2013 Kansas Bar Association’s Pro Bono Certificate
Kansas Board of Law Examiners: Chairman 2017 - 2020; Member 2009 – 2020. The Kansas Supreme Court appointed Don to the 10-member Board of Law Examiners in 2009. The Board is responsible for the administration of the bar examination required for admission to practice law in the State of Kansas.
Best Lawyers®: Don has been selected multiple times for inclusion in the annual listing of Best Lawyers in the categories of “Employment Law – Individual” and “Employment Law – Management”. According to Best Lawyers®, “Inclusion . . . is based entirely on peer review. The methodology is designed to capture, as accurately as possible, the consensus opinion of leading lawyers about the professional abilities of their colleagues within the same geographical area and legal practice area.” For additional information, please see Bestlawyers.com
Super Lawyers®: Don has been selected multiple times for inclusion in the annual listing of Super Lawyer in Employment Law. According to Super Lawyers®, “[t]his designation was given to attorneys representing the top 5% of the practicing attorneys in Missouri & Kansas. The selection was made by peers as a result of an extensive nomination and polling process.” For additional information, please see superlawyers.com.
Wesley E. Brown Inn of Court, Executive Committee (2014-2015)
After graduating from law school, Don worked for two years as a law clerk for the Kansas Court of Appeals. In 1990, Don began private practice with the Kahrs Nelson firm in Wichita, and was a partner in that firm from 1994 through 1999. He was a partner at firm of Withers, Gough, Pike, Pfaff & Peterson LLC from 2000 to 2016. He joined Graybill & Hazlewood, LLC in 2016.
Don’s practice has always been a mix of representing plaintiffs (usually individuals) and defendants (usually corporations and insurance companies). During Don’s first 15 years as a lawyer, most of his work was on the defense side. Over the last 10 years, however, Don’s practice has transitioned to representing individuals on the plaintiff’s side.
January 2017 — Disability Insurance Settlement: After our client was denied benefits by her disability insurance company on several occasions, Donald Peterson and Nathan Elliott filed suit for her against the disability insurance carrier. Four months later the disability insurance company agreed to pay money to settle. The amount is confidential.
2016 — Gender Retaliation Settlement: After nearly 4 years of litigation, Donald Peterson and Sean McGivern helped their client reach a favorable settlement in a federal court lawsuit alleging claims of Title VII retaliation and a tortious interference with employment contract. Our client, who managed a medical facility, had pushed to enforce the sexual harassment policy after nurses had complained about the behavior of certain doctors. Our client contended the doctors retaliated against her, interfering with her employment with the facility and, ultimately, forcing her to resign rather than be fired. After extensive discovery, the defendant facility and doctors filed motions for summary judgment, arguing that our client had insufficient evidence to justify a trial. Judge Vratil of the Federal District Court for the District of Kansas largely denied these motions, allowing the case to proceed toward trial. It was in the face of this potential trial that the defendants decided to resolve the case by way of settlement. The amount is confidential.
August 2016 — Wage and Hour Settlement: This was a relatively small wage and hour case involving the failure to pay overtime. We are able to take cases like this because, if we win, the Court will award attorney fees as part of the claim. The defendant settled approximately three months after the case was filed.
August 2016 — Disability Insurance Settlement: After she was denied benefits by her disability insurance company on several occasions, Donald Peterson, Sean McGivern and Nathan Elliott filed suit for our client against the disability insurance carrier. Five months later the insurance company settled. The amount is confidential.
Published Court Cases
The litigation process sometimes results in a court opinion that is published. Below are some of the cases Don Peterson has handled in which there is a published court opinion.
Yinger v. Postal Presort, Inc., 6:15-CV-01106 (D. Kan.) Don Peterson and Sean McGivern represented Mr. Yinger, who needed time off work following a heart infection arising from pacemaker surgery, as a reasonable accommodation under the Americans with Disabilities Act. The District Court originally threw the case out. The Tenth Circuit reversed and ordered a trial. We tried the case and our client prevailed on his claim under the ADA, recovering about a year of backpay.
McMullen v. Figeac Aero North America, Case No. 2015-AIR-00027 (USDOL OALJ Jan. 13, 2017). Don Peterson and Sean McGivern successfully tried an “AIR 21” whistleblower retaliation claim to conclusion. The Administrative Law Judge found our client was fired in retaliation for reporting violations of FAA regulations and the ALJ awarded damages.
Meyer v. UNUM Life, 12-1134-KHV (March 31, 2015). Donald Peterson and Sean McGivern represented the plaintiff in this disability insurance claim. The insurance policy was obtained through Mr. Meyer’s employment and was therefore governed by the Employment Retirement Income Security Act. Mr. Peterson and Mr. McGivern won the case, obtaining a favorable judgment for their client.
Suhr v. Aqua Haven, LLC and Master Spas, Inc., Case No. 11-1165-EFM (Nov. 7, 2013). Mr. Peterson defended a manufacturer of hot tubs and swim spas which are sold nationwide. The plaintiff claimed violation of various consumer protection laws. Mr. Peterson obtained a summary judgment in favor of his client, ending the case without the need for trial.
Hubbard v. Logi Warehousing and Transportation, LLC et al, Case No. 09-CV-02266-JPO (D. Kan. 2010). This was a wrongful death case arising from a double tractor trailer collision. Mr. Peterson represented the defendant trucking company and its driver in a four day jury trial, in which his clients prevailed with a defense verdict.
Richard v. Hinshaw, NO. 09-1278-MLB (2009 – 2014). Mr. Peterson was retained by Sedgwick County Kansas to defended a jail deputy in a civil rights case filed under 42 U.S.C. 1983. This case, which lasted over five years, ultimately was resolved without trial.
Clopton et al. v. TSS, Inc. et al, Case No. 10-CV-1229-JAR-JPO, U.S. Dist. Ct., District of Kansas, 2010 (plaintiffs’ attorney for a 27-plaintiff class conditionally certified under the Fair Labor Standards Act seeking unpaid compensation due to misclassification; settled in 2011, with plaintiff class members receiving 100+ cents on the dollar for unpaid wages, plus attorneys fees).
B & K Mechanical, Inc. v. Wiese, Case No. 03-4149-RDR (March 21, 2007). Mr. Peterson defended a former employee sued by his former employer. The former employee had never signed any non-compete agreement and quit his position to start a new business in the same industry. The former employer sued the former employee, seeking judgment for “breach of fiduciary duty.” Mr. Peterson obtained a summary judgment in favor of his client. The court ruled that an employee may prepare to compete even while still employed, as long as the employee does not actually begin to compete with the employer while still employed.
Geer v. Challenge Financial Investors Corp., Case No. 05-1109-JTM (2005 – 2007) This was a case filed as a nationwide class action case under the Fair Labor Standards Act, with a potential class of over 1200 mortgage brokers who claimed they were entitled to unpaid overtime pay. Mr. Peterson defended Challenge Financial Investors Corp. The case was ultimately resolved without trial.
Don Peterson has been involved in more than 25 appeals over the years. Below are a few of those:
Yinger v. Postal Presort, Inc., No. 16-3239 (10th Cir. 2017). The Court of Appeals reversed summary judgment remanded for trial our client’s case for violations of the Americans with Disabilities Act and wrongful discharge.
Brackens v. Best Cab, Inc., No. 06-3308 (10th Cir. 2007). This was a race discrimination case by a cab driver against a cab company. Mr. Peterson represented the defendant, Best Cab, Inc. Mr. Peterson obtained summary judgment for Best Cab, Inc. On appeal, the 10th Circuit Court of Appeals upheld the judgment for Mr. Peterson’s client.
Cory v. Fahlstrom, 80 Fed. Appx. 656 (10th Cir. 2003). Mr. Peterson represented the appellee, who had prevailed before the trial court and upheld that judgment on appeal.
Mediation Employment Cases - How HR Professionals & Attorneys Miss Opportunities for Better Outcomes, NBI, 2021.
ERISA for Beginners; Wichita Bar Association Disability Law Seminar, 2017.
ERISA and its Unintended Consequences, Kansas Association for Justice; Wichita Bar Association, 2016.
Science, Philosophy, and Art for Trial Lawyers, Wichita Bar Association civil trial seminar, 2015
Appellate Argument, Wichita Bar Association Appellate law seminar, 2014.
Employment Law Horror Stories, Kansas County Officials Association Annual Meeting, 2014.
Ethics in Federal Civil Practice, Wichita Bar Association, 2012.
Respondent’s Perspective on Summary Judgment, Federal Civil Practice seminar, Wichita Bar Association, 2009.
Juggling Collateral Exposures: ADA, FMLA, Retaliation”, Lorman Education, February 2004.
An Employer’s Guide to Hiring and Firing, Wichita State University, September 2001.
Comparison and Overlap of the Family Medical Leave Act and Other Laws, Including the ADA and Workers Compensation, Lorman Education, March 2001.
Hot Topics in Employment Law, Wichita Bar Association, February 2001.
Exempt vs Non-Exempt Employees, National Business Institute, October 2000.
Presenting Your Case to the Government: Dealing with Administrative Agencies, Kansas Bar Association, March 2000.
Current Sexual Harassment Issues, National Business Institute, September 1999.
Counseling Employers About the Tension Between the ADA, FMLA and Workers Compensation, Southwest Kansas Bar Association, January 1998.
An Employer’s Guide to Hiring and Firing, Convention of the Kansas Independent Automobile Dealers Association, January 1997.