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As part of a movement toward deregulation of several industries, Congress, via the Motor Carrier Act of 1980, partially preempted state regulatory authority over trucking. Congress found that States’ regulation of intrastate transportation of property imposed an unreasonable burden on interstate commerce, impeded the free flow of transportation of interstate commerce and placed an unreasonable cost on the American consumer.
Congress expressly prohibited States from enacting and or enforcing laws, regulations or other provisions having the force and effect of law related to a price, route or service of any motor carrier…broker or freight forwarder. However, preemption was not to
Continue Reading Brokers lose preemption battle (for now) in the war of broker liability.

The U.S. Supreme Court has regularly stated that arbitration agreements subject to the Federal Arbitration Act should not have special rules above and beyond those for ordinary contracts. The Supreme Court recently reaffirmed that this principle applies to contract defenses, including waiver. In Morgan v. Sundance, Inc., a unanimous Court held that a party opposing a motion to compel arbitration based on the defense of waiver need not demonstrate that it was prejudiced. The only relevant consideration is whether the actions of the party seeking arbitration demonstrated a knowing waiver of the right to arbitrate.

In Morgan, the
Continue Reading If You Want to Arbitrate, You Had Better Act Like It

In Worth v. Roden, the Eastern District Missouri Court of Appeals, held that when a timely motion for change of judge under Missouri Supreme Court Rule 51.05 is filed, the trial judge is “divested of authority to take any action other than ruling on motions already under submission and granting the change.”
Missouri Supreme Court Rule 51.05 provides in relevant part:
(a) A change shall be ordered in any civil action upon the timely filing of a written application therefore by a party…The application need not allege or prove any cause for such change of judge and need not
Continue Reading Timely Motion for Change of Judge Strips a Judge's Authority to Rule on Subsequent Motions

On June 20, a ceremony was held on the eastern plaza of the Civil Courts Building in downtown St. Louis to unveil the Freedom Suits Memorial.
The memorial honors courageous slave plaintiffs who sued for their freedom in the decades leading up to the Civil War and the judges, lawyers and jurors who assisted them. Collectively referred to as freedom suits, Dred and Harriet Scott are likely the most famous plaintiffs.
The centerpiece of the memorial, designed by artist Preston Jackson, is a fourteen-foot-tall cast bronze sculpture standing atop a black granite base etched with the names of all the
Continue Reading Paul Venker Comments on Freedom Suits Memorial Unveiling in Downtown St. Louis

On May 12, 2022, the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission issued a new comprehensive “technical assessment” document to aid employers with navigating existing ADA requirements when using software, algorithms, and artificial intelligence (collectively, “AI”) in employment-related decision making.

This is part of the Justice Department and the EEOC’s joint initiative to combat discrimination against people with disabilities. EEOC Chair Charlotte Burrows, citing data from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, stated “…over 80 percent of employers use AI in some form in their broader work and their employment decision-making…”

The new guidance highlights potential issues and scenarios that could lead to
Continue Reading EEOC issues new guidance on employer use of AI, and compliance with the Americans with Disabilities Act.

State ex rel. Kimberly Barks v. The Honorable Daniel Pelikan, No. SCR99024
At issue before the Missouri Supreme Court was whether a party’s assertion of an “assumption of the risk” affirmative defense – i.e., that the plaintiff-passenger knew that defendant driving a golf cart was intoxicated and rode with her anyway – waived the driver’s physician-patient privilege.
Background Facts and Procedural Posture
A golf cart driven by the defendant was involved in an accident with the plaintiff as a passenger. The passenger sustained personal injuries and sued the driver alleging she was negligent in operating the vehicle because, among other
Continue Reading Mulligan of an Affirmative Defense: Missouri Supreme Court holds physician-patient privilege not waived by having asserted certain affirmative defenses

William Coates, Jr. joins Baker Sterchi as an attorney in the firm’s Kansas City office. His practice focuses on personal injury and product liability matters in the transportation industry. He has tried more than 125 jury trials to verdict, including suits related to commercial motor carriers and railroads.
Coates currently serves as an adjunct professor at the University of Kansas School of Law, teaching trial advocacy.  He previously held leadership positions in the National Association of Railroad Trial Counsel, including serving as a regional vice president on the national executive committee.
He earned his law degree from the University of
Continue Reading William Coates Joins Baker Sterchi in Kansas City

Baker Sterchi Member Brandy Simpson is serving as the 2022-2023 Chair of the Women in the Legal Profession Section of The Bar Association of Metropolitan St. Louis, after having previously served as chair-elect from 2021-2022 and secretary from 2020-2021.
BAMSL’s WILP Section strives to promote and enhance women in the legal field professionally, personally and within their community. Simpson leads Baker Sterchi’s Women’s Affinity Group in St. Louis and is a frequent author on issues affecting women in the legal profession. She organized Baker Sterchi’s first Women in the Law CLE for St. Louis area legal professionals in 2019, which
Continue Reading Brandy Simpson Ascends to Chair of BAMSL's WILP Section

Baker Sterchi is recognized as a top ranked Independent Arbitrator for the fourth year in a row in the 2022 Missouri Lawyers Media Reader Rankings Awards publication.
Voted on by Missouri Lawyers Media readers from across the state, the annual rankings publication recognizes top Missouri businesses and organizations across a broad spectrum of legal industry related services with the most votes in each category.
Baker Sterchi’s Mediation & Arbitration Group includes individuals with years of experience in the legal profession, each bringing a unique perspective to their work as a mediator, arbitrator, special master, and consultant.
Continue Reading Baker Sterchi Recognized as a Top Independent Arbitrator in Reader Rankings Awards

The State of Missouri allows for prejudgment interest in breach of contract cases, as well as other types of claims. In breach of contract cases, prejudgment interest typically begins to accrue on the date of the breach or the date payment was due. The interest rate is set at nine percent unless the parties contractually agreed to a different rate. Under Missouri law, most contracts are subject to a maximum annual interest rate of ten percent, or the market rate. However, the legislature has carved out an exception to the interest rate cap for small-installment consumer loans. These loans are
Continue Reading Missouri Court Clarifies Issues of Prejudgment Interest Pre-2021

Located in the Kansas City office, Sarah Cramer joins Baker Sterchi as Director of Human Resources. She has 14 years of experience in the legal industry, including positions as Manager of Administrative Services and Administrative Services Supervisor at Am Law ranked firms.
Cramer serves on the Chapter Resource Team of the Association of Legal Administrators and is also the Membership Committee chair of the Kansas City Association of Legal Administrators. She earned her undergraduate degree from the University of Kansas.
Continue Reading Baker Sterchi Welcomes New Director of Human Resources

Missouri insurers can breathe a sigh of relief as the Missouri Court of Appeals, Western District, finds an insured’s fraudulent conduct precludes indemnity obligations under an “intentional acts” exclusion. The Court of Appeals found the claimant could not prove coverage applied to an underlying punitive judgment resulting from fraudulent sales tactics.

Estate of Max Overbey v. Universal is the latest chapter in the seemingly endless saga of litigation surrounding the Chad Franklin auto dealerships, and a deceptive marketing program that violated the Missouri Merchandising Practices Act. Here, the Court of Appeals reversed a lower court’s equitable garnishment judgment against Universal
Continue Reading Missouri Court of Appeals Finds Conduct Resulting in Punitive Damages Triggers Policy Exclusion for Intentional Acts

An effective tool in attempting to limit recovery and the scope of discovery in Illinois may be gone. In McQueen v. Green, a tractor-trailer accident case involving personal injuries, the Illinois Supreme Court overruled Illinois’ application of Missouri’s “McHaffie Rule”  (McHaffie v Bunch, 891 S.W.2d 822 (Mo. banc 1995)) which bars theories of “direct” negligence against a principal if the principal admits it is vicariously liable for the acts or omissions of its agent.  The rationale of the Missouri Supreme Court in McHaffie is that once vicarious liability is admitted, additional liability theories are extraneous.   The practical effect of
Continue Reading Admitting agency no longer bars direct negligence theories in Illinois.

At five years, Missouri currently has one of the longest personal injury statute of limitations of any state. In fact, only two states, Maine and North Dakota have longer statute of limitations periods (6 years), while forty-seven states currently have a shorter period. The Missouri General Assembly, through House Bill 2206 and Senate Bill 631, is currently debating reducing the statute of limitations period for personal injury claims from five years to two years. 
Five years is a long time – long enough for even the most vivid of memories to fade. This presents practical obstacles to personal injury litigation
Continue Reading Missouri Debates Shortening its Personal Injury Statute of Limitations