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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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July 2017 News

Attorneys Joseph Blanton and Diedre Peters recently obtained favorable rulings from the U. S. District Court in Cape Girardeau dismissing the firm’s client from two professional liability suits.

Attorneys Tom Collins and Bryan Nickell received a favorable ruling in a permanent total disability worker’s compensation case in July.  

Attorney Joseph Blanton obtained a confidential settlement for a firm client in a premises liability case involving the construction of stairs in June 2016.  

The firm was recently engaged in new matters involving the construction of a well for a rural water district, and several transactions relating to the sale of power and the leasing of fiber optic system by a municipal utility.

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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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