Principal Michael Hamlin was selected as a 2017 Influential Appellate Advocate. The honor is part of the 2017 Missouri Lawyers Awards, which honor the top influencers in Missouri’s legal community. Michael was selected based upon his role as defense counsel in the matter of Parr v. Breeden, a Supreme Court decision that redefined the issue of co-employee liability in the State of Missouri.
Michael represented the defendants in a wrongful death lawsuit alleging that employees of a trucking company missed signs of the poor health of the driver killed in a single-vehicle accident. He obtained a summary judgment on behalf of the defendants, each of whom were plaintiff’s co-employees. The Court of Appeals for the Southern District of Missouri affirmed the grant of summary judgment, but a dissenting judge transferred the case to the Missouri Supreme Court, based upon a procedural rule rarely used. The dissenting judge cited a recent conflicting case in the Western District, Leeper v. Asmus, which had also been appealed to the Supreme Court. The Supreme Court declined review ofLeeper, but took up Parr.
The Court affirmed the trial court’s grant of summary judgment, holding that plaintiffs’ allegations of duties held by the defendant co-employees fell within the non-delegable duties of an employer. Therefore, workers’ compensation was plaintiffs’ exclusive remedy. Plaintiffs also argued that the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration regulations applicable to motor carriers and their employees created independent duties that took the co-employees outside the employer’s non-delegable duties, but the court rejected the argument.
Michael, who was also honored last year as a Rising Star by Missouri and Kansas Super Lawyers, is featured in the January 2017 issue of Missouri Lawyers Weekly along with the other Missouri Lawyers Awards winners.