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ICON Awards 2021: John Schultz, Franke Schultz & Mullen

When a long-time adversary was sued for malpractice, the courtroom rival did not hesitate to hire noted Kansas City defense lawyer John John Schultz Schultz.

It turned out to be a good call. As he has done so often, the president and founding member of Franke Schultz & Mullen prevailed.

“This was a rival attorney who I had been going up against for two decades. We fought it out with bare knuckles,” Schultz said. “That was the biggest compliment I could receive as a lawyer. And now we’re back to butting heads again.”

With an undergraduate accounting degree from Mizzou, Schultz figured he would practice tax law upon graduation from the University of Missouri law school in 1987. But with no available jobs in that discipline, he instead joined a St. Louis insurance defense firm, paving the way for a practice that includes defending product liability, trucking, construction and intellectual property cases, as well as medical and legal malpractice claims.

Schultz has served as lead trial counsel in more than 170 jury trials in six states, many of which he labels as “bet-the-company” trials given the high stakes. He also is regularly tapped by self-insured corporations and reinsurance carriers to serve as a “parachute counsel” who can take a case to a verdict.

Those victories include a 2017 case in which an insurance company was found not liable for a $34.6 million judgment in St. Louis City Circuit Court, for a case in which two service members were injured while cycling in rural Adair County several years earlier. It was the year’s top defense verdict as tallied by this publication.

In 2018, Schultz successfully defended the Missouri Boys Ranch in one of the state’s top defense verdicts that year; the ranch was found not liable for the murder of the plaintiff’s mother by two boys who had run away.

After 34 years in practice, Schultz says he measures success not by the size of his winning verdicts but instead by seeing the next generation of lawyers succeed. He cites in particular the Kansas City personal injury firm of DiPasquale Moore, whose partners previously worked for Schultz.

A self-described workaholic, Schultz called the resumption of trials after more than a year of pandemic-driven delays “amazing,” notably a federal trial in April in the Southern District of Illinois.

“I basically sat in my office for 14 months and didn’t interact with any other judges or attorneys in person,” he said. “I liked trying that case more than any one before.”

ICON Awards 2021