Category Archives: Case

Gary Snodgrass, Nicholas Meriage, and Andrew Corkery awarded defense verdict in a property damage case in St. Louis County

PS Attorneys: Gary Snodgrass, Nicholas Meriage, and Andrew Corkery

Representing: Boyer Fire Protection LLC

Venue: St. Louis County Circuit Court

Facts: Property Damage. The plaintiff sought in excess of $1.5 million dollars in damages. Plaintiff’s final demand prior to trial was $900,000. This case resulted from a frozen sprinkler pipe that caused a flooding event in the Union Club 770 Building on February 14, 2020. Plaintiff claimed that Defendant, Boyer Fire Protection LLC, a sprinkler company, left water in the building’s dry sprinkler system, after a July 31, 2019 testing of the system. Plaintiff alleged this water left in the pipe several months before froze and led to the pipe burst causing damage to 15 apartments and common areas in one half of the building. Plaintiff claimed that costs to repair the building were over $1.5 million. Defendant claimed the cause of the water in the dry sprinkler system was the build-up of condensation, and the building owner’s failure to drain the condensation from the system pursuant to the National Fire Protection Association standards and the ordinances of the City of St. Louis. Defense counsel relied on testimony of the sprinkler company’s employees and owner. Defendant presented expert testimony from Kim Mniszewski, a fire safety engineer, who testified that Defendant met the standard of care and that the water was in the system as the result of the build-up of condensation over the seven months between the inspection and the incident. Defendant also presented testimony from Daniel Hogan, a forensic architect, concerning damages. Plaintiff introduced expert testimony from Nicholas Nava, a fire safety engineer who testified on the standard of care, and from Daniel Sovar who testified as to causation.

Verdict: Jury returned a unanimous verdict in favor of the Defendant Boyer Fire Protection LLC. The jury found that Plaintiff was 100% at fault for the incident.

Past results afford no guarantee of future results.  Every case is different and must be judged on its own merits.

Peter Dunne prevails in Supreme Court of Missouri in case challenging the applicable Statute of Limitations

PS Attorney: Peter J. Dunne

Representing: John Racanelli, dba Racanelli’s Pizza

Venue: Supreme Court of Missouri

Facts: Breach of Contract. The Plaintiff DiGregorio claimed that Defendant Racanelli was liable for payment of certain invoices that had been sent over 5 years prior to suit being filed. The invoices were challenged as not constituting a promise by the Defendant to pay the Plaintiff money under Section 516.110(1), and the 10 year Statute of Limitations under RSMo Section 516.110(1) (2000) did not apply. The Supreme Court agreed that the 5 year Statute of Limitations under Section 516.120 (1) applied, and reversed the judgment of the trial court and the Court of Appeals.

Appeals: Judgment reversed and case remanded to St. Louis County Circuit Court with instructions to enter judgment in favor of Defendant.

Past results afford no guarantee of future results.  Every case is different and must be judged on its own merits.

Gary Snodgrass Obtains Summary Judgment for Client on Multi-Million Dollar Personal Injury Claim in the City of St. Louis

Joseph Moore and Christina Moore v. Huneke Engineering, Inc. et al., Cause No. 1422-CC08898, Circuit Court of the City of St. Louis 

 PS Partners: Gary Snodgrass

We Represented: Huneke Engineering, Inc.

Type of Case: Catastrophic Personal Injury

 Venue: Circuit Court of the City of St. Louis

 Result: Summary Judgment Entered in Favor of Defendant Huneke Engineering, Inc.   

 Factual Background: Plaintiff Joseph Moore asserted a personal injury claim arising from injuries he sustained at a construction site.  On July 17, 2012, there was a five alarm fire at the Lindell apartment complex located in St. Louis, Missouri causing extensive fire damage to the premises.  After the fire, various contractors were involved in the rehabilitation and remediation of the damaged apartment complex.  Plaintiff Joseph Moore was an employee of the general contractor working at the job site.

On November 11, 2012, Plaintiff was in a stairwell on the fourth floor of the apartment complex when the stairwell collapsed and he sustained catastrophic personal injuries including broken facial bones, several broken ribs, a broken pelvis, and a severe brain injury which included a screw that had lodged itself more than an inch into the back of Plaintiff’s head.  Plaintiff sued several entities involved with the work at the premises including Defendant Huneke Engineering, Inc.

Defendant Huneke had been retained by Plaintiff’s employer and entered into an oral agreement to examine and address the structural integrity of all of the apartments units to be refurbished in the apartment complex.  Plaintiff argued that Defendant Huneke had a duty to examine the stairwell where the collapse occurred while conducting its structural examination of the immediately adjacent apartment units because it knew that various individuals at the construction site were routinely using the stairwell at issue.

Defendant Huneke filed  a Motion for Summary Judgment based on the Missouri case of Peeler v. Dewitt, 3 S.W. 3d 894 (Mo. App. W.D. 1999) which looked at the question of whether an architect can be held responsible for failing to perform services that are outside the scope of his work.  In Peeler, the Court held that an architect cannot be found responsible for failing to perform services that are clearly outside the scope of his work based on an oral agreement, and that a professional does not become responsible for the safety of the entire project when he does not undertake overall responsibilities for the project.

Outcome: After hearing oral argument on the Motion, the Court determined that there was simply no dispute that Defendant Huneke Engineering was not retained to inspect the stairwell involved in the collapse and was never asked to inspect that stairwell.  The Court determined that a defendant cannot be negligent in failing to do more than its contract obligates it to do.  Additionally, the Court cited Peeler v. DeWitt for the proposition that a professional does not become responsible for the safety of the entire project when he or she does not undertake professional responsibilities for the entire project.  Therefore, the Court determined that Defendant had no duty to inspect or warn about the stairwell where the accident occurred and entered Summary Judgment in favor of Defendant Huneke.

Last Settlement Demand from Plaintiff: $1,000,000.00

Last Settlement Offer from Defendant: $0

Past results afford no guarantee of future results.  Every case is different and must be judged on its own merits.

Gary Snodgrass Obtains Defense Verdict for Their Client on Million Dollar Wrongful Termination Claim after Three Week Jury Trial in St. Louis County.


PS Partners: Gary Snodgrass

We Represented: The Kilo Diabetes and Vascular Research Foundation

Type of Case: Employment – Wrongful Discharge in Violation of Public Policy

Venue: St. Louis County Circuit Court

Facts: Plaintiff Marina Larson was the Executive Director of the Kilo Diabetes and Vascular Research Foundation but was terminated for cause in 2013.  Plaintiff asserted that Dr. Charles Kilo, as President of the Kilo Foundation, wrongfully terminated her in violation of Missouri public policy.  More specifically, Plaintiff claimed that she was wrongfully discharged for refusing to fill prescriptions for controlled medications that were written by Dr. Charles Kilo but were for his own personal consumption.  Plaintiff also claimed that Dr. Kilo routinely prescribed medication to his patients without the requisite doctor’s office visit, freely gave out samples of prescription medication to his friends, occasionally gave out prescription medication that was expired, and various other improprieties related to prescription medication.  Plaintiff also asserted that Defendant Kilo Diabetes and Vascular Research Foundation failed and refused to return various items of personal property she left in her office after her termination.  Defendants Kilo Diabetes and Vascular Research Foundation and Dr. Charles Kilo strongly disputed these allegations.

The Defendants argued that Plaintiff Marina Larson was fired for cause as she had not only taken complete control over the Kilo Foundation but had also obtained undue influence over Dr. Kilo in his personal affairs going so far as to become a co-owner on his personal financial accounts, a beneficiary of his will, and she conveniently held complete fiduciary control of his estate and healthcare decisions were he to become incapacitated.

After a three week jury trial in St. Louis County Circuit Court, Plaintiff’s attorney asked the Jury to enter a verdict in favor of Plaintiff Marina Larson in the amount of $1,000,000.00.  In his closing argument, Gary Snodgrass asked the jury to enter a Defense Verdict in favor of Defendant Kilo Diabetes and Vascular Research Foundation on the Wrongful Discharge claim and suggested a minor Plaintiff’s verdict of $1,000.00 on the Conversion claim if the Jury felt so inclined.  This turned out to be the exact Verdicts entered by the Jury.

Outcome: On September 9, 2017, the Jury issued a Defense Verdict on the Wrongful Discharge in Violation of Public Policy claim while also allowing for a minor Plaintiff’s Verdict of $1,000.00 on the Conversion claim.  This was a terrific outcome and complete win for Gary and Josh’s client, especially since Defendant Kilo Diabetes and Vascular Research Foundation was entitled to recover its costs incurred due to the Defense Verdict.  These costs far exceeded the $1,000.00 Verdict for Plaintiff several times over.

It should also be noted that this case was made even more difficult for the defense as the Jury was instructed on Verdict Director 38.03 as it existed before the Missouri State Legislature changed it in legislation which became effective on August 28, 2017.

Under the new law applying to all cases filed after the effective date, plaintiffs now have the burden of proof to demonstrate that the alleged wrongful act was the “motivating factor” for the plaintiff’s discharge.  This burden of proof is now significantly higher than the former Verdict Director which only required the plaintiff to show that the wrongful act was a “contributing factor” in the plaintiff’s wrongful discharge.  However, even under the lower standard, the Jury still found in favor of Defendant Kilo Diabetes and Vascular Research Foundation.

Last Settlement Demand: $1,000,000.00

Last Settlement Offer: $100,000.00

Past results afford no guarantee of future results.  Every case is different and must be judged on its own merits.

Peter Dunne Successfully Defends Against Civil Rights Violation Claim

PS Partner: Peter J. Dunne

We represented: Travelers Insurance Company

 Venue: United States District Court for the Eastern District of Missouri


Type of action: 42 U.S.C. § 1983 – Failure to Intervene to Prevent Excessive Force.

Plaintiff claimed that his civil rights were violated when Defendant Franklin Adams used excessive force by instructing a police dog to apprehend him while he was offering no resistance to arrest and when Defendant Zach Albright failed to intervene to prevent the use of force.

The apprehension occurred during an arrest on April 19, 2014.  Plaintiff claimed he sustained injuries as a result of his apprehension by the police canine.  Defendants Zach Albright and Franklin Adams deny that excessive force was used, deny that Zach Albright failed to intervene to prevent the use of force, deny that they violated Plaintiff’s constitutional rights, claim that the instruction to the police canine to apprehend Plaintiff was justified based upon Plaintiff fleeing from officers, striking the police canine, resisting arrest, and the other circumstances and deny any and all liability.

Verdict:  Jury Verdict assessing no liability to Defendant in 42 U.S.C. 1983 case

Past results afford no guarantee of future results.  Every case is different and must be judged on its own merits.

Gary Snodgrass and Nick Meriage Obtain Total Exoneration Verdict for Geotechnical Engineering Company Professional Liability Negligence Claim

PS Partners: Gary Snodgrass

PS Associate:  Nick Meriage

We represented: Tech Services to Go, Inc., d/b/a Tsi Engineering, Inc.

Venue: St. Louis County Circuit Court


Negligence claim.

Design-build contractor Charah, Inc., a company that specializes in the coal fired power industry, dealing primarily with their waste products, engaged TSi, Inc., a geotechnical engineering firm, to prepare a geotechnical engineering report regarding a site that Charah and Ameren had chosen for the construction of a new limestone pulverizing facility, to provide pulverized limestone to Ameren.

The site chosen was on top of approximately 40-60 feet of fill, quarry waste, which was of unknown depth and consistency. In the report, TSi warned that the fill could settle, and the owner and builder needed to be willing to accept the risk of settlement should they want to proceed at the site. They later issued a chart, showing anticipated settlements at the site of only 1-2 inches, but again, referred everyone back to their original report, which warned about settlement.

After construction began, the site settled, and a new location needed to be chosen to complete the project. Charah sued TSi claiming over $1.6 million in damages related to “sunk costs,” on the abandoned site, as well as some lost profits and delay damages.

Verdict:  Defendant’s verdict.  Allocation of fault:  100% to plaintiff, 0% to defendant.

Past results afford no guarantee of future results.  Every case is different and must be judged on its own merits.

Pitzer Snodgrass P.C. Successfully Defends Premises Liability Claim


We represented: State Auto Insurance Companies – Morgan, LLC insured

Venue: Circuit Court of Jackson County, Illinois


Plaintiff tripped and fell on a sidewalk on her way into work at an office building in Murphysboro.  Alleged injuries included right shoulder tendonitis, levator scalpula syndrome, plus cuts scrapes and bruises.

Pre-trial demand:  $20,000


Verdict:  Allocation of fault:  50% to plaintiff, 50% to defendant.  Verdict value:  $825.50


Past results afford no guarantee of future results.  Every case is different and must be judged on its own merits.


Release, Waiver, and Assumption of Risk for Cycling Incident – Summary Judgment Affirmed

Pitzer Snodgrass Lawyers: Peter Dunne and Bob Plunkert

Our Client: City of Chesterfield, Missouri

Venue: St. Louis County Circuit Court, appeal to Missouri Court of Appeals for the Eastern District

Plaintiff Steven Glazer filed a personal injury case in St. Louis County Circuit Court alleging the City of Chesterfield was negligent regarding alleged surface hazards on the roadway during a Pedal for the Cause event.  The Plaintiff executed a one-page “Waiver” before the event, which provided the following:

I ACKNOWLEDGE THAT BY SIGNING THIS DOCUMENT, I AM ASSUMING RISKS. . . I ACKNOWLEDGE THAT CYCLING IS AN INHERENTLY DANGEROUS SPORT AND FULLY REALIZE THE DANGERS OF PARTICIPATING IN THE EVENT, whether as a rider, official, coach, mechanic, volunteer, or otherwise, and FULLY ASSUME THE RISKS ASSOCIATED WITH SUCH PARTICIPATION INCLUDING, by way of example, and not limitation, dangers associated with man made and natural jumps; the dangers of collision with pedestrians, vehicles, other riders, and fixed or moving objects; the dangers arising from surface hazards, including pot holes, equipment failure, inadequate safety equipment, use of equipment or materials provided by the event organizer and others, THE RELEASEES’ OWN NEGLIGENCE, the negligence of others and weather conditions; and the possibility of serious physical and/or mental trauma or injury, or death associated with the event.

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *

I HEREBY WAIVE, RELEASE, DISCHARGE, HOLD HARMLESS, AND PROMISE TO INDEMNIFY AND NOT TO SUE the Releasees and all sponsors, organizers and promoting organizations, property owners, law enforcement agencies, public entities, special districts and properties that are in any manner connected with this event, and their respective agents, officials, and employees through or by which the event will be held, (the foregoing are also collectively deemed to be Releasees), FROM ANY AND ALL RIGHTS AND CLAIMS, INCLUDING CLAIMS ARISING FROM THE RELEASEES’ OWN NEGLIGENCE TO THE MEXIMUM EXTENT PERMITTED BY LAW, which I have or which may hereafter accrue to me and from any and all damages which may be sustained directly or indirectly in connection with, or arising out of, my participation in or association with the event, or travel to or return from the event.

The St. Louis County Circuit Court entered an order granting Defendant’s Motion for Summary Judgment on the grounds of release, waiver, express assumption of the risk, and implied assumption of the risk.  Plaintiff appealed the matter to the Missouri Court of Appeals, Eastern District.  After oral argument was held in the John K. Pruellage Courtroom at the Saint Louis University School of Law, the Court of Appeals, in an unpublished opinion, affirmed the judgment of the Circuit Court.

Past results afford no guarantee of future results.  Every case is different and must be judged on its own merits.

Jerry Simon Obtains Dismissal Without Prejudice in Asbestos Personal Injury Claim

PS Partner: Jerry Simon

We represented: St. Joe Company

 Venue: St. Louis City Circuit Court


Plaintiffs Jerry & Cheryl Cozart filed a personal injury and product liability case in St. Louis City circuit court alleging that St. Joe Company, along with other defendants, exposed Mr. Cozart to asbestos during his employment. Plaintiff was diagnosed with lung cancer on December 7, 2011.

In reliance on the recent United States Supreme Court case of Daimler AG v. Bauman, 134 S. Ct. 746 (2014), Pitzer Snodgrass filed a Motion to Dismiss for Lack of Personal Jurisdiction. In Daimler, the Court held that, with respect to a corporation, the place of incorporation and principal place of business are paradigm bases for general jurisdiction.

St. Joe was neither incorporated in the State of Missouri, nor has it ever maintained its principal place of business in the State of Missouri.  Additionally, St. Joe has never maintained a registered agent in the State of Missouri.

Prior to the Hearing for St. Joe Company’s Motion to Dismiss, Plaintiffs conceded to the Motion to Dismiss and agreed to voluntarily dismiss St. Joe Company from this lawsuit.

Verdict:  Dismissal without prejudice

Past results afford no guarantee of future results.  Every case is different and must be judged on its own merits.

Phillip Bryant Obtains Motion for Summary Judgement in Property Insurance Claim Case

PS Partner: J. Phillip Bryant

We represented: Mount Vernon Fire Insurance Company

 Venue: U.S. District Court, Eastern District of Missouri


SJP Properties, Inc. is in the business of buying and selling foreclosed properties. On July 13, 2006 it purchased the subject property at a foreclosure sale. SJP did not inspect the property at any time before or after its purchase. Without an interested buyer, the property sat vacant for more than two years. No one regularly checked on the property during that time.

The property was insured by defendant Mount Vernon Fire Insurance Company throughout its ownership by SJP. Among other provisions, the policies contained a clause providing coverage for vandalism, an exclusion for loss or damages “caused by or resulting from theft” and an exception to the theft damage exclusion for “building damage caused by the breaking in or exiting of burglars.”

On October 21, 2008 SJP discovered that the property was broken into and burglarized. SJP claims that kitchen cabinets, copper pipes and wiring had been stolen. The burglars damaged the property to extract the copper piping. SJP claims the damages were the result of the covered peril of vandalism and were not caused by the excluded peril of theft. SJP also sought unspecified damages for vexatious refusal.

Mount Vernon contended that the damages resulted from theft and are excluded from coverage. Even if the theft exclusion did not apply, Mount Vernon pointed to other policy provisions that exclude damages caused by continuous discharge of water from a plumbing system for 14 days or more, or by fungus, wet rot, dry rot or bacteria. Mount Vernon’s expert opined that, in fact, water discharged for more than 14 days. SJP provided not opinion to the contrary. The court’s Opinion agreed with Mount Vernon’s assessment and found that insurance coverage is not afforded for the claimed loss.

Verdict:  Motion for Summary Judgment

Past results afford no guarantee of future results.  Every case is different and must be judged on its own merits.

Phillip Bryant Obtains Motion for Summary Judgement in Battery and Assault Case

PS Partner: J. Phillip Bryant

We represented: Lititz Mutual Insurance Company

 Venue: Circuit Court of St. Louis County, Missouri, Division 20


Plaintiff alleged that, without provocation, defendants Green and Williamson committed battery resulting in plaintiff’s jow to be broken.  Plaintiff and both defendants were intoxicated.  Plaintiff has no recollection of the events.

Both defendants agreee that Green did not strike planitiff.  Williamson acknowledged that he was the one who struck plaintiff, causing his broken jaw.  Green’s defense was that Green did not commit assault and battery as supported by the admission by defendant Williamson that Williamson did it.  Both defendants asserted that plaintiff instigated the incident.

Verdict:  Motion for Summary Judgment

Past results afford no guarantee of future results.  Every case is different and must be judged on its own merits.

Peter Dunne Receives Defendant Verdict on Civil Rights Claim

PS Partner: Peter Dunne

We represented: City of Ferguson and Police Officer Defendants

 Venue: United States District Court for the Eastern District of Missouri


Henry Davis, plaintiff, alleged he was the victim of excessive force and Fourteenth Amendment violations arising out of a traffic stop.

The Plaintiff claimed he was the victim of mistaken identity but was arrested and taken to the Ferguson jail, where he claimed he was beaten and pre-textually charged with a number of municipal code violations.

The City was dismissed on summary judgment;  at the close of Plaintiff’s evidence, the court directed judgment in favor of the defendants on Plaintiff’s remaining claims.

Verdict:  Defendant’s Verdict

Phillip Bryant Awarded Defendant Verdict in Personal Injury Case

PS Partner: Phillip Bryant

We represented: Jon Mueller

 Venue: Circuit Court of St. Louis County, Missouri, Division 5


Plaintiff Troy Manzella, then age 18, and defendant Jon Mueller, then age 19, played indoor soccer on opposing teams in an adult recreational league.  According to defendant Mueller, plaintiff exhibited overly aggresive behavior toward defendant throughout the game.  At one point, Manzella hit Mueller in the chest hard enough to knock the wind out of Mueller and to cause Mueller to fall to his knees.  As he began to rise, Mueller saw Manzella approach in an aggressive manner with clenched fists.  As Mueller stood, he attempted to push Manzella away.  As he rose, and as Manzella continued to approach, their heads collided and Manzella sustained a broken nose.  Plaintiff Manzella denied that he acted aggressively toward Mueller.  Manzella contended that, without provocation, Mueller intentionally head-butted Manzella’s face.  Mueller contended that he was not liable for plaintiff’s injuries.  As for plaintiff’s damages, it was pointed out that the deviated spetum was surgically corrected one week following the incident. Three months later, the plaintiff was hit in the nose by another player during a basketball game and the nose was pushed in.  Defendant’s expert, Dr Antisdel, opinioned that current headaches are the result of allergies rather than the nasal fracture.

Last Demand: $300,000

Last Offer: $20,001

Special Damages:  $16,518 medical expenses

Verdict:  Defendant’s Verdict

Phillip Bryant Successfully Reduces Plaintiff Award in Personal Injury Claim

PS Partner: Phillip Bryant

We represented: Virginia Evans

 Venue: Circuit Court of the City of St. Louis, Division 19


Defendant Virginia Evans (insured by Safeco Insurance) stopped her car behind that of plaintiff Tana Houston at a traffic light.  Ms. Evans’ foot slipped off the brake pedal and her car rolled into the rear of the plaintiff’s.  There was no damage to either vehicle.  The plaintiff claimed to have sustained herniated discs of the cervical and lumbar spine that will eventually require surgery.  The plaintiff presented incurred medical expenses of $36,520, incurred lost income of $3,612 and the future cost of surgery of $75,000.  The defense was that if the plaintiff sustained any injuries, those were limited to cervical and lumbar strains that resolved by October 30, 2008.  Treatment up to that date cost $2,700.  In closing, plaintiff’s counsel asked for $140,000.  The defendant suggested $4,700.

The jury returned a verdict for the plaintiff.

Last Demand: $140,000 during trial

Last Offer: $4,700

Verdict:  Plaintiff’s verdict awarded $5,000.

Motion to Dismiss granted to Missouri Highways and Transportation Commission

PS Partners/Associate: J. Phillip Bryant, Partner

We represented: Missouri Highways and Transportation Commission (MHTC)

Venue: Circuit Court of the City of St. Louis, Missouri


Personal injury lawsuit in which Plaintiffs Yvonne Marshall, Ricky Tyberendt, and Steven Chott claim they were injured on February 23, 2011 when they were involved in a 37 car pileup on eastbound Interstate 64 near the Market Street exit. According to their Petitions and the police report from the incident, a freezing rain fell in the early morning hours of February 23, 2011 covering the Vandeventer Ave. bridge with ice from the freezing rain. It is alleged that Robert Luzynski was operating a truck in the course of his employment with United Parcel Service, Inc. (“UPS”) when he lost control of his truck, blocking the eastbound lanes of I-64. This set off a chain reaction with numerous other vehicles colliding into the UPS truck as well as into those vehicles operated by individual motorists already involved in the collision.

After much discovery occurred, Ricky Tyberendt, Steven Chott and Yvonne Marshall joined MHTC as a defendant in their lawsuits alleging that a dangerous condition existed because the road allegedly lacked proper skid resistance and/or was unreasonably slick. They further claimed that MHTC had actual or constructive notice of the dangerous condition caused by the freezing rain, which allegedly occurred hours prior to the accidents, but that MHTC failed to take measures to protect against this condition. Specifically, these plaintiffs claimed that MHTC failed to obtain an accurate or reliable weather forecast, failed to treat the roads with de-icing agents, and failed to notify traffic of the slick conditions.

We moved to dismiss MHTC on the argument that MHTC is protected by sovereign immunity on the plaintiffs’ claims against it. Specifically, we argued that plaintiffs’ allegation that MHTC failed to obtain a weather forecast does not trigger a waiver of sovereign immunity. Nor did plaintiffs’ complaint that MHTC failed to de-ice the road. Similarly, the alleged failure to warn motorists of slick road conditions was insufficient to trigger a waiver of sovereign immunity. Plaintiffs countered that the alleged failures by MHTC arose out of a condition of the property, thereby triggering a waiver of sovereign immunity. Judge Dierker agreed that MHTC is under a duty to maintain the roadway so that it is safe for drivers. However, the duty to remedy an icy condition depends upon pleading and proof that the condition was not common to the area in general at the time of the injury and that, considering the scope of the roadways under the defendant’s control, there was ample advance notice of the particular condition to permit the defendant to remedy it. Judge Dierker noted that the pleadings are bereft of allegations showing that the hazard on the roadway was different than the hazard posed by freezing rain anywhere else in the area. The allegation that MHTC had notice of freezing rain in the vicinity of the accident site some hours before the accident is patently insufficient to afford MHTC time to protect against the specific hazard existing at the site of the accident.

Past results afford no guarantee of future results.  Every case is different and must be judged on its own merits.

Verdict for Defendant Safeco Insurance Company of Illinois

PS Partners/Associate: Gary E. Snodgrass, Partner

We represented: Safeco Insurance Company of Illinois

Venue: Missouri – Howell County Circuit Court


Plaintiff Karen Burkett was a passenger in a vehicle owned by plaintiff and her husband, and driven by her son, on February 22, 2007. The Burkett vehicle slowed down for traffic on Highway W in Thayer, Missouri, when Devin Smith crested a hill and was unable to stop before hitting the rear of the Burkett vehicle. Plaintiff filed suit against Mr. Smith and her underinsured motorist carrier, Safeco Insurance Company of Illinois. Mr. Smith settled with plaintiff for $25,000.00, the limits of his policy of insurance, prior to trial.

Plaintiff claims that immediately after the accident, she tried to get out of the car, but became dizzy and fell to the ground. She did not receive medical treatment at the scene. However, she went to an urgent care center later that day where she complained of neck and back pain. She was diagnosed with cervical, thoracic, and lumbar strains. Plaintiff claims she had shortness of breath immediately after the accident, although shortness of breath was not noted in her medical records until several months after the accident.

After the accident, a chest x-ray was taken of the thoracic spine which showed an elevation of the right hemi diaphragm in the lung.   Plaintiff underwent surgery for her lung condition on July 10, 2007. After the surgery, plaintiff continued to complain of shortness of breath and claimed she is disabled and unable to return to work as a home health care provider due to her condition.   Plaintiff’s medical expenses totaled around $55,000.

Plaintiff was involved in a prior automobile accident in 2005 wherein she complained of abdominal pain and back pain. A CT scan in the emergency room following that accident showed an elevated right hemi diaphragm of her lung. She was diagnosed with a possible contusion to the right lung at that time.

Plaintiff claimed the 2007 accident exacerbated her lung condition as she did not have any complaints or shortness of breath prior to the accident. Plaintiff’s experts Dr. David Dale, her IME doctor, and Dr. Christopher Nicholas, her treating surgeon, testified at trial that the 2007 accident exacerbated her lung condition as she claims she did not have any complaints of shortness of breath prior to the 2007 accident.

Defendant’s experts Dr. Brian Kim and Dr. Joseph Horner testified via videotaped deposition, and Dr. Andrew Martine testified at trial that the 2007 accident did not cause or exacerbate plaintiff’s lung condition as the elevation of the right hemi diaphragm had not changed in the x-rays prior to, and after the 2007 accident. Also, defendant’s experts testified that plaintiff did not exhibit the type of symptoms after the 2007 accident that would be expected if there was damage to the phrenic nerve and the lung condition was exacerbated by the accident.

The jury returned a verdict for the defendant.

Last Demand: $25,000

Last Offer: $0

Past results afford no guarantee of future results.  Every case is different and must be judged on its own merits.

Gary Snodgrass Gets Defendants Verdict in Personal Injury Claim

Schwarz v. Maguire

PS Partners/Associate: Gary E. Snodgrass, Partner and Deanna J. Brady, Associate

We represented: Marilyn Maguire

Venue: St. Louis City Circuit Court


Plaintiff Paul Schwarz was stopped on his 2004 Harley-Davidson Sportster Motorcycle at the intersection of Vandeventer and Boyle in the City of St. Louis on October 14, 2008. The defendant Marilyn Maguire stopped her 1992 Honda Accord behind plaintiff’s motorcycle.    Both were waiting on Boyle to turn right, or southbound, onto Vandeventer.

According to plaintiff, he rolled his motorcycle forward about ten feet to get a better look at oncoming traffic and stopped. The defendant believed plaintiff was turning onto Vandeventer and removed her foot from the brake and did not touch the accelerator. She did not see plaintiff’s motorcycle stop and she impacted the rear of plaintiff’s motorcycle. Plaintiff claimed the impact pushed his motorcycle across two lanes of travel into the center of the intersection. Neither plaintiff nor the motorcycle fell to the ground. Defendant claimed the motorcycle only moved forward two to three feet.

Plaintiff did not make any complaints of injury at the scene of the accident; however, he claims he felt pain in his neck later that evening. The following day, plaintiff treated with a massage therapist. He received four treatments over the course of one month, with total charges in the amount of $180.00.

Three months later, plaintiff saw his primary care physician, Dr. Fischer, who ordered an MRI. The MRI revealed a herniated disc at C5-6 that was possibly touching the spinal cord. About one month later, plaintiff saw an orthopedic surgeon, Dr. Mirkin, who discussed conservative treatments and surgery. Plaintiff was not interested in conservative treatment and he underwent fusion surgery of his neck at the C5-6 level on July 16, 2009. Dr. Mirkin testified via videotaped deposition that the herniated disc he treated was a direct result of the motor vehicle accident. Plaintiff did not receive any other treatment and his medical expenses totaled $79,791.98, of which $20,938.71 was actually paid. The remainder was written-off or adjusted with no further obligation on plaintiff’s part to repay the balance.

Defendant’s orthopedic expert, Dr. Marvin Mishkin, testified via videotaped deposition that plaintiff’s herniated disc was the result of degenerative disc disease and was not caused by the accident, and therefore, the fusion surgery was not caused by or related to the accident. Defendant’s biomechanical engineer expert, Doug Morr, testified live at trial that the acceleration plaintiff would have felt upon impact would be comparable to walking down stairs or plopping on a chair. He did not find any forces that could have caused any significant cervical injury. At most, plaintiff would have suffered a minor cervical sprain or strain in the impact.

The jury returned a verdict in the amount of $400.00. Prior to trial, the parties entered into a high/low agreement in the amount of $30,000.00/$100,000.00. Therefore, judgment was entered in the amount of $30,000.00 in favor of plaintiffs.

Last Demand: $75,000

Last Offer: $30,000.00. Plaintiffs rejected $30,000.00, but agreed to a high-low of $30,000.00 to $100,000.00

Verdict:  Plaintiff $400.00

Past results afford no guarantee of future results.  Every case is different and must be judged on its own merits.

Gary Snodgrass wins Defense Verdict for Construction Premises Claim

Jack Reynolds v. Tony Prince Company, Inc., d/b/a Tony Prince Flooring

PS Partner who tried case: Gary E. Snodgrass, Partner and Derek Ruzicka, associate

We represented: Tony Prince Company Inc., d/b/a Tony Prince Flooring

Venue: St. Louis County, Missouri

Facts:   Plaintiff claimed he suffered a knee and wrist injury while walking through a construction jobsite.  He purportedly slipped in glue, which was placed on the floor by Tony Prince Company’s floorlayer as part of the process of laying carpet tiles.  The parties disputed whether the floorlayer placed warnings in the area of the glue.  Plaintiff asserted a caution post with caution tape draped around the top was stationed against a wall.  The floorlayer testified the post and tape were in clear view of workers who might attempt to enter the “glued” area and that he was instructed not to string the caution tape from the post to the wall by the job superintendent, an employee of the general contractor.  There were no other available caution posts.  The parties also disputed whether the plaintiff’s claimed knee injury was pre-existing.  Plaintiff asserted he suffered a fractured cartilage as part of the fall.

The defendant presented evidence that the plaintiff sought treatment on the same knee a mere three months before the incident.  As part of that prior treatment, an MRI was performed.  The defendant’s radiologist reviewed the MRI films from before the incident and compared them to the post-incident MRI films.  The testified that the “problem” area that was present after the fall was also indicated on the films taken before the fall, although not to the extent that was present after the fall.

Last Demand: $600,000

Last Offer: $300,000

Verdict:  Defendant’s Verdict

Past results afford no guarantee of future results.  Every case is different and must be judged on its own merits.

Phillip Bryant Represents Robert Julian v. Betty Lester v. Richard Clark

PS Partner who tried case:  J. Phillip Bryant

We represented: Safeco Insurance Company of America

Venue: City of St. Louis

Facts:   Defendant Betty Lester collided with the side of the vehicle in which plaintiff was a passenger allegedly causing injury to plaintiff’s neck and back. Plaintiff had a twenty year history of neck and back complaints but denied having symptoms during the six years before the accident.  Through diligent discovery, we discovered evidence of complaints during that time.  The majority of plaintiff’s treatment was with a pain management physician.  Settlement Negotiations:  Prior to litigation, plaintiff demanded $100,000.  In response, $11,500 was offered.  Plaintiff replied that he would not reduce the demand from $100,000, thereby ending settlement negotiations.  Verdict:  $54,000

Verdict:  Plaintiff’s verdict for $54,068.88

Past results afford no guarantee of future results.  Every case is different and must be judged on its own merits.

Defendant Verdict in Medical Malpractice Claim

Penny Keller v. James J. Dalla Riva, M.D. and Thomas Hulsen M.D.

Pitzer Snodgrass Partner who tried case: Michael J. Pitzer

We represented: Thomas Hulsen, M.D.

Venue: Madison County, Illinois Circuit Court

Facts:  Plaintiff’s small intestine was perforated during laparoscopic surgery by co-defendant. Dr. Hulsen was charged with failing to diagnose the perforation in a timely manner although he did so within 24 hours.

We were successful in proving that Dr. Hulsen’s care did not cause plaintiff any more injury than the original perforation. Plaintiff’s experts were not able to prove causation and the court agreed when it sustained a Motion for Directed Verdict at the close of plaintiff’s evidence. This was a rare directed verdict in Madison County, Illinois.

Last Demand: $0

Last Offer: $0

Verdict:  Directed Verdict in favor of Dr. Hulsen

Past results afford no guarantee of future results.  Every case is different and must be judged on its own merits.

Defense Verdict in Medical Malpractice Wrongful Death Case

Hickman v. Chavez, et al.

Partner who tried case: Michael J. Pitzer

We represented: Defendant one, an internist and Defendant two, a pulmonologist/critical care physician

Venue: St. Clair County Illinois Circuit Court

Facts: This was a wrongful death case arising out of medical treatment following the deceased’s admission to the hospital for a ruptured appendix. While in the hospital, she developed pleural effusion and atelectasis, but she appeared on the road to recovery after being weaned from the ventilator. However, two weeks after her admission she developed cardio-pulmonary arrest and suffered brain damage as a result of hypoxia. She never recovered and lived for a year and a half in a vegetative state.

Last Demand:              $ 2 million

Last Offer:                     $ zero

Verdict:                          Defense Verdict for both defendants

Past results afford no guarantee of future results.  Every case is different and must be judged on its own merits.

Defendants Verdict in Trucking Related Personal Injury Claim

Casey Hinton vs. TransAm Trucking, Inc.

Partner who tried case: J. Phillip Bryant

We represented: TransAm Trucking, Inc.

Venue: Circuit Court of Madison County, Illinois

Facts:  TransAm driver rear ended another tractor-trailer on I-55 that was stopped due to traffic congestion stemming from road construction.  Plaintiff alleged that the second tractor-trailer was pushed into a pick up truck that was, in turn, pushed into the rear of plaintiff’s vehicle.  There was no direct testimony to support the plaintiff’s alleged version of events.  We contended that the plaintiff failed to meet her burden to prove that the impact she experienced was caused by the TransAm driver.  We also disputed the extent of the plaintiff’s medical care that largely consisted of chiropractic treatment and physical therapy.

Last Demand: $13,800

Last Offer: $5,750

Verdict:  Defendant’s Verdict

Past results afford no guarantee of future results.  Every case is different and must be judged on its own merits.

Defendant Verdict for Missouri Botanical Garden for Premises Liability Claim

Kristie Holden V. Missouri Botanical Garden Michael Pitzer

Partner who tried case: Michael J. Pitzer

We represented: Missouri Botanical Garden

Venue: Circuit Court of the City of St. Louis

Facts: On June 6, 2006, plaintiff Kristie Holden was visiting the Missouri Botanical Garden when she missed a step while walking down the pathway. She took an air-step and fell, spraining her right ankle and fracturing her left ankle. Treatment included a metal plate and screws to retain the fragments. Her medical bills totaled $62,000. Plaintiff claimed that the single riser step in a path in the Japanese Garden was defective because it did not have visual cues which would cause plaintiff to see it. The defense was based upon the fact that the plaintiff failed to keep a careful lookout for a step that was obvious if she looked. Plaintiff’s last demand was $100,000. There was no offer. The jury returned a verdict in favor of the Missouri Botanical Garden.

Past results afford no guarantee of future results.  Every case is different and must be judged on its own merits.