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Missouri Attorneys Obtain Decision Affirming Summary Judgment for Retail Client

St. Louis Partner Brian K. McBrearty and Attorney Lori A. Schmidt obtained a decision affirming summary judgment at the United States Court of Appeals for the Eighth Circuit in a discrimination case on behalf of our retail client.

Plaintiff claimed our client’s former employee shouted derogatory and racist statements, and threatened them with physical harm while inside our client’s Florissant, Missouri, store after they refused to complete a required form prior to car battery testing. Plaintiff filed suit against our client alleging unlawful racial discrimination in contracting under the provisions of 42 U.S.C. § 1981, as well as common law causes of action for assault, intentional infliction of emotional distress, negligent hiring and retention, and negligent supervision. Brian and Lori moved for summary judgment based on the clear legal precedent that an employer must have reasonable grounds to believe an employee would act in this manner before assessing liability against the employer. In April 2022, the United States District Court for the Eastern District of Missouri agreed with our attorneys and granted our motion for summary judgment on all five counts.

On appeal, Plaintiff argued that our client is liable for assault and intentional infliction of emotional distress under respondeat superior. Plaintiff also claimed that our client ratified their former employee’s conduct when the store manager and district manager told the employee that they did not want to fire them and delayed termination.

In March 2023, the Court of Appeals affirmed the District Court’s decision and held that our client is not liable for discrimination based on their former employee’s conduct under 42 U.S.C. § 1981.

Brian defends clients against civil liability claims, insurance defense litigation, workers’ compensation and construction accident matters. His practice includes professional management, human resource and contract issues. Brian’s representative clients include self-insured and insured trucking companies in state and federal courts throughout Missouri and Illinois.

Lori focuses her practice in the areas of general liability and insurance coverage, and she has experience handling a variety of litigation matters including Section 1983 claims. She also handles construction liability, transportation liability and medical malpractice cases. Lori has experience evaluating and defending state and federal cases in Missouri and Illinois.