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.
Selected Data Breach and Privacy Litigation
In re: Dominion Dental Services USA, Inc. Data Breach Litig. (E.D. Va.) – Barrett serves as plaintiffs’ co-lead and interim class counsel in this case against a leading insurer and administrator of dental and vision benefits. The plaintiffs allege that Dominion suffered a data breach whereby the sensitive personal, financial, and medical information of nearly three million health plan members was accessed as part of an ongoing, nine-year long data breach. The case was filed in August 2019 and is ongoing.
In re: Equifax, Inc., Customer Data Security Breach Litig. (N.D. Ga.) – Norman Siegel serves as plaintiffs’ co-lead counsel and as chair of the settlement committee in the largest data breach multi-district litigation to date. Norman led several aspects of the case including the negotiations leading to the historic $1.5 billion settlement – by far the largest data breach settlement in history. In addition to extensive work on the settlement, Barrett served as the lead drafter of the consolidated complaint and successful opposition to Equifax’s motion to dismiss.
In re: Home Depot Customer Data Security Breach Litig. (N.D. Ga.) – Barrett served as plaintiffs’ co-lead counsel and participated in all aspects of this MDL including negotiations resulting in a settlement that provided a multi-million dollar cash fund, identity theft protection, and injunctive relief to the settlement class. The case was resolved one year after appointment of lead counsel.
CareCentrix Data Breach Litig. (D. Kan.) – Barrett served as lead and settlement class counsel in this phishing case compromising the social security numbers of thousands of CareCentrix employees. The case was settled in December 2017 and included automatic cash payments to class members with fraudulent tax returns, believed to be the first data breach settlement to include this feature.
LifeBridge Health, Inc. Data Breach Litig. (Cir. Ct. Balt. City, Md.) – Barrett is lead counsel in a class action lawsuit against LifeBridge Health after a data breach exposed the names, addresses, dates of birth, medication details, diagnoses, insurance data, clinical and treatment information, and in some cases, social security numbers of more than 530,000 LifeBridge patients. The case is currently proceeding in Maryland state court.
Heeger v. Facebook, Inc. (N.D. Cal.) – Barrett is co-lead counsel in a class action alleging that Facebook’s location tracking practices violate users’ right to privacy and intrude on their personal affairs without consent. Barrett and co-counsel argued against a motion to dismiss, and discovery is ongoing.
Selected Consumer Fraud Litigation
Plubell, et al. v. Merck & Co., Inc. (Cir. Ct. Jackson County, Mo.) – Barrett, along with other Stueve Siegel Hanson 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. After the firm defeated an interlocutoy appeal, the case was certified as a class action and set for trial. On the eve of trial, the firm reached a settlement making available to the class $220 million in cash compensation.
In re: Pre-Filled Propane Tank Marketing and Sales Practices Litig. (W.D. Mo.) – 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.
In re: Pre-Filled Propane Tank Antitrust Litig. (W.D. Mo.) – Barrett is prosecuting this multi-district litigation on behalf of retail consumers of pre-filled propane tanks, alleging, among other things, that the tank suppliers colluded to decrease the fill amount and thereby increase the sales price of the tanks. This litigation of claims brought under state antitrust laws is ongoing, on remand from the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Eighth Circuit.
Allen, et al. v. UMB Bank, et al. (Cir. Ct. Jackson County, Mo.) – Barrett and Patrick Stueve successfully negotiated a $7.8 million settlement of a class action lawsuit against UMB Bank and its affiliated entities for overdraft fees charged to customers. The lawsuit alleged that these practices violated Missouri's consumer protection laws and UMB's contracts with its customers.
Eaton v. Bank of Oklahoma, N.A. (Dist. Ct. Tulsa County, Okla.) – Barrett and Patrick Stueve secured a $19 million settlement in a class action lawsuit against Bank of Oklahoma for overdraft fees charged to customers.
Molina v. Intrust Bank, N.A. (Dist. Ct., Sedgwick County, Kan.) – In January 2012, Barrett successfully obtained a $2.7 million settlement for plaintiffs in a class action lawsuit against Intrust Bank and its affiliates for overdraft fees assessed by the bank to their customers.
Selected Business Contingency Litigation
Associated Wholesale Grocers, Inc., et al. v. United Egg Producers, et al. (Dist. Ct. Wyandotte County, Kan.) – Barrett represented 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 alleged 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 case in 2014.
In re Eclipse Aviation Depositor Litig. (Dist. Ct. Bernalillo County, N.M.) – 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 substantial confidential settlements.
Crossroads Wireless Litig. (Cir. Ct. Jackson County, Mo.) – Barrett was part of the team that successfully litigated this securities case against investment bankers and brokers for statutory and common law fraud. The firm represented more than a dozen independent telephone companies and not-for-profit co-ops in Missouri, Kansas, Nebraska and Kentucky seeking to recover nearly $40 million they invested in the now-defunct Crossroads Wireless project. Defendants in the case included investment banks Brown Brothers Harriman and George K. Baum. A confidential settlement was reached on behalf of the telephone companies.
Selected Criminal Defense
While at Sonnenschein Nath & Rosenthal LLP (now Dentons), Barrett devoted a significant portion of his practice to criminal defense and post-conviction relief work, including:
United States v. Kathryn Shields, et al. (W.D. Mo. 2007) – With his mentor Curtis E. Woods, Barrett prepared and defended a one-month jury trial of a criminal mortgage fraud conspiracy case. Both of their clients were acquitted of all charges. Nine other defendants were either convicted at trial or pleaded guilty and cooperated with the government.
Kenneth Glenn Thomas v. Allen (N.D. Ala.) – With Jerome T. Wolf, Barrett investigated, prepared, and second-chaired a bench trial seeking a writ of habeas corpus, presenting evidence that their client was ineligible for execution by the State of Alabama because he was mentally retarded as defined in Atkins v. Virginia, 122 S. Ct. 2242 (2002). Barrett drafted the post-trial briefs. District Judge C. Lynwood Smith, Jr.’s landmark decision vacating the death sentence, 614 F. Supp. 2d 1257 (N.D. Ala. 2009), was upheld on appeal, 607 F.3d 749 (11th Cir. 2010).
Publications and Professional Presentations
Securing Data-Breach Claims, Co-Author, Trial Magazine (2015)
KCMBA, Business Litigation Handbook, Punitive Damages in Kansas and Missouri (2017)
Faculty, AAJ Education’s Highlights and Strategies in Data Breach Litigation (2015)
Faculty, Tips from Experts: Navigating the Pros and Cons of Arbitration (2015)
Faculty, Scientific Evidence in Federal Litigation (2016)
Honors & Awards
Honors & Recognitions
Missouri & Kansas Super Lawyers, 2013-2019
Missouri Lawyers Weekly “Up and Coming Lawyer,” 2018
University of Missouri School of Law
J.D., cum laude, 2004
Honors: Judge Shepard Barclay Prize
Honors: Order of the Coif
Law Review: Missouri Law Review, Editor-in-Chief
Chair, Student Honor Code Committee
University of Missouri
B.S., Fisheries and Wildlife, magna cum laude, 2001
- Missouri, 2004
- U.S. District Court, Western District of Missouri
- U.S. District Court, District of Kansas
- U.S. Court of Appeals, 4th Circuit
- U.S. Court of Appeals, 8th Circuit
- U.S. Court of Appeals, 9th Circuit
- U.S. Court of Appeals, 10th Circuit
- U.S. Court of Appeals, 11th Circuit