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Bernard J. Rhodes

With more than 30 years of experience, Mr. Rhodes is a proven litigator with a national trial and appellate practice, appearing as counsel in more than 100 reported decisions. As head of Lathrop Gage’s Media Law group, he also leads a national team of attorneys who represent a variety of print, film, television and online media companies in First Amendment, intellectual property, and other matters. Given his breadth of experience, Mr. Rhodes is frequently called upon to conduct internal corporate investigations. Mr. Rhodes has been selected as one of The Best Lawyers in America® each of the last twelve years.

Complex Commercial, Business and Appellate Litigation

  • Obtained favorable settlement of class-action lawsuit brought against Fortune 500 company over allegedly defective computer product;

  • Won appellate court victory on behalf of property owner who sued the county for violation of his due process rights, along with award of attorney’s fees;

  • Won favorable ruling on behalf of New York Times best-selling author who was sued by his former agent, following two-week trial;

  • Won $4.12 million jury verdict in test case as part of multi-party franchise dispute with national tax preparation firm; eventually collected $270 million on behalf of 16 clients; 

  • Successfully represented owner of professional football team against claim by former professional athlete who claimed an ownership interest in the team; 

  • Obtained permanent injunction and substantial monetary judgment on behalf of national cable company against seller of “hacked” cable modems; 

  • Won summary judgment dismissing bank’s $7.5 million claim against cattle owner; 

  • Obtained Section 1983 civil rights judgment against county, including award of attorney fees;

  • Successfully represented international financier against claim brought by trading firm; 

  • Collected $4.5 million jury verdict for national candy manufacturer for loss of customer goodwill and related damage to registered trademarks; 

  • Obtained jury verdict on behalf of owners of a $12 million business jet allowing them to return the plane to the manufacturer due to electrical defects; 

  • Recovered $1.7 million from national health insurance company in ERISA lawsuit brought on behalf of local non-profit research corporation; 

  • Won $1.3 million arbitration award for client in breach of contract and fraud case resulting from failed acquisition of business; and 

  • Obtained $1 million jury verdict on behalf of national manufacturer against customer for damages caused by “bust-out” scheme.

Media

  • Successfully represented national advertiser and advertising agency against claims by stock photo model who alleged the ad defamed them and put them in false light;

  • Obtained dismissal of lawsuit alleging violation of Antiterrorism Act against director, producer and distributor of Academy Award-winning documentary;

  • Won Missouri Supreme Court appeal dismissing defamation and invasion of privacy lawsuit brought against leading national animal advocacy group based on group’s public advocacy in support of statewide public referendum;

  • Obtained dismissal of civil rights lawsuit against local radio station owner based on decision to not accept local political advertising, and awarded sanctions against plaintiff and plaintiff’s attorney;

  • Received summary judgment award dismissing defamation and invasion of privacy lawsuit against leading national sports publication over article which referred to plaintiff as “Vlad the Impaler;”

  • Obtained dismissal of lawsuit brought by former reporter for daily newspaper who alleged news reports of his dismissal were false and defamatory;

  • Obtained sanctions order dismissing defamation lawsuit brought by suspended lawyer over publication of news report in daily newspaper;

  • Obtained dismissal of defamation lawsuit brought by mother of U.S. Congressman against national advocacy organization;

  • Obtained appellate court reversal of $1.1 million jury verdict against network-affiliate TV station obtained by subject of police investigation into serial killer; 

  • Won dismissal of defamation case brought by national plastic surgery chain against out of state TV station over multi-part series exposing questionable practices; 

  • Obtained dismissal of defamation action brought by suspended attorney as a sanction for discovery abuses; 

  • Coordinated response of local media to law enforcement request for information concerning nation-wide search for missing baby; 

  • Won state sunshine law suit brought against state university by non-partisan, non-profit research organization; 

  • Successfully defended local television station in lawsuit resulting from undercover “sting” operation conducted by station; 

  • Won defense jury verdict in defamation action brought by school principal against local television station over false broadcast; 

  • Obtained reversal of prior restraint order against local television station prohibiting broadcast of internet sex predator investigation; 

  • Won summary judgment for national documentary producer in defamation case brought by local business owner over broadcast of footage showing anti-drug protest; 

  • Achieved dismissal of false light action resulting from broadcast of wrong mug shot; 

  • Obtained state supreme court ruling allowing media outlets to object to closure of proceeding in high-profile murder trial; and 

  • Obtained summary judgment in defamation/false light action by dentist over broadcast concerning allegation that dentist violated state dental act.

Intellectual Property

  • Successfully represented national cable channel and independent production company against claim of copyright infringement over video used in reality show segment;

  • Successfully defended national tax preparation software company against false advertising and Lanham Act claim brought by major national competitor;

  • Successfully resisted effort by major college football conference to require local TV station to change name of post-game sports program;

  • Obtained injunction against political campaign which was using name of local hospital in “caller id” for political campaign calls;

  • Successfully prosecuted copyright infringement claim on behalf of national news program against U.S. Senate campaign based on improper usage of news footage;

  • Obtained dismissal of copyright infringement lawsuit brought against national television network by two brothers who claimed the network stole the idea for a popular television drama series from their unpublished manuscript;

  • Successfully defended copyright infringement claim brought by alleged copyright owner against distributor of national reality show; and 

  • Successfully represented a major defense contractor in jury trial against a trademark claim brought by local competitor over the name of client’s gunpowder. 

Corporate Investigations

  • Conducted wide-ranging internal corporate investigation on behalf of major public corporation into alleged obstruction of justice; successfully handled federal grand jury investigation into matter; 
  • Successfully defended big three automaker against claim of “covering up” alleged product defect in lawsuit brought by two so-called “whistle-blowers;” 
  • Conducted investigation into missing premium money on behalf of insurance company and obtained contempt violation against former agent, resulting in his imprisonment; 
  • Led internal investigation into activities of division manager of national company, leading to his termination; and 
  • Conducted investigation on behalf of U.S. subsidiary of international corporation into alleged kickbacks paid by overseas contractor.

Court Memberships

  • U.S. Supreme Court 
  • Supreme Court of Missouri 
  • Supreme Court of Kansas 
  • U.S. Courts of Appeals for the Second, Eighth, Tenth and Eleventh Circuits 
  • U.S. District Courts for the Southern and Eastern Districts of New York 
  • U.S. District Courts for the Western and Eastern Districts of Missouri 
  • U.S. District Court for the District of Kansas

Honors

  • Selected as a Lawyer of the Year, by The Best Lawyers in America®, 2015-2018
  • Selected among The Best Lawyers in America®, 2003-2018
  • Martindale-Hubbell® “AV” Rating

Professional Affiliations

  • American Bar Association, Tort Trial and Insurance Practice Section and Forum on Communications Law 
  • Missouri Bar Association, Media Law Committee 
  • Kansas Bar Association 
  • Kansas City Metropolitan Bar Association, Media Law Committee 
  • Media Law Resource Center, New Developments Committee

Presentations

  • Speaker, The News Media's Role in Police Accountability, pre-and post-Ferguson," Access and Accountability: A Conference for Government Transparency Advocates, Yale Law School, October 2017.
Photo of Bernard J. Rhodes
F: 816.292.2001

Assistant

Linda Rittenhouse
816.460.5540

Education

Fordham University School of Law, J.D., 1981

University of Missouri-Kansas City, B.A., with honors, 1978