by Scott Faughn
Missouri Association of Trial Attorneys
President: Tim Dollar of Dollar, Burns, & Becker in Kansas City
Director: Sara Schuett
The Missouri Association of Trial Attorneys mission is to protect the civil justice system and the right to trial by jury. On the road to accomplishing that mission they have become one of the most influential associations in the state of Missouri.
“We are a strictly non-partisan association tasked exclusively with protecting people’s rights,” MATA President Tim Dollar said. “The right to trial by jury is truly one of our most important rights. It is that right that guarantees all of our others are safe.”
Dollar, the son of a Baptist minister, has spent years trying homicide cases for the Jackson County Prosecuting Attorney’s Office. He joined MATA 20 years ago at the urging of now Judge Mike Manners.
“He came to my office, and it was a pretty big deal for me that he would come to my office, and told me about how much it meant to our profession that the rights of citizens not be infringed, and how MATA was a leading organization that worked to protect those rights. He had me at hello.” Dollar said.
Sara Schuett, who has been with MATA since 1998, and is in her 10th year as director, leads the association. Schuett leads a 7 person staff, including deputy director Sharon Geuea Jones, an attorney and graduate of the University of Missouri School of Law. The office security is left to Schuett’s dog, Scrappy who is a rescue dog. “We all feel very lucky to get to work with inspiring people on issues that are so important to people,” Schuett said. “You get to really make a difference working here.”
In the upcoming session the group looks to address issues of workplace discrimination, and urge the legislature to address the problems with the second injury fund. “There are approximately 200 claims that have not been paid” Dollar said. “These are people who went through the proper channels and have been determined to have valid claims. It will be a herculean challenge to address the issues with the 2nd injury fund, but the state has to solve these issues.”
One of the legislators they most look forward to working with in the upcoming session is Republican Shelia Solon, “She is a conservative legislator who isn’t afraid to work across the aisle,” Dollar said. “She is truly pro-life, and isn’t willing to support putting a cap on the value of the taking of a life.”
Another legislator MATA is looking forward to working with is Scott Sifton. MATA members, through the “Missouri’s Future” PAC, invested $500,000 towards a successful effort to unseat now former Senator Jim Lembke. “Lembke made a decision to very publicly make himself an enemy of justice,” Dollar said. “We decided to take the fight to him. I am very proud of that effort, and we will do it again if necessary.”
What others say about MATA:
“MATA has always been a mainstay in Missouri politics, with a great advocate like Sara Schuett who is always on top if whatever issue is currently being discussed it’s easy to understand why they have been so successful.” – Representative John Rizzo
“The trial bar certainly has a presence in the capitol. They have the recourses to put a number of advocates in the halls.” – Brad Jones NFIB
“Very effective with apparent unlimited resources. It takes a coordinated effort by the business groups to compete”. – Calvin Call Insurance Coalition