The Simon Law Firm’s team of John Campbell and Erich Vieth won three major appellate victories in 2012.
Last January, the Missouri Court of Appeals Eastern District reversed the No. 1 defense verdict from 2010. The premises liability suit, Marchosky v. St. Luke’s Episcopal-Presbyterian Hospitals, was valued as a $17 million defense win by Missouri Lawyers Weekly. The case is set for retrial in April in St. Louis County.
In March, the Missouri Supreme Court handed down its second decision in Brewer v. Missouri Title Loans, finding again that an arbitration clause could not be enforced. That was after the U.S. Supreme Court vacated a 2010 decision and instructed the state court to reconsider its decision in light of AT&T Mobility v. Concepcion.
The U.S. Supreme Court denied Missouri Title Loan’s petition in October, and the case will proceed in St. Louis Circuit Court.
Campbell and Vieth also worked on the state Supreme Court case that decided the propriety of the state auditor’s fiscal notes on ballot initiatives last July. The Brown v. Carnahan opinion dealt with six different cases. Campbell and Vieth represented proponents of a payday lending ballot initiative to cap interest rates on such loans at 36 percent per year.
“Flipping the defense verdict of the year was pretty cool,” Campbell said. “Winning a pro bono case for Missouri citizens was exciting. And winning a case for the second time at the Missouri Supreme Court was pretty cool, too. So they were a fun trilogy.”
The lawyers are not only handling appeals of The Simon Law Firm’s cases, but also they’re doing appellate work for other lawyers. Marchosky is an example.
“We’d like to continue taking some select pro bono cases, and we are in a position to do so,” Vieth said, referring to the ballot initiative case.
Vieth and Campbell both enjoy the pace and the creativity involved in appellate work. They spend a great deal of time batting around ideas before they even begin writing their briefs.
“I love to print out 35 cases that I think are interesting and might matter, and still have them in paper form, and sit down with a cup of coffee and spend time just slowly, carefully reading and thinking about the issues,” Campbell said. Then, after the background work it culminates in “15 or 20 minutes of excitement in front of really smart judges.”
Both lawyers work at making sure their writing is easy to understand.
“Our formula is no secret: It’s a combination of intense collaboration and trust,” Vieth said. “When you’re hammering away at each other’s ideas, a lot of people don’t like that. But we know that it’s essential to the writing process that we are ruthless about looking at each other’s ideas.”
Vieth and Campbell have been working together since 2005, when Campbell worked at the firm as a law clerk. Campbell has been a licensed lawyer since 2007. He is a professor at the University of Denver, where he teaches a course about the lawyering process. He continues to work on select cases at The Simon Law Firm.
Vieth used to do insurance defense work and has been a member of The Simon Law Firm since 2004. He also prosecuted civil and criminal consumer fraud cases as an assistant state attorney general in the late 1980s.