defendant until after plaintiff’s claim. During the seven-day jury trial, the jury heard from multiple witnesses, including two medical experts: a neurologist from Johns Hopkins and a toxicologist from Syracuse, New York. The jury returned a verdict for the firm’s client on all claims. Paralegal Kellie Mitchem provided invaluable assistance before and during trial.
Following a two-day bench trial in September of 2016, Laurel Stevenson and Jeff Laney secured judgment in favor of their clients in an equitable garnishment action involving a fronting policy. The case had a long and protracted history, involving multiple legal proceedings in state and federal courts. One of plaintiff’s primary claims was that the carrier failed to defend the insured driver who was operating a company-provided vehicle while intoxicated, injuring the plaintiff. The carrier’s efforts to obtain information to assess a 10-day time limited demand to defend were unsuccessful, as were efforts to intervene in the underlying action. The plaintiff and the employee operating the company-provided vehicle consented to judgment for $1.5 million, and sought recovery for that amount, plus other amounts in excess of the policy limit. Plaintiff and the employee also claimed that the carrier acted in bad faith. Multiple defenses were raised by the carrier and employer, with the primary defense being the lack of the employee’s permissive use of the vehicle given his intoxication. The trial court ultimately disposed of all claims in favor of the carrier and employer, concluding that sobriety is a condition to permission. Paralegal Kellie Mitchem assisted with trial.
Plaintiff sued a municipality, claiming that she underwent multiple surgeries and surgical complications following a fall. In October of 2016, Laurel Stevenson successfully obtained summary judgment for the municipality on the basis that plaintiff’s
lawsuit was precluded for failing to comply with statutory notice provisions.
Partner Randy Cowherd, along with Partner Catherine Reade, Associate Phil Quinn, and Paralegal Shelly Richardson recently secured the dismissal of three medical malpractice lawsuits on the eve of trials. A case in Camden County, Missouri involved a claim for negligent failure to diagnose a bowel obstruction leading to a bowel resection. A case in Greene County, Missouri claimed plaintiff sustained permanent damage to a hand due to a nurse’s alleged negligence related to extravasation of a toxic drug from an IV site. Another Greene County, Missouri case alleged negligent failure to provide vitamin supplements, resulting in claimed brain damage.
Laurel Stevenson collaborated with two attorneys from a state agency in recovering $1 million against a contractor for damages incurred by the state agency as a result of the contractor’s work. The dispute with the contractor arose from fatalities and personal injuries that occurred in a construction zone. Laurel and the attorneys from the state jointly investigated the claims and possible sources of recovery, and drafted a Petition which was sent to the contractor and the carrier. The contractor’s carrier agreed to pre-suit mediation, resulting in resolution of the dispute.
Following an unexpected turn of events a month before trial, Laurel Stevenson became lead counsel in a transportation case involving significant orthopedic injuries and a traumatic brain injury. Laurel associated with Adam Reich of Thorpe Shwer in Phoenix, Arizona after she became lead counsel, and they were assisted by paralegal Kellie Mitchem. The case was tried in Webster County, Marshfield, Missouri. The plaintiff, who was 25 years old at the time of the accident, claimed that Laurel’s client violated multiple federal regulations. Plaintiff underwent eight surgeries following the accident, and one of her medical experts testified that she would need at least two knee replacements within the next 20-25 years. Plaintiff had medical bills in excess of $360,000, and other economic losses in excess of $4 million. There were eight experts in the case, six of whom ultimately testified at trial. After seven pre-trial conferences and a five-day jury trial, the jury deliberated for 40 minutes before returning a unanimous defense verdict.
claim or case must be individually evaluated.