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BSCR trial lawyers work closely with clients in the construction industry, helping them find practical solutions by carefully analyzing claims, negotiating agreements and representing them at trial, if necessary. We have extensive experience representing owners, developers, general and specialty contractors, subcontractors, design professionals, lenders, insurers, sureties and other entities in connection with all stages of construction.


When a claim arises, our attorneys are particularly skilled at analyzing the issues efficiently by examining contract balances, pending claims, job site conditions, percentage of work completed, and, issues related to contracts.

In adversarial proceedings, we are effective advocates in many forums, including in arbitrations and mediations, negotiated settlements and in courtroom contests. Our attorneys have experience defending a broad range of disputes, including those involving claims of defective workmanship or design, warranty breaches, delay or disruption, and cumulative impact.

Our attorneys also provide skilled services to construction industry clients in the areas of surety, commercial litigation, employment and labor, personal injury defense, product liability and premises liability.  We have extensive experience defending matters for construction equipment manufacturers.

Our attorneys are active members of professional organizations related to the construction industry. These include the American Bar Association FSLC Construction Law Committee, National Bond Claim Association, and ALFA Construction Practice Group.

For more information about the services we provide to the Construction industry contact James Scott Kreamer or John Watt in Kansas City at 816.471.2121. In St. Louis, contact Richard Woolf or Martha Charepoo at 314.345.5000.

News & Events

Baker Sterchi Adds Jennifer Maloney in St. Louis

10.29.19 | Jennifer Maloney has joined the St. Louis office of the law firm of Baker Sterchi Cowden & Rice LLC as a Member. Maloney's practice is focused on civil litigation defense, primarily in the areas of premises liability, product liability, personal injury and transportation.

Jessica Cozart Joins St. Louis Office of Baker Sterchi Cowden & Rice

07.11.19 | Baker Sterchi Cowden & Rice is pleased to welcome Jessica Cozart to the firm's St. Louis office. Cozart joins the firm as Of Counsel, practicing in the areas of property and casualty litigation, insurance coverage and insurance defense involving claims of personal injury, premise and products liability, construction defects, food & beverage liability and entertainment & leisure liability.

Baker Sterchi Cowden & Rice Adds Beasley as Member in Belleville, IL Office

05.06.19 | Baker Sterchi Cowden & Rice LLC, has added Laura K. Beasley to the firm's Belleville, Illinois office. Beasley, who joined the firm as a Member, practices in the areas of civil litigation defense, general liability, class action/mass torts, insurance coverage, personal injury, and product liability

Andreea Sharkey Joins St. Louis Office of Baker Sterchi Cowden & Rice

04.08.19 | Baker Sterchi Cowden & Rice is pleased to welcome Andreea Sharkey to the firm's St. Louis office, where she will focus her practice in defending insurance, personal injury, general liability and product liability litigation.

Baker Sterchi Cowden & Rice Welcomes John Kellogg to Kansas City Office

02.04.19 | Baker Sterchi Cowden & Rice is pleased to welcome John Kellogg to the firm's Kansas City office. Kellogg joins the firm as Of Counsel, practicing in the areas of premises liability, construction law, personal injury and commercial litigation, with an emphasis on...

Baker Sterchi Cowden & Rice Welcomes Kehl Friesen to Kansas City Office

12.27.18 | Baker Sterchi Cowden & Rice is pleased to welcome Kehl Friesen as an attorney in the firm's Kansas City office. Friesen's practice with the firm will focus on civil litigation with an emphasis on ...

Baker Sterchi Cowden & Rice Welcomes Dylan Murray to Kansas City Office

12.07.18 | Baker Sterchi Cowden & Rice is pleased to welcome Dylan Murray as an attorney in the firm's Kansas City office. Murray has represented U.S. and international corporate clients in both federal and state courts in a variety of practice areas for more than 20 years, including commercial, tort, product liability, pharmaceutical, medical device, and construction litigation.

Douglas Hill Joins Baker Sterchi Cowden & Rice in Kansas City

10.04.18 | Baker Sterchi Cowden & Rice is pleased to welcome Douglas Hill as an attorney with the firm's Kansas City office. Hill is an experienced litigator, managing a diverse civil defense practice that includes professional negligence, product liability, industrial and job site injuries, and general business litigation. He has extensive experience representing ...

John Watt Named 2020 ALFA International Construction Program Co-Chair

08.21.18 | John Watt has been named the 2020 Program Co-Chair of the ALFA International Construction Practice Group's biennial seminar. As Program Co-Chair, Watt's duties and responsibilities will include...

Baker Sterchi Cowden & Rice Promotes John Patterson to Member

01.11.18 | Baker Sterchi Cowden & Rice is pleased to announce the promotion of John Patterson to Member effective January 1, 2018. Patterson practices in the areas of product liability, employment, construction/fidelity and surety, financial services litigation, premises liability...

Results

Defense Verdict Obtained for Construction Equipment Manufacturing Client in Product Liability Trial

Our client, a Fortune 100 manufacturer of construction equipment, was sued in the Superior Court of Lake County, Indiana with allegations that one of its products was defective in both design and manufacture. The plaintiff contended...

BSCR Successfully Defends Multimillion-Dollar Tort Claim at Missouri State Court Trial

BSCR attorneys successfully defended a client against a multimillion-dollar tort claim in Missouri State Court. The case involved a negligence claim with regard to a construction site accident, where plaintiff suffered a broken back and crushed ankle.

BSCR Obtains Jury Verdict for Insurance Client in Breach of Contract Action

Baker Sterchi Cowden & Rice obtained a verdict in favor of client Western Surety Company on a breach of contract action against T&L Zarda, LLC, Tim Zarda and Lisa Zarda. The case arose out of the Zardas’ request that Western Surety Company issue a development bond guaranteeing...

Baker Sterchi Cowden & Rice Wins Defense Verdict in Asbestos-Related Matter

After a week-long trial in a St. Louis area court,Baker Sterchi Cowden & Rice won a defense verdict for a flooring subcontractor client in an asbestos-related case in which our client was sued by its general contractor for $1.2 million in damages...

Judgment Obtained for Clients in Mechanic's Lien Case

Following a bench trial in St. Louis County, Missouri, BSCR received a judgment in favor of its clients, Allen Edmonds and Plaza Frontenac, a large upscale shopping mall...

BSCR prevails on appeal of a construction injury claim.

Plaintiff, an employee of a second tier sub-contractor, appealed the granting of summary judgment in favor of our clients, the general contractor and first tier sub-contractor on a project at the University of Missouri Kansas City...

Dismissal entered in favor or Client in Asbestos Matter

We obtained dismissal for our client, a general contractor, in an asbestos action filed in Madison County, Illinois. Plaintiff alleged the general contractor either manufactured products with asbestos or exposed plaintiff to asbestos fibers during his employment.. . .

Summary Judgment obtained for Construction Manager

We obtained summary judgment in favor of a Construction Manager on University of Illinois project. Two electricians brought separate actions alleging damages for personal injuries sustained in an arc flash on the project. . .

BSCR prevails on appeal

The Eastern District of Missouri affirmed judgment in favor of subcontractor in a negligence claim brought by an employee of another subcontractor working on a Washington University project. . .

BSCR Obtains Summary Judgment for Construction Client

BSCR obtained summary judgment on behalf of a General Contractor, Subcontractor, and Subcontractor’s Employee, on a multi-million dollar claim made by an ironworker who claimed to have been injured on a universty project. . .

Summary Judgment Entered in Favor of Baker Sterchi Client in Construction Accident Claim

Summary Judgment was granted in favor of Baker Sterchi's client in a case involving a bricklayer contractor injuring himself when he slipped into a plumbing ditch dug by a different contractor on the project. Plaintiff sued the second contractor on the project for failing to barricade and/or flag the ditch. . .

Directed Verdict Obtained for Surety Client on Construction Defect Claim

BSCR successfully defended Old Republic Surety, Inc. in a 5 day jury trial involving the construction of running track at a local high school. At the close of plaintiff's evidence the District Court granted Old Republic's motion for directed verdict and entered judgment in favor of Old Republic. . .

BSCR Wins Appeal Before the Eighth Circuit Court of Appeals In Hotly Contested Construction Case

A decision from the 8th Circuit Court of Appeals affirmed a jury verdict obtained by BSCR in favor of its clients MacKenzie House, L.L.C. (developer) and MH Metropolitan, L.L.C., (owner) of a Kansas City apartment complex. Appellant, The Weitz Company (an Iowa-based contractor) was retained as the contractor of the apartment complex and eventually walked off the project after significant delays and cost overruns. . .

Blog Posts

Got A Product Problem? Go To The Origin.

05.19.20 | On March 11, 2020, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Eighth Circuit affirmed an Eastern District of Missouri judgment, finding that the Plaintiff failed to establish that a product was inherently defective or dangerous, where he had failed to provide evidence of when a product entered the stream of commerce.

Tips for Small Businesses Considering PPP Loan Relief

04.30.20 | An additional $310 billion in funding for the Paycheck Protection Program was approved by the United States Legislature, and applications resumed this Monday. But many small businesses still have questions about how to use the money, how to qualify for forgiveness, and whether the PPP Loan Program is right for them.

Illinois Appellate Court Reverses Plaintiffs' Verdict in Asbestos Lawsuit

03.16.20 | Has your company or client been sued in asbestos litigation and told that there is no hope for winning summary judgment, if the plaintiff testifies to using your or your client's asbestos-containing products? If so, the Illinois Fourth District Court of Appeals recently issued an opinion that might bolster your or your client's argument in support of summary judgment.

Illinois Appellate Court Reverses Plaintiffs' Verdict in Asbestos Lawsuit

03.16.20 | Has your company or client been sued in asbestos litigation and told that there is no hope for winning summary judgment, if the plaintiff testifies to using your or your client's asbestos-containing products? If so, the Illinois Fourth District Court of Appeals recently issued an opinion that might bolster your or your client's argument in support of summary judgment.

Employees Aggrieved Out-of-State Cannot Sue Missouri-based Employers under the Missouri Human Rights Act.

03.11.20 | Missouri Supreme Court held the Missouri Human Rights Act is not a remedy for out-of-state employees aggrieved by discriminatory practices of Missouri-headquartered companies.

Kansas City Area Saw Increase in Defense Verdicts in 2019, According to Annual Jury Data

03.02.20 | The data is out on Kansas City area jury verdicts for calendar year 2019, and it contains mostly good news for defendants. While the total number of jury verdicts was up slightly from 2018, the percentage of those verdicts in plaintiffs' favor was down, with nearly 60% of claims that went to a jury ending in a defense verdict. 2019 also saw a drop of almost 30% in the number of verdicts over $1 million. Although the data shows a rise in the average verdict amount, that increase is entirely attributable to a single mega verdict of more than $100 million; controlling for that outlier, the size of the average award was also down significantly.

Illinois First District Appellate Court upholds $4.8 million asbestos verdict against John Crane.

02.20.20 | Is your client or company sued in asbestos litigation in Illinois? If so, does it argue, as many defendants in asbestos litigation do, that plaintiffs' expert witnesses should be prohibited from testifying that any exposure to a defendant's asbestos-containing products is a substantial contributing factor to the development of mesothelioma and that pre-trial settlement amounts must be disclosed prior to trial? If this describes your client or company, the recent opinion in Daniels v. John Crane, Inc. is likely going to disappoint.

Illinois First District Appellate Court upholds $4.8 million asbestos verdict against John Crane.

02.20.20 | Is your client or company sued in asbestos litigation in Illinois? If so, does it argue, as many defendants in asbestos litigation do, that plaintiffs' expert witnesses should be prohibited from testifying that any exposure to a defendant's asbestos-containing products is a substantial contributing factor to the development of mesothelioma and that pre-trial settlement amounts must be disclosed prior to trial? If this describes your client or company, the recent opinion in Daniels v. John Crane, Inc. is likely going to disappoint.

City of St. Louis falls to 5th on the Judicial Hellhole list with Madison and St. Clair Counties, Illinois close behind ranking 7th.

02.12.20 | City of St. Louis has seen a steady decline on the judicial hellhole rankings with modest reforms but the Illinois counties of Madison and St. Clair remain hotspots for asbestos litigation and "no-injury" BIPA lawsuits according to the 2019/2020 American Tort Reform Foundation Judicial Hellholes Report.

City of St. Louis falls to 5th on the Judicial Hellhole list with Madison and St. Clair Counties, Illinois close behind ranking 7th.

02.12.20 | City of St. Louis has seen a steady decline on the judicial hellhole rankings with modest reforms but the Illinois counties of Madison and St. Clair remain hotspots for asbestos litigation and "no-injury" BIPA lawsuits according to the 2019/2020 American Tort Reform Foundation Judicial Hellholes Report.

Is a case overturned due to confusing special interrogatories still relevant under rule change?

02.06.20 | The new rule governing special interrogatories gives the trial court power to prevent confusing special interrogatories, as the one in Doe v. Alexian Brothers Behavioral Health Hosp., but it also rips away an important tool for the defense. 735 ILCS 5/2-1108.

What Lies Ahead: Proposed Privacy Legislation in Illinois

01.28.20 | As a flood of lawsuits continue to be filed under the Illinois Biometric Information Privacy Act, many businesses are now aware of the Act and the potential for significant liability under it. However, is your business aware of multiple privacy laws recently proposed by the Illinois General Assembly, some of which create private rights of action for violations? In honor of Data Privacy Day, we examine several privacy bills that, if enacted, could have a significant impact on companies that transact business in Illinois.

Arbitration Agreements 101: they require - you guessed it - agreement.

09.13.19 | Though seemingly obvious, the Eighth Circuit affirmed arbitration agreements are not immune to contract law basics when it denied an employer's motion to compel arbitration for lack of acceptance.

Second Update: Hopping On The Missouri Bandwagon? Not So Fast Out Of State Litigants.

07.16.19 | SECOND UPDATE: Missouri Governor Mike Parson signs Senate Bill 7, which amends venue and joinder laws, to prevent out of state plaintiffs from litigating their cases in an inappropriate venue.

Update: Hopping on the Missouri Bandwagon? Not so Fast Out-of-State Litigants.

05.20.19 | UPDATE: House Passes Senate Bill 7, in which the Missouri legislature seeks to amend venue and joinder laws, to prevent out of state plaintiffs from litigating their cases in an inappropriate venue.

SCOTUS Strikes Another Blow to Class-Action Claims, Favoring Individual Arbitration

05.13.19 | The Supreme Court has issued another ruling limiting class-action claims, in favor of individual arbitration, this time finding that contractual ambiguity is no substitute for a clear expression of consent to class-wide arbitration.

Hopping on the Missouri Bandwagon? Not so Fast Out-of-State Litigants.

03.18.19 | In Senate Bill 7, the Missouri legislature seeks to amend venue and joinder laws, to prevent out of state plaintiffs from litigating their cases in an inappropriate venue.

Buyer Beware: Illinois Supreme Court Protects Subcontractors from Implied Warranty Claims by Homeowners with No Contractual Relationship

02.12.19 | The Illinois Supreme Court recently held that a subcontractor hired by a general contractor cannot be liable to a purchaser of a newly constructed home for breach of an implied warranty of habitability absent a direct contractual relationship with the homeowner.

When it Comes to Nonconforming Goods, is the Customer Always Right?

01.23.19 | Applying Missouri Law, the Eighth Circuit confirms that when a company guarantees customer satisfaction, only to leave the customer unsatisfied, it risks not only its business reputation, but also its legal right to collect payment.

Eighth Circuit Refuses to Punish Employer for History of Granting Special Treatment to Disabled Employee with Poor Attendance Record

01.08.19 | The Eighth Circuit affirms summary judgment in an employer's favor in a disability discrimination case, where the employee's excessive absenteeism was attributed to a disability and other family medical issues.

City of St. Louis - Still A Judicial Hellhole

12.26.18 | Defense attorneys beware. The 2018-2019 American Tort Reform Foundation's (ATRF) Judicial Hellholes Report is out, and the City of St. Louis landed fourth on this list because of its massive verdicts, forum shopping, and legislative failures.

Missouri Supreme Court Opinion Calls Into Question Many Consumer Arbitration Agreements

11.20.18 | In a blow to the enforceability of arbitration clauses found in many existing consumer contracts, the Missouri Supreme Court declines to appoint a substitute arbitration provider after the agreed-upon arbitration forum's "sudden and unforeseen departure" from the scene.

Gender Stereotypes Now Serve as a Basis for Sex Discrimination Claim under the MHRA

12.18.17 | Despite an uptick in advocacy, support, and inclusion of the LGTBQ community over the past several decades, as of today, discrimination based on sexual orientation remains an invalid claim under the Missouri Human Rights Act (“MHRA”). However, in a recent decision by the Western District of the Missouri Court of Appeals...

Court of Appeals Affirms that At-Will Employment Is Not Sufficient Consideration for an Arbitration Agreement, Refuses to Change Law

12.14.17 | The Missouri Court of Appeals for the Southern District upholds denial of an employer's motion to compel arbitration ruling that at-will employment is insufficient consideration to support an arbitration agreement and denying employer's request to find that, in accordance with federal policy, at-will employment should be sufficient consideration for an arbitration agreement.

You've Got Mail - Service of Process by Mail is Satisfactory under the Hague Service Convention

05.30.17 | The United States Supreme Court ruled on May 22, 2017, that the Hague Convention, on the service of judicial documents abroad, permits service by mail if the receiving country has not objected to service by mail and service by mail is authorized under otherwise-applicable law.

Missouri Court of Appeals Upholds Acceptance Doctrine to Absolve General Contractor of Premises Liability

04.21.17 | In the case of Wilson v. Dura-Seal and Stripe, the Missouri Court of Appeals for the Eastern District held that the “acceptance doctrine” is still valid law in Missouri, and bars liability against a construction contractor for the injury of a third party after the owner of the premises has accepted the work.

The Daubert Standard - Coming Soon to a Missouri Court Near You

03.31.17 | Earlier this week, Governor Eric Greitens signed Missouri HB 153 into law. HB 153, which supplants Missouri's existing expert witness standard with that set forth in Federal Rules of Evidence 702, 703, 704 and 705, effectively submits expert testimony in most civil and criminal case to the analysis set forth in Daubert v. Merrell Dow Pharmaceuticals, Inc., 509 U.S. 579 (1993).

Federal Judges Blow Their Stacks Over Boilerplate Objections

03.27.17 | Within a two-week period, two federal judges issued strongly worded orders denouncing the common practice of asserting boilerplate objections to written discovery.

Employees: Yes, You Can Owe Duties To Your Co-Employees

03.22.17 | The Missouri Court of Appeals rules that a worker may owe an independent duty of care to a co-worker, which is separate and distinct from her employer's non-delegable duties.

Mere Designation of an Expert Witness Does Not Waive the Work Product Doctrine Protections

11.02.16 | A Missouri plaintiff did not irrevocably waive the protections of the work product doctrine simply by designating an expert witness and then withdrawing the designation without disclosing the expert’s analysis or conclusions.

Constructive Discharge Claims: When Does the 45-Day Period for Initiating Contact with the EEOC Begin to Run?

06.08.16 | On May 23, 2016, the U.S. Supreme Court decided the case of Green v. Brennan in order to resolve a split among the Circuits on whether, in an action for constructive discharge, the 45-day limitation period for the employee to initiate contact with the EEOC begins to run after the employer's last discriminatory act, or at the time of the employee's resignation.

Proposed MMPA Legislation Would Provide Balance for Businesses and Consumers

02.10.16 | In its current state, the MMPA has allowed consumers to collect substantial verdicts in cases that have strayed from the original intent of lawmakers. SB793 hopes to restore a balance that requires not only that businesses act fairly, but also that consumers act reasonably.

"Excusable neglect" is a real standard requiring real evidence (Updated 01.04.2016)

01.04.16 | While a Kansas court may grant relief from a final judgment based on excusable neglect, it is an abuse of discretion to grant that relief when the party seeking that relief has failed either to explain what facts constituted excusable neglect or to provide any evidence to support that claim.

Appeals Court Affirms Summary Judgment in Favor of Landowner on Premises Liability Claim, Allows Negligence Claim to go Forward

11.30.15 | In Woodall v. Christian Hospital N.E., the Missouri Court of Appeals for the Eastern District affirmed that a landowner does not owe a duty to prevent injury to invitees when the landowner relinquishes possession and control of the premises to an independent contractor during a period of construction.

Missouri Merchandising Practices Act Bars Certain New Home Construction Claims

11.30.15 | Where a Plaintiff who built a new home brought claims including breach of contract and unlawful merchandising practices against the builder, based on purported overcharges, the Plaintiff was equitably estopped from his breach of contract claim arising out of construction in certain areas of the home, because he had accepted the deed, which was construed as satisfaction

The Eighth Circuit Provides Clarity on Outside Sales Exemption and Waiver Requirements under FLSA

04.01.15 | The Eighth Circuit recently analyzed the application of the “outside sales” and “administrative” exemptions under the Fair Labor Standards Act in the context of promotional workers. Also, the Court was asked to decide, for the first time, what constitutes a valid waiver of an employee’s rights under the FLSA.

Prevailing-party agents entitled to attorney's fees

02.09.15 | An agent may recover attorney's fees when enforcing a principal's contract if: the agent is granted the express authority to enforce the contract in the contract itself, the contract contains an attorney's fees provision, and the agent is the prevailing party.

The Supreme Court's Jurisdictional Stretch in Resolving the Evidence Needed to Support a CAFA Removal

01.06.15 | A defendant removing a case to federal court under the Class Action Fairness Act need not provide evidence proving the jurisdictional amount in controversy in the notice of removal. A "short and plain statement of the grounds for removal" is sufficient.

The Missouri Supreme Court Rules That Parties May Have a Duty as a "Joint Employer" With Its Contractors Pursuant to the Missouri Minimum Wage Law

09.19.14 | Individuals and businesses relying upon contractors to provide labor services may be exposing themselves to liability if these contractors fail to pay their employees in accordance with the Missouri Minimum Wage Law.

In a differential etiology, experts need not rule out all possible causes

06.23.14 | Experts are not required to rule out all possible causes when performing the differential etiology analysis if the experts have properly ruled in the alleged cause.

Punitive Damages Part 1: Don't Get Caught Flat-Footed

04.29.14 | A Kansas plaintiff may amend their pleadings to assert punitive damages up until the day of the pretrial conference.

Workers' Compensation + Retaliation + Missouri Supreme Court adopts the "contributing factor" standard

04.22.14 | A man who sued his former employer, alleging he was discharged in retaliation for filing a workers' compensation claim, appealed on the basis that the trial court used a jury instruction with the wrong standard. In a 5-2 decision written by Judge George W. Draper III, the Missouri Supreme Court rejected the 'exclusive causation' standard and replaced it with the "contributing factor" standard. On remand and in future cases, the jury must determine whether the plaintiff's filing of a workers' compensation claim was a "contributing factor" to his or her discharge.

Kansas abolishes assumption of the risk defense.

04.21.14 | Based on its adoption of a statutory scheme of comparative negligence, Kansas has abolished common law assumption of the risk as a bar to recovery. Simmons v. Porter, 298 Kan. 299, 312 P3d 345, 355 (Kan. 2013).

A mundane lesson from an important decision, or, the importance of presenting evidence

03.20.14 | The plaintiff has the burden of proving standing, which is a jurisdictional issue that can be raised at any time.
 
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