Photo of Paul E. Petruska

Paul E. Petruska

Counsel

“Working with clients to help them fully understand and evaluate their risks is an important part of my role. I focus on zealously representing their interests not only to resolve disputes but to help prevent future issues.”

Industries

Admissions

  • Illinois
  • Missouri
  • U.S. Eastern District of Missouri
  • U.S. Western District of Missouri
  • U.S. Southern District of Illinois
  • U.S. Central District of Illinois
  • U.S. Northen District of Illinois
  • 8th Circuit Court of Appeals

Education

J.D., St. Louis University School of Law, 1995, cum laude

B.A., St. Louis University, 1992, magna cum laude

Profile

Paul Petruska is an experienced trial attorney, estate planner and small business advisor who focuses on solving each client’s unique problems. Paul’s focus on client needs has helped him create a practice that provides a wide spectrum of services. For clients concerned with litigation defense, Paul has disposed of cases through motion practice, obtained defense verdicts in jury tried cases, and successfully handled appeals. For those needing proactive advice to avoid litigation, Paul has served as outside general counsel to draft safety, employment and document retention policies, while also addressing human resource matters. For clients worried about the future, Paul has drafted everything from a simple will to complex trust agreements to address that concern. 

Paul’s focus on defending each client’s unique interests helps him serve as a vital team member for companies in numerous industries. His litigation experience includes matters related to transportation, product liability, employment litigation, construction, personal injury, commercial catastrophic property damage, and toxic torts.

Paul also has a diverse work history. He began as an associate for a medium-size insurance defense firm, became a partner in a boutique litigation firm, and was the chief trial attorney for a large commercial insurer’s major case unit. Paul works closely with clients to help them understand, evaluate and address areas of risk to avoid potential litigation. He is well-versed in liability analysis, data analysis and strategic planning, helping him to accurately assess the best course of action in a given dispute.

As new needs have arisen, Paul has looked to address them. During the pandemic, he has drafted policies specific to COVID-19 and advised clients seeking economic relief through COVID-19 programs such as the Paycheck Protection Program, the Economic Injury Disaster Loan, the Shuttered Venue Operator Grant Program and the Restaurant Revitalization Fund.

Community/Civic Activities

  • Chaminade College Preparatory School, Mock Trial Team Program, Volunteer

Experience

Representative Matters

Transportation Cases

  • Pre-Suit Investigation and Defense – For dozens of clients, went to accident scene within hours of a trucking or railroad accident to ensure paper documents, electronic evidence, and employee testimony was preserved for defense in case lawsuits filed. Nearly 50% of the aforementioned pre-suit investigations revealed documents and/or evidence that helped avoid a lawsuit. One example of litigation avoidance was when a receipt was found in the passenger seat of the potential plaintiff’s car, indicating he stopped at a restaurant an hour before the accident to get dinner and had three shots of alcohol.
  • Lawsuit Defense – Substantial experience in Missouri state, Illinois state and federal courts defending wrongful death lawsuits in trucking and railroad accidents.
  • Jury Trials – Four railroad Federal Employers’ Liability Act (FELA) cases tried to jury verdict.

Catastrophic Property Loss Cases

  • Manufacturing facility extensively damaged when a massive pressurized tank exploded (released pressure). Hired a team of experts is six different specialties, ensuring client was prepared to address all damages claims.
  • Multi-story building had valve fail causing a flood of six floors, all with multiple tenants. Helped the property owner document the exact cause and quickly put wrong-doers on notice.
  • Obtained five defense verdicts from a jury in Ozark County Missouri after a jury trial of tractor damage from contaminated diesel fuel.

Manufacturing Cases

  • Rule 12 Motion to Dismiss was granted in one of the earliest internet defamation cases. Plaintiff, the owner of nutritional supplement company, filed claims against multiple other nutritional supplement companies alleging they were defaming him personally on an internet message board that was vital to their business. My client was dismissed, partially because of my citation to the MTV show Beavis and Butt-head.
  • Motion for Summary Judgment was granted in a heavy equipment product liability cases based on the Illinois strict product liability statute of repose.
  • Successfully defended automotive manufacturer in alleged airbag defect case.
  • Successfully defended tire manufacturer in lawsuit alleging tire ruptured while SUV was traveling on the highway, causing serious personal injury to the driver.

Automotive Dealership Cases

  • Kenneth Bell v. Baldwin Chevrolet, 561 S.W.3d 469 (Mo. Ct. App. 2018) – won a Motion for Summary Judgment at trial on all claims relating to an allegedly defective Corvette. Subsequently won the appeal.
  • Motion to Dismiss for lack of subject matter jurisdiction was granted by Eastern District of Missouri. Plaintiff alleged she was injured when her car, without warning, moved in her driveway and struck her. Plaintiff brought the claim in federal court alleging diversity jurisdiction and that she was a resident of a state other than Missouri. The Motion to Dismiss was granted because there was uncontradicted evidence that Plaintiff was a resident of Missouri.

Employment Cases

  • Discrimination Claim Defense – Tried a race discrimination claim in front of jury in the Western District of Missouri federal court. The Judge allowed the submission of multiple years of economic loss, emotional distress and punitive damages. We kept the verdict to $60,000 including attorneys’ fees.
  • Pre-Suit Investigation – Upon complaint by employee, we performed the investigation to documents the legitimacy of the complaint, or lack thereof.
  • Administrative Defense – Successfully defended discrimination claims in the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), Missouri Commission on Human Rights and the Illinois Department of Human Rights.

Small Business Consultation

  • Assisted multiple small businesses in applying and obtaining forgiveness for the first Paycheck Protection Program loans in May 2020.
  • Assisted multiple shuttered venue operators obtain grants under the Shutter Venue Operator Grant Program, including one client who obtained a grant over $1.5 million.
  • Drafted COVID-19 safety policy for multiple small business clients during the early stages of the Pandemic.

News & Insights

Seminars & Speaking Engagements

  • “The Need to Be More Productive With Less Budget – Can Technology Help?” webinar
    Association of Corporate Counsel, St. Louis Chapter, October 21, 2021
  • "Defense Attorneys' Perspective on Proportionality in Written Discovery and the New Provisions of Federal Rule 30" virtual seminar
    Federal Bar Association, July 28, 2021
  • "The Shuttered Venue Operator and Restaurant Revitalization Fund Grant Programs: How to Help Your Clients Access the Billions Available" webinar
    Federal Bar Association and MyLawCLE, March 31, 2021
  • "COVID-19 Business Relief Opportunities" webinar
    Greater Belleville Chamber of Commerce, January 28, 2021
  • Speaker, “Liability Insurance: What Do You Actually Have and What Should You Really Have in Place to Protect Your Railroad”
    American Short Line & Regional Railroad Association’s 2012 Convention
  • Speaker, “Pathology of Asbestos-Related Disease”
    National Business Institute seminar, Asbestos: Current Issues and Effective Litigation Tac-tics
  • Speaker, “Asbestos: Past, Present and Future”
    National Business Institute seminar, Asbestos: Current Issues and Effective Litigation Tac-tics
  • Speaker, “Corporate Electronic Information Policies: Why You Need One and What You Can Learn From Other’s Mistakes"
    American Short Line & Regional Railroad Association’s 2010 Annual Convention
  • Speaker, “Ethics: In Re Silica Product Liability Litigation MDL 1553"
    National Business Institute seminar, Asbestos: Current Issues and Effective Litigation Tac-tics
  • Speaker, “An Overview of the Different Social Media Platforms"
    Associated General Contractors of St. Louis Seminar, February 19, 2011
  • Speaker, “Highlights of Missouri’s Tort Reform Law"
    The Bar Association of Metropolitan St. Louis’ Bench and Bar Conference
  • Speaker, “Beware of ERISA Lien Rights Or Your Settlement May Fail"
    Winter Meeting of the National Association of Railroad Trial Counsel
  • Speaker, “The Computer Sits Second Chair, How Supportive is Litigation Support Software"
    Winter Meeting of the National Association of Railroad Trial Counsel
  • Speaker, “Courtroom Presentation Strategies: Communicating Your Story to the Jury"
    The Missouri Bar
  • Speaker, “The Use and Misuse of Computerized Exhibits"
    Special Litigation Conference, National Association of Railroad Trial Counsel
  • Panelist, “Intellectual Property, Ethics and Privacy Online" 
    St. Louis Bloggers Guild’s 2nd Annual Interactive Festival
  • Speaker, “Beware of ERISA Lien and Medicare Lien Issues That May Arise During Settlement"
    CLE Presentation for Client

Publications

Articles & Books

Newsletters

Blog Posts

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