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Jonathan Sternberg, Attorney, P.C. - Selected Cases

2323 Grand Boulevard #1100

Kansas City, Missouri 64108

(816) 292-7020

7711 Bonhomme Avenue #300

St. Louis, Missouri 63105

(314) 339-8650

Copyright by Jonathan Sternberg, Attorney, P.C., 2009-2020

Selected Cases

 

The following are some examples of our appeals and related matters, with links to decisions, our appellate briefs and oral arguments, and media coverage.

State ex rel. Koehler v. Midkiff, No. SC98308 (Supreme Court of Missouri 2020)
  • Family: obtained writ prohibiting trial court from determining contested temporary custody of child during divorce
  • Supreme Court issued published opinion on our writ petition alone, dispensing with further briefing or argument
  • Featured in Missouri Lawyers Weekly (Apr. 6, 2020)
  • View our writ petition
     
SnugglyCat, Inc. v. Opfer Communications, Inc., No. 18-3500 (U.S. Court of Appeals, 8th Circuit 2020)
In re Purported Lien at District at City Center, LLC, No. 121184 (Kansas Court of Appeals 2020)
  • Commercial: reversed judgment striking subcontractor’s bona fide $400,000 mechanic’s lien as “fraudulent”
  • Held statute intended to remedy legally unknown clouds on title did not apply to challenge validity of mechanic's lien
  • View our brief and reply brief
     
State v. Rigsby, 589 S.W.3d 661 (Missouri Court of Appeals, Western District 2019)
  • Criminal: reversed felony DWI conviction and sentence, obtained re-sentencing as first-time misdemeanor 
  • Held Illinois “zero-tolerance” offense conviction not requiring impairment could not enhance DWI charge in Missouri
  • View our brief
     
The Weitz Company v. UMB Bank, N.A., No. 18-3447 (U.S. Court of Appeals, 8th Circuit 2019)
  • Commercial: our appeal led to a favorable settlement for a company whose claims against a bank were dismissed 
  • View our brief and reply brief
In re Marriage of Towle and LéGaré, 439 P.3d 327  (Kansas Court of Appeals 2019)
  • Family: reversed order legally separating couple after wife died, and for husband to pay her share to her son
  • Held there cannot be a posthumous legal separation case, and the case simply had to be dismissed once the wife died
  • View our brief and reply brief
     
State ex rel. Cullen v. Harrell, 567 S.W.3d 633  (Supreme Court of Missouri 2019)
Johnson v. CoreCivic, No. 18-8014 (U.S. Court of Appeals, 8th Circuit 2019)
  • Class actions: defeated defendants’ requests to appeal class action certification in Wiretap Act case
  • View our answer
     
State v. Fitzpatrick, No. 14BS-CR01104 (Circuit Court of Bates County, Mo. 2018)
  • Criminal: obtained new trial on all charges in felony sexual offense case without having to appeal
  • Trial judge held that lawyer who represented defendant at trial had conflict of interest that violated Sixth Amendment
     
Olson v. Olson, 559 S.W.3d 395 (Missouri Court of Appeals, Southern District 2018)
  • Family: reversed long-distance custody schedule and increase in child support for father who lived in Wisconsin
  • Held custody schedule failed to account for schoolyear holidays and child support order was insufficiently explained
  • View our brief and reply brief
Castleberry v. Debrot, 424 P.3d 495 (Supreme Court of Kansas 2018)
Castleberry v. Debrot, 369 P.3d 341 (Kansas Court of Appeals 2016)
In re A.F., 543 S.W.3d 90 (Missouri Court of Appeals, Western District 2018)
  • Juvenile/Family: reversed outright the termination of our client’s parental rights over his three children
  • Held that there was no evidence of any abuse, neglect, or inability to parent legally justifying a termination
  • Named one of Missouri Lawyers Weekly’s “Major Opinions of 2018, 1st half” (July 9, 2018)
     
G&G Mech. Contr. v. Jeff City Indus., 549 S.W.3d 492 (Missouri Court of Appeals, Western District 2018)
  • Commercial: upheld $150,000 award of prejudgment interest on balance due under construction contract
  • Held that language the parties struck from their final contract could not create ambiguity as to the right to interest
  • Named one of Missouri Lawyers Weekly’s “Major Opinions of 2018, 1st half” (July 9, 2018)
  • View our brief
     
In re Marriage of Speir, 538 S.W.3d 396 (Missouri Court of Appeals, Southern District 2018)
  • Family: vacated all proceedings in divorce modification and obtained new proceedings before different judge
  • That the judge was designated after the divorce but before the modification did not undo the right to a change of judge
  • View our brief
     
State ex rel. Yoest v. McEvoy, 529 S.W.3d 383 (Missouri Court of Appeals, Western District 2017)
  • Constitutional: reversing trial court, obtained writ commanding county collector to allow clients to bid at tax sales
  • Held clients had statutory right to be bidders and county collector lacked unilateral power to ban anyone from sales
  • Featured in Missouri Lawyers Weekly (Oct. 9, 2017)
  • View our brief and reply brief
     
City of Raymore v. OMalley, 527 S.W.3d 857 (Missouri Court of Appeals, Western District 2017)
  • Criminal/Municipal: representing city, reversed dismissal of city’s prosecution of defendant for inciting fight
  • Defendant’s claim of defense of property had to go to trial, and city’s disorderly conduct ordinance was constitutional
  • View our brief and reply brief
     
Combs v. Cordish Cos., 862 F.3d 671 (U.S. Court of Appeals, 8th Circuit 2017)
Consolver v. Hotze, 395 P.3d 405 (Supreme Court of Kansas 2017)
  • Tort: upheld $100,000 attorney fee award that lower appellate court had overturned
  • Clarified that a contingent-fee lawyer fired just before settlement still can be awarded a percentage of client’s recovery
  • Watch the oral argument before the Supreme Court
  • View our brief
     
Doe v. Hughes, No. WD79064 (Missouri Court of Appeals, Western District 2016)
  • Tort: upheld $9 million judgment for mentally disabled woman who repeatedly was raped by her caregiver’s husband
  • Held caregiver did not have official immunity, and none of caregiver’s other seven issues on appeal had any merit
  • Featured in Missouri Lawyers Weekly (Dec. 26, 2016)
  • Named one of Missouri Lawyers Weekly’s “Major Opinions of 2016, 2nd half” (Jan. 3, 2017)
  • View our brief
     
Gray v. United States, 833 F.3d 919 (U.S. Court of Appeals, 8th Circuit 2016)
State ex inf. White ex rel. Clements v. Cacioppo, No. 16CY-CV01441 (Cir. Ct. of Clay County, Mo. 2016)
  • Municipal: defeated mayor’s attempt to obtain writ of quo warranto ousting city councilman
  • View our summary judgment brief
     
Bereal v. Bajaj, 371 P.3d 349 (Kansas Court of Appeals 2016)
  • Medical malpractice: obtained new trial for client paralyzed by air injected into his heart during routine procedure
  • Held trial court erred in denying client expert to rebut defense’s claim that injury resulted from device defect
  • View our brief and reply brief
State ex rel. Sternberg v. Byrn, No. SC95610 (Supreme Court of Missouri 2016)
  • Constitutional: questioned whether juvenile court could compel private lawyers to represent indigent parties for free
  • When Supreme Court issued writ and agreed to hear case, juvenile court withdrew lawyer, mooting the writ case
  • Featured in Missouri Lawyers Weekly (May 11, 2016)
  • View our writ petition
     
Perren v. Perren, 475 S.W.3d 741 (Missouri Court of Appeals, Southern District 2015)
 
  • Family: upheld restraining order protecting client from brother who had attacked and severely injured him
  • Held justification by defense of property was affirmative defense that had to be proven, and brother had not proven it
  • View our brief
 
Greer v. Sysco Food Services, 475 S.W.3d 655 (Supreme Court of Missouri 2015)
 
 
Whelan Security Co. v. Kennebrew, 477 S.W.3d 148 (Missouri Court of Appeals, Eastern District 2015)
 
  • Employment: reversed $235,000 judgment against client for alleged breach of non-competition agreement
  • Held genuine material facts remained in dispute as to all issues, precluding summary judgment
  • Featured in Missouri Lawyers Weekly (Oct. 12, 2015)
  • Named one of Missouri Lawyers Weekly’s “Major Opinions of 2015, 2nd half” (Jan. 4, 2016)
  • View our brief and reply brief
 
In re Alternate Fuels, Inc., 789 F.3d 1139 (U.S. Court of Appeals, 10th Circuit 2015)
In re Alternate Fuels, Inc., 507 B.R. 324 (U.S. Bankruptcy Appellate Panel, 10th Circuit 2014)
 
  • Bankruptcy: reversed denial of majority shareholder’s $3.8 million secured claim on corporation’s bankruptcy estate
  • Held client’s loans could not be recharacterized as equity infusions and secured claim could not be subordinated
  • Required bankruptcy court to allow the $3.8 million claim as the only secured claim in the bankruptcy
  • View our brief and reply brief before the Tenth Circuit
 
Taylor v. Bar Plan Mutual Ins. Co., 457 S.W.3d 340 (Supreme Court of Missouri 2015)
Taylor v. Bar Plan Mutual Ins. Co., 2014 WL 1677814 (Missouri Court of Appeals, Western District 2014)
 
  • Insurance: questioned whether insurer was required to pay $1 million malpractice judgment against disbarred lawyer
  • Court of Appeals held policy exclusion did not encompass loans conned from client, but Supreme Court disagreed
  • Featured in Missouri Lawyers Weekly (May 5, 2014 and Mar. 16, 2015), and the Kansas City Star (May 13, 2014)
  • Court of Appeals decision named one of Missouri Lawyers Weekly’s “Major Opinions of 2014, 1st half” (July 7, 2014)
  • Supreme Court decision named one of Missouri Lawyers Weekly’s “Major Opinions of 2015, 1st half” (July 9, 2015)
  • Listen to the oral argument before the Supreme Court
  • View our brief and reply brief
 
State v. Capone, 344 P.3d 970 (Kansas Court of Appeals 2015)
State v. Capone, 317 P.3d 148 (Kansas Court of Appeals 2014)
 
  • Criminal: vacated felony DWI conviction and sentence, obtained re-sentencing as first-time misdemeanor
  • Held more lenient DWI law enacted shortly after defendant’s charge must be applied retroactively
  • View our briefreply brief, and petition for review
 
In re Adoption of C.T.P., 452 S.W.3d 705 (Missouri Court of Appeals, Western District 2014)
 
  • Family: prevented wife’s former paramour from intervening in husband’s stepparent adoption to claim child custody
  • Named one of Missouri Lawyers Weekly’s “Major Opinions of 2014, 2nd half” (Jan. 5, 2015)
 
The Weitz Company v. Heth, 333 P.3d 23 (Supreme Court of Arizona 2014)
The Weitz Company v. Heth, 314 P.3d 569 (Arizona Court of Appeals, Division 1 2013)
 
  • Commercial: questioned whether statutory mechanic’s liens are subject to equitable subrogation in Arizona
  • Court of Appeals upheld $2.1 million summary judgment foreclosing on lien, but Supreme Court sent back for trial
  • Featured in the Phoenix Business Journal (May 30, 2014 and June 6, 2014)
  • View our briefsupplemental brief, and Supreme Court brief
 
Mayes v. St. Luke’s Hospital of Kansas City, 430 S.W.3d 260 (Supreme Court of Missouri 2014)
 
  • Medical malpractice: questioned constitutionality of statute requiring third-party affidavit to sue
  • Featured in Missouri Lawyers Weekly (Oct. 28, 2013 and June 2, 2014)
  • Named one of Missouri Lawyers Weekly’s “Major Opinions of 2014, 1st half” (July 7, 2014)
  • Listen to the oral argument before the Supreme Court
  • View our brief and reply brief
 
March v. Midwest St. Louis LLC, 417 S.W.3d 248 (Supreme Court of Missouri 2014)
 
  • Tort: restored grant of a new trial for a personal injury plaintiff that a lower appellate court had overturned
  • Held the trial court appropriately had found defendant’s expert witness committed perjury, warranting a new trial
  • First time since 1958 that the Supreme Court of Missouri reviewed the grant of a new trial due to perjury
  • Featured in Missouri Lawyers Weekly (Oct. 22, 2012 and Jan. 20, 2014)
  • Named one of Missouri Lawyers Weekly’s “Major Opinions of 2014, 1st half” (July 7, 2014)
  • Listen to the oral argument before the Supreme Court
  • View our brief
 
D.S.K. ex rel. J.J.K. v. D.L.T., 428 S.W.3d 655 (Missouri Court of Appeals, Western District 2013)
 
  • Family: clarified custody rights of husband who raised children born of wife’s extramarital affair
  • Allowed husband to file independent lawsuit seeking children’s third-party custody, in which he prevailed
  • Named one of Missouri Lawyers Weekly’s “Major Opinions of 2014, 1st half” (July 7, 2014)
 
Lucas v. Jerusalem Cafe, LLC, 721 F.3d 927 (U.S. Court of Appeals, 8th Circuit 2013)
  • certiorari denied, 134 S.Ct. 1515 (U.S. Supreme Court 2014)
 
 
United States v. Baker, 713 F.3d 558 (U.S. Court of Appeals, 10th Circuit 2013)
  • certiorari denied, 134 S.Ct. 784 (U.S. Supreme Court 2013)
 
 
Bateman v. Rinehart, 391 S.W.3d 441 (Supreme Court of Missouri 2013)
Bateman v. Rinehart, 2012 WL 538946 (Missouri Court of Appeals, Western District 2012)
 
 
State v. Fleming, 286 P.3d 239 (Kansas Court of Appeals 2012)
 
  • Criminal: overturned client’s felony theft conviction as unconstitutionally multiplicitous (double jeopardy)
  • View our brief
 
Whelan Security Company v. Kennebrew, 379 S.W.3d 835 (Supreme Court of Missouri 2012)
 
  • Employment: defended trial court’s ruling that non-compete covenants against client were invalidly overbroad
  • Supreme Court limited some invalid covenants; better result for client than in lower appellate court
  • Featured in Missouri Lawyers Weekly (Aug. 20, 2012)
  • Named one of Missouri Lawyers Weekly’s “Major Opinions of 2012, 2nd half” (Jan. 7, 2013)
  • Listen to the oral argument before the Supreme Court
  • View our brief
 
The Weitz Company v. MacKenzie House, LLC, 665 F.3d 970 (U.S. Court of Appeals, 8th Circuit 2012)
  • certiorari denied, 132 S.Ct. 2783 (U.S. Supreme Court 2012)
 
  • Commercial: questioned whether federal court may refuse to follow state supreme court decision on state law
  • Obtained new opinion on rehearing petition in the Eighth Circuit
  • Persuaded the Eighth Circuit to stay $5.5 million judgment pending U.S. Supreme Court review
  • View our rehearing petitioncertiorari petition, and certiorari reply
 
Rinehart v. Bateman, 363 S.W.3d 357 (Missouri Court of Appeals, Western District 2012)
 
 
Bateman v. Platte County, 363 S.W.3d 39 (Supreme Court of Missouri 2012)
 
  • Land use: restored judgment declaring road to be private easement, which lower court had overturned
  • Clarified that the owner of land over which an easement runs cannot unilaterally destroy the easement
  • Re-established that defendants must specifically plead a statute of limitations defense or else the defense is waived
  • Listen to the oral argument before the Supreme Court
  • View our brief
 
City of Sullivan v. Sites, 329 S.W.3d 691 (Supreme Court of Missouri 2010)
City of Sullivan v. Sites, 2010 WL 1253069 (Missouri Court of Appeals, Southern District 2010)
 
  • Constitutional: questioned whether town could charge fixed subclass of residents 750% higher sewer connection fee
  • Court of Appeals held disparity was “special law” in violation of state constitution, but Supreme Court disagreed
  • Featured on front page of Missouri Lawyers Weekly (Apr. 12, 2010 and Dec. 13, 2010)
  • Court of Appeals decision named one of Missouri Lawyers Weekly’s “Major Opinions of 2010, 1st half” (July 6, 2010)
  • Supreme Court decision named one of Missouri Lawyers Weekly’s “Major Opinions of 2010, 2nd half” (Jan. 2011)
  • Listen to the oral argument before the Supreme Court
  • View our brief and reply brief
 
D.R. Sherry Constr. v. American Family Mut. Ins. Co., 316 S.W.3d 899 (Supreme Court of Missouri 2010)
 
  • Insurance: restored policyholder’s $475,000 verdict against its insurer that a lower appellate court had overturned
  • Established that, in “occurence” policy, date of the injury determines coverage, not date the injury was discovered
  • Named one of Missouri Lawyers Weekly’s “Major Opinions of 2010, 1st half” (July 6, 2010)
  • Listen to the oral argument before the Supreme Court
  • View our brief
 
Mid-Mo. Waste Systems v. Lafarge N. Am., No. 09-3485 (U.S. Court of Appeals, 8th Circuit 2010)
 
  • Commercial: our brief for plaintiff who had lost at trial led to major multinational corporation settling on appeal
 
In re Estate of Bell, 316 S.W.3d 899 (Missouri Court of Appeals, Western District 2009)
 
  • Estate: overturned $325,000 settlement forced on beneficiary of estate worth more than twice that amount
  • Reiterated that an attorney’s arguments are not evidence and attorneys testifying must be sworn in like everyone else
  • Named one of Missouri Lawyers Weekly’s “Major Opinions of 2009, 2nd half” (Jan. 4, 2010)
  • View our brief and reply brief
 
Phan v. State, No. 0816-CV36955 (Circuit Court of Jackson County, Mo. 2009)
 
  • Criminal: vacated decade-old felony conviction and 13-year prison sentence; prosecution did not appeal
  • Featured in the Kansas City Star (Aug. 23, 2009) and Missouri Lawyers Weekly (Aug. 18, 2009)
 
City of Kansas City v. Carlson, 292 S.W.3d 368 (Missouri Court of Appeals, Western District 2009)
 
  • Municipal: questioned whether city could prohibit bars allowing smoking indoors when state permitted bars to do so
  • Appeal was joined by world’s largest premium cigar manufacturer as amicus
  • Named one of Missouri Lawyers Weekly’s “Important Opinions of 2009, 1st half” (July 7, 2009)
  • Named the Kansas City Daily Record’s third “Top Story of 2009” (Dec. 29, 2009)
  • Covered in the Wall Street Journal, the Kansas City Star, and the St. Louis Post-Dispatch
  • View our brief and reply brief
 
Kinnaman-Carson v. Westport Insurance Corp., 283 S.W.3d 761 (Supreme Court of Missouri 2009)
  • Insurance: required insurance company to pay injured couple their $1.7 million judgment against its policyholder
  • Established that an insurer who agrees to defend its policyholder without reservation cannot later deny coverage
  • Named one of Missouri Lawyers Weekly’s “Important Opinions of 2009, 1st half” (July 7, 2009)
  • Listen to the oral argument before the Supreme Court
  • View our brief and reply brief
 
State ex rel. Doe v. Moore, 265 S.W.3d 278 (Supreme Court of Missouri 2008)
 
  • Criminal: questioned whether non-“sex offender” could be supervised and treated like one as a condition of probation
  • First time since 1977 that a Missouri appellate court reviewed a probation condition
  • Listen to the oral argument before the Supreme Court
  • View our brief and reply brief
 
Doe v. Merritt, 261 S.W.3d 672 (Missouri Court of Appeals, Southern District 2008)
 
  • Constitutional: required state to delete person from its “sex offender” registry whom it had added retroactively
  • We handled the proceedings in both the trial court and the appellate court, succeeding at both levels
  • View our brief