Best-Law-Firms - Appellate-Tier-1-Badge-2022

The keys to effective appellate advocacy are creativity, thoroughness in crafting legal arguments and the ability to communicate those arguments persuasively. Our attorneys have appeared in both federal and state appellate courts, including the United States Supreme Court. The issues in the civil appeals have covered the same broad spectrum of business disputes that characterize the firm’s trial practice. For example, in 2017 the firm obtained unanimous judgments in favor of its clients in two of the most significant cases before the Missouri Supreme Court that year.  Those cases involved insurance policy pollution exclusions and wrongful discharge claims by independent contractors.

Because of its reputation for effective appellate advocacy, the firm frequently is asked by other attorneys to represent the interests of their clients at the appellate level. The firm has been recognized in U.S. News & World Report's annual national and regional rankings of the Best Law Firms in America in the area of "Appellate Practice," including recognition as a First Tier St. Louis law firm in that area.

The firm also handles criminal appeals. It obtained an outright reversal in the Missouri Supreme Court of a conviction and attendant 20-year prison sentence in a highly publicized criminal case involving conduct that allegedly occurred 25 years earlier. In another of the firm's cases, the United States Court of Appeals for the Eighth Circuit affirmed a rare dismissal of an indictment for failure to state an offense under the federal mail, wire and bank fraud statutes.  Other recent appeals have concerned the scope of the federal illegal gratuities statute in a prosecution involving a federal official, and the interaction of the Fifth Amendment Takings Clause and federal statutes that criminalize the transfer of certain Native American artifacts.

The firm’s expertise in constitutional litigation complements its appellate practice. These constitutional cases often involve issues of first impression or general public importance. The firm has represented Missouri’s medical schools in cases involving constitutional challenges to tort reform. Our attorneys also have handled appeals concerning the scope of the Double Jeopardy Clause of the Fifth Amendment and student rights under the First Amendment, including the United States Supreme Court’s landmark case of Hazelwood School District v. Kuhlmeier. The firm obtained a judgment against the State of Missouri for constitutional violations arising out of a controversial, forcible mass removal of students from a religious school. It successfully defended pro bono the First Amendment rights of neighborhood residents in a libel action arising out of their public participation in efforts to address problem rental properties.

More information about the firm’s appellate and constitutional practice can be obtained by viewing representative cases and contacting Susan E. Bindler at 314-241-2224 or



United States Supreme Court

Hazelwood School District v. Kuhlmeier, 484 U.S. 260 (1988) (landmark case defining the scope of students’ First Amendment rights in the context of school-sponsored publications)

United States Courts of Appeals

Captiva Lake Investments, LLC v. Fidelity National Insurance Co., 883 F.3d 1038 (8th Cir. 2018) (obtained reversal of $9 million judgment against title insurer on grounds trial court improperly excluded evidence that insured’s claim was barred under policy)

Kmak v. American Century Companies, 754 F.3d 513 (8th Cir. 2014) (appeal establishing that discretion under stock-option contract cannot be exercised to retaliate against party for testimony in arbitration proceeding)

Union Electric Company v. Aegis Energy Syndicate 1225, 713 F.3d 366 (8th Cir. 2013) (construction of insurance policy covering reservoir breach at hydroelectric power plant)

Union Electric Company v. Energy Insurance Mutual, 689 F.3d 968 (8th Cir. 2012) (appeal addressing the standards for evaluating the enforceability of contractual forum selection clauses)

United States v. Steffen, 687 F.3d 1104 (8th Cir. 2012) (affirming dismissal of indictment for bank, wire and mail fraud for failure to state an offense)

Cole v. Homier Distributing Co., 599 F.3d 856 (8th Cir. 2010) (affirming judgment for national distributor of farm equipment regarding allegations of fraud, tortious interference, breach of contract and Franchise Act violations)

United States v. Hoffman, 556 F.3d 871 (8th Cir. 2009) (appeal raising important questions about the significance of instructional error and the elements of the illegal gratuity statute in case involving prosecution of corporate executive for gifts to federal employee)

Heartland Academy Community Church v. Waddle, 427 F.3d 525 (8th Cir. 2005), 335 F.3d 684 (8th Cir. 2003) (successful constitutional challenge to actions of various state officials who had forcibly removed 115 students from a religious school)

Schuhardt v. Washington University, 390 F.3d 563 (8th Cir. 2004) (affirming judgment for medical school in qui tam action alleging violations by surgery department of the False Claims Act)

United States v. Kornwolf, 276 F.3d 1014 (8th Cir. 2002) (appeal challenging the constitutionality of a criminal prosecution for the sale of antique Indian artifacts containing golden eagle feathers procured prior to enactment of the Bald and Golden Eagle Protection Act and Migratory Bird Treaty Act)

Deutsche Financial Services v. BCS Insurance, et al.,  299 F.3d 692 (8th Cir. 2002) (affirming summary judgment on insured claim of tortious interference with business relationships by insurer)

United States v. Woodall, 120 F.3d 880 (8th Cir. 1997), 72 F.3d 77 (8th Cir. 1995) (appeal raising significant questions regarding the applicability of the Double Jeopardy Clause to sentencing proceedings)

Doria v. Brown, 8 Vet.App. 157 (1995) (appeal involving interpretation of Equal Access to Justice Act)

May Department Stores Co. v. Federal Insurance Company, 305 F.3d 597 (7th Cir. 2002) (affirming judgment denying coverage of class action settlement in excess of $25 million under pension liability policy)

Aetna Casualty and Surety Company v. General Dynamics Corp., 968 F.2d 707 (8th Cir. 1992) (holding environmental clean-up costs do not constitute covered “damages” under a general liability policy and EPA notice letters are not “suits” triggering duty to defend)

Missouri Supreme Court

State ex rel. HeplerBroom, LLC v. Moriarty, 566 S.W.3d 240 (Mo. banc 2019) (enforcing limits on trial courts' jurisdiction to deny venue motions)

Doe Run Resources Corp. v. American Guarantee & Liability Insurance, et al., 531 S.W.3d 508 (Mo. banc 2017) (establishing enforceability in Missouri of insurance policy pollution exclusion)  

Bishop & Associates, LLC v. Ameren Corp., et al., 520 S.W.3d 463 (Mo. banc 2017) (holding independent contractors do not have cause of action under Missouri law for alleged wrongful discharge in violation of public policy)

Nickell v. Shanahan, 439 S.W. 3d 223 (Mo. banc 2014) (affirming dismissal of shareholder class action involving backdating of stock options)

Klotz v. St. Anthony’s Medical Center, 311 S.W.3d 752 (Mo. banc 2010) (represented Missouri’s medical schools as amici curiae in case involving constitutional challenge to tort reform legislation)

State of Missouri v. Graham, 204 S.W.3d 655 (Mo. banc 2006) (reversal of conviction and twenty-year sentence on statute of limitations grounds)

Montgomery v. South County Radiologists, 49 S.W.3d 191 (Mo. banc 2001) (amici curiae brief on behalf of medical schools regarding application of the “continuing care” exception to the applicable statute of limitations)

State ex rel. Chassaing v. Mummert, 887 S.W.2d 573 (Mo. banc 1994) (case defining discovery rights in criminal contempt proceedings)

Missouri Courts of Appeals

Melnuk v Hillman,  593 S.W. 3d 674 (Mo. App. E.D. 2020) (holding that arbitrator and not court determines collateral estoppel effect of prior arbitration)

Byas v. Alliance Restoration, 534 S.W. 3d 407 (Mo. App. E.D. 2017) (affirming dismissal for lack of judicial authority to rule on motion for default judgment)

Aziz v. Jack in the Box, 477 S.W.3d 98 (Mo.App.E.D. 2015) (obtained affirmance of $25 million jury verdict for negligent failure to protect patron from third party criminal activity)

Bryant v. Bryan Cave, LLP, 400 S.W.3d 375 (Mo.App. E.D. 2013) (affirming judgment for law firm and establishing standards for proof of transactional malpractice)

Nevels v. Hasson, 247 S.W.3d 99 (Mo.App. E.D. 2008) (affirming punitive damages award arising out of fraudulent misrepresentations)

Goralnik v. United Fire and Casualty Co., 240 S.W.3d 203 (Mo.App.E.D. 2007) (obtained reversal of award of attorney’s fees and costs under Missouri Declaratory Judgment Act in insurance coverage litigation)

Neiswonger v. Margulis, 203 S.W.3d 754 (Mo.App.E.D. 2006) (affirming judgment in favor of lawyer on former client’s claims of professional negligence and breach of contract arising out of federal criminal proceeding)

Mello v. Giliberto, 73 S.W.3d 669 (Mo.App.E.D. 2002) (appeal interpreting Missouri’s health care affidavit requirements in medical negligence cases)

Virgin v. Hopewell Center, 66 S.W.3d 21 (Mo.App.E.D. 2001) (appeal involving question whether mental healthcare providers have duty to warn general public about dangerous propensities of patients)

Henningsen v. Independent Petrochemical Corp., 875 S.W.2d 117 (Mo.App.E.D. 1994) (successful challenge to Circuit Court’s dismissal docket system that resulted in arbitrary dismissal of dioxin case without notice to plaintiff)

Sanders v. Wallace, 884 S.W.2d 300 (Mo.App.E.D. 1994) (affirming judgment for insurer regarding coverage for commercial farming operations)

Zalar v. Harrington, 786 S.W.2d 883 (Mo.App.E.D. 1990) (affirming judgment for increase in spousal support after traumatic injury)