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Blanton, Nickell, Collins, Douglas and Hanschen, LLC in Sikeston, Mo., has been named a Tier 1 law firm for Medical Malpractice Law – Defendants and Commercial Litigation in the St. Louis Metropolitan by U.S. News & World Report and Best Lawyers® “Best Law Firms in 2021,” and the firm was also named a Tier 2 law firm for Products Liability Litigation – Defendants in the St. Louis Metropolitan.

This is the 11th consecutive year U.S. News & World Report and Best Lawyers® collaboratively announced the rankings, and the third year consecutive Blanton, Nickell, Collins, Douglas and Hanschen, LLC has been recognized.

Attorneys in the firm include: Joseph C. Blanton, Jr., Bryan E. Nickell, Thomas W. Collins, III, Patrick R. Douglas, Shaun D. Hanschen, Deidre A. Peters and Trey Watkins.

“Our attorneys and staff work hard for our clients, and we are very honored to be recognized again by U.S. News,” said Joseph C. Blanton Jr., partner in the firm.

“This year we are again honored to be a Tier 1 law firm for Medical Malpractice - Defendants.  Our experience in medical malpractice gives us a unique perspective that we pass on to our clients,” added Bryan E. Nickell, partner in the firm.

“We are also recognized in Commercial Litigation and Products Liability – Defendants,” added Thomas W. Collins, a partner in the firm. “We continue focus on the best representation in these areas and have been recognized by our peers.”

The 2021 rankings are based on the highest lawyer and firm participation on record, incorporating 8.3 million evaluations of more than 110,000 individual leading lawyers from more than 22,000 firms.

“For the 2021 ‘Best Law Firms’ publication, the evaluation process has remained just as rigorous and discerning as it did when we first started 11 years ago.” Says Phil Greer, CEO of Best Lawyers. “This year we reviewed 15,587 law firms throughout the United States – across 75 national practice areas – and a total of

2,179 firms received a national law firm ranking. We are proud that the ‘Best Law Firms’ rankings continue to act as an indicator of excellence throughout the legal industry.”

Ranked firms, presented in three tiers, are recognized on a national and regional-based scale. Firms that received a tier designation reflect the highest level of respect a firm can earn among other leading lawyers.

U.S News Rankings

and clients from the same communities and practice areas. Awards were given in 75 national practice areas and 127 metropolitan practice areas.

Blanton, Nickell, Collins, Douglas & Hanschen, LLC, specializes in civil litigation in State and Federal Courts, including medical malpractice, products liability, personal injury cases and commercial litigation. Since 1914, the firm has established itself as one of the leading law firms in the State of Missouri and actively practices in 30 counties in the state's southeastern region, as well as in the St. Louis area.

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Firm News

Firm attorneys have continued to represent clients in both transactions and litigation matters during the Covid Virus response while honoring the requests of elected officials.  Throughout the social distancing program, Firm lawyers have remained available to clients with respect to issues relating to the pandemic response and regular legal matters. 

In March, Diedre Peters closed large asset purchases of two separate businesses in the agricultural services sector for a firm client.  In March, Joseph Blanton completed a transaction in which a firm client sold his interests in a farming operation to its other principals.  Bryan Nickell represented a secured creditor in the sale of a cotton gin in the Missouri Bootheel.

Bryan Nickell, Shaun Hanschen and Joseph Blanton recently represented a municipality in an insurance coverage dispute with its liability insurers in the U. S. District Court for the Eastern District of Missouri.  In that suit, Firm attorneys defended a declaratory judgment action and prosecuted a Counterclaim relating to coverage and were able to help achieve a settlement of the insurance coverage litigation while the underlying suit also settled.

Joseph Blanton completed a five-month course of study and exam through the Harvard Business School and received a CORe certification in Accounting, Economics, and Data Analytics.  

Office Manager Darlene Ferrell recently retired after working for nearly 50 years at the Firm.  Sandy Nelson has been named the new Office Manager.

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SIKESTON—Shaun D. Hanschen of Sikeston was recently recognized with two distinguished awards for his legal work in Missouri.

Hanschen was awarded the David J. Dixon Appellate Advocacy Award by The Missouri Bar Foundation during the Missouri Bar Annual Meeting on September 26 in St. Louis. He also was named as one of 45 Up & Coming attorneys by Missouri Lawyers Media on October 12 during an awards luncheon at the Missouri Athletic Club in St. Louis.

The David J. Dixon Appellate Advocacy Award recognizes outstanding achievement in appellate practice by young lawyer members of The Missouri Bar. It is named after the late Judge Dixon, whose tenacity, professionalism and judicial skills epitomize outstanding appellate practice.
Missouri Lawyers Media recognized Hanschen as one of 45 Up & Coming attorneys in Missouri who demonstrate professional excellence while making a positive impact on the profession and community early in their careers.

Hanschen is a member of Blanton, Nickell, Collins, Douglas and Hanschen, LLC. He has extensive litigation and appellate experience in Missouri and before the Eight Circuit Court of Appeals.
“Shaun has a strong background in appellate work. He is known around Missouri as an outstanding legal writer and scholar. The Missouri Bar Foundation selected him for this award in recognition of his talents. His partners congratulate him on both of these prestigious awards.” said Joseph C. Blanton Jr., member, Blanton, Nickell, Collins, Douglas and Hanschen.

Hanschen is a graduate of Jackson High School and attended the University of Missouri where he earned a B.S. in Political Science with a minor in Spanish. He graduated Summa Cum Laude and is a member of Phi Beta Kappa. He attended law school at the University of Missouri where he was a member of the Missouri Law Review and the recipient of the award for Highest Scholastic Achievement among third year law students. Hanschen was also chosen as a member of the Order of the Coif. Following graduation, Shaun clerked for the Hon. Phillip R. Garrison of the Missouri Court of Appeals, Southern District. He is licensed in Missouri, Illinois, Arkansas, the United States District Court for the Eastern District of Missouri, and the Eighth Circuit Court of Appeals.

Blanton, Nickell, Collins, Douglas & Hanschen specializes in complex civil litigation in state and federal courts, including medical malpractice, products liability, personal injury cases and business litigation. Since 1914, the firm has established itself as one of the leading law firms in the State of Missouri and actively practices in 30 counties in the state's southeastern region, as well as, in the St. Louis area.

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Summary Judgement
Joseph Blanton and Shaun Hanschen recently obtained a summary judgment on behalf of a farm credit system institution in a dispute with an insurance company over payment of proceeds from a fire insurance policy.   The insurance company decided not to appeal and has satisfied the judgment.  Working with national class action counsel, Patrick Douglas has represented local farmers in claims against Syngenta.   The Syngenta class action has tentatively been settled and it is anticipated that class members will receive their settlement payments later this year or in early 2019.   Joseph Blanton, Shaun Hanschen and Diedre Peters recently negotiated the dismissal of a suit brought against a Southeast Missouri professional without any payment being made.  That dismissal occurred the day before responsive pleadings were due.  Joseph Blanton and Shaun Hanschen successfully represented a local governmental entity that had been sued for an alleged project bidding process irregularity.  The Firm attorneys successfully defended that governmental entity during a hearing in which the Plaintiff had requested a temporary restraining order.   Once the other side’s request for the TRO was denied, the complainant dismissed the suit.  Bryan Nickell recently obtained the dismissal of a lending institution from a mechanic’s lien suit shortly before a trial was to begin without any payment being made.  Firm clients were recently dismissed from a medical malpractice lawsuit without any payment being made.  Attorneys Bryan Nickell and Joseph Blanton were the responsible attorneys for that medical malpractice suit.   Finally, the firm has hired a second nurse consultant.  RN Crystal Nugent, formerly employed by both Missouri Delta Medical Center and Bootheel Counseling Service, joined the firm in April.  She will assist firm attorneys in the representation not only of the firm’s healthcare provider clients, but in all matters which involve medical issues. 
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November 2016 News

Joseph Blanton and John Cozean along with attorneys from Shook, Hardy and Bacon of Kansas City successfully represented a large financial services company in defeating an attempt to certify a class action in Wayne County, Missouri.

Attorney Shaun Hanschen has been admitted to practice in the State of Arkansas. Firm attorneys are now admitted to practice in Missouri, Illinois, Texas, Michigan, Kansas and Arkansas as well as numerous Federal District Courts, U. S. Circuit Courts of Appeals and the U. S. Supreme Court and U. S. Tax Court.

Attorney Joseph Blanton has been named as the representative of Legal Services of Southern Missouri on the Missouri Statewide IOLTA Board. This Board is responsible for allocating the earnings from Missouri attorney IOLTA accounts among the Legal Services programs in Missouri. 

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April 2016 Updates

Joe Blanton and Shaun Hanschen recently settled a Federal Court case on behalf of a client. The settlement is confidential. The firm in 2016 has closed a number of significant transactions involving farms and real estate.

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Firm News June 2015

The firm recently was named this Spring to the Missouri Defense Panel for TEAMHealth, which contracts to provide ER physicians to Missouri Hospitals.

Shaun Hanschen recently argued the case of Parr, et al. v. Breeden, et al. in the Missouri Supreme Court. The Court’s decision is expected to determine the fate of co-employee liability cases in Missouri. Attorneys in the firm recently represented some of the shareholders in the liquidation of an agri-business in the Missouri Bootheel. The firm supervised the sale of assets through a competitive bidding process. The assets sold included a cotton gin and approximately 1200 acres of farmland.

Attorney Patrick Douglas testified this Spring before the Missouri House Transportation Committee to advocate for improvements in state statutes governing levee districts.

Attorneys Joseph Blanton and John Cozean tried a 7 day medical malpractice case this January in Cape Girardeau County, Missouri and obtained a defense verdict for the firm’s client physician. The case involved a significant injury and was defended with expert testimony from a leading cancer physical medicine and rehabilitation expert from Memorial Sloan Kettering in New York City.

Blanton, Rice, Nickell, Cozean and Collins attorneys have represented several shareholders in the division of a three office Southeast Missouri professional practice into three separate companies. The division of the company was accomplished through negotiation and without litigation.

Attorney Joseph Blanton has served as an arbitrator during 2014 and 2015 in the division of a large industrial construction contracting company into two new companies. The parties have presented numerous legal issues for resolution by the Arbitrator on an expedited and cost-effective basis when compared to litigation.

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By Alan Scher Zagier

Special to Missouri Lawyers Media

A federal jury in southeastern Missouri rejected efforts by three cable installers to recoup unpaid overtime, siding with the Sikeston company that employed the men as independent contractors.

Bryan Pennington of Park Hills, his cousin Stephen Pennington Jr. and uncle Stephen Pennington Sr. sued Integrity Communications of Sikeston in November 2011 in U.S. District Court. Company owners Ray and Holly Rehder, a Republican state representative, were also named as defendants.

Pennington, citing the federal Fair Labor Standards Act, said they were wrongly classified as contractors and paid a per-job rate, regardless of hours worked, even as many of the job’s requirements mirrored those of hourly employees, such as wearing company uniforms, only using approved tools and not simultaneously working for any Integrity competitors.

They were expected to work overtime and pay their own travel expenses while working for Integrity in Missouri, Kentucky and Illinois, the complaint said.

The plaintiffs originally sought class action status on behalf of other cable installers, but Judge Stephen Limbaugh Jr. rejected that approach. Plaintiffs’ attorneys did not respond to several interview requests seeking comment.

The case went to trial in June, with the jury deliberating for just 90 minutes after four days of testimony, said defense attorney Joseph C. Blanton Jr. of Blanton, Rice, Nickell, Cozean & Collins in Sikeston.

“We believed it was very clear that the plaintiffs were in business for themselves,” he said. “They were not employees.”

"The work is very irregular and very seasonal,” he added. “Companies like Integrity fill the gaps.”




  • Venue: U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Missouri
  • Case number/date: 1:12-cv-00005/June 19, 2014
  • Judge: Stephen N. Limbaugh Jr.
  • Last pretrial demand: $400,000
  • Last offer: $0
  • Caption: Bryan Pennington, Steve Pennington Sr. and Steve Pennington Jr. v. Integrity Communications LLC and Holly and Ray Rehder
  • Plaintiffs’ attorneys: Kevin J. Dolley and Jason Finkes, The Law Offices of Kevin Dolley, St. Louis; Russell Riggan and Samuel W. Moore, Riggan Law Firm, Kirkwood; Mark A. Koupal Jr., Brown & James, St. Louis; Sarah Jane Hunt, Law Office of Thomas E. Kennedy III, St. Louis
  • Defendants’ attorneys: Joseph C. Blanton Jr., Bryan E. Nickell and Shaun D. Hanschen, Blanton, Rice, Nickell, Cozean & Collins, Sikeston

Joseph C. Blanton Jr. Bryan E. Nickell Shaun D. Hanschen


Download the Original Article From Missouri Layers Weekly

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