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Up & Coming Lawyers: Todd Bartels, 39

Staff Report//February 23, 2009//

Up & Coming Lawyers: Todd Bartels, 39

Staff Report//February 23, 2009//

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* Shughart Thomson & Kilroy, shareholder

* University of Missouri-Columbia

* Commercial litigation

Todd Bartels’ case files read like a “Who’s Who” of major commercial entities.

He has worked on a number of important cases involving Fortune 500 companies, major insurance carriers, health care organizations and many other significant clientele. Bartels’ career milestones include:

* Serving as part of a team representing 36 grocery retailers in Missouri, Kansas and Arizona. The case involved product overcharge and racketeering suits brought against grocery retailer Fleming Cos. Bartels saw the claims through to settlement on the day of trial.

* Four large commercial litigation cases pending in Missouri and Washington, D.C., regarding several prominent current or former Amway/Quixtar distributors.

* Representation of Community Health Plan, a St. Joseph-based HMO and subsidiary of Heartland Health. Bartels and his team won a $14.5 million jury verdict for the client against Missouri Consolidated Health Plan.

“My goal was always to be able to stand on my own and try lawsuits at an early age,” Bartels said. “It’s really important for litigators to stand up in front of a jury early on. As I’ve gotten more experience, I’ve found that I have been able to try larger and larger cases.”

Bartels also has successfully defended other clients such as airline workers’ union members, truck stop owners, lumber company shareholders and individuals involved in wrongful death cases. He said one of his most satisfying career results was the recovery of $900,000, plus an additional confidential settlement, in a wrongfully denied life insurance benefit for the family of a 19-year-old man killed in a plane crash while working in Afghanistan.

“His parents were denied most of their benefits until I got involved,” Bartels said. “Even though it was an incredibly unfortunate situation, it was gratifying that I was able to help them in that difficult time.”

Bartels serves on the Federal Practice Committee of the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Missouri, for which he also clerked after law school. The 13-member committee is appointed to serve as federal district court judges’ liaisons to members of the state bar. He also is co-author of The Missouri Bar’s CLE Manual on Punitive Damages in Missouri.

Bartels originally meant for his studies to add up to a career in accounting. He went to work for Kansas City-based accounting firm Mayer Hoffman McCann after receiving his undergraduate degree. At the same time, he became involved in fundraising for David Steelman’s campaign for Missouri attorney general and was impressed enough with the attorneys he met during that period that he hit the books once again for a law degree.

He clerked with Judge Gary Fenner of the Western District of Missouri and considers that experience seminal in his formation as an attorney.

“When I went to work for Judge Fenner, I was immersed in trial practice,” Bartels said. “He was a wonderful mentor. It became clear to me then that I wanted to be a commercial litigator and use my business background.”

Bartels was hired in 1998 by the Watkins Boulware Lucas & Minor firm in St. Joseph and Kansas City; it later merged with Shughart Thomson. Before long, he was serving as first chair in local trials and large commercial cases in the areas of antitrust, ERISA, RICO, fraudulent misrepresentation and breach of contract work, as well as multidistrict litigation and arbitration matters. He became an equity shareholder with the firm in 2004.

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