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John Cowden, Co-Chair of BSCR, is a locally and nationally recognized litigator and trial lawyer who has obtained successful results in hundreds of cases for his clients. Having defended claims in numerous major jury trials in various states, he has been selected as a “Dean of the Trial Bar” in the Kansas City area.  
John has been selected by his peers for inclusion in the Best Lawyers in America, Kansas City Metropolitan Area, for his work in Aviation Law, Bet-the-Company Litigation, Commercial Litigation, Mass Tort Litigation / Class Actions - Defendants, and Product Liability Litigation – Defendants.
Although he relishes the challenge and drama of the courtroom, his greatest satisfaction comes from achieving a good outcome for the client at an early stage for a reasonable cost.
Examples of cases handled within the last two years include:
  • Jointly defended hospital supply manufacturer in federal court antitrust case resulting in summary judgment in favor of client—affirmed on appeal.
  • Obtained appellate reversal of a jury verdict against an automobile manufacturer in a class action involving alleged product defects.
  • Obtained dismissal of an aircraft parts supplier with no payment in a product liability wrongful death case in Missouri.
  • Obtained dismissal of aircraft engine manufacturer with no payment in a product liability wrongful death case in Missouri.
  • Current defense of aerospace industry manufacturer in wrongful death action in New Jersey.
  • Current defense of claims against major commercial airlines in federal and state court.
  • Current defense of aircraft engine manufacturer in series of wrongful death cases arising from crash in central Kansas.
  • Current representation of international automobile manufacturer and seller in series of consumer fraud actions in Missouri and Kansas.


  • Missouri
  • U.S. Court of Appeals, Eighth Circuit
  • U.S. Court of Appeals, Tenth Circuit
  • USDC, Western District of Missouri
  • USDC, District of Kansas
  • USDC, Eastern District of Missouri
  • Supreme Court of the United States


  • University of Missouri - Columbia School of Law, JD
  • Missouri State University, BA

Memberships & Activities

  • Former Assistant Attorney General of State of Missouri
  • American Board of Trial Advocates
    • Past President, Chapter of Western Missouri/Eastern Kansas
  • American College of Trial Lawyers, Fellow
  • Defense Counsel Trial Academy, Faculty Member
  • Trial Attorneys of America
  • Ross Roberts Inn of Court, Master
  • Missouri Organization of Defense Lawyers
    • Former Chair of Product Liability Committee
  • The Missouri Bar
    • Former Vice Chair, Federal Courts Committee and Vice Chair,Torts Committee
  • Kansas City Metropolitan Bar Association
    • Former Chair of Federal Courts Committee


  • Contributing author: Product Liability Advisory Council (PLAC) Consumer Fraud 50 State Survey, Section on Missouri Law.
  • Contributing author: ALFA International Product Liability Law Practice Group Compendium of Product Liability Law Issues, 2004, Section on Missouri Law.
  • "Why General Jurisdiction Requires a More Specific Standard" (International Association of Defense Counsel, Aviation & Space Law Committee Newsletter, May 2002).
  • “The Air Carrier Access Act: A Case Study” (International Association of Defense Counsel, Aviation & Space Law Committee Newsletter).
  • “Protective Orders: Ten Commandments for the Defense.” (International Association of Defense Counsel, Aviation Newsletter).


  • IADC Trial Academy, Colorado Springs, Colorado.
  • Ten Commandments on the Use of Protective Orders, West Palm Beach, Florida.
  • Ethical Considerations in Class Action Settlements, (PLAC) Orlando, Florida.
  • Alternative Dispute Resolution, Defense Perspective, Kiawah Island, South Carolina.
  • Federal Preemption (IADC), Greenbrier, West Virginia.
  • Affirmative Defenses in Sports Related Cases (IADC), LaQuinta, California.
  • Affirmative Use of NTSB Reports (IADC Aviation), Monterey, California.
  • Use of Suicide Defense (DRI), San Diego, California.
  • Panel Discussion on the Role of Insurer, Insured and Outside Counsel (DRI), New Orleans, Louisiana.
  • E-Discovery, National Electrical Manufacturers Association Conference, Chicago, Illinois.
  • Trial Counsel Duties in E-Discovery, Palm Desert Springs, California.
  • Lessons Learned in the Courtroom, ALFA Product Liability Seminar, Nashville, TN.
  • ABOTA Master's In Trial Demonstration, Kansas City, Missouri.
  • The Trial of a Products Liability Lawsuit, Kansas City, Missouri.
  • The Trial of a Products Liability Lawsuit, St. Louis, Missouri.
  • How to Try a Civil Lawsuit, Kansas City, Missouri.
  • Proper Use of Jury Instructions (Federal Court Seminar), Kansas City, Missouri.
  • Utilization of Local Rules (Federal Court Seminar), Kansas City, Missouri.
  • Jury Innovations, District Court en banc, Kansas City, Missouri.
  • Jury Innovations, District Court en banc, St. Louis, Missouri.
  • The New "But For" Causation Rule in Missouri, Kansas City, Missouri.
  • The New Comparative Fault Rule in Missouri (Missouri Bar), Springfield, Missouri.
  • Missouri Evidence Restated (Relevancy - 401, 402), Kansas City, Missouri.
  • Missouri Evidence Restated (Relevancy - 401, 402), Columbia, Missouri.
  • The New Federal Local Rules (UMC Law School), Columbia, Missouri.
  • The Economic Impact of Civil Litigation, University of Missouri at Kansas City.

Awards & Recognition

  • AV® Preeminent Peer Review Rated by Martindale-Hubbell
  • Selected for inclusion in Chambers USA, 2008-present
  • Selected for inclusion in Best Lawyers® in America, Kansas City Metropolitan Area, 2012-present
    • Product Liability Litigation – Defendants “Lawyer of the Year” (2017)
    • Commercial Litigation (2012-present)
    • Product Liability Litigation - Defendants (2013-present)
    • Aviation Law (2014-present)
    • Bet-the-Company Litigation (2017-present)
    • Mass Tort Litigation/Class Actions - Defendants (2018-present)
  • Selected for inclusion in Missouri & Kansas Super Lawyers®, 2005-present
    • Top 50 Kansas City Attorney (2005-2009, 2011-2012, 2014)
    • Top 100 Kansas City Attorney (2005-2016)
  • Recipient of the Missouri Lawyers Weekly Inaugural "ICON" Award, 2018
  • Recipient of the Kansas City Business Journal “Best of the Bar" Award, 2006 and 2017
  • Recipient of the Kansas City Metropolitan Bar Association "Dean of the Trial Bar" Award, 2010
  • Recipient of the Kansas City Missouri Bar “Congenial Counselor” Award, 2008
  • Order of Barristers Honorary Initiate - University of Missouri at Columbia School of Law, 2006
  • Elected to "An International Who's Who of Product Liability Defence Lawyers"


  • Approved outside mediator for the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Missouri MAP program.

News & Events

Baker Sterchi Cowden & Rice, LLC Announces New Management

01.16.14 | Baker Sterchi Cowden & Rice, LLC has named Thomas N. Sterchi and John W. Cowden as Co-Chairmen and James Scott Kreamer as Managing Member of the firm.

Cowden Speaks at Conference on Missouri Class Action Developments

11.16.12 | John Cowden was one of several attorneys that spoke at a recent Class Action Conference in Tennessee. Cowden spoke on class action developments and trends in Missouri, including developments in settlements, e-discovery, attorney fee awards, and consumer fraud act decisions with an emphasis on significant automotive lawsuits.

Baker Sterchi Executive Director Passes ALA President's Gavel

04.27.12 | Baker Sterchi Cowden & Rice Executive Director Karen Griggs has served as the President of the Association of Legal Administrators (ALA) for the last year. ALA is the largest international association of professionals involved in the management of law firms, corporate legal departments and government legal agencies, with nearly 10,000 members in 30 countries. . .

Stubbs and Cowden to Participate in ALFA Product Liability Seminar

09.26.11 | Kara Stubbs and John Cowden participated in the recent ALFA Product Liability Seminar held in Nashville, TN. Stubbs was the program chair and Cowden participated on a breakout session panel entitled "Juror Perceptions and Attitudes Toward Corporate Defendants" at the 2011 ALFA Product Liability Seminar. . .

Cowden Attends Second Annual LCLD Membership Meeting

09.19.11 | As the firm's liaison with the Leadership Council on Legal Diversity (LCLD), Baker Sterchi Cowden & Rice Member John Cowden attended the LCLD's Second Annual Membership Meeting in Washington, DC., September 14-16. The LCLD was formed in 2009 and is...


BSCR Obtains Dismissal of State Environmental Claim Against Automaker

BSCR, working with our client's national counsel, Sullivan & Cromwell, obtained dismissal of a case filed by the State of Missouri, which sought more than $1 billion in damages. The Circuit Court for the City of St. Louis held that the state environmental claims were preempted by the "clear language" of the federal Clean Air Act.

BSCR Wins Supreme Court Dismissal of Missouri Merchandising Practices Act Class Action

In a Missouri Merchandising Practices Act case in which the plaintiff class alleged that our automotive client had engaged in misrepresentation when it described certain vehicles as luxury or premium vehicles (among other similar statements), when...

BSCR Obtains No-Payment Dismissal in Wrongful Death Plane Crash for Aircraft Component Part Manufacturer

In this Lawrence County, Missouri wrongful death airplane crash action, plaintiff’s allegations of failure to warn, breach of express warranty and breach of implied warranty against our aircraft component part manufacturing client were rejected by the court in favor of BSCR’s argument that the statute of limitations had expired and plaintiff had failed to state a claim, resulting in a no-payment dismissal of the action.

BSCR Obtains Summary Judgment on Behalf of County Government in Claim Involving Helicopter

In this St. Louis City action, plaintiff’s decedent was killed in a motor vehicle accident when a stolen vehicle collided into decedent’s vehicle. Plaintiff alleged that the driver of the vehicle was being pursued by police at the time of the crash, including a county helicopter operated by a pilot officer. BSCR obtained ...

Missouri Court of Appeals reverses trial court, ruling in favor of BSCR’s automotive client, and ordering judgment notwithstanding verdict

In a class action brought by plaintiffs in Missouri state court, alleging certain vehicles had defective dashboards, and that our automotive client misrepresented the vehicles to consumers, the Circuit Court of Jackson County originally certified a Missouri class, for claims under the Missouri Merchandising Practices Act and breach of express warranty and implied warranty.

BSCR scores win in $200M antitrust suit involving medical and surgical supplies for acute care providers

BSCR’s health care services company client and another defendant were sued in Kansas Federal Court in 2012 by a competitor alleging antitrust tying and exclusive dealing.

No-Payment Dismissal Obtained for Component Part Client in Wrongful Death Plane Crash Action

In this Western District of Missouri product liability wrongful death action involving a plane crash in Australia with 14 fatalities, a third-party action for contribution was filed against our component part manufacturing client by one of the defendants to the action. Upon that defendant’s settlement with plaintiff, BSCR secured ...

Dismissal Obtained for Component Part Manufacturer in Commercial Airline Crash Case

In this action, survivors of a commercial airline crash in Chile filed numerous claims in the United States District Court for the District of Kansas for physical and emotional damages alleging the crash was caused by a defective deicing system. BSCR obtained a dismissal of all claims against our client, a deicing component part manufacturer, following minimal discovery and mediation with no payment by our client.

BSCR Procures Dismissal for Component Part Manufacturer in Airplane Crash Case

BSCR successfully procured the dismissal of our component part manufacturing client in an action involving claimed defects in a component part allegedly causing the crash of a single engine aircraft and death of the pilot. The no-payment dismissal was procured by BSCR in this Rutherford County, Tennessee case prior to the close of discovery.

Summary Judgment Entered in Favor of BSCR Client in Wrongful Death Product Liability Action

BSCR obtained summary judgment for our client, the manufacturer of a GPS system, in a wrongful death product liability action filed in Jefferson County, Missouri. Plaintiff alleged the manufacturer's GPS unit, which was mounted to the interior of a truck windshield at the time of the fatal accident, caused a dangerous windshield obstruction. . .

Summary Judgment Entered In Favor of BSCR Insurance Client

BSCR obtained summary judgment in the Circuit Court of Jackson County, Missouri in a $1 million declaratory judgment and equitable contribution action brought against an insurance client (the professional liability E&O insurer for an elevator inspector whose negligent inspection of a grain mill manlift resulted in the death of a firefighter) by another insurer (the CGL insurer for the elevator inspector). The summary judgment in favor of our client was affirmed on appeal.

Favorable Settlement Negotiated on Behalf of International Airport in Premises Liability Case

BSCR negotiated a favorable settlement on behalf of our client, an international airport, in an action filed in Platte County, Missouri in which plaintiff, an airline passenger, alleged injuries sustained due to dangerous property conditions at the airport.

Dismissal Obtained for Component Part Manufacturer in Airplane Crash Case

In this Baltimore County, Maryland action plaintiffs alleged an avionics product caused the crash of a single engine aircraft resulting in multiple deaths. BSCR obtained a no payment dismissal of all claims against our client, an aircraft component part manufacturer, before the close of discovery.

BSCR Achieves Favorable Settlement for Part Manufacturer in Wrongful Death Plane Crash Action

A favorable settlement was achieved for our client in a wrongful death plane crash action filed in the United States District Court for the District of Kansas. Plaintiffs alleged a defective deicing system caused a crash near Moscow, Russia resulting in multiple deaths. . .

Favorable Settlement Negotiated for Engine Manufacturing Client in Wrongful Death Plane Crash Case

A favorable settlement was obtained in a Franklin County, Missouri case involving wrongful deaths due to an airplane crash alleged to have been caused by engine failure on takeoff. Although a multi-million dollar jury verdict was entered, the claims against our aircraft engine manufacturing client were dismissed before trial due to the successful negotiation of a settlement for a nominal payment by our client.

BSCR Secures Defense Verdict on Behalf of Commercial Airline in Discrimination Case

BSCR obtained a jury verdict on behalf of a commercial airline in a discrimination case filed in the United States District Court for the District of Kansas. Plaintiffs, two passengers on the flight, filed discrimination claims against our client for statements made by a flight attendant. . .

No-Payment Dismissal of Claims Secured for Product Supplier in Wrongful Death Jet Crash

BSCR secured dismissal of our client, a hydraulics system product supplier, in a case in which plaintiffs sued multiple parties alleging mechanical defects in the hydraulic system of a jet airliner causing the crash and death of all passengers and crewmembers. The case, filed in Cook County, Illinois, included mechanical, electrical and hydraulic engineering issues. . .

Favorable Settlement Obtained on Behalf of Component Part Manufacturer in Helicopter Crash Case

BSCR obtained a favorable settlement on behalf of a helicopter part manufacturer in a case filed in the United States District Court for the Western District of Missouri in which plaintiff alleged a defectively designed helicopter component part resulted in the crash of a medical emergency helicopter. BSCR's defense of the case was based on pilot error due to flying in foggy conditions.

Summary Judgment Obtained on Behalf of Life Flight Medical Service Provider in Helicopter Crash Case

BSCR's defense of a life flight medical service provider in a Jackson County, Missouri action resulted in summary judgment for our client. In this action, plaintiff alleged a defective turbine engine in a helicopter caused the helicopter to crash during a medical emergency evacuation. After extensive discovery, including document production in France, summary judgment was entered on behalf of our client. . .