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 claims. He has represented clients in disputes involving business contracts, product distribution and dealer issues, sales and warranty matters, ownership rights in limited liability companies, business torts, and an array of employment-related topics. He routinely works with clients in the information technology, manufacturing, retail, and automotive, heavy equipment 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:

Commercial contracts and unfair business practicesMike routinely works with clients regarding challenges to their legal rights and obligations under commercial contracts. Many of Mike’s cases involve disputes over information technology system implementations, reseller agreements, and rights and obligations included in software licensing, support and maintenance contracts.

  • Arbitrated multiple disputes between a healthcare IT company and software purchasers related to implementation and performance issues.
  • 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.

Dealer disputes and product distribution law: Mike counsels manufacturers and sellers on all aspects of their relationships with dealers and distributors, including contract administration and enforcement, dealer contract terminations, state and federal law compliance, key contractual provisions, distributor performance, negotiating relationship modifications (both individual and systemwide), product repurchase disputes and other issues.

  • 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.
  • 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.

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.

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.

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 also has assisted in the defense of separate nationwide claims against clients including an international retailer and a 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 information technology and sales firms—to enforce noncompetition, nonsolicitation and confidentiality agreements, often through injunctions and claims for damages under common law and statutory theories.

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).