Ann Marie Piana is a senior trial attorney with Eckenrode Maupin. Ms. Piana focuses her trial practice in the areas of professional liability (medical and pharmaceutical malpractice) and commercial liability claims, including employment, contract, product liability, premises liability, transportation, and workers’ compensation. These cases or claims typically involve catastrophic injuries or wrongful death. The employment charges and litigation she handles involve age, disability, sex, origin, and/or race discrimination as well as retaliation. Ms. Piana is skilled in handling a case from its inception through the appellate level. She has argued cases before the state appellate courts in Missouri and Illinois as well as in federal court before the Eighth Circuit Court of Appeals. The case of Bass v. National Super Markets, Inc. was a leading case in Missouri on the issue of statutory employment. Ms. Piana was lead attorney responsible for, among other issues, the corporate client’s statutory employment defense at trial and successfully securing post-judgment relief.
Prior to joining Eckenrode Maupin, Ms. Piana served as Associate General Counsel for a subsidiary of National Tea Co. for ten (10) years. In this position, she defended the company in high exposure civil litigation, workers’ compensation, and labor relations matters. Ms. Piana also designed and implemented corporate claim and investigative procedures and protocols, trained management level employees regarding reporting requirements, and also addressed employment and other Human Resource matters. In 2011, Ms. Piana served as Interim Counsel for a corporate client, an industry leader in providing correctional healthcare. In this position, Ms. Piana advised corporate executives and management concerning issues of professional contracts, complex commercial contract proposals, employment matters and other operational issues. Ms. Piana assumed responsibility for internal oversight of employment and commercial charges, claims, and litigation, direct reporting to the General Counsel, as well as providing counsel regarding other human resource issues.
Ms. Piana has recently been selected for inclusion into the 2012 Martindale-Hubbell Bar Register of Preeminent Women Lawyers, recognizing the less than five (5) percent of women lawyers who have received the highest possible rating in both legal ability and ethical standards from their peers.
Ms. Piana has secured desired results on behalf of her clients at trial and in mediation.
Her relevant experience includes these cases:
Stanfill v. James: Ms. Piana represented a surgeon who performed a breast biopsy. The plaintiff claimed our client negligently biopsied the wrong site on her breast and failed to submit the specimen to pathology causing additional surgeries, pain and suffering, and permanency. The parties’ respective expert witnesses offered the jury opposing opinions regarding whether the surgeon breached the standard of care. However, in addition to expert testimony support, Ms. Piana introduced evidence through the use of medical records and the testimony of nurses to defeat the foundation of the plaintiff’s negligence theories. The jury verdict was in favor of Ms. Piana’s client. The Stanfill defense verdict was recognized in the Missouri Lawyers’ Weekly as one of the top Defense Wins in the State of Missouri for 2010.
Dennison v. Connaught Laboratories, Inc., et al.: Ms. Piana represented the physician’s group against allegations that a pediatrician of the group was negligent in administering the whole cell pertussis rather than the acellular pertussis vaccine to an infant, and that he failed to provide sufficient warning to the infant’s parent of the risks, hazards, dangers and alternatives to the administration of the whole cell pertussis vaccine. The manufacturer of the whole cell pertussis vaccine was named as a co-defendant. The plaintiff claimed the child’s severe encephalopathy was caused by the whole cell pertussis vaccine. The non-economic damages ranged from $1.45 million to at least $2.7 million for future care and treatment. Ms. Piana defended the case during pre-trial discovery on three fronts: (1) she distinguished the extensive volume of literature and studies arguing there was no medical treatise evidencing a causal relationship between the whole cell pertusis vaccine and encephalopathy; (2) the pediatrician and his group provided the infant’s parent with sufficient warnings of the vaccine and offered the alternative acellular pertussis vaccine as an option; and (3) the infant’s condition was actually caused by a brain malformation occurring in utero, polymicrogyria, although polymicrogyria was not a working diagnosis of any treating health care provider. Following discovery, the Plaintiff voluntarily dismissed Ms. Piana’s client. The co-defendant manufacturer settled for an undisclosed amount.
Gibbs v. Appelbaum, et al.: Ms. Piana defended a gynecologist and his practice group who, among other claims, allegedly should have recognized or tested for a ureteral injury during the performance of the vaginal hysterectomy. The plaintiff claimed although ureteral injuries are a known risk of a vaginal hysterectomy, the surgeon’s care resulted in a delayed detection of the injury which, in turn, resulted in a more extensive procedure to remedy the condition. The plaintiff claimed permanent injury and damages for loss of a business. Following submission of case research and oral argument, the trial court declined to allow submission of the claimed loss of business damages. Ms. Piana successfully defended the surgeon against all allegations, including establishing the surgeon’s operative technique was performed within the standard of care and the plaintiff received prompt medical attention once she reported the signs and symptoms of a complication. The jury returned a verdict in favor of Ms. Piana’s clients.
Stillman v. Politt: Ms. Piana represented the defendant driver involved in a rear-end collision. The plaintiff was stopped at a street light at the time of the incident. Ms. Piana established the accident occurred through no fault of her client. The jury returned a verdict in favor of Ms. Piana’s client.
Munro v. Mineral Area Surgery, Inc., et al.: Ms. Piana began representation of the client surgery group following the case being re-filed. The underlying facts are that the patient underwent an excisional biopsy of a breast abscess. The patient subsequently developed a necrotizing (fast acting) condition in the operated breast. On behalf of her client, Ms. Piana aggressively sought resolution of this litigation on the merits. Ms. Piana secured a court Order dismissing her client with prejudice because of discovery compliance failures by the plaintiff.
Tharpe v. Mueller, et al.: The plaintiff, a guest of the defendant homeowner, alleged the homeowner, Ms. Piana’s client, failed to warn of, remedy or remove, an unsafe condition on the premises, to wit: the deterioration of brick mortar surrounding the front porch. As a result, a large section of the brick porch fell onto plaintiff’s leg and foot after plaintiff used the porch to lift from a sitting position. The plaintiff claimed the injury resulted in amputation of his lower leg. Ms. Piana’s defense of the case during discovery focused not only on the liability issues, but also whether the amputation was caused by the incident. Based upon the plaintiff’s history of diabetes mellitus and poor circulatory issues, Ms. Piana established facts during the plaintiff’s deposition sufficient to support an argument the plaintiff’s delay in seeking medical treatment post-incident was the primary cause of the amputation. The plaintiff dismissed the cause of action.
Ms. Piana is licensed to practice law in the states of Missouri and Illinois. She is admitted to practice before the United States Supreme Court, and the United States District Courts for the Eastern District of Missouri, Southern District of Illinois and Central District of Illinois in addition to the Missouri and Illinois state courts.
Ms. Piana is a member of the Missouri Bar Association, the Illinois Bar Association, the Bar Association of Metropolitan St. Louis, and the Missouri Organization of Defense Lawyers. She was appointed to serve two terms on the Board of Directors for the Missouri Organization of Defense Lawyers (2000-2003; 2003-2006). In addition to participating in other committees of the Missouri Organization of Defense Lawyers, Ms. Piana served as Chairperson of the Substantive Law and Insurance Committee (2001-2004), and co-Chairperson of the Annual Meeting (2004-2006). Ms. Piana is a member of the Missouri Bar’s Civil Practice and Procedure Committee and Workers’ Compensation Law Committee.
Ms. Piana lectures on a regular basis addressing a variety of civil litigation issues. Most recently, Ms. Piana presented on several topics in a seminar sponsored by the National Business Institute entitled, “Auto Injury Litigation from Start to Finish.” She also lectured during a seminar entitled, “The Mechanics of Illinois Civil Procedure.” Ms. Piana has presented at the Annual Conferences for the Missouri Organization of Defense Lawyers, including a panel discussion about “Hot Topics in Tort Reform: An Interactive Panel Discussion.”
Current Community Activities
In addition to her professional obligations, Ms. Piana is actively involved in her community. She serves on the School District of Clayton Elementary Advisory Council. Ms. Piana is currently President-elect for the Meramec Elementary School PTO and is a member of the PTO Executive Council.
Ms. Piana earned her Juris Doctor at St. Louis University School of Law, St. Louis, Missouri. She earned her B.B.A. (Finance) from Texas Christian University.