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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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Patrick Douglas (left) and John Cozean (right) recently obtained a summary judgment in favor of a Firm Client in the U. S. District Court for the Eastern District of Missouri in a product liability case.

The Firm is now on the approved panel counsel list for Healthcare Services Group, a large insurer of Hospitals and Physicians in Missouri.

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John Cozean has been elected as Fellow of Litigation Counsel of America, a national honorary society which is limited to the top 1/2 of 1 percent of litigation attorneys. John will be installed as a Fellow at the Fall meeting of the society in Charleston, SC in October. Firm Members Joseph Blanton and Bryan Nickell are also fellows.

Bryan Nickell and Tom Collins have received AV Preeminent ratings from Martindale­-Hubbell, the leading rating service for attorneys.

Tom Collins and Shaun Hanschen recently completed the settlement of a large contested matter for a local client. They achieved the settlement less than 3 months after the case was filed.

Joseph Blanton, Jr. is listed in the 2015 Edition of the Best Lawyers in America for Medical Malpractice and Product Liability Defense and Commercial Litigation.
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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 judge in southeast Missouri rejected the medical malpractice claims of a 61-year-old man who sued a pair of physicians and the doctors’ employers after developing an infection following spinal fusion surgery.

In a 19-page ruling issued June 17, U.S District Judge Carol E. Jackson of the Eastern District of Missouri found that Dr. Bernard Burns and Orthopaedic Associates of Southeast Missouri were not negligent in treating Michael Morgan of Elkville, Ill. Jackson’s order followed a three-day bench trial in January.

Morgan had initially sued his surgeon, Dr. Sonjay Fonn, as well as Fonn’s employer, Midwest Neurosurgeons, in 2011 along with Burns, an osteopathic physician, and Burns’ employer. Burns and Orthopaedic Associates were dismissed from the original suit, which was settled confidentially with Fonn and Midwest Neurosurgeons, said plaintiff’s attorney Douglas Dowd.

Morgan then sued Burns and the orthopedic center in 2012 related to complications from surgery at St. Francis Medical Center in Cape Girardeau three years earlier. He alleged that Burns didn’t diagnose and respond to his post-operative infection.

According to stipulated facts in the ruling, Morgan worked for a decade as a cable TV installer in southern Illinois before developing severe back pain in November 2008. He was referred by a chiropractor to Fonn, an osteopathic neurosurgeon in Cape Girardeau. When steroid injections failed to alleviate his pain, Morgan had four-level spinal fusion surgery.

Morgan was transferred to an in-patient rehab unit at St. Francis five days after surgery, where he was treated by Burns. On the patient’s sixth day in rehab, a nurse noticed drainage from Morgan’s surgical incision. He was discharged from the hospital the following afternoon but developed a fever that evening. The next day, a home health nurse reported drainage from the wound, which Fonn responded to with a prescription for an antibiotic ointment.

Morgan returned to the hospital March 20 and was diagnosed with sepsis, acute renal failure and a lumbar wound infection. He had the wound drained by Fonn the following day and remained at the hospital for several weeks. He was then transferred to Barnes-Jewish Hospital in St. Louis at his wife’s request, spending 10 days there and another four weeks in rehab.

The day before his transfer, doctors found another fractured verterbra that had not been previously identified. The injury has caused Morgan to have a bent spine that requires him to walk with a cane, his attorney said.

Jackson determined that the case hinged on each side’s expert witnesses. She ultimately found that the defendants’ medical experts, who included a University of Virginia spinal rehabilitation specialist and a Johns Hopkins University expert on infectious diseases, “tipped the scale of credibility in defendants’ favor.”

“Without any other signs of infection, the appearance of a wound was simply not enough to alert Dr. Burns to the presence of something as serious as a deep wound infection,” the judge wrote.

Defense attorney Joseph Blanton Jr. of Blanton, Rice Nickell, Cozean & Collins in Sikeston concurred.

“We do think we had excellent experts,” he said.

Dowd said Morgan, whose wife was also named as a plaintiff before she died when the case had not yet gone trial, has no plans to appeal the decision.

“It was very much of a call on the expert,” Dowd said. “That’s the way it goes sometimes.”



  • Venue: U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Missouri
  • Case number/date: 1:12-CV-136/June 17, 2014
  • Judge: Carol E. Jackson
  • Plaintiffs’ experts: Dr. Charles W. Stratton IV, Vanderbilt University, Nashville, Tenn. (clinical microbiology); Dr. David Kennedy, St. Louis (orthopedic surgery); Dr. Patricia Hurford, Orthopedic Sports Medicine and Spine Care Institute, Kirkwood (physical medicine/rehabilitation)
  • Defendants’ experts: Dr. Alan Alfano, HealthSouth Rehabilitation Hospital, Charlottesville, Va. (physical medicine/rehabilitation); Dr. Kristine Johnson, Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine, Baltimore, Md. (infectious diseases); Dr. John Luce, University of California at San Francisco (clinical medicine)
  • Last demand: $1.9 million
  • Caption: Michael and Laurie Morgan v. Bernard Burns D.O. and Orthopedic Associates of Southeast Missouri.
  • Plaintiffs’ attorney: Douglas P. Dowd, Dowd & Dowd, St. Louis
  • Defendants’ attorneys: Joseph C. Blanton Jr. and John E. Cozean, Blanton, Rice, Nickell, Cozean & Collins, Sikeston


Joseph C. Blanton Jr. John E. Cozean

Download the Original Article From Missouri Layers Weekly

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