Sarah represents clients in the insurance, energy, and fire suppression industries. Sarah also has experience providing counsel and legal representation to a wide variety of clients and industries on product liability matters spanning product lines from automotive to heavy machinery to medical devices.
Sarah counsels her clients on litigation avoidance strategies, and represents her clients at both the trial and appellate levels. She works closely with them to gain an intimate understanding of their unique business practices and needs to provide tailored legal advice and to identify and mitigate company and industry specific risks. This partnership approach permits Sarah to work with her clients to jointly develop and implement litigation avoidance strategies from both legal and corporate perspectives. By understanding her clients’ business models, product lines, and unique internal processes, Sarah is able to provide high-quality and cost-effective counsel on risk management and litigation avoidance, as well as knowledgeable, practical, client-specific driven defenses in and out of the courtroom.
Her motion practice successes include litigation-ending Daubert and dispositive motion victories in product liability matters and medical device cases. Her appellate successes include constitutional challenges and jurisdictional issues of first impression that resulted in precedent-setting decisions and the creation of favorable law, as well as declaratory actions to leverage consent judgments. Sarah also authors amicus briefs to influence the legal landscape in which her clients operate and creatively identifies early opportunities for writ practice to weigh in on important issues of first impression affecting her client’s business.
Her trial experience includes defense verdicts in a consumer fraud class action, a dealership termination and multiple product liability matters. Sarah has significant experience in all phases of litigation, including defending jury and bench trials; developing, preparing and presenting company and expert witnesses; and briefing and arguing dispositive motions.
Sarah’s ease and familiarity in toggling between the trial courts and appellate courts enables her to work with clients to identify creative appellate options. She has argued before the Missouri Courts of Appeal and has submitted amicus curiae briefs to the Supreme Court of Missouri and the U.S. Supreme Court, and her use of extraordinary writs during the discovery process and intervention stages has permitted Sarah to obtain early and cost-effective outcomes for her clients.
Sarah spent a year studying international business at the École Supérieure de Commerce de Dijon in Dijon, France, and was an intern with the Sofitel Dijon La Cloche. She also spent a summer in Amman, Jordan, teaching English and counseling Fulbright scholars and other university students seeking to study in the United States.
Sarah is dedicated to mentoring young lawyers and students in the legal profession. She is actively involved with the firm’s Search Committee, and she continues working with recruited attorneys as a member of the firm’s Mentoring Task Force, Alternative Work Schedule Task Force, and as a member of the firm's Associates Committee. For several years, Sarah has been a visiting faculty member at the University of Kansas School of Law, teaching an intensive intersession course on deposition skills, and a similar course on expert witness preparation. She also serves as a resource for undergraduate students considering the legal profession.
Sarah’s experience and representative matters include:
Insurance. Sarah represents various insurance companies in high-stakes litigation. She has served as both trial and appellate counsel representing insurers, often on issues of first impression such as multi-insurer trigger issues in long-tail asbestos matters and bodily injury liability. She also provides prelitigation and litigation avoidance counseling on claims handling and extracontractual exposure issues—and, when necessary, serves as counsel in declaratory coverage actions, equitable garnishments, failure to defend actions and bad faith actions.
She has also submitted an amicus brief to the Missouri Supreme Court on extracontractual liability in insurance litigation, as well as multiple interlocutory appeals and extraordinary writs in the intermediate courts of appeals to advance favorable litigation outcomes and litigation-altering rulings early in the trial court process. See, e.g., Brown v. AMCO, 2015 WL 1739832 (Mo. App. W.D. 2015).
Energy. Sarah represents energy and motor fuel companies in state law environmental liability claims resulting from legacy refining operations, as well as in appellate matters involving issues of first impression on class action settlements, class objections and constitutional arguments. See, e.g., AEP v. Conn, 2010 WL 3501256 (2010 U.S.)). She also assists these energy clients on insurance matters, providing guidance on policy implications in environmental liability litigation.
Sarah served on a trial team representing several motor fuel retailers in multidistrict litigation against conspiracy claims; in a bellwether trial, they obtained a unanimous defense verdict. During the litigation, Sarah and the team also briefed a writ of mandamus and appealed to the Tenth Circuit, ultimately creating new First Amendment discovery protections favorable to the client. In re Motor Fuels Sales Practices Litig., (D. Kan. 2012). This case, also known as the “Hot Fuels” litigation, is just part of Sarah’s 10-year history of defending motor fuel industry clients.
Product Liability. Sarah has a longstanding role as national counsel handling all phases of litigation in product liability matters for a Fortune 50 company under an alternative fee structure. In addition, she has worked on a variety of product liability claims, including representation of:
- a bus manufacturer in a high-profile case, for which she briefed a writ of prohibition to the Missouri Supreme Court regarding the separation of powers and jurisdiction;
- a medical device manufacturer in Oklahoma federal court, for which Sarah briefed tandem summary judgment and Daubert motions on defect and causation issues, resulting in the dismissal of the entire action;
- a fire suppression manufacturer in Minnesota federal court, for which Sarah successfully briefed and argued tandem summary judgment and Daubert motions on defect and causation issues, resulting in dismissal of the entire action and creation of favorable precedent limiting the application of res ipsa loquitur in complex products liability matters. Bhd. Mut. Ins. Co. v. ADT, (D. Minn. 2014); and
- drug manufacturers, for which she briefed a motion to dismiss and obtained a partial dismissal of claims.
The Missouri Human Rights Act. Sarah represented the Kansas City Missouri School District and its former superintendent in a retaliation case brought under the Missouri Human Rights Act at both the trial and appellate level. She briefed and argued the appeal to a Missouri Court of Appeals, which resulted in the establishment of favorable procedural law, creating a circuit split with the Eastern District. McCrainey v. KCMSD, (Mo. App. W.D. 2011).
Publications and Presentations
Presenter, Maximizing the Attorney-Expert Relationship, Shook, Hardy & Bacon, Kansas City, Missouri (2016).
Co-author, Be an Effective Expert Witness, Fire Protection Contractor (October 2014).
Presenter, Social Media and the Law, Shook, Hardy & Bacon, Kansas City, Missouri (2013).
Presenter, The Collateral Source Rule, Shook, Hardy & Bacon, Kansas City, Missouri (2009).
Presenter, From Trial to Pre-Trial, Shook, Hardy & Bacon, Kansas City, Missouri (2009).
Co-author, LEEDing the Way to Sustainability, Kansas City Business Journal (2008).