One night in 1981, Martin M. Meyers was ironing his shirt before going out with friends.
“Somebody called and I knocked the iron down and it fell on the shag carpet,” recalled Meyers. “It melted all the fibers with my shirt half-ironed and I just said, ‘I’m not coming’.”
As it turned out, the venue he was supposed to attend was the Hyatt Regency where the skywalk would collapse that night killing more than 100 people. It also resulted in massive litigation and, coincidentally, Meyers, who took the bar exam two weeks later, would end up representing a structural engineering firm targeted for suit in the matter. He also met his future wife during depositions in the case.
Today, Meyers is mostly an employment attorney having gone out on his own in 1991. At various points, he’s done construction law, insurance defense work and plaintiff’s personal injury. But what he loves most is trials.
“It was just kind of the way my practice has evolved but I’d rather be in the courtroom than doing anything else,” he said.
The son of a longtime Jackson County judge, the 63-year-old UMKC alumnus may have had the law in his blood.
“I imagine that had something to do with it,” he said of his dad’s career. “It is just something that I think I probably decided to do before I got out of grade school.”
Meyers, a native Kansas Citian, has had his share of notable cases, including a 2016 award to a Muslim secretary who won $270,000 from the local public school system on a retaliation claim. A year later, he’d gain a verdict of more than half a million dollars for a pharmacist whose supervisor treated her as disabled after he found out she was taking medication. In 2013, he earned a $13 million verdict for a woman who alleged that a technical college misled her about the value of her degree. He also obtained a largely uncollectable $5 billion judgment for the family of a man tortured and murdered by serial killer Bob Berdella. Meyers’ nominator cites his involvement in a 2003 case before the state Supreme Court which established the right of workers claiming discrimination to have their case heard by a jury.
Today, with the increasing prevalence of mediation, Meyers wonders whether trial lawyers may go extinct. He still loves the process and the inside of the courtroom.
“It is probably a combination of the challenge of persuading a group of people of the correctness and righteousness of your cause, but it is also a very intellectual rigorous discipline,” he said. “You really have to work at taking complex, disjointed facts and stories and figuring out how they all fit together to come to the most likely true narrative of what happened in any given situation.”