Mike’s strength lies in giving practical advice targeted to meet his clients’ business goals. He understands that companies often need creative solutions—not just the most conservative legal advice. Mike digs into his clients’ business so he can help them balance legal risk against their objectives. His top goal is to be an extension of the client teams he assists.

In Mike’s blended practice, he works with businesses and their owners to navigate challenging commercial and employment disputes. He has represented clients in litigation involving business contracts, ownership rights in limited liability companies, asset transfers, sales and warranty matters, business torts, and an array of employment-related topics—including harassment, discrimination and wage-and-hour matters. He works with clients in the retail, healthcare information technology, food and beverage, and transportation and trucking industries.

Mike is active in the firm’s pro bono efforts and mentoring programs.  He has worked on behalf of children in the foster care system and served as a guardian ad litem in family court cases. He helps coordinate Shook's campaign for the United Way of Greater Kansas City, assists with the firm’s recruiting and summer associate programs, and mentors new attorneys at Shook and law students at the University of Missouri - Columbia School of Law.

Mike has worked with his clients to resolve disputes both before a lawsuit is filed and at each stage in the litigation process. He has tried cases in court and in multiple arbitral forums.

BUSINESS DISPUTES

Mike has helped his clients by handling a number of claims arising during the course of their business, including:

Post-closing disputes and closely held companies: Mike represents clients in disputes regarding both asset transfers and rights and responsibilities relating to membership interests in LLC and closely held companies.

  • Arbitrated on behalf of a healthcare information technology company following a challenge to contracts assigned as part of a transaction valued at over $1 billion.  
  • Advised an international beverage company regarding its rights and responsibilities as a minority shareholder in a Missouri entity.
  • Represented majority members of Missouri LLC in a dispute with a minority owner regarding the buyout of minority interest.
  • Defended a fraudulent transfer claim related to an alleged wrongful distribution of commercial real estate proceeds to members.

Commercial contracts and unfair business practices: Mike routinely works with clients regarding challenges to their legal rights and obligations under commercial contracts. Many of Mike’s cases involve disputes over rights and obligations included in software licensing, support and maintenance contracts.

  • Defended an international food production company in a challenge to its core contractual business relationships. 
  • Tried a case for a commercial truck and equipment seller in a dispute regarding the performance of a sales contract and failure to pay due to an electronic security breach.
  • Litigated on behalf of an international auction company regarding warranty issues improperly raised as consumer fraud claims.
  • Defended claims against a fuel wholesaler related to a dispute with a convenience store operator to within two weeks of trial before reaching a favorable resolution.

Indemnity and contribution: Mike represented an AmLaw 100 law firm in a series of individual and class action suits in which an underwriter sought indemnity and contribution related to municipal bonds that defaulted shortly after issuance. The Shook team got a dismissal of the client from three separate suits, and the success was covered by Law360.

Real estate litigation:

  • Litigated the ownership rights and value of a mid-construction, mixed-use project on behalf of managing members of a limited liability company. Mike’s work focused on expert development regarding project valuation accounting for effects of Missouri Chapter 100 bond financing and the development of a creative litigation strategy to avoid efforts to stop the project.
  • Arbitrated on behalf of a commercial real estate developer regarding a brokerage commission relating to the sale of approximately 40 convenience stores.

Breach of warranty: Mike serves as counsel to a commercial truck retailer in suits across the country claiming breaches of warranty, fraud and unfair trade practices related to commercial sales.

Bad faith insurance: Mike assists several insurers in excess exposure and bad faith matters, which often involve covenants not to execute and assignments of an insured’s claims and arise from automotive insurance and business owner and commercial general liability policies.

EMPLOYMENT LITIGATION

In addition to helping business owners in disputes between companies, Mike assists with disagreements between a company and its employees. In his employment work, he has handled a variety of issues, including:

Wage-and-hour: Mike serves as counsel to an international healthcare information technology firm in an alleged nationwide lawsuit related to calculations and methods of overtime pay. Following legal briefing, the claims were narrowed significantly. Mike previously assisted in the defense of separate nationwide claims against an international retailer and large pizza franchisee.

Discrimination, harassment and retaliation: Mike represents an international healthcare information technology firm and has worked with several national retailers in discrimination, harassment and retaliation cases in state and federal courts across the country—including in Missouri, Kansas, California, Florida, and New York.  

  • Mike’s work contributed to two full defense verdicts following jury trials on claims stated under the Missouri Human Rights Act.

Non-competition, non-solicitation and confidentiality agreements: Mike has worked with clients—including one of the nation’s largest staffing firms and several Kansas City-area information technology and sales firms—to enforce non-competition, non-solicitation and confidentiality agreements, often through injunctions and claims for damages under common law and statutory theories.

Unfair labor practices: Mike represents restaurant and pizza delivery franchisees in National Labor Relations Board proceedings involving unfair labor practices claims and efforts to nullify their arbitration agreement pursuant to the D.R. Horton line of decisions.

Publications

Co-Author, Arbitration Agreements in the Wage-and-Hour Context, LJN Employment Law Strategist, May 2011.

Michael Barnett, The Plaintiffs’ Bar Cannot Enforce the Laws: Individual Issues Prevent Consumer Protection Classes in the Eighth Circuit, 75 Mo. L. Rev. 207 (2010).

Michael Barnett, The High Cost of Low-Cost Workers: Missouri Enacts New Law Targeting Employers of Unauthorized Workers, 74 Mo. L. Rev. 801 (2009).