Baker Sterchi Cowden & Rice and Williams Venker & Sanders Announce Merger

The law firms of Baker Sterchi Cowden & Rice (BSCR) and Williams Venker & Sanders (WVS) are pleased to announce their merger effective July 1, 2018.

The merged firm will continue to be known as Baker Sterchi Cowden & Rice and will be headquartered in Kansas City, Missouri. Scott Kreamer will remain Managing Member, responsible for the day-to-day operations and long-term planning of the firm. Mike Hunter will serve as the manager in charge of the merged firm’s St. Louis and Illinois offices.

“We are excited to be joining forces with such an excellent group of people and look forward to building on the momentum the merger has created as we look to the future,” said Kreamer.

“We are thrilled to join with BSCR,” said Hunter. “Both firms have been looking to increase their depth and breadth of experience. This combination of our talent and mutual commitment to client service sets the stage for a bright future.”

The merger brings together two very successful regional trial firms with similar histories, practices and philosophies. BSCR, headquartered in Kansas City, was founded in 1982, and has additional offices in St. Louis and Kansas. WVS, headquartered in St. Louis, was founded in 2001, and has additional offices in Kansas City and Illinois.

While both firms have grown considerably since they were founded, each has remained true to the common objective of defending professionals and companies across the country in civil, commercial, and complex litigation, in a personal, efficient and cost-effective manner. The merged firm will continue to focus its efforts on defending clients in courtrooms across the country.

“The combination accomplishes several of the firm’s strategic goals,” said Kreamer. “With the addition of a number of highly respected and experienced litigators and trial lawyers, it advances our goal of being among the top trial firms in the Midwest. It also provides additional depth and resources to more efficiently represent our collective clients.”

With clients of all sizes, from individual professionals to Fortune Global and US Top 10, 100, 500 and 1000 companies located all over the world, the two firms have compatible trial practices and excel in many of the same areas

In 2017, BSCR was recognized by U.S. News & World Report “Best Law Firms” as a Kansas City Metropolitan area “Tier 1” ranked law firm in the practice areas of Commercial Litigation, Mass Tort Litigation/Class Actions-Defendants, and Product Liability Litigation-Defendant. BSCR has also been recognized as a high ranking firm in General Commercial Litigation in Kansas City & Surrounds by Chambers USA.

Likewise, WVS was recognized by U.S. News & World Report “Best Law Firms” as a National “Tier 1” ranked law firm in Railroad Law and a St. Louis Metropolitan area “Tier 1” ranked law firm in the practice areas of Commercial Litigation, Personal Injury Litigation, Product Liability Litigation, and Railroad Law, and also recognized as a high ranking firm in General Commercial Litigation in St. Louis & Surrounds by Chambers USA.

In addition to the recognition received by the two firms, many BSCR and WVS attorneys have been recognized in a variety of civil litigation defense categories by Best Lawyers®, Chambers USA and other legal publications. Lawyers in both firms are involved with prominent professional legal organizations such as the American Board of Trial Advocates, American College of Trial Lawyers, Federation of Defense and Corporate Counsel, International Association of Defense Counsel, Lawyers for Civil Justice, and Product Liability Advisory Council.

“We are confident this union creates a solid foundation for the new firm’s growth plan, which is to strategically grow in attorneys and locations to best serve current and potential clients,” said Paul Venker, a WVS founder.

The combination increases the number of attorneys at BSCR to over 50. It also increases the number of locations to 5 cities in Kansas, Missouri and Illinois. Kansas City area attorneys and staff will operate out of BSCR’s Crown Center office location in Kansas City, Missouri. St. Louis area attorneys and staff will operate out of WVS’s downtown office location in St. Louis, Missouri.

About Baker Sterchi Cowden & Rice, LLC

For over 35 years, Baker Sterchi Cowden & Rice LLC has provided services in the areas of appellate, commercial, complex (class action and multi-district), cyber liability/privacy & data breach, employment and labor, insurance defense and coverage, medical malpractice, personal injury, premises liability, products liability, professional and management liability, and toxic/mass tort litigation. Headquartered in the Kansas City, Baker Sterchi Cowden & Rice attorneys practice throughout the United States serving national, regional and local companies and professionals in a variety of industries including the automotive, aviation, banking, construction, consumer products and services, food/beverage, healthcare, hospitality/leisure, insurance, pharmaceutical/medical device, retail, and trucking industries. For more information, visit

About Williams Venker & Sanders LLC

Founded in 2001, Williams Venker & Sanders LLC focuses on appellate, commercial, construction, employment, healthcare, insurance, products liability, toxic tort, and transportation law. Headquartered in St. Louis, Williams Venker & Sanders serves as both national and regional trial counsel for several major corporations and as trial counsel for some of the largest hospital groups in the St. Louis area.

Posted in General News

WVS Defense Verdict for John Mahon, Jr.

John Mahon

Congratulations to John Mahon and team for a defense verdict in federal court.

An eight-person jury deliberated for four hours after a five-day trial in mid-February and unanimously sided with our hospital client and an emergency room physician sued for medical malpractice by a teenager who suffered a severe bacterial infection after a piece of a broken stick remained lodged in his leg.

After two visits to the E.R., the boy, then 12 years old, returned to the E.R. a third time with increased pain and redness and was transferred to St. Louis Children’s Hospital, where he was diagnosed with necrotizing fasciitis and underwent multiple debridement surgeries and skin grafts. The surgeon located and removed a 1-by-2-centimeter piece of wood from the boy’s leg during the first debridement surgery

At trial, the plaintiff claimed the physician negligently failed to find and remove the piece of wood, and additionally failed to order an ultrasound at the second hospital visit to look for a foreign body, or to admit the boy to the hospital to provide additional IV antibiotics. The defendants denied that ED physician was negligent during either visit and denied that the wood piece caused the infection and necrotizing fasciitis.

Plaintiff’s claim against the hospital was based on vicarious liability for the ED physician’s conduct as a purported employee of the hospital. The hospital denied that the ED physician was its employee, and argued that the ED physician was an independent contractor, meaning the hospital could not be held responsible for the ED physician’s conduct pursuant to Missouri law.

Plaintiff’s counsel asked the jury to award $1,302,000 for past and future pain and suffering, and future economic damages of lost earnings. The jury returned a verdict in favor of the defendants.

Posted in General News

WVS Defense Verdict for Terry O’Toole

WVS congratulations Terry O’Toole and team for a defense verdict in St. Louis County Circuit Court.

In this case, the plaintiff alleged that an emergency medicine physician and the hospital facility nursing staff wrongfully administered thrombolytic medication to treat an ischemic stroke. Plaintiff alleged this led to the patient having a hemorrhagic stroke and, ultimately, his death.

Plaintiff alleged $173,000 in past medical bills and funeral expenses and asked for an award of $750,000.

After a five day trial, the jury found for the defendants, the emergency medicine physician and the hospital nursing staff and awarded no damages.

Posted in General News

WVS Adds Three New Attorneys

Williams Venker & Sanders is pleased to welcome the addition of three new attorneys. The attorneys will be based in St. Louis office of WVS and include two partners: Richard I. Woolf and Joshua S. Davis, as well an associate, Rebecca A. Guntli. All three join the firm from another downtown St. Louis firm.

Richard Woolf’s practice is concentrated in third party insurance defense and first party insurance litigation. This includes complex property and casualty/liability cases, and first party matters, including insurance coverage analysis.

Joshua Davis works on defense cases, with almost 100% of his cases rooted in insurance litigation, including third party defense, first party litigation, and insurance coverage. Clients entrust Josh with work in both personal and commercial lines dealing with property, casualty, and liability matters. In this defense practice, Josh routinely represents clients in both the trucking and rail industries.

Rebecca Guntli focuses her practice in litigation with an emphasis in insurance defense in product liability, premises liability, personal injury claims, and coverage cases. She has experience representing clients at all stages of litigation, including pre-trial strategy, motion practice, written discovery, depositions, and trial.

Posted in General News, New Hires

Our Own Cover Model

Take a quick glance at this photo and then name the man in the middle.

Did you say Santa? Or did you say Judge Michael David? You’d be right either way.

Motion for Kids 2017 had another success year with over 2,500 kids sponsored and nearly 300 people volunteering to help at the party. More than 75 law firms participated in this year’s event.

With that many kids, there’s a lot of knee time for a ‘right jolly old elf’, but Judge David keeps coming back for more. A veteran of this event, here’s what Judge David had to say about Motion for Kids:

“Your heart would have to be made of stone not to be moved by the plight of these kids – many/most/all have lived through things no child should ever have to live through. While I am always moved by this, my melancholy is tempered by what seems to be the almost eternal exuberance and promise of youth. I leave these events deeply saddened by their plight and most grateful for mine.

I think participating in programs such as these are significantly impactful on one’s life perspective. Like the benefits of travel to other lands, the more you see of people in circumstances and lifestyles different from your own, the broader becomes your perception and appreciation of humanity.”

 You can learn more about Motion for Kids here.

Posted in Events & Social Engagements, General News

WVS Names a New Partner

Williams Venker & Sanders is pleased to announce that Terrence J. O’Toole, Jr. has been named a Partner in the firm effective January 1, 2018.

Terry practices in the areas of general civil and commercial litigation with a focus on medical negligence, personal injury, and premises liability defense. He regularly defends health care providers and institutions in civil medical negligence suits, as well as defending general liability claims, including personal injury and premises liability. Terry frequently represents clients at trial in both state and federal courts. In 2017, he received the prestigious Lon O. Hocker Trial Lawyer Award from the Missouri Bar Foundation for exemplifying professionalism, high ethical conduct, and demonstrated proficiency in the art of trial advocacy.

Prior to joining WVS in 2014, Terry served as a prosecutor in both the City of St. Louis and Jackson County, Missouri, trying more than 40 cases to verdict and being named the Jackson County Prosecuting Attorney of the Year in 2013. Prior to graduating from law school, Terry served as a police officer with the University City, Missouri Police Department for nearly six years.

Posted in Awards/Recognition, General News

WVS Designated as a National First Tier Law Firm in U.S. News & World Report’s 2018 Best Law Firms Rankings

ST. LOUIS, MO – December 1, 2017 – Williams Venker & Sanders, a premier Midwest litigation firm, has once more been included in U.S. News & World Report’s 2018 “Best Law Firms” rankings, both nationally and for the St. Louis Metropolitan area.

The firm was given the highest ranking of National “Tier 1” again this year for its work in Railroad Law.  This maximum classification is based on U.S. News researcher interviews with clients and other lawyers.  For the practice areas of Commercial Litigation, Personal Injury Litigation, Product Liability Litigation, and Railroad Law, the firm also received a “Tier 1” ranking for the St. Louis Metropolitan region. Additionally, the firm received a “Tier 2” ranking for Labor & Employment Litigation in the St. Louis Metropolitan area, and a “Tier 3” status for Medical Malpractice Law.



The U.S. News – Best Lawyers® “Best Law Firms” rankings are based on a rigorous evaluation process that includes the collection of client and lawyer evaluations, peer review from leading attorneys in their field, and review of additional information provided by law firms as part of the formal submission process. To be eligible for a ranking, a law firm must have at least one lawyer who is currently recognized in Best Lawyers in that particular practice area and metro.


U.S. News & World Report is a digital news and information company that empowers people to make better, more informed decisions about important issues affecting their lives. Focusing on Education, Health, Personal Finance, Travel, Cars and News & Opinion, provides consumer advice, rankings, news and analysis to serve people making complex decisions throughout all stages of life. More than 37 million people visit each month for research and guidance. Founded in 1933, U.S. News is headquartered in Washington, D.C.


Best Lawyers is the oldest and most respected attorney ranking service in the world. Since it was first published in 1983, Best Lawyers® has become universally regarded as the definitive guide to legal excellence. Best Lawyers lists are compiled based on an exhaustive peer-review evaluation. For more than 30 years, Best Lawyers has assisted those in need of legal services to identify the attorneys best qualified to represent them in distant jurisdictions or unfamiliar specialties. Best Lawyers lists are published in leading local, regional and national publications across the globe. The Best Lawyers in America list recognizes the very best lawyers in each practice area and metropolitan region in the country.

Posted in Awards/Recognition, General News

New Associate Joins the St. Louis Office of Williams Venker & Sanders

Williams Venker & Sanders, a premier Midwest litigation firm, is pleased to welcome the addition of Becky Christensen as the newest associate to join the growing practice.

Mrs. Christensen graduated from Washington University School of Law in 2010. Prior to joining WVS, Mrs. Christensen practiced with a mid-sized law firm in downtown St. Louis where her civil litigation excellence has earned her recognition as a Missouri & Kansas Rising Star by Super Lawyers in 2014, 2015, 2016 and 2017.

In addition to her work, Becky is engaged as a community leader serving as an Adjunct Professor at Washington University School of Law and as a member of New City School’s Parent Organization and Auction Committee.

Posted in General News, New Hires