Dennis Harms serves as the Health Law Practice Group Leader. His interdisciplinary practice includes both litigation and transactional/consulting work for health care providers and related vendors/organizations.
On the transactional/consulting side, Dennis’ legal education and experience, coupled with his education in the field of Health Management and Informatics, allows him to provide clients a rare and in-depth perspective into risk management, regulatory, contractual and other issues in the ever changing field of health care technology. Technology moves as fast as the synapses of those dreaming up new possibilities, while the law plods along behind. This is a real challenge for providers and health technology organizations yearning to implement new ideas into a market ripe for disruption.
As a litigator, Dennis has defended all sorts of health care providers against medical negligence claims; large multistate hospital groups, long-term care facilities, correctional medicine providers and individual practitioners in diverse specialties.
“Being a litigator means far more than just motion practice and jury trials. My job very much includes assisting clients through the often emotional and frightening litigation process,” he says.
These skill sets blend into an interdisciplinary legal practice few, if any, other firms can offer their clients. Sandberg Phoenix is uniquely positioned to guide clients through the thorny maze of the intersection of law, health care and technology.
Attending Rockhurst University, Dennis earned a B.A. in English and a B.A. in Political Science, served as President of his fraternity and played rugby. He went on to receive his Juris Doctor from St. Louis University School of Law and is a student in the Master’s of Health Informatics program at the University of Missouri.
Dennis is a member of the Bar Association of Metropolitan St. Louis and served on the Membership Committee and the Executive Committee of the Young Lawyers Division.
Staying active in his community, Dennis served as Soccer Lay Director and member of the Executive Board of the St. Peter (Kirkwood) Athletic Association, as member of the City of Kirkwood’s Aquatics Advisory Commission and as Packmaster of Cub Scout Pack 323.
For his commitment to high ethical standards and broad knowledge and experience, Dennis has received the AV Preeminent® Peer Review Rating™ on Martindale Hubbell®, given by attorneys who have interacted with Dennis during his legal career. He was also honored in 2008-09 and 2009-10 with the Bar Association of Metropolitan St. Louis’ Young Lawyers Division Award of Merit.
Dennis is licensed to practice in Missouri, Illinois, before the U.S. District Court for the Eastern and Western Districts of Missouri and Southern District of Illinois, the U.S. Bankruptcy Court for the Eastern and Western Districts of Missouri and the Seventh and Eighth Circuit Courts of Appeals.
McGill v. Doctor – Dennis and Rodney Sharp obtained a unanimous defense verdict from a St. Louis County jury in a case alleging a failure to diagnose kidney cancer. The jury deliberated for less than one hour before coming back with their unanimous verdict.
McNearney v. Fitness Center – After multiple depositions and thorough discovery, Dennis obtained summary judgment in favor of his client in a case alleging negligence and recklessness on the part of the instructor of a boot camp class. While participating in the boot camp class, the plaintiff was struck in the face by the handle of a resistance band during a partner exercise. Even with expert testimony supporting the plaintiff’s claims, Dennis convinced the Court that the plaintiff could not meet her burden of proof against the fitness center and that the fitness center was entitled to summary judgment.
Meyers v. Doctor – In this lawsuit filed in St. Louis County, Rodney Sharp and Dennis Harms obtained a defense verdict on behalf of their clients, a local urologist and his employer. The plaintiffs alleged the doctor failed to diagnose and treat a spinal lesion that caused permanent bladder and bowel incontinence and erectile dysfunction. Plaintiffs asked the jury for more than $2.7 million. This was featured as one of Missouri Lawyers Weekly’s Top 15 Defense Verdicts of 2014.
Talluto v. Fitness Center – Working with fellow Sandberg Phoenix attorney Rodney Sharp, Dennis obtained summary judgment in favor of client LifeTime Fitness on a negligence claim involving a fall from a treadmill during a fitness test. The Plaintiff/Patron fell off the treadmill while being assisted by a personal trainer employed by LifeTime Fitness during her complimentary fitness examination. When the Plaintiff signed up as a member, she executed (electronically) a Member Usage Agreement which contained a Release releasing LifeTime Fitness from all future acts of negligence. After an intense oral argument, the judge ruled from the bench that the release language was not ambiguous and was binding to exculpate LifeTime Fitness from liability.
Langeneckert v. Ralph, M.D. – Dennis participated in the litigation of and second-chaired the trial of this matter at a previous firm. It was named one of the Top Defense Verdicts of 2007, according to Missouri Lawyer’s Weekly.
Grable v. Atlantic Casualty Ins. Co., 280 S.W.3d 104 (Mo.App. 2009)
Davies v. Chanduwadia, M.D., 261 S.W.3d 565 (Mo.App. E.D. May 27, 2008)
McGill v. Doctor – Along with Rodney Sharp, Dennis obtained a defense verdict from a St. Louis County jury in a case alleging a failure to diagnose kidney cancer. The jury came back with a unanimous verdict in favor of Sandberg Phoenix’s client and his medical practice.
McNearney v. Fitness Center – The trial court’s summary judgment was upheld by the Missouri Court of Appeals. The Court of Appeals’ published opinion (486 S.W.3d 396) set very strong precedent for Missouri businesses to use in cases where the claimant executed a pre-claim Release. For years to come, Dennis’ work in this case will be of benefit to Missouri businesses, large and small.
Dennis Harms joined Sandberg Phoenix in April 2012 as a member of the Health Law Practice Group. His diverse litigation experience includes the defense of health care provider clients in highly complex medical malpractice cases and non-provider clients in various types of general negligence claims.
“Litigation is an ever evolving process. Lawyers must strive to continually adapt and improve. At Sandberg Phoenix, I get to learn from many of the best trial lawyers in the Midwest and apply my skill working with clients on a daily basis, ” said Dennis.
Specific to medical negligence defense, Dennis has defended practitioners and health care organizations in a wide-variety of medical specialties, including focused training regarding the defense of birth trauma litigation. Dennis is also a member of Sandberg Phoenix’s Correctional Medicine Team, defending health care providers based in correctional institutions from negligence and civil rights claims brought by current and former inmates.
In addition to serving his clients’ litigation needs, Dennis handles health care regulatory and compliance matters, supports the business law needs of health care providers, including negotiation of contracts between physicians and hospitals or practice groups and provides consultation regarding risk management methods, HIPAA, HITECH and other matters.
Outside his legal practice, Dennis keeps very busy volunteering at his church and with his kids’ school, coaching multiple sports throughout the year and serving his community on various committees.