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Mara H. Cohara

As Co-Chair of the Product Liability, Toxic & Mass Tort department at Lathrop Gage, Ms. Cohara focuses her practice on litigation matters involving toxic tort, nuisance, product liability, premises liability, breach of warranty and other commercial issues. She has significant experience coordinating large-scale “bet the company” matters and defending high-profile lawsuits that involve media and community attention.

Ms. Cohara defends companies in jury trials, mediations and arbitrations. Her track record spans state and federal courts in several states and includes multiple defense verdicts in notoriously “plaintiff-friendly” venues like Jackson County, Missouri and the City of St. Louis. She advises clients in a wide variety of industries, including agribusiness, hospitality, manufacturing and religious organizations. Ms. Cohara is well-versed in managing litigation teams under alternative fee arrangements, including phased fees and flat fees, and has spoken on the issue to the Association of Corporate Counsel and others.

Ms. Cohara has an established track record of bringing adversarial parties to agreement, leading by example, and serving as a strong role model. She is an effective and efficient advocate throughout the litigation process, securing summary judgment dismissals, discovery victories and favorable settlements for her clients. Her “bulldog with a bow-tie” reputation has been built on resolving issues, being an excellent mediator, and her take-charge attitude. Ms. Cohara’s ability to balance a clear objective in any situation and the drive to contribute to a favorable result for clients is a successful, winning combination.

She is active throughout the civic and legal communities, holding board positions including 100+ Women Who Care, Platte County Community Center YMCA, Kansas City Metropolitan Bar Foundation, University of Missouri-Kansas city Law Alumni Association, Lawyers Encouraging Academic Performance and more. Additionally, Ms. Cohara serves as Co-Chair of Lathrop Gage’s Women’s Initiative Network (WIN) and is also the firm’s United Way Chair.

Representative Experience:

  • Successfully represented a major equipment manufacturer in a large breach of warranty matter involving an Original Engineering Manufacturer (OEM), incorporating the client’s engines in their heating equipment. Lathrop Gage conducted a thorough investigation and mediations, which resulted in favorable settlement for our client, who was pleased with the outcome.

  • Successfully represented waste management company in both a first and second class action matter filed in 2014. The second action was brought by different class representatives and alleged causes of action sounding in Negligence and Nuisance.  It included subclasses including business owners, business employees and mortgage holders for all property located within 3 miles of the landfill and residents living in the second and third miles around the landfill.  This matter was dismissed without prejudice, on motion of the Plaintiffs, in January 2016 following discovery, which was prior to class certification briefing.

  • Lead trial counsel for multi-defendant lawsuit in which an adult plaintiff claimed he was assaulted during a counseling session that took place when he was a minor; the district court dismissed the claim, finding it was barred by the Kansas statute of repose, and the Kansas Court of Appeals affirmed.  See F.M. Doe v. Popravak, et al., Case No. 16-115282 (Kan. Ct. App. Jun. 9, 2017).

  • Represented an agricultural and food production company in multiple cases involving 280 plaintiffs who brought claims regarding odor nuisance, emanating from hog farms across Missouri. The representation involved more than 10+ individual cases and three cases that went to trial.
  • Defended a large religious institution against claims arising from allegations of abuse. Lathrop Gage’s strategy led to a complete dismissal of all claims at the earliest possible stage before the district court. Lathrop is now defending the dismissal on appeal.  

  • Successfully defended a large animal agriculture company in multiple nuisance cases leading to Lathrop Gage working with state communities and Government Affairs to redefine Missouri nuisance law for both temporary and permanent nuisance.
  • Provided a cross-functional team to address a personal injury claim filed against a family-owned livestock operation. Obtained a confidential settlement following a successful mediation process. In addition, secured coverage from insurance company resulting in full coverage of settlement cost and all defense costs.
  • Represented a major motor company in a worker’s compensation civil claim asserting that changes in Missouri’s Workers’ Compensation laws allowed this action. Lathrop Gage filed a motion to dismiss asserting the affirmative defense of worker’s compensation exclusivity, which was granted by the court. Following an alleged change in the law, the plaintiff refilled her claim, and Lathrop Gage coordinated the defense with a partner firm, obtaining a second dismissal. 
  • Defended a multi-national food company against several hundred claims across the state that the company’s hog barns created a nuisance. Won defense verdicts in two trials prior to settlement of the remaining claims.
  • Led defense team for over 30 lawsuits alleging sexual abuse against a religious institution and tried case that resulted in the favorable settlement of all remaining cases.

Court Memberships

  • Kansas
  • Missouri
  • U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Missouri
  • U.S. District Court for the Western District of Missouri
  • U.S. District Court of Kansas

Honors

  • Martindale-Hubbell® “AV” Rating
  • Selected for “40 Under Forty” by Ingram’s Kansas City Business Magazine, 2015
  • Crowned Queen of the 2015 LEAP Mardi Gras Luncheon
  • Selected by peers for “Best of the Bar,” Kansas City Business Journal, 2012 - 2015
  • “Rising Star” for Missouri Lawyers Weekly’s Womens Justice Awards, 2013
  • LEAP-President’s Award, 2013 and 2014
  • Selected as a “Rising Star” by KC Business Magazine, 2013
  • Selected for “Top 50 Female Lawyers” by Missouri/Kansas Super Lawyers, 2014, 2016
  • Selected for Missouri/Kansas Super Lawyers 2013-2016
  • Selected for Missouri/Kansas Super Lawyers “Rising Stars,” 2009
  • UMKC Honor Society, Order of the Bench and Robe Award, 2001
  • Note and Comment Editor, UMKC Law Review
  • Special President’s Award, UMKC Law Alumni Association

Professional Affiliations

  • Greater Missouri Leadership Challenge, 2010; Alum and Kansas City Planning Committee, 2011-2017
  • Camp Fire National, Board of Trustees, 2016; Governance Chair, 2016-Present
  • Greater Missouri Leadership Foundation, Board of Directors, 2016-Present
  • Platte County South Community Center YMCA, Board of Directors, 2016-2017
  • Lawyers Encouraging Academic Performance (LEAP), Board Member, 2008-2016; Vice President, 2015-2017; Secretary, 2013-2015, Operation Breakthrough Back to School Drive Co-Chair 2012 -2016
  • 100+Women Who Care, 2014-2017
  • Kansas City Metropolitan Bar Foundation, 2013-2016; Legal Advisor to the Board of Directors, 2015-2016; Secretary, 2016-Present
  • DRI, Women in Law, Toxic Torts & Environmental Law and Product Liability, 2014-2017
  • Harvest Ball Member, 2013-2016
  • UMKC Law Alumni Association
    • Law Foundation Board, 2013-2017
    • Immediate Past President, 2013-2014
    • President, 2012-2013 
    • VP/President Elect, 2011-2012 
    • Secretary/Treasurer, 2010-2011
    • Director of Membership, 2006-2008
    • Board of Directors, 2004-2005
  • UMKC Alumni Association Governing Board-Divisional President/Law School, 2012-2013
  • UMKC Law Foundation Executive Officer: Vice President for Alumni and Constituent Relations, 2012-2013; Member, 2013-2014
  • Kansas City Association for Women Lawyers, 2002-2016
  • Platte County Bar Association, 2010-2016
  • Northland Regional Chamber of Commerce, 2012-2016
  • Agricultural Business Council of Kansas City, 2010-2016
  • Greater Missouri Leadership Challenge, 2010; Alum and Kansas City Planning Committee, 2011-2016
  • American Lung Association, Leadership Counsel, 2012-2014
  • Heartland Women’s Leadership Council (HWLC), Board Member, 2011-2014, Co-Governance Chair, 2014-2015
  • Lawyers Association of Kansas City
    • President, 2008-2009
    • President-Elect, 2007
  • Kansas City Tomorrow 2005-2006 
  • Kansas City Tomorrow Alumni Board Member, 2006-2008
  • The Missouri Bar, Young Lawyers Section
  • Inns of UMKC-Coordinating Master, 2004-2005, Inn Master 2007-2008
  • Heartland Health Advocates, Inc., Board Member, 2007-2008 
  • American Bar Association, Tort Litigation Section 2007-2015
  • The Kansas City Metropolitan Bar Association 
  • Women’s Foundation - 360 Degrees of Giving Founding Board Member
  • Inn of Court 
  • President, UMKC Student Bar Association, 2000-2001
  • Tiger Scholarship Fund Member  

Presentations

  • Speaker, Ethics Considerations for Attorney-Client Privilege & Attorney Work Product, Association of Corporate Counsel - Mid-America Chapter, May 2017
  • Panelist, Film and the Law Series: Flash of Genius, University of Missouri-Kansas City School of Law, June 2015
  • Speaker, Trends and Issues Currently Pending in Missouri and Kansas, Association of Corporate Counsel – Mid-America Chapter, April 2014
  • Speaker, Value Billing, Association of Corporate Counsel – Mid-America Chapter, 2012
Photo of Mara H. Cohara
F: 816.292.2001

Assistant

Donna Smidt
816.460.5413

Industries

Education

University of Missouri-Kansas City School of Law, J.D., with distinction, 2001

University of Missouri-Columbia, B.S., summa cum laude, 1998