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Lesley, Robert O. Information

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Lesley, Robert O.
2345 Grand Blvd. Suite 2800 Kansas City, MO
Phone: 816.460.5376 (Business Phone)
Fax: 816.292.2001 (Business Fax)
Website: http://www.lathropgage.com/

SUMMARY

Current Employment Position(s)

Partner

Lawyer Overview

Mr. Lesley has twenty-six years of trial practice experience.  Since the outset of his career, he has specialized in intellectual property, business, and products liability litigation. He has tried more than twenty cases, ranging from sophisticated intellectual property disputes, including copyright, trade secret, and trademark infringement, to complex contract litigation. His extensive experience in patent and technology cases includes products as diverse as software, sulfur dioxide scrubbers, and consumer appliances. 

Mr. Lesley's clients include some of the country's best-known businesses. He serves as national products liability counsel for two leading appliance manufacturers. As national counsel, he has coordinated the defense of cases in virtually every state and serves as the lead courtroom attorney in all tried cases. He has created innovative systems for supervising nationwide litigation, including the effective use of local counsel. He also has represented many other manufacturers on a regional and local basis.
 
Mr. Lesley specializes in the use of software tools to enhance courtroom persuasion. On numerous occasions he has used presentation software in trials, hearings, and alternative dispute resolution proceedings. He has also extensively used computers for case organization.
 
The following are representative matters Mr. Lesley has actually tried, won on summary judgment, or handled on appeal. He, of course, has handled many other cases, including those settled through alternative dispute resolution. 
 
Representative Intellectual Property and Business Litigation Cases:

  • Walco International Inc. v. Ivy Animal Health Inc. United States District Court for the Northern District of Texas. Successful trial judgment for largest cattle growth implant manufacturer in United States in action brought by the largest animal health distributor. Plaintiff contended that Ivy Animal Health had violated the Robinson-Patman Act and other antitrust laws. The well-known judge, Mary Lou Robinson, after a lengthy trial, exonerated Ivy on all counts. 
  • Burns & McDonnell Engineering Company, Inc. v. Crawford. Circuit Court of Platte County, Missouri. Successful trial judgment for one of nation's largest architectural-engineering firms. Plaintiff Burns & McDonnell contended that former employee had violated covenant not to compete by becoming vice president of a competitor and using trade secrets. Employee was responsible for millions of dollars in sales and had extensive client contacts. Court precluded defendant's employment for two-year period. 
  • Levy, et al. (ASCAP) v. Robinson. United States District Court for the Western District of Missouri. Successful jury verdict in copyright infringement action for plaintiffs, who were members of the American Society of Composers, Authors & Publishers, the nation's largest music licensing organization. Jury decided that defendant had directed and controlled unauthorized performances of copyrighted musical compositions.
  • Handy, et al. (ASCAP) v. Rosenberger. United States District Court for the Western District of Missouri. Successful trial judgment in copyright infringement action for plaintiffs, who were members of the American Society of Composers, Authors & Publishers. Court decided that defendant had directed and controlled unauthorized performances of copyrighted musical compositions.
  • Toastmaster Inc. v. Hamilton Beach Proctor Silex. United States District Court for the Western District of Missouri. Successful Markman hearing in patent action which resulted in claim interpretation that caused favorable settlement of case.
  • Chemidex, Inc. v. Chemdex Corp. United States District Court for the District of Kansas. Successful settlement for defendant internet marketer in trademark infringement action after a preliminary injunction hearing. Plaintiff contended that "Chemdex" mark infringed plaintiff's "Chemidex" mark. Effective argument and examinations led to a nominal settlement.
  • Ferrellgas Partners, L.P. v. LPG Services, et al. Circuit Court of Jackson County, Missouri. Successful preliminary injunction hearing for three former high-level employees who left nation's second largest propane marketer to form competitive company. Plaintiff alleged that defendants had breached covenant not to compete and used trade secrets. Court ruled that no breach occurred and no trade secrets were used. Two of the employees eventually formed the publicly traded Inergy, L.P, which continues to compete with plaintiff.
  • Bushart Office Products Inc. v. Lybarger. District Court of Wyandotte County, Kansas. Successful trial judgment for a highly compensated employee who left nationwide office distributor to work for competitor. Plaintiff alleged that defendant had breached a covenant not to compete and used trade secrets. Court ruled that covenant not to compete was unenforceable and no protectable trade secrets existed.
  • Burns & McDonnell Waste Consultants, Inc. v. Flanigan. Circuit Court of Jackson County, Missouri. Successful preliminary injunction hearing in covenant not to compete and trade secret action. Plaintiff Burns & McDonnell contended that former employee had violated covenant not to compete by working for competitor and misappropriated trade secrets. Court precluded competition for two-year period.
  • TRISM v. TIMM Communications Inc. AAA Arbitration, Atlanta, Georgia. Successful defense in arbitration action concerning purchase of advertising agency, including disputes regarding web site creation, services to be rendered to purchaser, and damages for retention of equipment. Arbitrator limited damages to value of retained equipment.
  • Lynch Multimedia, et al. v. Carson, et al. United States District Court for the District of Kansas. Successful summary judgment granted for defendant owner who allegedly breached limited liability company agreement by not selling cable television system to plaintiff. Extensive discovery demonstrated that no breach had occurred. The well-known fund manager, Mario Gabelli, as Chairman of the plaintiff, personally controlled the litigation and was deposed on three occasions, including one deposition in which he acted as his own expert witness on financial and damage issues. Issues decided under the Kansas Limited Liability Act were of first impression in Kansas.
  • Vitacco v. Toastmaster Inc. United States Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit. Successful defense of summary judgment for defendant Toastmaster. Plaintiff contended that defendant had infringed his design patents and otherwise misappropriated his intellectual property submitted to defendant. The Court of Appeals held that no infringements or misappropriation occurred.
  • Hartman v. Hallmark Cards, Incorporated. United States Court of Appeals for the Eighth Circuit. Successful defense of summary judgment for defendant Hallmark. Plaintiff contended that defendant Hallmark had misappropriated copyrighted characters and story as well as trademarks and trade dress. The Court of Appeals held that no infringements had occurred.
  • Hammerstrom v. Commerce Bank, et al. Missouri Court of Appeals for the Western District. Successful appeal of adverse trial judgment for trust beneficiary. The Court of Appeals ruled in case of first impression under a Missouri statute that trust could be freely amended to permit the beneficiary to receive greater payments than provided in trust. Ultimately, the trust was dissolved so that the beneficiary could receive the principal.
  • Madden v. Ellspermann. Missouri Court of Appeals for the Western District. Successful appeal of adverse decision by trial court. The Court of Appeals ruled that employee who was not a signatory to his employer's arbitration agreement could, nevertheless, rely on the agreement and compel arbitration. This case was of first impression in Missouri.

Representative Products Liability Litigation Cases:
 
Mr. Lesley has successfully defended manufacturers of toasters, space heaters, fans, dryers, electric ranges, table and circular saws, cordless telephones, drills, and tires. He also has defended industrial products manufacturers including asbestos, injection molding machines, and high-voltage electric line repair equipment. In a notable industrial product case, he defended the manufacturer of a materials separator that allegedly caused an explosion and destruction by fire of a large gun powder plant in western Kansas.  Other cases include:

  • Izzi, et al. v. Toastmaster Inc. United States District Court for the District of Rhode Island. Successful jury verdict for manufacturer in products liability action. Plaintiff was supported by two impartial fire marshals who contended product caused fire and documents from eyewitness fireman who contended that product was seen glowing and energized at the conclusion of extinguishment. Jury was convinced, based on expert scientific evidence, that product could not have caused fire.
  • Steltz, et al. v. Toastmaster Inc. Court of Common Pleas for Delaware County, Pennsylvania. Successful jury verdict for manufacturer in products liability action. Plaintiff was supported by impartial fire marshal and other experts who contended product caused fire. Defendant conceded that product caused fire, but contended that plaintiff had misused product. Jury was convinced, based on expert scientific evidence, that product's design was not defective.
  • Farinas, et al. v. Toastmaster Inc. Superior Court for Maricopa County, Arizona. Successful jury verdict for manufacturer in products liability action. Plaintiff was supported by impartial public sector fire investigator and other experts who contended product caused fire. Jury was convinced, based on expert scientific evidence, that object had fallen on product, which energized it, and caused fire. Judgment of $90,000 was ultimately granted against subrogated insurer for continuing action after loss in court ordered arbitration.
  • Jones, et al. v. Toastmaster Inc. United States District Court for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania. Successful jury verdict for manufacturer in products liability action. Plaintiff was supported by impartial public sector fire investigator and other experts who testified that product caused fire. Jury was convinced, based on expert scientific evidence, that product did not cause fire.
  • Young, et al. v. A.B. Chance Inc. District Court of Sedgwick County, Kansas. Successful defense of manufacturer in products liability action. Plaintiff lineman received severe electric shock because holding device inadvertently released high tension line. Despite serious injuries, jury allocated substantial fault to plaintiff and limited damages to nominal amount.
  • Shoff v. Toastmaster Inc. United States District Court for the Northern District of New York. Successful summary judgment in wrongful death action. Plaintiff alleged product caused fire death. Court ruled on Daubert v. Merrell Dow grounds that testimony of plaintiff's expert witnesses were not admissible.
  • Trumps v. Toastmaster Inc. United States District Court for the Southern District of New York. Successful summary judgment in products liability action. Plaintiff alleged that she was severely injured by shock from product. Court ruled on Daubert v. Merrell Dow grounds that testimony of plaintiff's expert witness was not admissible. This case has been described as one of the two leading electric shock cases in the country involving scientific evidence issues.
  • Piepenhagen, et al. v. Toastmaster Inc. District Court of Houston County, Minnesota. Successful summary judgment in products liability action. Court ruled that testimony of plaintiff's expert witness was not admissible.
  • Bulley, et al. v. Toastmaster Inc. United States Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit. Successful defense of summary judgment on statute of limitations issues in wrongful death case. Case was of first impression in Mississippi.

Mr. Lesley is active in many other endeavors, including authoring legal publications, giving speeches, and involvement in community activities.

Areas of Practice

  • Business Litigation
  • Intellectual Property
  • Tort Litigation
  • Trade Secrets/Covenants
  • Copyright
  • Trademark
  • Intellectual Property Litigation
  • Patents
  • Personal Injury/Products Liability
  • Trade Secrets/Covenants Not to Compete
  • Trademarks

West Practice Categories

Business & Commercial Law, Copyrights, Intellectual Property Law, Litigation & Appeals

Qualifications

Bar Admissions

  • Missouri, 1982
  • Kansas, 1983
  • U.S. Court of Appeals for the Eighth Circuit, 1986
  • U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit, 1993
  • U.S. District Court for the Western District of Missouri, 1982
  • U.S. District Court for the District of Kansas, 1983

Professional Associations and Memberships

  • Member, Federation of Defense and Corporate Counsel, 2007
  • Member, Defense Research Institute
  • Member, Kansas City Metropolitan Bar Association
  • Member, American Intellectual Property Law Association
  • Co-chair, American Bar Association, Section of Litigation, Intellectual Property Litigation Committee, Expert Witness Sub-Committee, 1997 - 2002
  • Co-chair, American Bar Association, Section of Litigation, Products Liability Committee, Membership, Annual Meetings, Consumer Product Sub-Committees, 2002 - 2007
  • Member, Board of Editors, Law Journal Newsletters Products Liability Law and Strategy, 2003 - 2008
  • Member, Board of Directors of Kansas City Young Audiences, 1997 - 2005 and 2006 - Present
  • Member, Board of Trustees of Westminster College, 2001 - Present
  • Vice President and Member, Board of Directors of Kansas City Friends of Alvin Ailey, 1991 - 1998 and 2006 - Present
  • President and Member, Board of Directors of Westminster College Alumni Association, 1991 - 2001
  • Member and Vice President, University Associates, 1993 - 1999
  • Member, Alumni Board of Governors of Washington University, 1991 - 1998

Honors and Awards

  • Missouri Super Lawyers, Intellectual Property Litigation, 2006, 2008-2009
  • Martindale-Hubbell® "AV" Rating
  • Order of the Coif
  • Editor, Washington University Law Quarterly

Education

  • Washington University School of Law, 1982
    J.D.
  • Westminster College, 1979
    B.A.
    Honors: cum laude
Articles

Published Works

  • Bob Lesley Presents "Working With Experts To Protect Against Daubert Challenges" at ABA Annual Conference, 2009
  • 52 Lathrop & Gage Attorneys Named Super Lawyers, 2008
  • Lathrop & Gage Attorney Admitted to Exclusive Legal Association, 2007