2011 News

  • Can You Trademark the Rally Squirrel?

    Many St. Louis Cardinals’ fans believe the Rally Squirrel was a driving force behind the team’s recent World Series victory.  The squirrel made his debut while running onto the field during one of the Cardinals’ post-season games, making national news. This now famous rodent served as a humorous mascot throughout World Series play.

    Producers of Cardinals memorabilia immediately began to use images of the Rally Squirrel on a variety of merchandise, from t-shirts to hats to water bottles. But disagreements quickly arose when some groups tried to trademark it.  So who owns the Rally Squirrel name?

    Several entrepreneurs are determined to obtain the trademark.  This battle is not just among St. Louisans, but now has become nationwide as an entrepreneur in Florida has applied for the trademark.  Obtaining the trademark would provide the “owner” with benefits, such as recognition and financial compensation for past and future uses of the name from the time of the “owner’s” first use. 

    Investigating who first coined the term “Rally Squirrel” will be difficult as it was used by dozens of people in the media, vendors and, of course, thousands of fans. In order to obtain this trademark, a person must be able to prove they created the phrase. After an application has been sent in, other parties have a limited time to contest it. One rumored party that may contest applications for the trademark is Major League Baseball.

    Obtaining a trademark is a long process and could possibly take a year to complete, which has many people questioning if it’s really worth all the trouble.  A year from now, will anyone really care about the Rally Squirrel? The winner of the trademark may not even care, especially if there is no financial gain to be made. On the other hand, who wouldn’t want bragging rights for naming the little guy who helped spur the Cardinals to victory? Even an organization as powerful as the MLB would enjoy the recognition.

  • Physician Assistant Supervision and Advanced Practice Registered Nurse Forms

    The law has recently changed in Missouri regarding who can prescribe controlled substances. Mid-Level practitioners such as Advanced Practice Nurses and Physician Assistants can now prescribe certain controlled substances so long as certain criteria are met and certain steps are taken. We have revised our Physician Assistant Supervision form and our Advanced Practice Registered Nurse forms to take these recent changes into account. Our forms set out the criteria that must be met in Missouri before a Physician Assistant or Advance Practice Nurse can lawfully prescribe controlled substances. Please contact Carolyn M Kopsky or Richard D. Watters at (314) 621-2939 if you would like a copy of these forms for a nominal fee.

  • An Oral Insurance Contract?

    Most people, perhaps even most insurers, would contend that oral insurance contracts do not exist. The following case, however, demonstrates the courts are willing to find oral insurance contracts when there is sufficient evidence.

    Mark and Shelly Lagermann owned property in Wayne County, Missouri, that included a mobile home and an out building they referred to as “the garage.” In the fall of 2008, they began shopping their insurance coverage around, calling local agents, and getting quotes. Mrs. Lagermann spoke to Jeff Parker, an agent for Farm Bureau Town & Country Insurance Company of Missouri. Parker came to the Lagermanns’ property several times and, according to Mrs. Lagermann, told her that “basically this policy covers everything from wind and rain to civil unrest” and he referred to it as the “best policy.” Mrs. Lagermann then informed Parker that the Lagermanns had decided to purchase the policy proposed and Mr. Lagermann went to Parker’s office to complete an application. The application did not reference any particular exclusions or levels of coverage.

    During the effective dates of the policy issued by Farm Bureau, an ice storm occurred and the garage roof collapsed under the weight of the snow and ice. The Lagermanns filed a claim with Farm Bureau and Parker dispatched an insurance adjuster to survey the damage. Farm Bureau informed the Lagermanns that their policy did not provide coverage for losses due to the weight of ice and snow. Farm Bureau further explained that the Lagermanns had only purchased “level 1 protection” which did not insure perils arising from damage due to ice and snow. The Lagermanns sued.

    The trial court found the Lagermanns’ testimony to be more credible than that of Parker’s. In addition, the trial court found that Farm Bureau had never forwarded a copy of the insurance policy to the Lagermanns prior to the loss and that they were not informed of the existence of different levels of coverage until after they had filed their claim for damage to the garage. The trial court ruled in favor of the Lagermanns. The court of appeals affirmed the trial court’s judgment finding that an oral contract of insurance can be created if the following five elements are present:

    1. Subject matter to be insured;
    2. the risk insured against;
    3. the amount of coverage; 
    4. the duration of the risks; and 
    5. the premium.

    The evidence established all of these elements, thereby creating an oral contract of insurance.

    This case offers a couple of lessons for insurers. First, agents with the authority to bind coverage can create an oral contract on behalf of an insurer. Thus, agents should be careful when making casual statements describing broad levels of coverage. Second, insurers should make it a priority to provide their insureds with a full and complete copy of their insurance policy immediately upon approval of the insured’s application and receipt of premium payment. While it is not necessarily clear that this would have avoided the result in this case, it certainly would have put the insureds on notice that there were certain exclusions in the policy which would avoid coverage for certain types of losses.

  • Playing With Fire: Insurer Disregards Its Investigation of Loss And Pays The Price

    This interesting case arose out of Farm Bureau Town & Country Insurance Company of Missouri’s refusal to pay a property claim after a fire loss.

    While out of town for work, Troy Myers received a phone call advising him that there had been a fire at his home. When he arrived home, he found it to be a total loss. He immediately reported the loss to his insurance agent. Claims representative Peter Hall contacted Myers and arrived at the site the following day. Farm Bureau also retained an expert to determine the cause and origin of the fire. This expert concluded that the fire was not suspicious and that it had originated from a junction box that was struck by lightning.

    Myers was in a relationship with Molly Brawley, and they had a daughter. At the time of the fire, Brawley had moved out and was not living with Myers.

    After the fire, Myers and Brawley moved back in together in a camper trailer for a few weeks. Brawley, however, left again and took their daughter with her. This time, she told Myers that he would never see the daughter again. Myers told Brawley that, once he received the fire insurance proceeds, he would hire an attorney and obtain custody of the daughter. Subsequently, Brawley called the State Fire Marshal’s office and the arson hotline to report that Myers started the fire.

    Hall asked Myers to provide a sworn statement concerning his personal property claim, which Myers did. Myers was aware of Brawley’s accusations against him and explained to Hall that he believed Brawley to be vindictive and that they had a child together who was the subject of a custody dispute. After Myers provided a sworn statement, Hall refused to speak with Myers about the claim and did not return phone calls. Farm Bureau eventually denied Myers’ claim and he filed suit.

    At the end of the trial, the jury found in favor of Myers and also found that Farm Bureau’s denial of this claim was vexatious, or without reasonable cause or excuse. Therefore, he was able to recover his attorney’s fees as well as the damages he sustained. On appeal, the Southern District Court of Appeals affirmed and found that there was more than sufficient evidence to justify a finding of vexatious refusal to pay. The Court noted that the evidence included the following: (1) Brawley was the only witness who testified against Myers, that her testimony was inconsistent, and that the trial judge found her to be one of the least credible witnesses the judge had ever seen; (2) Farm Bureau disregarded its own expert’s opinion that the fire was accidental in origin; and (3) Hall never investigated whether Brawley had a motivation to lie in order to deprive Myers of the funds he needed for the custody dispute.

    Insurers can take away a number of lessons from this case. First, ignore your expert at your own peril. Once Farm Bureau had retained an expert who found the cause to be non-suspicious in origin, it was at a severe disadvantage in defending its decision to deny Myers’ claim. Second, keep communication with the insured open and get both sides of the story. It appears that Farm Bureau chose to believe Brawley’s story without fully investigating it. This is true even after its insured advised Farm Bureau that Brawley had a reason to fabricate her allegations against him. Jurors, who are all insureds of some type, do not like to think that their insurer would refuse to communicate to them about a loss, and Farm Bureau would have been in a much better position had its claims representative kept dialog open with its insured.

  • Federal Government Outlaws Hand-Held Cell Phone Use by Truck and Bus Drivers

    On Wednesday, November 23, 2011, the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (“FMCSA”), along with the Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration, announced a joint final rule that prohibits interstate truck and bus drivers from using a hand-held cell phone while operating their vehicle.

    According to FMCSA, drivers who violate the restriction will face federal civil penalties of up to $2,750 for each offense and multiple offenses could result in disqualification from operating a commercial motor vehicle.

    Trucking companies that allow drivers to use hand-held cell phones while driving will face penalties as high as $11,000.

  • Rate-A-Judge Websites: Helpful or Not?

    Whether we like it or not, we are living in the age of technology. Many professionals turn to the Internet to conduct research on clients, co-workers, and even potential new hires. Internet research has become a way of life, and in this new age, you can go online and rate your doctor, plumber, roofer and now even your judge.

    Many of these “rate-a-judge” websites have comment boards where you can ask questions and people will respond with their thoughts and opinions. Many of the opinions posted are by lay people who have come face-to-face with the judge in a courtroom, and definitely have opinions to share. While these sites seem as if they may be helpful, the credibility of the comments is suspect. I’ve seen posts accusing a judge of “receiving money under the table” or favoring women in their rulings. It’s hard to know if the statements that are made are true, or the result of an emotional reaction.

    Some of these rating sites only allow ratings on a numerical scale without comment. Therefore, there is no way to know the types of cases the judge is receiving ratings on. It is also impossible to determine whether a judge is being rated by an attorney, a party, a juror, or a witness and whether the person performing the rating was on the side of the plaintiff or the defendant, or the winner or loser.

    If you’re truly interested in understanding a judge’s reputation or mindset, it’s probably best to do your research by looking for news coverage about his or her cases, reading the judge’s written opinions, most of which are available online, and discussing the judge with attorneys who regularly appear before the judge. On the other hand, if you want some entertaining reading, try the ratings websites (see examples below). It’s always interesting to see how people react to a court ruling.
    http://www.therobingroom.com/JudgeListing.aspx
    http://www.robeprobe.com/worst_judges.php

  • Local Firm Gets Top Rankings From U.S. News & World Report

    Friday, November 11, 2011 – U.S. News & World Report and The Best Lawyers in America® have released the 2011 Best Law Firms rankings, and St. Louis’ Lashly & Baer, P.C., has been given top marks in the St. Louis region.

    In the St. Louis rankings, Lashly & Baer earned “St. Louis Tier 1” in Health Care Law, Land Use & Zoning Law, Legal Malpractice Law – Defendants, Medical Malpractice Law – Defendants, and Personal Injury Litigation – Defendants, while earning “St. Louis Tier 2” in Corporate Law and Labor Law – Management. In addition, Lashly & Baer earned “National Tier 3” in Land Use & Zoning Law.

    In addition to this recognition, three attorneys from Lashly & Baer have been included in the 2012 edition of The Best Lawyers in America®.  Richard D. Watters, listed in Health Care Law, recently joined a distinguished group of attorneys who have been included in Best Lawyers for 20 years or longer.  Also listed in Best Lawyers were John Fox Arnold in Corporate Law and Kenneth C. Brostron in Medical Malpractice Law – Defendants and Personal Injury Litigation – Defendants.

  • Jurors Selected in Michael Jackson Case Pass Facebook Scrutiny

    Facebook continues to play a role in the courtroom.  It’s a well-known fact that attorneys frequently cull social media sites for evidence that could strengthen a case, but now some are using these tools to screen potential jurors. 

    Attorneys on both sides of the trial of Conrad Murray, Michael Jackson’s doctor, Googled prospective jurors to see if they had blogged or posted any opinions on the case.  The lawyers checked jurors’ social media sites, hoping for access to posts that might give clues about their private thoughts, attitudes, and prejudices. 

    At what point does this type of research become overkill? How valuable is this information for attorneys?  As a litigator, obviously I’m happy to have as much background as possible on prospective jurors.  At the same time, obtaining this information during jury selection can be difficult logistically.  In the Michael Jackson case, attorneys spent several days on jury selection, not several hours.  However, depending on the jurisdiction, attorneys generally have only several hours total for the jury selection process and could have dozens of candidates to consider.  There’s simply not enough time to search for and review information from social media sites for every prospective juror. 

    Cost was apparently not an issue in a high-profile case such as Murray’s.  However, clients may not find the expense required for this extra research to be cost effective.  In addition, there’s no guarantee that doing the research is going to result in having the ideal slate of jurors.  Too many factors go into jury selection, and many of these are subtleties that cannot be viewed on a Facebook profile, but rather need to be observed in person, such as body language and tone of voice. 

    We suspect that social media will continue to be a factor in jury selection, but on a limited basis and most likely in high profile or high stakes cases.  In the meantime, we’ll continue to hone our skills of observation, drawing conclusions based on what can be seen in the real world, as well as the virtual one.

  • Legal Workshop for the Missouri School Counselor Association

    On Saturday, November 5, 2011, Lisa O. Stump and Lawrence J. Wadsack presented to the Missouri School Counselor Association.  The Workshop addressed legal and ethical issues associated with student records and confidentiality issues, college letters and recommendations, residency/custody issues, and bullying, as well as emerging technology and student conduct including cyberbullying, sexting, the use of smartphones, and social media.

  • Doctors Admit to Overtreating Patients

    According to a recent survey, more than 40 percent of 627 primary care doctors said they “overtreat” their own patients, often ordering unnecessary tests or prescribing unneeded treatments. The reason for overtreatment? Physicians are worried about medical negligence lawsuits filed by patients who believe they were improperly treated. Specifically, if the physician does not order these unnecessary tests and a patient is diagnosed later with an injury or illness that was missed, the patient often sues with accusations such as “failure to diagnose” or “failure to treat.” 

    Last year patients filed 9,894 medical malpractice claims nationwide, which resulted in payouts of more than $3 billion. In Missouri alone, patients filed 155 claims, with payments of over $50 million.

    This fear of malpractice litigation has resulted in increased costs for emergency care and has put stress on other aspects of health care. The San Francisco Chronicle recently reported that emergency room physicians think liability reform is the key to cost savings in health care.  This action would reduce the pressure on physicians to perform unnecessary tests or admit patients to the hospital when they could be monitored in the office.

    At Lashly & Baer, we often see cases where the plaintiff alleges that a doctor’s failure to order a particular test or treatment resulted in his or her injury.  For example, we represented a defendant in a medical negligence lawsuit involving a patient who was treated for what was believed to be a common kidney infection, but turned out to be a rare spinal infection.  The patient’s symptoms were consistent with a kidney infection and the doctor followed the appropriate standard of care for the diagnosis.  He did not order additional more invasive studies since the symptoms were consistent with the diagnosis.  A later MRI determined that the patient had a spinal infection.  In the lawsuit the plaintiff argued that an earlier MRI would have diagnosed the condition, which would have resulted in less pain and suffering for the patient.

    Although the initial diagnosis turned out to be incorrect, our defense was to show that the proper standard of care was used when treating the patient based on the patient’s symptoms. The doctor provided the best care for the patient based upon these symptoms and determined that proceeding with additional tests would potentially endanger the patient since more invasive tests could have further injured the patient.  Ultimately our client was dismissed.

    Unfortunately, lawsuits are part of a physician’s practice. We advise our clients that doctors and hospitals should always do what they believe is best for the patient, follow the appropriate standard of care, and not focus on possible lawsuits. Patients should ask their doctor questions if they are concerned that more testing or treatment should be done for their complaints.  It’s also critical that doctors and hospital staff document these conversations, especially writing in the record why further tests were not ordered and what was told to the patient.  Proper documentation is critical for protection in negligence cases and will tremendously improve the odds of prevailing in a lawsuit.

  • 2012 OIG Work Plan Provides Compliance Focus For Providers

    Lashly & Baer partner, Stuart J. Vogelsmeier, published an article in the Healthcare Financial Management Association (HFMA) Greater St. Louis Chapter Fall 2011 Newsletter entitled “2012 OIG Work Plan Provides Compliance Focus for Providers.” CLICK HERE to download a copy of the article or visit the HFMA Greater St. Louis Chapter website to view the Fall 2011 Newsletter.

  • Can family histories put your company into the dark ages?

    From our work with clients, most companies aren’t paying enough attention to a recent law regarding genetic information discrimination.  In some cases, what a company might think of as ‘standard operating procedure’ could in fact be a violation of an individual’s rights to privacy and be subject to a detrimental lawsuit. 

    Under Title II of the Genetic Information Nondiscrimination Act (GINA), it is illegal to discriminate against employees or applicants because of genetic information.  So what counts as “genetic information?”  As it turns out, quite a lot.  Information about genetic tests of both the employee/applicant and his/her family members, family medical histories, a request for or receipt of genetic services, or participation in clinical research that includes genetic services, are all covered under the definition of genetic information.

    Because the law took effect less than two years ago many companies are still unaware of it or its potential risk exposure to legal action.  It becomes imperative to educate your human resource departments on the nature of the law and ensure that any pre-screening or hiring activities are reviewed for compliance.  Unawareness of the law isn’t a defense, so make sure you have the facts.

  • Nine Lawyers Selected as 2011 Missouri & Kansas Super Lawyers and Three Selected as 2011 Missouri & Kansas Rising Stars

    Monday, October 24, 2011 – 2011 Missouri & Kansas Super Lawyers has selected nine Lashly & Baer, P.C. lawyers who were nominated by their peers as being in the top 5% of Missouri and Kansas lawyers.  They are John Fox ArnoldKenneth C. BrostronKevin L. FritzStefan J. GlyniasJames C. HetlageStephen G. Reuter, Michael J. Smith,Richard D. Watters, and Wendy J. Wolf. In addition, Kenneth C. Brostron has been selected as the Top 50 St. Louis lawyers. 2011 Missouri & Kansas Rising Stars has selected Mark R. FeldhausPatrick E. Foppe, and Sarah J. Hugg-Turner as top young lawyers in Missouri and Kansas.

  • 2012 OIG Work Plan Issued

    The Office of Inspector General of the United States Department of Health & Human Services (the “OIG”) released its Fiscal Year 2012 Work Plan on October 5, 2011. The Work Plan identifies new and ongoing reviews and activities that the OIG plans to pursue in the next 12 months. Although the actual Work Plan is over 175 pages, it is well-organized, and easy to review. Here are some key areas of emphasis:

    Home Health Services

    • Review of missing or incorrect patient outcome and assessment data.
    • Review of compliance with coverage and coding requirements, including requirements that patients must be homebound, need intermittent skilled nursing care, physical or speech therapy, or occupational therapy, be under the care of a physician, and be under a plan of care that has been established and periodically reviewed by a physician.

    Hospitals

    • Review of Medicare claims to determine which types of facilities, such as SNFs or rehabilitation facilities, are more frequently transferring patients with certain diagnoses that were coded as being present when patients were admitted.
    • Review of hospital same-day readmissions.
    • Review of Medicare claims for inpatients stays for which the patient was transferred to hospice, and examine the relationship between the hospital and the hospice provider.
    • Medicare payments for patients with other insurance coverage.

    Nursing Homes

    • Review of SNF implementation of Medicare Compliance plans as part of their day-to-day operations.
    • Review of nursing homes’ emergency plans and emergency preparedness.

    Hospices

    • Review of hospice marketing practices, and their financial relationship(s) with nursing facilities.

    Medical Equipment and Supplies

    • Review of credentials of providers submitting custom-fabricated orthotic and prosthetic claims.
    • Frequency of replacement of supplies for durable medical equipment.
    • Review of payments for home blood glucose testing supplies, diabetic testing strips and lancets, to identify questionable billing practices.

    Physicians

    • Review of physician-owned distributors of spinal implants, especially those distributors that provide spinal implants to hospitals.
    • Review of place of service coding errors.

    Other Providers and Suppliers

    • Review of increase in Part B imaging services payments.
    • Review of appropriateness of payments for sleep studies.
    • Review of dialysis facilities.

    Providers are urged to review the actual Work Plan at http://oig.hhs.gov/reports-and-publications/workplan/index.asp.

  • Damages Agreements with Plaintiffs Become A Little More Dangerous for Insurers

    The Missouri Supreme Court recently issued a decision making it more difficult for insurance companies to contest 537.065 agreements.  In Shmitz v. Great American Assurance Company (Mo. S. Ct. Case No. SC91098), the parents of Christine Ewing brought a wrongful death suit after she died as a result of injuries she sustained after falling while climbing a portable rock wall.  Marcus Floyd owned and operated the rock wall during a minor league baseball game.  The parents brought suit against Floyd and Columbia Professional Baseball (“CPB”), the owner of the minor league baseball team at whose stadium the death occurred.

    CPB was insured by Virginia Surety Company and Great American Assurance Company.  Virginia Surety’s policy was primary with coverage of $1,000,000 and Great American’s policy provided excess coverage of $4,000,000.  Both insurers received notice of the claim, but denied a duty to defend based upon a policy exclusion in Virginia Surety’s policy. 

    Section 537.065 of Revised Statutes of Missouri allows an insured to enter into an agreement with a plaintiff limiting recovery to any available insurance proceeds after an insurer has denied coverage.  CPB and the parents entered into such an agreement.  The parents then proceeded to a bench trial which resulted in CPB being found liable and a judgment entered in the amount of $4,580,076.00.  The parents then filed an equitable garnishment action to garnish the policy limits of the policies issued by both Virginia Surety and Great American. 

    Virginia Surety subsequently settled with the parents, but Great American continued to defend the case on a number of grounds, including, on the basis that the 537.065 agreement was in an unreasonable amount (i.e. the verdict amount was unreasonable).  Great American relied on prior case law indicating 537.065 settlements must be in a reasonable amount and that the amount of the judgment was not reasonable. 

    The Missouri Supreme Court disagreed with this defense finding that the reasonableness test applied only to settlements, rather than judgments.  Because the parents had not settled with CPB for a specific amount and, instead, tried their case to the court, Great American was no longer able to contest whether the amount of the judgment was reasonable. 

    Prior to this decision, insurers and defense counsel may have assumed that they would be able to contest the reasonableness of any judgment obtained pursuant to a 537.065 agreement.  Such, however, is not the case.  Therefore, assuming a plaintiff and an insured enter into a 537.065 agreement and allow a court to determine the damages rather than stipulate to the amount of the settlement, an insurer will be unable to contest the amount of the judgment in subsequent proceedings to collect the judgment.

    See Schmitz v. Great American Assurance Company (Missouri Supreme Court Case No. SC91098)

  • Social Networking – A friend or enemy for businesses?

    Social media is not a fad. It serves as a driver of the shift in our society to a life lived online. Companies are no longer questioning whether they should have a social media presence, but rather what type of presence would work best for their business.

    There’s an interesting dichotomy between the advantages of social media for driving a business, and the use of social media by employees and its detriment to a business and its reputation.

    So how can employers protect themselves and their business while utilizing social media for the myriad of advantages that it can offer?

    Having a written policy in place that realistically outlines the rules for social media in the workplace is critical. Because technology is evolving at an incredible rate, the policy must be consistent with changes in the marketplace and thus, reviewed regularly by a business’ legal counsel and updated on a frequent basis. As technology continues to race forward, the way in which people use technology will also change, compelling business to monitor their employees’ business use of social networks.

    It’s also worth noting that employees are only human, and in general, humans tend to do foolish things from time to time. For example, we’ve seen significant cases where school districts are facing difficulties with their staff members and inappropriate use of social media to interact with students. This is especially troubling for parents, as some instances have resulted in sexual impropriety verdicts. School districts have a difficult task on their hands as they determine how to write and manage school policies dealing with social networks.

    The benefits of social media for a business can be plenty, but employers should use caution and common sense to ensure that its purposes are clearly defined and focused.

  • Students 2011: Bullying, Smartphones, Sexting and More…

    On Saturday, October 1, 2011, Lisa O. Stump and Lawrence J. Wadsack presented to more than 200 board members and administrators at the Missouri School Boards Association (MSBA) Annual Conference in Osage Beach, Missouri.  Their presentation entitled, “Students 2011: Bullying, Smartphones, Sexting and More…” addressed legal issues associated with emerging technology and student conduct including cyberbullying, sexting, the use of smartphones, and social media.  Download Handout

  • Typographical Error Does Not Make Insurance Policy Ambiguous

    While a typographical error may make you cringe, the blunder may not have negative legal implications according to a decision by The Court of Appeals for the Western District of Missouri. The court held a typographical error in an insurance company’s liability policy did not make the policy ambiguous.
     
    The case started as a wrongful death suit when a passenger who was involved in a car accident died as a result of injuries.  The victim’s daughter filed suit against the driver to recover damages.  After a trial the circuit court entered a judgment against the driver for $175,000.

    However, the insurance company refused to pay more than $25,000, which was the policy’s per-person limit of liability for bodily injury claims.  The plaintiff then argued that because the insurance company’s policy contained a typographical error that identified both the bodily injury and property damage coverage as coverage A, instead of bodily injury as A and property damage as B, the policy was ambiguous.  She argued that this ambiguity in the policy resulted in no limits for the bodily injury coverage rather than the $25,000 per person policy limit.

    Luckily for the insurance company, the Court of Appeals disagreed with the decision and reversed it stating that an ambiguity exists only “when there is duplicity, indistinctness, or uncertainty in the meaning of the language in the policy. Language is ambiguous if it is reasonably open to different constructions.” The Court of Appeals reasoned that the typographical error was clearly an error and that there was no way the policy could be rendered to read as limitless even with the mistake.  This decision is surely a relief to insurers as human errors inevitably do happen.

    See Mendota Insurance Company v. Ware, (Missouri Court of Appeals, Western District, Case No. WD72766).

  • Illinois Supreme Court Continues to Reject Post-Sale Duty to Warn

    Today, the Illinois Supreme Court in Jablonski v. Ford Motor Co. (Docket No. 110096) held in part that a manufacturer has no duty to warn its customers of risks first known after a product has left its control. A continuing duty to warn may be imposed if at the time the product was manufactured the manufacturer knew or should have known of the hazard. Nevertheless, the Court did say that a post-sale duty to warn could be recognized in the future in Illinois.

    In this case, the Illinois Supreme Court reversed a $43 million general verdict awarding compensatory and punitive damages to the plaintiffs in an automotive product liability case. The court concluded that the plaintiffs’ negligence claims either lacked evidentiary support, or, in the instance of a claimed post-sale duty to warn, were not legally viable.

  • Federal Safety Group Preparing to Issue Rule on Cell Phone Use in Commercial Vehicles

    Last week I attended the Illinois Trucking Association’s Annual Meeting. The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration’s (FMCSA) Administrator, Anne Ferro, spoke to the attendees outlining many of the items that the agency is currently working on.

    Administrator Ferro told members that FMCSA is on track to release a final rule on the Hours of Service Regulation by the end of October. Ferro also indicated that FMCSA will be proposing a rule in a month or so that will address “hand-held” cell phone use in commercial motor vehicles, which is in contrast to the National Transportation Safety Board’s recent recommendation to eliminate all cell phone use in trucks.

    Check back for updates. We’ll keep you posted as soon as we learn of any new developments.

  • Accountable Care Organizations – How Providers are Impacted

    Health care providers are trying to wrap their heads around the complexities of new requirements for coordinating care for Medicare patients – Accountable Care Organizations (ACOs). The federal government is still finalizing the regulations for this new model, which is part of the Affordable Care Act and takes effect in 2012.

    ACOs use a shared savings model to reward integrated or coordinated groups of providers that deliver quality care at a reduced cost, while continuing to be paid by Medicare on a fee for services basis.

    The ACOs can be made up of physicians, physicians’ assistants, nurse practitioners, clinical nurse specialists, hospitals, and joint ventures and partnerships of these providers. Existing physician groups can become ACOs, as can hospitals, and medical groups can also collaborate with hospitals and other providers to form an ACO.

    What do these changes mean for providers? Although the final regulations may answer some questions, certain issues stand out:

    • ACO costs will be measured against the average per capita Medicare costs for “assigned” patients. If an ACO achieves cost savings, by controlling utilization, the ACO may receive a share of the government’s cost savings.
    • There will be some natural tension between hospitals, specialists and primary care physicians. Some believe that ACOs will attempt to limit hospital admissions, emergency room visits, and diagnostic tests.
    • Measuring “quality” will be complex and difficult.
    • An ACO will require significant investment in infrastructure, such as information technology. Without hospital participation in an ACO, potential participants may not have the capital to form an ACO.
    • The assignment of Medicare patients to an ACO is based on whether the patient’s primary care physician is an ACO participant. Success of an ACO will necessarily depend on having a large number of primary care physician participants.
    • There will continue to be significant antitrust, anti-kickback, Stark and tax exempt organization issues to analyze, which may hinder the rapid formation of ACOs.

    Our health care practice at Lashly & Baer will continue to monitor the regulations as they are finalized, and analyze the potential winners and losers in the world of ACOs.

  • Resources To Help You Grow: Are you looking to build or expand a Senior Living Community?

    Lashly & Baer partner, Richard D. Watters, along with the Senior Living Forum Affiliated Partners, will be discussing all aspects of building or expanding a senior living facility including CON process to get a new facility approved and initial licensing, financial opportunities and hurdles in the senior living business, alternative financing, Medicare/Medicaid issues, insurance due diligence when acquiring a facility, selecting a general contractor and trends in design, and electronic medical records solutions. The discussion will be held on Wednesday, October 5, 2011 from 5:15pm to 8:30pm at Missouri Athletic Club West. If you would like to attend this informative discussion, please email Tiffany Walker at tiffanyw@heffins.com.

  • Computing Damages is Unclear Under Missouri Tort Reform Act

    In 2005, Missouri passed a Tort Reform Act, which, among other things, affected the way a plaintiff can present medical bills to a jury. In the past, a plaintiff could simply show the total amount charged by the provider for the medical services. Under the Act, the legislature created a rebuttable presumption that when determining damages, the value of the healthcare is the amount paid for the medical services, not what was initially charged. Most often, Medicare and medical insurance companies reduce the amount of the medical bills, which can affect the value of a case.  

    The Act’s language has caused much confusion within the trial bar. The Missouri Supreme Court in Deck v. Teasley, SC90628 (2010), recently held that if a plaintiff can present substantial evidence that the amount billed is a better indicator of the value of the medical services, then the jury should be presented with not only the amount paid but the amount charged.

    Although section 490.715 of the Tort Reform Act was intended to limit medical damages to amounts paid to providers, Deck v. Teasley makes it considerably easier for plaintiffs to recover the amount billed for their treatment. The state legislature now has some work to do if they want to restore the law to its original intent.

  • Other Insurance Clause Creates Ambiguity in Underinsured Motorist Coverage

    Ambiguity in insurance policies is always a hot topic and decisions by Missouri courts can make insurers and those who bring lawsuits against them unsure of what outcome to expect.

    For example, Donna Ledbetter was injured when a Dodge pickup operated by Danny Harris collided with the vehicle she was driving.  Harris was covered by a Cornerstone National Insurance liability policy with limits of $50,000 for injuries sustained by any one person in a motor vehicle accident.  Ms. Ledbetter brought suit against Harris and settled her case for the Cornerstone policy limits.

    At the time of the accident, Ledbetter had an insurance policy with Hartford Underwriters Insurance Company.  Ledbetter made a claim for underinsured motorist coverage for the terms of her policy which provided $50,000 in UIM coverage on each of her four covered vehicles. Ledbetter claimed that she could stack these coverages for a total UIM coverage of $200,000.

    Hartford filed a motion for summary judgment and prevailed on the basis that the Harris vehicle was not an underinsured motor vehicle as defined in the Hartford policy.  The Hartford policy defined underinsured motor vehicle as “A land motor vehicle or trailer of any type to which a bodily injury liability bond or policy applies at the time of the accident but its limit for bodily injury liability is less than the limit of liability for this coverage.”  Hartford contended that, because the Cornerstone policy’s liability limits were $50,000 and the Hartford UIM limits were $50,000, the Harris vehicle was not considered an underinsured motor vehicle under the Hartford policy.  The trial court agreed and entered summary judgment in favor of Hartford.

    The Missouri Court of Appeals for the Southern District of Missouri, however, reversed the trial court’s decision.  The Court of Appeals found that the other insurance clause in the Hartford policy created an ambiguity.  The other insurance clause in the Hartford policy contained the following provision:  “Any insurance we provide with respect to a vehicle you do not own shall be excess over any collectible insurance providing such coverage on a primary basis.”  The Southern District stated that reading the other insurance clause in conjunction with the underinsured motorist coverage provisions could result in an interpretation of the policy such that it provided UIM coverage.  Specifically, the policy could be read to mean that underinsured coverage was excess to amounts recovered from the tortfeasor and also could be interpreted to mean that the other insurance clause prevailed over the preceding and apparently conflicting language contained in the policy’s definition of underinsured and limits of liability sections.  Thus, the Southern District found that the Hartford policy did provide underinsured motorist coverage under the terms of its policy and reversed the trial court’s entry of summary judgment in favor of Hartford.

    It’s an interesting case that seems to find ambiguous an otherwise straight forward definition of underinsured motor vehicle.

    See Hartford Underwriters Insurance Company v. Ledbetter, (Missouri Court of Appeals, Southern District, Case No. SD30891).

  • Protecting Your Bottom Line: New Illinois Workers’ Compensation Law Seminar

    Lashly & Baer partner, Andrew G. Toennies, spoke on Protecting Your Bottom Line: Everything you NEED to know about the New Illinois Workers’ Compensation Laws that changed as of September 1, 2011. The educational seminar was held on Friday, September 23, 2011 from 8am to 10am at the Holiday Inn in Fairview Heights, Illinois.

  • Mandatory Arbitration Clause Undergoes Stress Test in Massage Therapy Case

    What started out as a client’s relaxing session at a local massage therapy office ended up as a headache for the therapist and the risk retention group (“RRG”) insuring her business in Missouri.   In a recent ruling, the Missouri Court of Appeals held that arbitration clauses are not enforceable in insurance policies issued by a RRG, just as they have been found to be unenforceable in other types of insurance policies.

    In this case, a licensed massage therapist was covered by a professional liability insurance policy when the massage table on which she was treating a client collapsed, causing the client to fall. The client sued the therapist for her personal injuries. The insured therapist sought coverage under an insurance policy issued by a RRG who ultimately denied coverage and refused to provide a defense in the underlying personal injury suit.

    The insured filed a breach of contract action against the RRG, seeking damages in the amount of the attorney’s fees incurred as a result of the failure to defend. Defendant filed a motion to compel arbitration seeking to invoke a mandatory arbitration clause in the insurance policy.  The trial court denied the motion, finding that the insured cannot be compelled to arbitrate because Missouri law prohibits mandatory arbitration clauses in insurance contracts.

    Although the Missouri Court of Appeals recognized that contractual arbitration clauses are generally enforceable in cases involving interstate commerce under the Federal Arbitration Act, the case turned on an exception to federal preemption under the McCarran-Ferguson Act, which allows states to regulate the business of insurance.  In confirming the lower court’s ruling, the Court of Appeals upheld the applicability of McCarran-Ferguson and also declined to extend to the RRG protections otherwise not available to insurers under the federal Liability Risk Retention Act.

    Once again, a Missouri court has re-emphasized the general rule that arbitration clauses cannot be used in insurance policies, and broadened it to include risk retention groups.  If the case is further appealed, it is unlikely that the Missouri Supreme Court will carve out an exception to this general rule.

    Sturgeon v. Allied Professionals Ins. Co., Case No. ED 94605 (Mo.App.E.D.) (Decided March 8, 2011).

  • Three Lashly & Baer, P.C. Attorneys Selected in The Best Lawyers in America® 2012

    Three lawyers from Lashly & Baer, P.C. were recently selected by their peers for inclusion in The Best Lawyers in America® 2012 (Copyright 2011 by Woodward/White, Inc., of Aiken, S.C.). They are John Fox Arnold  (Corporate Law), Kenneth C. Brostron (Medical Malpractice Law-Defendants; Personal Injury Litigation-Defendants); and Richard D. Watters (Health Care Law).

  • Section 537.065 Agreements and Other Things That Go Bump in the Night

    There are things in this world that have the ability to cause significant losses for insurers—hurricanes, earthquakes, fires, and catastrophic injury claims are just a few. In the insurance business in Missouri, one of those things is a Section 537.065 agreement. In practice, these agreements essentially have the effect of allowing a degree of cooperation between a claimant and an insured and can result in significant damage awards against an insured, which the claimant then attempts to force the insurer to pay.

    The agreements are specifically authorized by Section 537.065, RSMo. and arise after an insurer denies coverage to its insured. Pursuant to such an agreement, the insured then essentially agrees not to contest any claim made against the insured in exchange for the claimant’s agreement not to execute on any assets of the insured other than the proceeds of an insurance policy.

    The worst part about most 537.065 agreements is that insurance companies usually don’t hear about them until a claimant is seeking recovery under a policy for a judgment obtained without the insurer’s involvement. By then, it is too late to go back and defend the claim on the merits. The good news is that Section 537.065 agreements can, for the most part, be avoided or minimized with the application of sound legal knowledge, good claims handling, and some prior planning.

    Claims adjusters first need to be aware that these agreements exist and the extent to which they can result in damages far greater than expected. Second, insurance companies need to make sure they are certain of their coverage position and the facts supporting a denial of coverage before immediately rejecting a claim for a seemingly obvious reason. This can be difficult in some cases and may require the insurer to defend a claim under a reservation of rights, thereby protecting the insurer against the parties entering into a 537.065 agreement. During the defense under a reservation of rights, coverage can be further investigated.

    Finally, to minimize the potential for an erroneous denial of coverage and the insured entering into a Section 537.065 agreement, an insurer should ensure that its claims personnel are trained not only to investigate the facts relevant to defending a claim on the merits, but also the facts upon which a coverage determination can be made.

  • Risks on the Job Can Put Nurses in Jeopardy

    Nursing can be a thankless job. It’s often stressful, can be physically and mentally demanding, and requires a certain amount of fortitude when helping patients or family members in times of emotional and physical pain.

    I’m a nurse myself, although I no longer practice. I still hold my nursing license but work as an attorney in the area of medical malpractice and nursing licensure. Perhaps I’m biased, but nurses are among the most dedicated, hard-working groups of people I know. But nurses, like the rest of us, are human, and at some point will make errors on the job. They can be held liable, just like doctors and other health professionals, for negligence. A nurse’s license can be investigated if a patient or family has made a complaint about them or if they’ve been terminated from their job. The Missouri State Board of Nursing has the authority to impose discipline in the form of censure, probation, license suspension, or revoking the license.

    It’s important that nurses protect themselves from the repercussions of mistakes made on the job. One recommendation I can make to nurses who are facing disciplinary procedures by the state nursing board is to seek legal advice as soon as possible. An attorney can help the nurse through an investigation and/or negotiate an appropriate “punishment,” whereas a nurse on his or her own might end up with a disciplinary action that is overly harsh for the circumstances.

    It’s better to retain a lawyer at the beginning of an investigation than the end. Nurses should seek advice before making a statement or submitting a written response to the board. Nurses should try to develop a relationship with a qualified lawyer they could call in the event that a problem comes up. Scrambling at the last minute to find someone is not the best approach.

    I encourage nurses to find an attorney who is familiar with the nursing board and its standards. Ask for a meeting with that person so you can hear about their background and experience. If you’re comfortable with the attorney, you can keep his or her contact information for future reference.

    Hiring a lawyer to defend oneself in a disciplinary action can be an expensive proposition. Depending on their personal circumstances, nurses may consider obtaining insurance to cover legal costs. Whether or not they have insurance, nurses need to know that in the long run, consulting an attorney is a smart move that can help protect their nursing career.

  • OIG Takes Critical Look at Certain Joint Ventures

    Lashly & Baer partner, Stuart J. Vogelsmeier, published an article in the Healthcare Financial Management Association (HFMA) Greater St. Louis Chapter Summer 2011 Newsletter entitled “OIG Takes Critical Look at Certain Joint Ventures.” CLICK HERE to download a copy of the article or visit the HFMA Greater St. Louis Chapter website to view the Summer 2011 Newsletter.

  • Margaret M. Mooney Selected as Chair-Elect of the YWCA Metro St. Louis.

    August 16, 2011 – Lashly & Baer attorney, Margaret M. Mooney, was recently chosen as Chair-Elect of the YWCA. She will begin her 2 year term as Chair in March 2012. The YWCA’s mission is to work for eliminating racism, empowering women and promoting peace, justice, freedom and dignity for all.

  • Victory in Supreme Court

    Friday, July 29, 2011 – Michael J. Smith and Tricia J. Mueller recently prevailed before the Missouri Supreme Court resulting in the dismissal of their client with prejudice from a medical malpractice suit. Plaintiff had originally filed his cause of action for wrongful death on the last day of the three year statute of limitations. Instead of naming Smith and Mueller’s client, however, Plaintiff merely identified the Defendant as John Doe with an allegation that John Doe was a healthcare provider who had provided care to the decedent. Plaintiff subsequently amended his Petition purporting to substitute Smith and Mueller’s client for John Doe. Smith and Mueller effectively argued to the Court that Plaintiff’s description of John Doe was insufficient and that the substitution of Defendant did not relate back to the date Plaintiff first filed suit. This resulted in the Court holding that the statute of limitations expired.

  • Lashly & Baer Attorneys Obtain Defense Verdicts for Highway Technologies, Inc.

    On July 13, 2011, Stephen L. Beimdiek and Sarah J. Hugg-Turner obtained defense verdicts in favor of Highway Technologies, Inc. in the Circuit Court of Buchanan County, Missouri following seven days of trial.

    In the case of Janet Peterson and Linda Lambright v. Progressive Contractors, Inc. and Highway Technologies Inc., the Plaintiffs sought damages for the wrongful death of their mother, Virginia Winslow, and for personal injuries to Janet Peterson.

    The case stemmed from a single vehicular accident in a construction zone on the Pony Express Bridge in St. Joseph, Missouri on September 23, 2007. Plaintiff Janet Peterson’s daughter, Tiffany Peterson, was driving the car. Janet Peterson and her mother, Virginia Winslow (“Decedent”), were passengers. The Missouri Highway and Transportation Commission had contracted with Progressive Contractors to repair the expansion joints on the bridge. Progressive then entered into a sub-contract with Highway Technologies to provide temporary traffic control devices for the construction areas.

    During the course of the construction work, the right lane of the bridge was closed to traffic. Plaintiffs claimed that while driving across the bridge, Tiffany Peterson thought she needed to enter the closed right lane to get to the exit located just past the end of bridge. She drove between two cones closing the right lane and around a temporary concrete barrier before ending up in an exposed hole in the bridge deck where Progressive was performing its expansion joint repair work. The car came to rest on the remaining rebar at the bottom of the hole.

    The Plaintiffs claimed that the temporary traffic control devices on the bridge failed to comply with the plans developed by The Missouri Highway and Transportation Commission and the standards set-out in the Manual for Uniform Traffic Control Devices (MUTCD), and that the traffic control set-up was otherwise dangerous and caused the accident by failing to direct and keep motorists out of the construction zone.

    Plaintiff Janet Peterson suffered a fractured elbow in the accident. Plaintiffs’ decedent, Virginia Winslow, sustained injuries, as well, including an abdominal wall hematoma and the rupture of a pre-existing abscess in her abdomen, which resulted in e. Coli infected pus being released into her abdominal cavity. Decedent underwent emergency colon re-section surgery and was hospitalized for seventeen days before being discharged. Approximately four months later, however, Decedent suffered a heart attack and was re-admitted to the hospital. At that time, she was found to have a bloodstream infection (sepsis), which doctors later discovered to be caused by e. Coli. Within three days, the decedent developed septic shock, suffered another heart attack, and died.

    Plaintiffs alleged that their mother’s death was caused by the car accident. Plaintiffs claimed that following the accident, e. Coli organisms that had been released into their mother’s body from the ruptured abscess had become sequestered in either the abdominal wall hematoma or a pre-existing aortic graft, and eventually made their way into her bloodstream and caused her to develop sepsis, which then led to her heart attack and ultimately her death. Susceptibility tests done on the e. Coli organisms during both hospitalizations showed the e. Coli organisms to be nearly identical.

    Defendants claimed that the traffic control in place on the bridge provided a reasonably safe road for the motoring public, that they complied with the traffic control plan developed by the State, and that the accident was caused by the negligent driving of Tiffany Peterson. Defendants further claimed that the decedent’s death was the result of a pre-existing medical condition, and not the result of any injuries she sustained in the accident.

    Plaintiffs’ last settlement demand prior to trial for both claims was $950,000.

    At trial Plaintiffs asked for $1,000,000 for the wrongful death of their mother and $500,000 for Janet Winslow Peterson’s injuries.

    The Jury deliberated for approximately 50 minutes before returning verdicts in favor of Defendants on both claims.

  • Lashly & Baer Attorney Receives Levee Stone Award

    The 2011 John H. Poelker Levee Stone Award will be presented to John Fox Arnold at the Partnership for Downtown St. Louis’s Annual Membership Luncheon on Tuesday, June 28th.  The recipient of this annual award is recognized for their leadership, extraordinary vision and personal commitment in advancing the revitalization of downtown St. Louis.

  • Injuries to Unauthorized Passengers in Trucking Accidents Pose Unique Issues

    Patrick E. Foppe and Kevin L. Fritz have co-authored,  “Injuries to Unauthorized Passengers in Trucking Accidents Pose Unique Issues,” USLAW NETWORK, Inc. Magazine, Spring-Summer 2011. View the above link to read a PDF copy of this article.

  • Lashly & Baer Wins for La Quinta Inns and Suites

    Stephen L. Beimdiek recently won a defense verdict from a St. Louis County jury on behalf of La Quinta Inns and Suites in a premises liability suit. The Plaintiff claimed she slipped and fell on a slippery substance/wet tile located outside the front entrance of a La Quinta. The Plaintiff sustained a fractured ankle and lateral epicondylitis (elbow injury) from her fall. She claimed that La Quinta failed to keep the area where she fell clear, failed to inspect the area frequently enough such that it could have discovered the slippery substance that she claimed was on the tile, and failed to warn that the tile was wet to the extent it had rained earlier. The Plaintiff incurred approximately $21,000 in medical bills for the treatment she received following her fall, claimed that she had continuing problems with both her ankle and her elbow, and asked the jury to award her $70,000.

    La Qunita denied that any dangerous condition existed on the tile and maintained that to the extent the tile was wet, it was from a recent rain and the Plaintiff should have anticipated that the tile would have been wet.

    After deliberating for approximately 1 hour the jury found in favor of La Quinta, and judgment was entered on its behalf.

  • Lashly & Baer Supports the Launch of Client’s New Website

    Lashly & Baer secured Multi-State Service Mark filings for our client, Nicole Benoist Edgerton, to support the launch of her company’s new website – minipinkbook.com, an online guide to boutiques, restaurants, beauty services and attractions. The website will be available in July beginning in four cities – St. Louis, Nashville, Kansas City and Atlanta. Along with a curated list of the best each city has to offer, Mini Pink Book will also include trends, products and insights from stylish personalities. Click here to view the recent article in the St. Louis Post-Dispatch and more about Nicole and Mini Pink Book.

  • Lashly & Baer Attorneys Obtain Two Certificates of Need

    On May 9, 2011, attorneys Richard D. Watters and Margaret Scavotto secured Certificate of Need approval for Black River Community Medical Center, a 3-bed community hospital in Poplar Bluff, MO and Springfield Alzheimer’s Special Care Center, a 66-bed assisted living facility dedicated entirely to treating individuals with Alzheimer’s disease and other forms of dementia.

  • Face To Face Encounters Change Home Health Services

    Wednesday, May 4, 2011 – Lashly & Baer Partner, Stuart J. Vogelsmeier, published an article in the Healthcare Financial Management Association (HFMA) Greater St. Louis Chapter Spring 2011 Newsletter entitled “Face To Face Encounters Change Home Health Services.” CLICK HERE to download a copy of the article or visit the HFMA Greater St. Louis Chapter website to view the Spring 2011 Newsletter.

  • Lashly & Baer, P.C. Clients William Richard and David Zar Recognized for Ultrasound Imaging With Smartphone

    Lashly & Baer, P.C. clients, William D. Richard and David Zar, have been recognized multiple times for their development of coupling USB-based ultrasound probe technology with a smartphone. Most recently, they were awarded the 2011 Best Mobile Health Innovation by the Global Mobile Awards.  In addition, Zar was featured on Good Morning America on February 15, 2011 to demonstrate the smartphone application.

  • Jury Sides With Big Tobacco In Historic City of St. Louis v. American Tobacco

    Friday, April 29, 2011 – Lashly & Baer, representing Missouri Hospitals, presented their clients case to a jury in the Circuit Court of the City of St. Louis. After a dozen expert witnesses and dozens of hospital administrators presented for more than 9 weeks in this historic case, the jury announced a 9 to 3 verdict for the Defendants.  The jury members, while finding that the hospitals proved that cigarettes are defective and unreasonably dangerous, were not convinced that the hospitals were overall damaged in treating sick smokers.

  • The Future of Medicine

    Lashly & Baer Health Care Attorney, Richard D. Watters, discussed “The Future of Medicine” with Mike Castellano (CEO of Esse Health), Dr. John Hubert (President of Mercy Clinic), and Dr. Michael Rau (Chairman of Patients First Health Care) at a seminar held at the Saint Louis Zoo on Friday, April 29, 2011.  The health care leaders discussed their different group practice models and how they are prepared to meet the challenges of health care reform.

  • Lashly & Baer Attorneys Speak at 2011 MoASBO Spring Conference

    Wednesday, April 27, 2011 –  Lisa O. Stump, and Rhonda A. O’Brien presented at the 2011 Missouri Association of School Business Officials Spring Conference.  Programs were entitled “Disclosure of School District Information,” and “Cafeteria Plans.”  Click on the presentation title to download.

  • Legal Issues Related to Purchasing

    Lashly & Baer partner, Stuart J. Vogelsmeier, will be speaking at the Institute for Supply Management St. Louis upcoming educational event on “Legal Issues Related to Purchasing” on Tuesday, April 19, 2011. Mr. Vogelsmeier represents one of the largest health care group purchasing companies in the Midwest, and regularly counsels clients on purchasing, leasing and licensing of products and technology in the health care area.

  • Melissa Vighi Selected by Commercial Real Estate Women for Member to Member Business Award

    March 18, 2011 – Lashly & Baer attorney, Melissa A. Vighi, was selected by the St. Louis chapter of Commercial Real Estate Women to receive their annual Member to Member Business Award. Visit Commercial Real Estate Women (CREW) St. Louis for more details.

  • Lashly & Baer Attorney Wins for District Hospital

    February 28, 2011 – Judith C. Brostron recently won a victory for her client in the Supreme Court of Illinois in a case of first impression interpreting the statute of limitations for public entities. Plaintiff filed a Complaint against Jersey Community Hospital District and a doctor almost two years after plaintiff’s injuries occurred. The Circuit Court dismissed the Complaint against the hospital under the one-year statute of limitations for public entities. Plaintiff appealed arguing that the 2003 amended version of the Tort Immunity Act applied because plaintiff’s injuries arose out of patient care. The Supreme Court held that plaintiff’s injuries for sexual assault by the physician did not “arise out of patient care,” and therefore the one-year statute of limitations applied.  View the complete opinion 109738 at http://www.illinoislawyernow.com/wp-content/uploads/2011/02/109738.pdf.

  • John Fox Arnold selected by St. Louis Business Journal as a Most Influential St. Louisan

    February 28, 2011 – Lashly & Baer attorney, John Fox Arnold was selected by the St. Louis Business Journal as a Most Influential St. Louisan. Click here to view the complete list.

  • Lashly & Baer Attorneys Win Summary Judgment for IPC International Corporation

    February 17, 2011 – Stefan J. Glynias and Sarah J. Hugg recently won summary judgment for their client IPC International Corporation in a wrongful death case filed in the City of St. Louis. Summary judgments are infrequently granted because they decide the case without the necessity of the expense and time for a trial. The Plaintiffs alleged that IPC was negligent in its provision of private security services, and that such negligence led to the shooting death of their family member. A thorough investigation of Plaintiffs’ claims and extensive discovery, revealed that the decedent’s death was the result of a premeditated, targeted assassination that was carried out despite the presence of witnesses and armed police officers. Accordingly, IPC’s conduct could not have been the proximate cause of the Plaintiffs’ injuries. The Circuit Court for the City of St. Louis agreed, and entered judgment in favor of IPC, dismissing Plaintiffs’ claims against IPC with prejudice and denying Plaintiffs leave to amend their Petition against IPC.

  • Stefan J. Glynias Served as Panelist at MUSIC Annual Meeting

    Stefan J. Glynias served as a panelist at the 2011 Missouri United School Insurance Council (MUSIC) Annual Meeting on January 27, 2011. Topics were discussed in detail regarding school administration, liability in connection with construction contracts, among other legal topics pertaining to school districts.

  • Key Compliance Issues for 2011

    Lashly & Baer partner, Stuart J. Vogelsmeier, spoke at the Health Care Financial Management Association St. Louis Chapter Winter Meeting on January 21, 2011, on Key Compliance Issues for 2011. Click here to access the presentation.

  • Attorney, Kevin L. Fritz, Elected Chair of USLAW NETWORK, Inc.’s Transportation Group

    January 6, 2011 – USLAW NETWORK, Inc. elected Kevin L. Fritz Chair of their Transportation Group. USLAW NETWORK, Inc. is a national organization composed of over 65 independent, defense-based law firms with over 4,000 attorneys covering the United States and Latin America. Among the firms, there are over 150 offices in 48 U.S. states specializing in business transactions and litigation. Fritz holds a J.D. from University of Missouri-Columbia School of Law.

    Download Press Release Here

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