1100 Main, Suite 1600    Tel: 816.474.1700
Kansas City, MO 64105    Fax: 816.421.6239

We are Committed Experienced Focused

Commercial Litigation

Practice Overview:

fields and brown desk495The attorneys at Fields & Brown represent Fortune 100 corporations, engaged in manufacturing, retail, distribution and service industries, as well as, governmental agencies and national insurance companies in a wide range of commercial litigation including bankruptcy, creditors’ rights, commercial collections, foreclosures, directors and officers liability claims, quiet title actions, declaratory judgments, professional liability claims and consumer class actions. The firm brings a common-sense, business-oriented approach to both the client’s day-to-day legal issues and any extraordinary occurrences. The firm’s attorneys work in partnership with clients to achieve client objectives. Through creative problem solving and effective advocacy, the firm helps clients avoid unnecessary legal controversies and expenses.

Representative Matters

The firm has extensive experience with complex litigation, and recently represented a Fortune 100 food service manufacturer in the defense of Kansas and Missouri cases that were part of a multi-jurisdictional class action involving millions of dollars in consumer protection act claims. The class plaintiffs claimed they should have received more information about the ingredients in one of the manufacturer’s products. Class certification was denied in the Kansas action, and the class plaintiff dismissed her claims. The Missouri certification order was appealed to the Missouri Court of Appeals and to the Missouri Supreme Court. In 2008, the Missouri Supreme Court overturned the class certification order, effectively ending the case.

Successfully defended a Fortune 50 Oil Company against a premises liability claim that involved an alleged intentional tort and a claim of race discrimination under the Missouri Public Accommodations Law. Fields & Brown obtained summary judgment on behalf of its client. This result exceeded expectations because rarely is summary judgment awarded in Missouri State Courts if allegations of race discrimination are involved where motive and intent are usually established through circumstantial evidence.

For over ten years, the firm defended warranty claims on behalf of a Fortune 50 automotive manufacturer. In some instances these claims were litigated to judgment before juries. In most instances they were resolved through mediation on terms satisfactory to the client. The firm also defended a number of product liability claims against the automotive manufacturer.

The firm recently served as counsel for a regional utilities provider in a multi-million dollar preference action in the United States Bankruptcy Court for the Western District of Missouri. The firm was able to resolve the matter for a fraction of the amount claimed.

The firm also serves as counsel for the Missouri Department of Insurance in cases where insurance companies are placed into receivership. The firm acts a counsel for the Director of Insurance to evaluate and gather all assets, determine appropriate liabilities, and either reorganize companies or take them through the statutory liquidation process.

Financial Services

Practice Overview:

357The attorneys at Fields & Brown represent national banking institutions, investment firms, asset managers, governmental agencies and national insurance companies in a wide variety of commercial transactions including letters of credit, real estate and development project financing, guarantees, tax credit financing, secured and unsecured loans. The attorneys also have extensive experience in representing national banking institutions and insurance companies in a wide range of commercial litigation including bankruptcy, creditors’ rights, commercial collections, foreclosures, directors and officers liability claims, quiet title actions, declaratory judgments and professional liability claims.

Representative Matters:

The firm has represented Bank of America in a variety of litigation matters. Some have been as simple as obtaining judgment against loan debtors. Others have grown out of bankruptcy representation, involving, for example, quiet title actions regarding commercial and residential properties. Other matters involved defending the bank against suits based on various theories such as the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act. For approximately ten (10) years, the firm has represented Bank of America in a variety of bankruptcy matters. Additionally, Fields & Brown has represented Bank of America in a number of judicial foreclosures in Kansas and non-judicial foreclosures in Missouri. For example, the firm recovered the full amount of Bank of America’s lien (approximately $350,000) against property set for foreclosure by negotiating a resolution with another bank holding a second or subordinate position under the deed of trust.

The firm was retained and recovered $1.7 Million on behalf of Citi-Bank in a dispute involving the bank’s claim of superior rights to insurance proceeds paid under the terms and conditions of a deed of trust to property destroyed by reason of fire.

The firm established the superior lien holder position of Key Bank in a dispute with another bank as a result of simultaneous loans wrongfully obtained by a borrower who pledged the same property.

For over 20 years, the finance services group of Fields & Brown has provided bond counsel services to city state agencies, as well as political subdivisions and school districts. Our roles have also include issuer’s counsel, underwriter’s counsel and disclosure counsel. Attorneys in the group are skilled in using innovative financing techniques such as tax increment financing, community improvement districts, neighborhood improvement districts, and planned industrial expansion. Fields & Brown is listed in The Bond Buyer’s Municipal Marketplace (Red Book).

Insurance Practice

Practice Overview:

435The attorneys at Fields & Brown have extensive experience in all types of insurance-related matters, including representation of the insurers, policyholders, and self-insured parties. The firm is approved panel counsel for several property and casualty insurers and their third-party administrators. We have defended insureds under policies covering a wide array of risks. The attorneys working in our insurance practice group provide consistent and cost-effective legal services to insurers and their insureds.

Our attorneys understand the delicacy required to manage relationships between insurers and their insureds. We provide early assessments, establish realistic goals, and submit timely reporting to our clients. Our goal is to make certain the insureds and claims professionals have the ability to monitor litigation activity.

Services Provided:

The following are examples of the types of matters handled by the insurance practice group.

  • Coverage analysis, consultation and litigation involving insurance and reinsurance claims
  • Commercial cases involving commercial general liability insurance and property
  • Personal lines such as vehicular, homeowner and umbrella
  • Employment practices liability
  • Professional liability
  • Director and officer liability
  • Government and public sector liability
  • Bad faith, vexatious refusal and extra-contractual
  • Developer/general contractor constriction liability

Representative Matters:

Defended the operator of a vehicle who was allegedly intoxicated at three times the legal limit and injured multiple occupants of a vehicle traveling to a wedding reception. The firm was able to reach a reasonable resolution of the case for its client based on the fact that we established the plaintiff driver had also tested positive for an illegal substance.

Obtained summary judgment on behalf of an area Goodwill Industries store which was sued by a customer who allegedly suffered permanent injuries when she tripped and fell on the handicap ramp outside the store premises.

A bus driver was struck by a car while returning from a break. The bus driver subsequently died from heart complications which the surviving spouse asserted flowed from the original accident. This matter was resolved for a fraction of the claimed damages.

A mechanic died from mesothelioma, and the surviving spouse asserted the disease stemmed from the mechanic’s exposure to bus brakes containing asbestos with which the mechanic worked. Ultimately, the firm was able to establish that the causation element could not be met and the surviving spouse dismissed the claim.

Labor & Employment

Practice Overview:

employmentThe Labor and Employment Litigation group at Fields & Brown has extensive experience in the defense of claims arising under the Family and Medical Leave Act, Americans with Disabilities Act (“ADA”), Title VI, Title VII (including race, sexual harassment, and age), Title IX and the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act.
Attorneys at Fields & Brown represent employers at all levels of the state and federal judicial system. They regularly represent employers before state, federal and local employment agencies. The firm defends clients in a wide variety of employment litigation matters including wrongful terminations. The firm’s attorneys practice regularly before courts in Missouri and Kansas.

A significant portion of the firm’s employment practice is focused on counseling clients in order to avoid expensive and time-consuming litigation. In that regard Fields & Brown counsels clients regarding discipline, severance agreements, and non-competition agreements, discharge, reductions in force and internal grievance procedures.

Representative Matters:

Conducted major internal investigations on behalf of corporate clients into allegations of unlawful racial harassment and discrimination. The firm has also prepared position statements in response to charges filed with the United States Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, state agencies and local agencies.

Obtained summary judgment defending a local transit authority against a suit brought by an employee alleging among other things, a violation of the ADA. The employee claimed that her on-the-job drowsiness and sleeping was caused by a combination of prescribed medications, and her subsequent termination was a violation of the ADA. The employee appealed the judgment to the United States Court of Appeals for the Eighth Circuit, where the lower court’s opinion was sustained. Thereafter, the employee unsuccessfully sought a writ of certiorari before the United States Supreme Court. This case is frequently cited in the Eight Circuit for the definition of employer’s obligation to accommodate.

Defended a Fortune 500 Company corporate officer against allegations of gender discrimination and sexual harassment based on an alleged violation of the Missouri Human Rights Act. The suit was filed in the Missouri state court by a former manager against the company, her former supervisor, and company officers.

Recently obtained summary judgment in suit brought by former bus operator alleging a violation of her rights under the Americans with Disabilities Act because local transit authority refused to rehire her based on her prior attendance record.

Workers’ Compensation Defense

Practice Overview:

workers.compensationThe attorneys of Fields & Brown have a wealth of experience and skill in defending workers’ compensation matters. Fields & Brown handles a large volume of workers’ compensation matters that vary from muscle strains and permanent total disability to injuries resulting in death. At any given time the firm has in excess of three hundred open workers’ compensation files. Most of these cases are managed through third-party administrators such as Sedgwick CMS, GAB Robins North America, Thomas McGee, L.C., Underwriters Safety & Claims, Inc., and Cannon Cochran Management Services, Inc. The firm also represents Walmart Stores, Inc. as well as multiple self-insured entities.

Representative Matters:

A retail employee sustained a repetitive work injury to her back and also exhibited extensive psychiatric symptoms. The employee’s experts found her to be permanently and totally disabled, and exposure was estimated at over $800,000. The employee demanded $600,000 to settle the matter. Fields & Brown successfully argued at the hearing that the employee was not totally disabled, and the employer was ordered to pay permanent partial disability in the amount of $34,360. On appeal to the Commission, the award was affirmed.

A teacher was injured when two students slammed her into a wall and bookshelf. The teacher alleged the incident caused her to have flashbacks of childhood sexual abuse. The administrative law judge awarded permanent total disability benefits against the school district, and its total exposure could have exceeded $1,133,516. Fields & Brown was hired to handle the appeal, and successfully argued the ruling was against the overwhelming weight of the evidence. The permanent total award was reversed against the school district and entered against the Missouri Second Injury Fund.

Received a favorable decision on appeal after a school district employee was awarded permanent partial disability. It was argued that the Labor and Industrial Relations Commission misapplied the law by concluding that it was bound by the medical expert’s opinion concerning the percentage of permanent partial disability. The decision was ultimately reversed by the Missouri Court of Appeals and has been cited in subsequent decisions.

A bus operator filed a workers’ compensation claim alleging injuries to his neck, middle back and lower back when he allegedly fell on ice on the employer’s premises. The neck and middle back complaints eventually resolved with conservative care, but he continued to complain of lower back pain. The claimant demanded additional treatment and diagnostic testing. Surveillance was conducted in 2011, and the claimant was filmed helping another person carry a heavy furnace up a series of steps. During his deposition, claimant denied carrying the furnace. After revealing the surveillance evidence, claimant was forced to admit that he lied under oath. In July 2012, this matter was referred to the Fraud Unit for investigation. The case was subsequently sent to the Missouri Attorney General’s Office for review and consideration for possible prosecution.