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  • Education
    • J.D., University of Missouri-Columbia, 1970, Phi Delta Phi
    • B.A., University of Missouri-Columbia, 1967

Dennis Palmer uses his experience to assist clients to evaluate options and help resolve disputes to achieve client objectives, often without cost and delay of prolonged litigation. Dennis is an experienced trial lawyer who has obtained many successful verdicts and judgments at trial, summary judgments and dismissal of actions for clients in federal and state courts in a variety of complex actions. He has represented insurers of health care and disability benefits, manufacturers of various products, computer software companies, as well as franchisors and franchisees and other publicly traded and privately owned companies and individuals in complicated civil cases — including antitrust, ERISA, and contract disputes. He has been lead counsel in several class action cases. In addition, he has handled numerous actions to obtain injunctive relief to enforce covenant not to compete provisions and other post-termination restrictions and enforcing rights under trademark and other intellectual property laws.

Some of the cases for which Mr. Palmer has been lead counsel include:


  • Successfully defended insurer of health care benefits on ERISA claim involving interpreting coordination of benefit ("COB") provisions in health care plans. In that case, divorced parents of a minor child each designated the child as a participant in separate health care plans. The child incurred medical expenses exceeding $1 million. The father's plan brought suit under ERISA for an order declaring that the mother's plan (represented by STK) was responsible for paying the child's medical expenses under the COB provision to the plans. After substantial discovery, on cross motions for summary judgment, the United States District Court for the Western District of Missouri granted judgment for the mother's plan. Butler Mfg. Co. v. Blue Cross Blue Shield of Texas, 2006 WL 3408324 (W.D.Mo., Nov. 27, 2006) aff'd on appeal 2008 WL 2609349 (8th Cir. (Mo) July 3, 2008).
  • Obtained judgment for an actuary firm in defense of claims by an alleged class of employees for approximately $10 million arising out of the alleged failure of the actuary to provide accurate information regarding funding of a multi-employer plan to the Plan Sponsor in breach of its fiduciary duty in violation of ERISA. This case was tried for several weeks before a federal district court judge. The Court found that the actuary firm did not violate ERISA and entered judgment in favor of the firm on all of the plaintiffs’ claims. (677 F.Supp. 626 (W.D. Mo. 1988). Bigger v. American Commercial Lines, Inc., Case No. 83-1310-CV-W-8.
  • Obtained judgment for a large company providing claims administrative services for many self-insured health care plans against claims by an alleged class of members of the plans for hundreds of millions of dollars arising out of the company claiming subrogation rights to proceeds paid to plan members in violation of ERISA. The Federal District Court granted the company’s motion to dismiss the claims because ERISA did not authorize suit to be brought against the company. The Eighth Circuit affirmed the District Court’s judgment dismissing the claims against the company, cert. denied to the U.S. Supreme Court. Hall v. LHACO, Inc., 140 F.3d 1190 (8th Cir. 1998).
  • Successfully defended a large manufacturer against alleged class action claims for multiple millions of dollars for failure to provide COBRA insurance rights in violation of ERISA. After briefing the class certification issue, the District Court denied class certification of plaintiffs’ claims. Smith v. Borden, Inc., Case No. 94-0504-CV-W-2 (1995).
  • Summary judgment was obtained for a large health care insurer on claims by a participant in an employer sponsored group health care plan alleging that the insurer, which administered the plan, breached ERISA by denying coverage of medical and hospital service expenses relating to his stem cell transplant which were in excess of $450,000. Based on the record developed during discovery, the federal district court ruled that the terms of the plan excluded the insured’s diagnosis of T-PLL from coverage for stem cell transplant and related services. David Nelson, M.D. v. Principal Life Insurance Company, United States District Court for the Western District of Missouri, Case No. 03-3317-CV-S-RED (October 2004).

Antitrust and RICO

  • Defense of class action claims by temporary nurses that association of hosptials and individual hospitals conspired to fix nurses' salary in violation of federal and state antitrust laws.  Doe v. Arizona Hospital and Healthcare Association, et al., United States District Court for the District of Arizona, Case No. 2:07-CV-01292-SRB (2012).
  • Obtained dismissal of claims for a supplier of retail products in employee claims for wrongful termination allegedly because the employee refused to participate in the supplier’s illegal activity in providing promotional allowances in violation of laws prohibiting kickbacks and racketeering under RICO and other claims. The District Court granted the client’s motion to dismiss the RICO claims. The employee appealed the dismissal of the RICO claims to the Eighth Circuit Court of Appeals. In a case of first impression, the Eighth Circuit affirmed the District Court’s judgment for our client. Bowman v. Western Auto Supply Co., 985 F.2d 383 (8th Cir. 1993).
  • Successfully defended defendants against claims by a group of franchisees in a tire and automotive products franchise system for tens of millions of dollars arising out of claims that the defendants engaged in conspiracy to breach contract, fraud, violation of various antitrust laws, including the Robinson-Patman Act and other claims. As part of the case, the plaintiffs sought a preliminary injunction to enjoin the defendants from offering franchises in certain areas. The court denied the plaintiffs’ franchisees’ motion and the case settled with all of the franchisees renewing their franchise agreements with the franchisor, NTW, and agreeing to pay increased franchise royalties. International Automotive Corporation, et al. v. NTW, Inc., et al., United States District Court for the District of Columbia, Case No. 89-1944.
  • Obtained an Arbitration Award for client after nine-day evidentiary hearing at which over 20 witnesses, including experts, testified that a structural steel manufacturer was not liable to a customer for alleged price discrimination in the sale of steel in violation of the Robinson-Patman Act, 15 U.S.C. § 13. and the Texas Deceptive Trade Practices Act, Bus. & C. § 17.4, et seq. and common law fraud. Chaparral Steel Midlothian, L.P. and B-S Steel of Kansas, Case No. 71 181 00725 02 before the AAA (Award dated November 21, 2003).
  • Obtained summary judgment for parent companies and subsidies of a structural steel manufacturer on a customer’s claim for price discrimination in violation of the Robinson-Patman Act and state statutory and common law claims based on principles of res judicata and collateral estoppel. B-S Steel of Kansas, Inc. v. Texas Industries, Inc., et al., 327 F.Supp.2d 1252 (D.C. Ks. 2004); affirmed on appeal on all issues, B-S Steel v. Texas Industries, Inc., et al., 439 F.3d 653 (10th Cir. 2006).
  • Obtained jury verdict for defendant Regional Emergency Medical Services Authority, et al in a four-week antitrust jury trial in federal court, Reno, Nevada. The case was brought by a private helicopter ambulance company against the two hospitals in Reno and their joint venture helicopter ambulance company under Secs. 1 and 2, Sherman Act. The jury returned a verdict for all defendants; the verdict was not appealed. Medic Air v. Air Ambulance Authority, et al., (U.S. Dist. Ct. Nev.).

Class Actions

  • Defended several different health care insurance plans against claims by alleged class of members of the plans for hundreds of millions of dollars in damages for failure of the plans to pass on discounts from health care providers to plan members in violation of ERISA. The defendants conducted substantial discovery and fully briefed the class action issues. After defendants submitted their brief opposing class certification, the case settled. Ledgin v. Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Kansas City (United States District Court for the District of Kansas).
  • Defended bank in a putative class action case based upon alleged violations of the Ohio RICO statute, Ohio securities law statute, fraud and other claims arising out of plaintiffs purchasing securities which were placed in Individual Retirement Accounts (“IRAs”) administered by the bank under Custodial Agreements with investors. After filing a motion to dismiss for failure to state a claim and lack of standing, the plaintiffs agreed to jointly stipulate to dismiss the case against the bank with court approval. Katherine Cline v. Reliance Trust Company, et al., United States District Court for the Northern District of Ohio, Case No. 1:04CV2079 (December 2004).

Commercial Litigation

  • Obtained dismissal of case during trial for bank trust department in claims by beneficiaries of approximately $60 million trust that the bank breached its fiduciary duties to them by, among other actions, failing to properly manage trust property, including real estate, failing to adequately invest trust assets and favoring certain groups. At trial, the federal district judge dismissed the beneficiaries’ claims against the Bank because the record, including statements of counsel, showed that the beneficiaries were unable to meet their burden of proof. The beneficiaries appealed the District Court's dismissal of the case to the Eighth Circuit Court of Appeals which ruled that issues of fact were in dispute and remanded the case back to the District Court for trial. 78 F.3d 382 (8th Cir. 1996). Because the record showed that the beneficiaries were unlikely to prove their claims at trial, the case settled. Brown v. United Missouri Bank, N.A. (United States District Court for the Western District and Eighth Circuit).
  • Obtained judgment after week long trial in federal court in Kansas for bank in claims by borrower for fraud and other claims arising out of a multiple million dollar commercial real estate loan secured by property pledged by third-party guarantors. The court found in favor of the bank on all claims. The borrower did not appeal the judgment. Gateway Financial Group, Inc. v. Mission Bank (United States District Court for the District of Kansas).
  • Obtained summary judgment for manufacturer of sectional garage doors on claims to recover unpaid balance due on sale of products to its dealer and individual owners of the dealer, and in defense of several counterclaims by dealer, based on breach of contract and tort law theories. Raynor Mfg. Co. v. Raynor Door Company, et al., District Court of Shawnee County, Kansas, Case No. 05C1293.

Intellectual Property

  • Successfully defended bank against claims by a software provider hired to operate and control bank’s lighting and heating and cooling systems at over 30 bank facilities for substantial damages and injunctive relief arising out of alleged breach of the federal copyright statute and other claims. After filing motions to dismiss for the bank, the case settled. EPM v. Commerce Bancshares, Inc., et al., Case No. 99-0169-CV-W-2.
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December 9, 2013
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August 30, 2013
Publications & Presentations
Mr. Palmer has authored more than 20 articles and papers on legal issues including franchising, ERISA and anti-trust. He has spoken at numerous seminars and CLE programs. His publications include:
Publications & Presentations
Research Solutions, LexisNexis®

 Parts I and II of these articles are co-authored by Dennis Palmer and Adam Fuemmeler and appear on the LexisNexis® Emerging Issues Analysis site.

March 2012
Publications & Presentations
When a Franchise Goes Belly Up
Small Business, Vol. 18, Issue 7
July 2009
Publications & Presentations
ERISA and Issues Involving the Design and Creation of ERISA Plans and ERISA Litigation
In today's ever changing world, employers need to be informed on the latest laws pertaining to their businesses.  The Employee Retirement Income Security Act (ERISA) is a federal law that sets standards for the establishment and operation of employee benefits plans.  The goal is to protect the interests of participants and their beneficiaries.  The following article is an introduction to the ERISA law.
September 16, 2008
Publications & Presentations
Importance of Experienced Counsel in Avoiding and/or Defending Veil-Piercing Litigation
Attorneys Dennis Palmer and Mark Olthoff have written an article about the importance of choosing an experienced attorney when dealing with protection from liability issues in avoiding and/or defending veil-piercing litigation.
August 14, 2008
Publications & Presentations
Distributor, License and Franchise Actions - Chapter
Chapter for Missouri Bar Deskbook on Commercial Law