Heller, Gallagher & Finley, L.L.P. - Attorneys at Law

Noteworthy Cases

Case that reversed 150 years of legal precedence – As a young lawyer, Tim Gallagher, defended a cardiologist in the St. Louis area who admitted to having an affair with one of his patients.  The husband of the patient sued the doctor for alienation of affections and criminal conversation.  The case went to trial in December, 1992 after the Doctor had left the country to return to his native Pakistan.  At trial Tim convinced the jury that his client was not responsible for alienating the affections of the wife, but the jury found for the husband on his claim for criminal conversation and awarded one dollar in damages.  Criminal conversation is an ancient claim for damages that could be asserted by a husband for the trespass on his wife’s body against any one who had sexual intercourse with her.

Initially the husband appealed his loss on the alienation of affections claim to the Missouri Court of Appeals.  On behalf of his client Tim cross - appealed the $1 verdict for the husband and convinced the Missouri Supreme Court to invoke a seldom used rule to hear the case for the purpose of reexamining the existing law before an opinion of the Court of Appeals.  The Supreme Court agreed with Tim’s position and changed the law in the State of Missouri.  ­Thomas v. Siddiqui, 869 S.W.2d 740 (Mo. 1994)

Largest personal injury verdict in Saint Charles County History – Unfortunately this verdict came when Tim Gallagher was representing the defendant.  Tim represented a local Fraternity at Southwest Missouri State University in a claim bought by a young lady who was a guest at their spring dance.  Following the dance the young lady dove into the shallow end of a pool and sustained a catastrophic injury that left her a quadriplegic.  She claimed that the members of the fraternity served her beer in violation of the National Fraternity’s policies.  The jury agreed and awarded the plaintiff $7.65 Million in actual and punitive damages.  Tim represented the local chapter of the fraternity through the appeal, and following a successful oral argument the case was settled for $200,000, which was the amount Tim offered before trial.  Though the amount of the verdict was not collected, it is believed to be largest personal injury verdict in the history of Saint Charles County.

Case that improved the rights of workers  to achieve fair compensation- Smith v. Climate Engineering, 939 S.W.2d 429 (Mo. E.D. 1996)  Charles Smith, who was 61 years at the time of the hearing, worked in the sheet metal industry for approximately forty years as a sheet metal worker and a foreman. Mr. Smith was represented by Sally I. Heller.  The Missouri Labor and Industrial Commission awarded Mr. Smith medical expenses and ordered to pay for additional medical treatment because Mr. Smith sustained an injury due to performing his usual and customary duties which lead to a physical breakdown or change in pathology. The Missouri Court of Appeals affirmed the ruling and further found that the repetitive trauma Mr. Smith experienced while flexing and extending his neck as part of his job constituted a compensable injury which was unforeseen or unexpected, arose out of and in the course of employment and was clearly job related.

Jones v. Washington University, 199 S.W. 3d 793 (Mo. App. E.D. 2006)  Jeanette Jones, worked as a nurse at Washington University and was sexually assaulted by a patient suffering from severe psychological injuries and disability.  The Missouri Court of Appeals ruled that the Missouri Labor and Industrial Commission applied the incorrect section of Chapter 287 which was 287.120.8 and instead, should have applied section 287.120.1 to determine whether Ms. Jones sustained an accidental injury arising out of and in the course of her employment. The case is still pending before the Missouri Court of Appeals.

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