Jacobson Press P.C.
Jacobson Press P.C. is a firm of experienced trial lawyers. Our lawyers have collectively over 90 years of courtroom experience. We have prepared and tried complicated civil and business lawsuits in state and Federal courts throughout the country. We have argued appeals in the Missouri Supreme
Court, the Missouri Court of Appeals, and the United States Court of Appeals for the Second, Third, Fifth, Seventh, Eighth, Ninth, and Federal Circuits. And when lawyers in Missouri need help with complex matters, they frequently call the lawyers at Jacobson Press P.C.
Joe Jacobson won an appeal in the Missouri Court of Appeals, Eastern District, affirming the decision of a St. Louis County Circuit Judge that a class action on behalf of GoJet Airline pilots for unpaid contractual bonuses should not be terminated and sent to individual claim arbitration.
The decision of the trial court was affirmed by the Court of Appeals for reasons different than those given by the trial court but set out in detail in Joe’s brief in the Court of Appeals.
In this case, GoJet had pilot applicants sign a mandatory arbitration agreement as part of their job application process. The arbitration agreement stated that it was to be enforced and interpreted under the Federal Arbitration Act (the “FAA”). But Section 1 of the FAA states that it cannot be used to compel the arbitration of the employment agreements of employees, like pilots, directly engaged in interstate or international commerce. So GoJet’s motion to compel arbitration disclaimed any reliance on the FAA and instead stated that the arbitration agreement should be enforced under the Missouri Uniform Arbitration Act.
Joe convinced the Court of Appeals that since arbitration is a matter of contract, applying a law that was never mentioned in the agreement (Missouri law) while ignoring the law specified in the agreement (the FAA) would be rewriting the parties’ agreement, an act outside of the courts’ power.
Joe was not involved in the case in the trial court, but looks forward to continuing to work to get these pilots paid the bonuses they were promised.
Matt Vianello won an appeal in the Southern District of the Missouri Court of Appeals reversing the Phelps County Circuit Court’s decision dismissing our client’s lawsuit.
This case involves the tragic death of a 22 month old girl who died from a fentanyl overdose in her parents’ home. We filed a lawsuit on behalf of the girl’s grandmother against a Missouri Department of Social Services caseworker who we allege failed to follow a department mandated protocol that exists to keep young children safe. Specifically, a caseworker who opens an investigation into a young child in danger is required to complete a simple one-page referral form that starts the State’s child-protection machinery and to do so within 72 hours of opening their investigation. Here, the caseworker did not complete the form until six months after the girl had died – and only after we had requested a copy of the completed form.
The appeal turned on whether completing the form in question was discretionary or mandatory on the part of the caseworker. The trial court mistakenly held that because the entire investigation process was discretionary and completing the form was part of the investigation, it, too, was discretionary. Fortunately, the Court of Appeals corrected that error. This appeal brings our client, one step closer to getting justice for her granddaughter.
Joe Jacobson obtained summary judgment for the defendant in an unusual case involving a forged deed and a plaintiff who was fully compensated by his title insurance for his supposed purchase of the disputed property before he filed suit against Jacobson’s client in an effort to get possession of the real estate.
The case was pending in the Circuit Court for St. Louis City and was set for trial in October.
The case reads more like a dramatic novel than the typical lawsuit. Setting the events in motion was a serial forger named Bright whose modus operandi was to locate seemingly abandoned properties, deed them to herself, and then sell the property to an innocent stodge. Here, the property was a condo unit that appeared on the title records to be owned by a dissolved foreign company. The property had in fact been transferred by the foreign company to a local owner by a quit-claim deed transferring multiple condo units, but the deed had been mis-indexed by the Recorder of Deeds. Bad luck for Bright since there was a local owner who cared about the property.
Bright also had bad luck in her choice of the person whose signature she forged. That person could prove that they could not have been in the St. Louis area at the time the supposed deed was signed.
Bright later confessed to her multiple forgeries, including her forgery of her deed to the condo, in a recorded confession to the St. Louis Metropolitan Police. This confession mysteriously disappeared from the police evidence locker and could only be established by the testimony of the officer to whom she confessed and his contemporaneous police report. Bright also confessed her forgery of the condo deed to a lawyer representing the real owner of a property in another Bright forgery case. That lawyer provided an affidavit detailing Bright’s confession.
The trial judge found that there was no factual dispute that the deed on which the plaintiff relied was a “Fake Deed” and entered summary judgment on all counts.
Matt Vianello successfully tried an election dispute in the Greene County Circuit Court in Springfield, Missouri which resulted in the removal of a candidate for the Missouri House of Representatives from the November 2022 general election ballot.
To qualify for the ballot as an independent, the candidate has to submit a nominating petition to the Missouri Secretary of State with a minimum number of signatures from registered voters in the independent candidate’s district. Here, the Secretary of State had determined that the independent candidate’s nominating petition had enough signatures to qualify the candidate. In reaching this conclusion, however, the Secretary of State never considered whether the people who signed the nominating petition actually lived in the district. In fact, many of them did not. In fact, so many of the people who had signed the nominating petition lived outside the district that, by the time Matt established the extent of the Secretary of State’s error, the candidate no longer had enough signatures to qualify for the ballot.
The trial court entered judgment the day of the trial and ordered the candidate’s name be removed from the ballot.
Matt finds election dispute cases fun because by statute they are handled at a highly accelerated pace and must be completed by a fixed date or are denied. They are a race against the clock. Here, the independent candidate’s nominating petition was approved by the Secretary of State August 23, 2022. The lawsuit was filed August 26 and the case was tried September 12, 2022. That meant Matt had less than three weeks to gather all of the evidence and prepare and try the case.
Matt had one lucky break. The candidate’s lawyer tried to delay and thereby kill the case by filing a change of judge motion shortly before trial. Normally, such a motion, which must be granted before anything else is decided in the case, causes a delay – and a delay here would have killed the case. Fortunately, the Circuit’s presiding judge granted the motion immediately, assigned the case to himself, and held the trial as originally scheduled without delay.
Matt Vianello won summary judgment for our client, a landowner in Ste. Genevieve County, the plaintiff in a lawsuit filed against their local homeowners association.
The HOA had approved our client’s plans to build a house and boathouse on his property subject to the HOA, but when new board members took over the HOA, they rescinded the approval and asserted that the prior board’s approval of the plans was invalid. Matt argued that the HOA’s original plan approval gave our client contractual and property rights to build the improvements shown in those plans. The trial court agreed that the facts were undisputed (meaning no trial was necessary) and that our client was entitled to win as a matter of law.
Courts rarely grant summary judgment motions filed by plaintiffs. This, however, was one of those rare situations where it was clear to everyone (except the HOA) that the HOA was wrong.
Joe Jacobson represented one of St. Louis’s largest residential landlords in a class action claiming that its handling of tenants’ security deposits violated several Missouri statutes. The landlord had acquired numerous buildings with their existing tenants and leases and proceeded to enforce the leases as written, including a disputed provision for “non-refundable security deposits.” Joe advised the client on steps to minimize future potential liability, including the institution of upfront fees in place of non-refundable security deposits, and then negotiated a settlement that saved the client significant money compared to litigating to trial.
Allen Press successfully defended two homeowners who were sued for fraud in connection with the sale of their house at the Lake of the Ozarks. The plaintiffs claimed that Allen’s clients had fraudulently failed to disclose wood rot to exterior walls of the house. The jury rejected that claim, and awarded nothing to the plaintiffs.
Joe Jacobson represented a group of limited partners who sued their general partner for breach of contract and breach of fiduciary duty after the general partner breached the partnership agreement. The Missouri Supreme Court unanimously affirmed a jury verdict and judgment awarding the limited partners $5.6 million. Joe Jacobson tried the case and briefed and argued the appeal. The case is Heifetz v. Apex Clayton, Inc., 554 S.W.3d 389 (Mo. 2018).
Matt Vianello and Allen Press tried a four-day jury trial in the United States District Court for the Southern District of Texas. Matt and Allen’s client sold a customer over $400,000 in steel pipe but the customer claimed it did not order the pipe and refused to pay. The jury returned a unanimous verdict for Matt and Allen’s client, and a judgment was entered awarding actual damages, interest, and attorney fees.
Allen Press successfully prosecuted a case on behalf of a local lawyer who sued his former law partner for breach of contract in connection with the dissolution of their law firm. The parties waived a jury trial, and the judge handling the case awarded Allen’s client 100% of the amount he claimed. Allen tried the case in 2015 in Franklin County, Missouri.
After years of litigating a case, the goal is to be the most prepared, which means knowing your case, knowing your opponent's case, and being in a position to anticipate and plan for your opponent's next move. But no matter how prepared you are, it is inevitable that things will happen during the course of a trial that you did not anticipate. Click below to read some of our stories about those unexpected moments and other stories from the trenches.