Michael Blumenthal and Paul Seyferth’s work on one of Missouri’s biggest cases in recent years often draws comparisons to David and Goliath. But the team actually looks to William Shakespeare’s Henry V for inspiration.
In the play’s fourth act, the bard’s Henry V knows that his English forces are drastically outnumbered by the French in the looming Battle of Agincourt. He delivers the St. Crispin’s Day speech to his band of brothers.
‘That he which hath no stomach to this fight,
Let him depart; his passport shall be made
And crowns for convoy put into his purse:
We would not die in that man’s company
That fears his fellowship to die with us.’
The quote is displayed in Blumenthal’s office at Seyferth Blumenthal & Harris in Kansas City. Blumenthal and Seyferth led the team that spent years litigating Health Care Foundation of Greater Kansas City v. HM Acquisition LLC et al.
The team represented the foundation, which sued hospital operator HCA after the company purchased several Kansas City-area hospitals. Under the terms of the $1.1 billion sale, HCA was supposed to make capital improvements to hospitals in Kansas City’s urban core. The foundation sued in 2009, alleging the company had built hospitals in the suburbs instead of updating facilities in the city as promised.
In December 2015, the attorneys received a $433.7 million judgment in their favor, the second-largest plaintiff verdict of that year. In January 2017, the case settled for $188 million.
“At its core the proceeds of the settlement will now be used to benefit the underinsured and underserved of Kansas City and the Greater Kansas City area,” Blumenthal said. “For us to get a result that is not only going to benefit people in the community today but perhaps for generations is humbling.”
Blumenthal earned his law degree from the University of Kansas in 1992; Seyferth graduated from the University of Michigan’s law school in 1987. Outside the firm, they’re also active in martial arts, with both holding black belts in karate.
The firm came to represent the foundation because of a close acquaintance who was a member of the organization’s board. Originally, they sought to get the Missouri attorney general to review HCA’s expenditure items, but their role evolved into pursuing litigation.
“It was an honor to represent the foundation in this litigation,” Seyferth said. “The foundation never once wavered from its purpose in filing suit, even when it could have easily felt overwhelmed. To see the settlement monies be added to the foundation’s mission is something everybody at Seyferth Blumenthal & Harris is rightly proud of.”
Seyferth, Blumenthal & Harris and its stable of a dozen attorneys typically represents corporate clients in single-plaintiff employment discrimination cases. The lengthy case stretched the firm’s resources and tested their abilities as attorneys. Attorneys who weren’t working on the HCA lawsuit maintained the rest of the firm’s work by picking up slack for those who were.
Despite the success of the lawsuit against HCA, Blumenthal expects the firm will continue to specialize in its traditional client base. Still, the heavy workload that came with it resulted in the firm improving collaboration and communication, which has led to success in other cases.
“We have a team of battle hardened lawyers who know what it’s like to go through a tough fight against overwhelming odds,” Blumenthal said.