As part of the firm’s ongoing commitment to grow and invest in our industry teams, eight attorneys have been named team leaders this week. Their diverse backgrounds serving clients within the identified industries as well as their experience across litigation, intellectual property, international law, corporate services, banking and real estate, and other practice areas will help the firm deliver comprehensive knowledge and experience to our clients. For example, within our Agribusiness and Food team, while we have several attorneys who work specifically on FDA matters, their experience also extends to working with ag lenders and other key stakeholders. We believe this sort of cross-discipline practice is valuable and helps us better serve our clients.
The Agribusiness and Food team will be led by Denver partner Meshach Rhoades and St. Louis associates Laura Bentele and Ryan Fournier.
Meshach is a partner in the firm’s Litigation practice group. She assists clients with regulatory, business and legal needs in the beverage, food, dietary supplement, and OTC industries. Meshach works closely with companies to ensure compliance with the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), the Federal Trade Commission (FTC), the United States Department of Agriculture and other regulatory bodies, and reviews product labels, warning letters, investigative demands, advertising, websites and other marketing materials. Meshach also defends clients from both governmental agencies and civil litigation ranging from breach of contract cases to class actions alleging false and misleading advertising. She has extensive experience with federal and state dairy, energy drink and juice regulation and counsels and defends clients on product distribution, safety and risk management, labeling and general supply chain issues. Meshach serves as lead counsel for The Coca-Cola Company and Minute Maid on its dairy regulation compliance, and is advising on the launch of the company’s premium milk beverage in all 50 states.
Laura counsels clients both with respect to consumer fraud lawsuits and regulatory compliance and associated litigation risks. She is devoted to counseling clients concerning state deceptive trade practices laws, food contamination and food safety issues including cases involving listeria monocytogenes outbreaks, third-party adulteration and diacetyl exposure (“popcorn lung”). Laura also conducts ongoing compliance analysis of the Food Safety and Modernization Act with particular focus on how impacted industries can proactively confront pending compliance deadlines.
Ryan routinely represents domestic and foreign companies in advising and complying with regulations promulgated by the FDA, FTC, Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), Alcohol and Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau (TTB), the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) and relevant state agencies. Ryan has extensive experience in these areas, serving as lead counsel to multi-national corporations on various federal and state regulatory matters impacted by international supply chains, market expansion, and health and safety issues. Recently, Ryan spoke at premier industry conference Supply Side West on clean label issues and the supply chain. He is also a frequent author on FDA-related topics.
The Health Care and Life Sciences team will be led by St. Louis partners Tim Gearin and Steve Pozaric.
Tim is one of the most sought after defense litigators in the country with broad experience in business litigation, catastrophic and personal injury, medical malpractice, products liability complex litigation involving antitrust, and qui tam cases. He also serves as leader of the firm’s award-winning Tort and Catastrophic Events practice. For his health care clients, he counsels on compliance related matters, including the Stark Law, HIPAA, Unfair Merchandising Practices Act and best practices for electronic medical records. Tim has litigated all levels of cases from individual client matters to public health threats and his successful defense verdicts have ranked among the highest for at least a dozen years.
Steve counsels health care systems, hospitals and physicians on all aspects of their business – ranging from operational matters, contractual and equity joint ventures, physician and other contracting, tax exempt financing, to mergers and acquisitions. He has significant experience with physician employment agreements, medical staff issues, credentialing and disciplinary matters. Steve also advises clients on compliance related matters. Most recently, he was interviewed by the St. Louis Business Journal on value-based health care, physician contracts and data security issues surrounding the health care industry. With the benefit of his past experience in corporate finance, as well as an M.B.A. in finance, he serves businesses of all sizes across many industries focusing on corporate law, including mergers and acquisitions.
The Higher Education team will be led by St. Louis partner Jim Heinen, Denver partner Bill Ojile and Kansas City partner Darren Sharp.
Jim is a member of the firm’s Intellectual Property practice group and has a number of higher education clients, including numerous universities, both public and private. Jim works closely with these entities and their tech-transfer offices to manage their intellectual property rights when research is deemed as high potential for commercial interest or use. His experience involves a variety of subject matters such as pharmaceuticals, small molecule design, trace detection systems, nanotechnologies, medical devices, cardiology and vascular access products, herbicides, pesticides, fungicides, polymeric materials, skin science and technology, personal care articles and formulations, electrochemical cells, pediatric and adult nutritionals, microencapsulation, and semiconductor materials.
Bill served for nine years as general counsel of a multi-campus private college where he had responsibility for all legal, regulatory, human resources, government affairs and compliance matters. In his role at the firm today, Bill works for for-profit and non-profit colleges, college associations and companies providing services to colleges and universities on a variety of matters including litigation, compliance, school closure, regulatory/accreditation issues and counseling. Bill regularly contributes content to The Chronicle of Higher Education and most recently has counseled colleges on how to responsibly close when a wind-down is inevitable and how to help displaced students.
Darren has successfully handled bench and jury trials in state and federal courts and arbitrations involving various business and employment disputes. He counsels and advises higher education institutions on Title IX, Title VII, internal governance issues, as well as FERPA and Clery Act issues. Darren has served as lead counsel on employment discrimination claims on behalf of colleges and also routinely drafts and reviews contracts on behalf of colleges and universities with third-parties.
Over the course of the year, the firm plans to focus further on growing additional industry focused teams.