Jim Bennett has acted as lead trial and appellate attorney in multiple cases in multiple jurisdictions. In recent years, he has tried to judgment eight cases involving $20,000,000 or more in controversy. Three of these cases involved more than $100,000,000 in dispute. During the same time period, he tried multiple other significant matters to verdict and judgment. He has also acted as lead appellate counsel for cases decided in the Missouri Supreme Court, the Missouri Court of Appeals, and the First, Second, Fifth, Sixth, Eighth and Eleventh Circuit Courts of Appeals. He has a national practice focused on cases that are not expected to settle before trial or appeal.
Mr. Bennett is a former law clerk to the Hon. Anthony M. Kennedy, Associate Justice of the United States Supreme Court, and to the Hon. J. L. Edmondson, United States Circuit Judge for the Eleventh Circuit. He is on the Executive Committee of the American Inns of Court Chapter in St. Louis and is a fellow with the Litigation Counsel of America. Mr. Bennett has acted as an adjunct professor on the subject of complex litigation at Washington University Law School. He has been recognized by various publications for his achievements. For instance, he has been selected by Missouri Lawyers Weekly as one of ten “Lawyers of the Year,” and the “Law Firm Leader of the Year.” He has been selected by the Riverfront Times as the Best Lawyer in St. Louis. He is annually identified as among the top 50 lawyers in St. Louis, the top 100 lawyers in Missouri, and among the Best Lawyers in America. Currently, he is ranked as a “Tier One” counsel by U.S. News and World Report.
Representative Recent Trials:
- On May 11, 2015, a St. Louis County jury ordered Wells Fargo to repay the Barbara Burton Morriss Revocable trust $45,766,033.81. Dowd Bennett lawyers acted as lead trial counsel in the case, which generated the largest reported verdict in the history of St. Louis County, which included $32,100,000.00 in punitive damages. The Trust was represented by Jim Bennett, Megan Heinsz, and Ed Dowd, along with co-counsel.
- On December 11, 2014, a unanimous jury in the County of Galveston, Texas returned a verdict for Dowd Bennett client Valero Texas Refining. The trial lasted two weeks and involved claims of a harmful exposure to benzene and other toxins related to the overfill of a crude oil tank. Mr. Bennett was lead trial counsel for the defense.
- In May of 2014, Mr. Bennett represented Anheuser-Busch in the highly publicized jury trial, Katz v. Anheuser-Busch. This was a gender discrimination case brought by a former high ranking female executive, seeking more than $15 million in lost wages and interest, plus punitive damages. The case was reported in The New York Times, Wall Street Journal, and other national press. The jury returned its verdict for Anheuser-Busch after 13 days of trial. Katz’s motion for new trial was denied and the case is concluded.
- In December of 2012, Mr. Bennett tried to jury verdict the case of Automation Service v. Emerson Process Management and Fisher Controls. In this case, Mr. Bennett represented Emerson Electric and its subsidiaries in a trade secret and contract dispute against a re-manufacturer of Fisher Controls valves and actuators. The jury ruled for Emerson on all counts and awarded $5.4 million in damages on the counterclaim.
- In August of 2012, Mr. Bennett was lead trial counsel in the case of Fresenius Medical Care v. United States of America. The case was tried to a twelve-person jury in the District of Massachusetts (Boston). After a two-week trial, the jury awarded Mr. Bennett’s client a $95 million tax benefit in a case where the U.S. Department of Justice Tax Division had made no offer.
- In 2011, Mr. Bennett tried to judgment an arbitration involving a demand in excess of $25 million in Denver, Colorado. The case alleged that Ernst & Young had committed auditing malpractice and caused the bankruptcy of a publicly-traded company. After extensive testimony and argument, the three-arbitrator panel unanimously ruled for Ernst & Young, Mr. Bennett’s client. The award was confirmed by the Denver, Colorado Circuit Court in January of 2012.
- In February of 2011, Mr. Bennett prevailed in a jury trial in Cook County, Illinois, regarding responsibility for a damaged underground petroleum pipeline. In this case he represented a Valero Energy subsidiary, The Premcor Refining Group, against KLLM Trucking. The Cook County jury determined that KLLM had caused damage to Premcor’s Chicago-area pipeline.
- In 2010, Mr. Bennett tried for an on-line catalog company an arbitration against a company that had acquired it. The arbitrator awarded Mr. Bennett’s client more than $1 million in this earn-out dispute. The case was tried in Chicago under the terms of the sale agreement.
- In June of 2010, Mr. Bennett was lead trial counsel for Monsanto Company in a case against Conoco Phillips. The dispute involved a multi-year supply contract for petroleum coke from Conoco’s Santa Monica facility. This product was needed for Monsanto to manufacture its Round-Up® pesticide. A unanimous jury awarded Monsanto $7.6 million after a two-week trial.
- In April of 2010, Mr. Bennett was lead trial counsel for Wal-Mart Stores against the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission. The case, brought by the EEOC, alleged age discrimination in Wal-Mart’s vision centers. The unanimous jury rejected the EEOC’s claim after 30 minutes of deliberation.
- In the Spring of 2010, Mr. Bennett was lead trial counsel in a False Claims Act case in El Paso, Texas. The case, U.S. ex rel. Gonzalez v. FMC was tried to a jury in the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Texas. The unanimous jury reached a defense verdict on all remaining counts. This case was tried over 45 days and is reported to have been the longest civil trial in the El Paso division.
- In October of 2008, Mr. Bennett tired a $280 million multi-week case in the Delaware Chancery Court. The case, Olson v. Viking Global Investors, was a dispute between the founders of a hedge fund managing more than $10 billion in assets. The Chancery Court ruled for Mr. Bennett’s clients in all respects and the Delaware Supreme Court affirmed.
- In Bi-State v. Cross County Collaborative, Mr. Bennett was lead trial counsel in the longest jury trial in St. Louis County history. The $130 million, nine-count case involved responsibility for cost overruns for St. Louis’ largest rail, and sought, in addition, punitive damages. The jury, after more than four months of trial, ruled for Mr. Bennett’s clients on all counts. The jury also awarded the defendant millions in unpaid invoices. Mr. Bennett cross examined more than 30 witnesses in this case and presented opening statement and closing argument for his client.
- In S.P. v. Zoltek, a case involving a supply contract for carbon fiber used in large European-manufactured wind turbine blades; the jury awarded more than $36 million to Mr. Bennett’s client, a Swiss public company. The jury awarded the exact amount requested by Mr. Bennett in closing argument.
Representative Recent Appeals:
- In July of 2014, the First Circuit affirmed the $95 million judgment in Fresenius v. United States, a case seeking a tax deduction for a false claims act settlement. The decision came just three weeks after Mr. Bennett argued the case to a panel of judges in Boston.
- In September of 2012, Mr. Bennett argued in the United States Court of Appeals for the Eighth Circuit a case involving the jurisdiction of the federal courts to decide disputes related to international arbitration. The Court of Appeals ruled that more than 400 cases, involving claims of Peruvian children related to lead products in Peru, were properly removed to federal court. Jurisdiction was based on an arbitration pending between the operator and the Peruvian government.
- On July 25, 2012, Mr. Bennett argued in the United States Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit an appeal of an $82 million False Claims Act Judgment against Renal Care Group, Inc. On October 4, 2012, the Panel unanimously reversed the judgment and directed that judgment on two counts be entered for Renal Care Group. The decision has been widely reported.
- In February of 2012, Mr. Bennett argued in the United States Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit in U.S. ex rel. Gonzalez v. Fresenius. The appeal claimed that the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Texas had incorrectly entered judgment for Mr. Bennett’s client on a jury verdict. In July of 212, the Fifth Circuit unanimously ruled for Mr. Bennett’s client in what has become a widely-cited decision altering important issues under the False Claims Act.
- In 2011, the United States Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit issued a major ERISA ruling in a case argued by Mr. Bennett, Bio-Medical Systems v. Central States. The unanimous ruling in favor of Mr. Bennett’ client prohibited large, private insurance plans from dropping certain beneficiaries based on Medicare-eligibility. The decision had a wide-ranging impact for providers.
- In 2011, the Missouri Supreme Court ruled for Mr. Bennett’s clients, Travelocity and Orbitz, in a dispute with local and county governments that claimed the fee collected by the interest travel firms were subject to the Hotel Tax. Mr. Bennett presented arguments on behalf of all on-line travel companies in the case.