Melissa’s practice focuses on complex individual and class action litigation. She has represented defendants in product liability cases involving tobacco, household appliances and building materials. Melissa also defends claims involving advertising, marketing, debt collection and sales practices under state and federal consumer protection statutes such as the Missouri Merchandising Practices Act, the New Jersey Consumer Fraud Act and the Telephone Consumer Protection Act.

Melissa takes pride in developing creative strategies to promote and protect her client’s interests and to resolve her cases efficiently. She has experience in all stages of litigation, from orchestrating early dispositive motion practice and developing strategies for opposing class certification to deposing witnesses, negotiating at mediations, arguing at hearings and representing clients at trial. 

Melissa helps companies avoid litigation. She works with clients to evaluate the litigation risks of new products before they enter the market, assessing marketing strategies and consumer litigation trends to find ways to reduce litigation risks before the new products are available to consumers.  

As Publications Chair of the Commercial Litigation Committee, Pretrial Practice and Procedure Substantive Law Group for DRI, Melissa keeps apprised of developments in pretrial practice and procedure and publishes articles to help defendants navigate issues that often arise before trial.  

Before joining Shook, Melissa clerked for the Hon. Julie A. Robinson in the U.S. District Court for the District of Kansas after graduating first in her class from University of Kansas School of Law. She also has a degree in secondary education from Westminster College in Fulton, Missouri, and she taught high school mathematics in Jefferson City and the St. Louis area.

Representative Matters

MMPA. Melissa defended a publisher and online retailer against a putative class action alleging unfair sales practices in the sale of foreign-language lessons. Within four months of the plaintiff’s initial complaint, the individual class representative’s claims were dismissed with prejudice and no class was certified. Bray v. Simon & Schuster, Inc., 2014 WL 2893202 (W.D. Mo. 2014). 

Tobacco. Melissa has successfully represented tobacco companies in smoking-and-health cases. She has served on trial teams securing complete defense verdicts in E. Davis (M.D. Fla. 2014) and E. Smith (Palm Beach Cty., FL 2016). Melissa has also served on a number of case teams securing dismissals before the cases proceeded to trial, including in Bougopoulos (D.N.H. 2014). 

TCPA. Melissa has successfully petitioned the FCC for waiver of the opt-out notice requirement on solicited faxes for clients facing TCPA class actions alleging a failure to include the opt-out notice on their faxes. The successful petitions positioned the cases for favorable settlements for her clients.

Product Liability. Melissa helped resolve a putative class action alleging that a manufacturer committed fraud by concealing a purported defect in its product. Melissa drafted two successful motions to dismiss. While the court initially allowed the plaintiff to amend the complaint, the court closed the case when granting the second motion to dismiss.

Landlord-Tenant. Melissa served as trial counsel for a local non-profit performing arts group in a lawsuit brought by its former landlord for unpaid rent. Melissa secured a defense verdict from the jury on the rent claim, as well as a verdict in favor of the client on its counterclaim for damages as a result of constructive eviction.

Publications and Presentations

Melissa Plunkett, Defendants Beware: Spokeo Standing Arguments May Result in Costly Trip Back to State Court, DRI's The Business Suit, December 7, 2017.

William Yoder and Melissa Plunkett, Avoiding Pitfalls and Using the Rule 30(b)(6) Deposition to Strengthen Your Client's Themes, DRI's In-House Defense Quarterly, Spring 2017.

Melissa Plunkett and Eileen Moss, Spokeo: Defendants’ Potential Capitalization of the Concrete Injury Requirement, DRI’s The Voice, August 31, 2016.

Melissa Plunkett, Laura Phillips (Drinker Biddle & Reath LLP), Justin O. Kay (Drinker Biddle & Reath LLP), and Philip Hoffman (Pepper Hamilton LLP), Emerging Issues in FCC: Legal Issues in TCPA Declaratory Rulings on Faxes, The Knowledge Group (June 17, 2016).

Melissa Plunkett, Standing On Solid Ground: Supreme Court Requires Concrete Harm For Statutory Violations, Missouri and Kansas Class Action Law Blog, May 19, 2016. 

Melissa Plunkett, Papers Saving Papers: Class Action Fails For Lack Of Standard-Form Service Agreement, Missouri and Kansas Class Action Law Blog, August 4, 2015.

Melissa Plunkett, It’s Congress’s Prerogative: Citizenship Of LLCs Under CAFA, Missouri and Kansas Class Action Law Blog, April 3, 2015.  

William A. Yoder, Amy M. Crouch & Melissa M. Plunkett, The Starting Point for Effective Rule 30(b)(6) Depositions, For the Defense, July 2014, at 48. 

Rebecca Schwartz & Melissa Plunkett, U.S. Supreme Court Rejects Precertification Stipulation to Seek Less Than $5 Million as Invalid Attempt by Class Plaintiff to Avoid Federal Jurisdiction under Class Action Fairness Act, Class Action & Complex Litigation Alert, March 20, 2013. 

Melissa Plunkett, The Town That Built Me, The Journal of the Kansas Bar Association, November/December 2011.

Co-author, Kansas Law Review Criminal Procedure Survey, 58 U. Kan. L. Rev. 1311 (2010).