Barrett J. Vahle

Kansas City - Partner | 816-714-7132 (Direct) | vahle@stuevesiegel.com

Barrett Vahle represents consumers and companies in complex litigation; he pursues resolutions for clients through trial, arbitration, mediation, and settlement. Recognized for years as a “Super Lawyer,” Barrett focuses his practice on a wide range of consumer class actions involving data breaches, privacy, banking practices, and unfair practices in the sales and marketing of consumer goods. He also represents businesses in commercial disputes against their suppliers and contractors.

Data Privacy. Barrett is among the country’s most experienced attorneys in data privacy and cybersecurity litigation; he currently represents consumers in multidistrict litigation against Equifax, whose data breach is regarded as the most damaging in U.S. history. In another recent engagement, Barrett was appointed class counsel in successful litigation stemming from a data breach that compromised CareCentrix employees’ personal information.

Barrett also served as co-lead consumer counsel in multidistrict litigation against Home Depot after a 2014 data breach exposed payment card information for 50 million shoppers. The settlement set the standard for resolution of data breach cases, including payment of a cash fund, credit monitoring and identity theft protection for class members, and improvements in the company’s data security practices.

Consumer Class Actions. Barrett serves in leadership roles in other high-profile consumer class actions. He played a key role in obtaining a Missouri Lawyers Largest Plaintiff’s Settlement in  a consumer MDL involving sales of pre-filled propane tanks, and one of the largest settlements in Missouri history against Merck & Co. for its sales and marketing of the drug Vioxx. He is most proud of securing $30 million in settlements on behalf of bank debit-card customers who alleged unfair overdraft fees.

Barrett credits his two federal clerkships – one with Judge Duane Benton of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Eighth Circuit, one with Judge Dean Whipple of the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Missouri – for honing his legal writing and providing first-hand perspective on the federal court process. He credits his childhood on a Missouri family farm for teaching him the value of hard work.

Commercial Disputes. Barrett advocates for businesses in a wide range of contingency litigation matters, including antitrust and unfair competition, breach of contract, breach of fiduciary duty, and fraud. Before joining Stueve Siegel, Barrett worked at Sonnenschein Nath & Rosenthal LLP, now known as Dentons, where his litigation practice focused on complex commercial, trade secret, non-compete, white-collar criminal defense and appellate matters.

Barrett is committed to understanding each client’s business context; on one significant matter, Barrett spent weeks on-site at a client’s facility, where he learned the company’s systems and worked alongside senior management, auditors, and accountants. This experience provided him with significant business context, a complement to his legal training.

  • EXPERIENCE
  • HONORS & AWARDS
  • EDUCATION
  • BAR ADMISSIONS

RECENT LITIGATION HIGHLIGHTS

Associated Wholesale Grocers, Inc., et al. v. United Egg Producers, et al. (Business Litigation)Barrett represents Associated Wholesale Grocers, Inc., and local grocery stores in an antitrust lawsuit against numerous egg producers and egg industry trade groups for artificial inflation of egg prices. The lawsuit alleges that defendants engaged in a conspiracy designed to increase the price of eggs in violation of the Kansas Restraint of Trade Act. After nearly four years of litigation, Stueve Siegel Hanson successfully resolved this litigation in 2014.

In re Eclipse Aviation Depositor Litigation (Business Litigation). Barrett represented businesses and individuals seeking the return of hundreds of millions of dollars of aircraft deposits based on negligent misrepresentations. This extensive New Mexico litigation resulted in a substantial confidential settlement.

Plubell, et al. v. Merck & Co., Inc. (Class Action Litigation). Barrett, along with other SSH attorneys, prosecuted a Missouri statewide class action on behalf of all Missouri purchasers of Vioxx, the Cox-2 pain reliever that Merck pulled off the market after the FDA identified several misleading sales practices   The case was removed to Federal District Court for the Western District of Missouri under CAFA after SSH amended the complaint.  SSH argued and won in the Eighth Circuit Court of Appeals the affirmation of the trial court's remand to state court. The case was certified as a class action. In October 2012, a settlement was reached. Under the settlement terms, qualifying Missouri consumers of Vioxx may be reimbursed in full for their Vioxx purchases. The common fund settlement provides for payment to class members under two options: (1) a one-time cash payment of $180 to Settlement Class Members who submit a valid claim form with a declaration under oath (but no documentary proof of payment required) and (2) $90 for each month of Vioxx purchases supported by a declaration under oath with documentary proof of payments, such as a letter from the prescribing physician.

In re: Underfilled Propane Litigation (Class Action Litigation). Barrett is a member of the team that prosecuted this multi-district litigation related to underfilled propane tanks in the Western District of Missouri. Plaintiffs generally alleged that Defendants AmeriGas and Ferrellgas conspired to reduce the amount of propane sold in replacement barbeque-type propane cylinders but continued to sell the cylinders as "full." More than 15 cases were filed around the country and eventually consolidated by the Judicial Panel on Multidistrict Litigation. In 2010, the Court approved a class action settlement between Plaintiffs and AmeriGas for $10 million, and appointed Stueve Siegel Hanson as settlement class counsel. In 2012, the Court approved a class action settlement of $25 million between Plaintiffs and Ferrellgas.

Bank Overdraft Fees Litigation (Class Action Litigation). Barrett represented bank debit-card customers in their lawsuits against banks alleging unfair and deceptive assessment of overdraft fees. These cases have resulted in settlements of $30 million on behalf of consumers.

Petroski et al. v. H&R Block (Employee Wage Litigation). Barrett represents thousands of H&R Block tax professionals alleging that H&R Block violated federal and state law by failing to pay them for the 24 hours of training required by H&R Block after a tax season in order for its tax professionals to continue in their employment and prepare returns for H&R Block in the next tax season.  Plaintiffs allege that because this training is mandatory and occurs during the existence of a continuing employment relationship between H&R Block and its tax professionals, these training hours are compensable under federal and state law.  The lawsuit is pending in the United States District Court for the Western District of Missouri.  The Court certified a nationwide collective action under the FLSA and a California and New York Rule 23 class. Nearly 18,000 H&R Block tax professionals have joined the collective action lawsuit seeking unpaid wages for these mandatory training hours.

 

Missouri, 2004

U.S. District Court, Western District of Missouri

U.S. Court of Appeals, 4th Circuit

U.S. Court of Appeals, 8th Circuit

U.S. Court of Appeals, 10th Circuit

U.S. Court of Appeals, 11th Circuit

University of Missouri-Columbia School of Law, Columbia, Missouri, 2004
J.D.
Honors: Cum Laude 
Honors: Judge Shepard Barclay Prize
Honors: Order of the Coif
Law Review: Missouri Law Review, Editor-in-Chief

University of Missouri, 2001
B.S.
Honors: Magna Cum Laude 
Major:  Fisheries and Wildlife

Missouri & Kansas Super Lawyers, 2013-2016

Professional Organizations

The Missouri Bar - Member

Kansas City Metropolitan Bar Association - Member

Missouri Association of Trial Attorneys - Member

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