Bernard J. Rhodes

With more than 30 years of experience, Bernie Rhodes is a proven litigator with a national trial and appellate practice, appearing as counsel in more than 100 reported decisions. He also leads a national team of attorneys who represent a variety of print, film, television and online media companies in First Amendment, intellectual property, and other matters. Given his breadth of experience, Bernie is frequently called upon to conduct internal corporate investigations. Bernie has been selected as one of The Best Lawyers in America® each of the last twelve years.

Representative Experience

Complex Commercial, Business and Appellate Litigation

  • Obtained favorable settlement of class-action lawsuit brought against Fortune 500 company over allegedly defective computer product

  • Won appellate court victory on behalf of property owner who sued the county for violation of his due process rights, along with award of attorney’s fees

  • Won favorable ruling on behalf of New York Times best-selling author who was sued by his former agent, following two-week trial

  • Won $4.12 million jury verdict in test case as part of multi-party franchise dispute with national tax preparation firm; eventually collected $270 million on behalf of 16 clients 

  • Successfully represented owner of professional football team against claim by former professional athlete who claimed an ownership interest in the team; 

  • Obtained permanent injunction and substantial monetary judgment on behalf of national cable company against seller of “hacked” cable modems 

  • Won summary judgment dismissing bank’s $7.5 million claim against cattle owner 

  • Obtained Section 1983 civil rights judgment against county, including award of attorney fees

  • Successfully represented international financier against claim brought by trading firm 

  • Collected $4.5 million jury verdict for national candy manufacturer for loss of customer goodwill and related damage to registered trademarks 

  • Obtained jury verdict on behalf of owners of a $12 million business jet allowing them to return the plane to the manufacturer due to electrical defects 

  • Recovered $1.7 million from national health insurance company in ERISA lawsuit brought on behalf of local non-profit research corporation 

  • Won $1.3 million arbitration award for client in breach of contract and fraud case resulting from failed acquisition of business

  • Obtained $1 million jury verdict on behalf of national manufacturer against customer for damages caused by “bust-out” scheme


  • Successfully represented national advertiser and advertising agency against claims by stock photo model who alleged the ad defamed them and put them in false light

  • Obtained dismissal of lawsuit alleging violation of Antiterrorism Act against director, producer and distributor of Academy Award-winning documentary

  • Won Missouri Supreme Court appeal dismissing defamation and invasion of privacy lawsuit brought against leading national animal advocacy group based on group’s public advocacy in support of statewide public referendum

  • Obtained dismissal of civil rights lawsuit against local radio station owner based on decision to not accept local political advertising, and awarded sanctions against plaintiff and plaintiff’s attorney

  • Received summary judgment award dismissing defamation and invasion of privacy lawsuit against leading national sports publication over article which referred to plaintiff as “Vlad the Impaler”

  • Obtained dismissal of lawsuit brought by former reporter for daily newspaper who alleged news reports of his dismissal were false and defamatory

  • Obtained sanctions order dismissing defamation lawsuit brought by suspended lawyer over publication of news report in daily newspaper

  • Obtained dismissal of defamation lawsuit brought by mother of U.S. Congressman against national advocacy organization

  • Obtained appellate court reversal of $1.1 million jury verdict against network-affiliate TV station obtained by subject of police investigation into serial killer 

  • Won dismissal of defamation case brought by national plastic surgery chain against out of state TV station over multi-part series exposing questionable practices 

  • Obtained dismissal of defamation action brought by suspended attorney as a sanction for discovery abuses 

  • Coordinated response of local media to law enforcement request for information concerning nationwide search for missing baby 

  • Won state sunshine law suit brought against state university by non-partisan, non-profit research organization 

  • Successfully defended local television station in lawsuit resulting from undercover “sting” operation conducted by station 

  • Won defense jury verdict in defamation action brought by school principal against local television station over false broadcast 

  • Obtained reversal of prior restraint order against local television station prohibiting broadcast of internet sex predator investigation 

  • Won summary judgment for national documentary producer in defamation case brought by local business owner over broadcast of footage showing anti-drug protest 

  • Achieved dismissal of false light action resulting from broadcast of wrong mug shot 

  • Obtained state supreme court ruling allowing media outlets to object to closure of proceeding in high-profile murder trial 

  • Obtained summary judgment in defamation/false light action by dentist over broadcast concerning allegation that dentist violated state dental act

Intellectual Property

  • Successfully represented national cable channel and independent production company against claim of copyright infringement over video used in reality show segment

  • Successfully defended national tax preparation software company against false advertising and Lanham Act claim brought by major national competitor

  • Successfully resisted effort by major college football conference to require local TV station to change name of post-game sports program

  • Obtained injunction against political campaign which was using name of local hospital in “caller id” for political campaign calls

  • Successfully prosecuted copyright infringement claim on behalf of national news program against U.S. Senate campaign based on improper usage of news footage

  • Obtained dismissal of copyright infringement lawsuit brought against national television network by two brothers who claimed the network stole the idea for a popular television drama series from their unpublished manuscript

  • Successfully defended copyright infringement claim brought by alleged copyright owner against distributor of national reality show

  • Successfully represented a major defense contractor in jury trial against a trademark claim brought by local competitor over the name of client’s gunpowder 

Corporate Investigations

  • Conducted wide-ranging internal corporate investigation on behalf of major public corporation into alleged obstruction of justice; successfully handled federal grand jury investigation into matter 
  • Successfully defended big three automaker against claim of “covering up” alleged product defect in lawsuit brought by two so-called “whistle-blowers” 
  • Conducted investigation into missing premium money on behalf of insurance company and obtained contempt violation against former agent, resulting in his imprisonment 
  • Led internal investigation into activities of division manager of national company, leading to his termination 
  • Conducted investigation on behalf of U.S. subsidiary of international corporation into alleged kickbacks paid by overseas contractor


  • Co-presenter, "Been There, Won That," Lathrop GPM 2024 State of Litigation, May 21, 2024
  • Podcast Guest, "Up To Date," Kansas City Public Radio (KCUR 89.3), March 25, 2024
  • Panelist, "Sunshine Amid the Storms," The League of Women Voters of Kansas City/Jackson-Clay-Platte Counties, March 11, 2024
  • Moderator, "Defamation 101: Back to the Basics," KCMBA Media and the Law Seminar, April 14, 2021
  • Panelist, Spotlight Corporate Ethics: Identifying and Understanding Blind Spots and What Can Be Done About Them, UMKC School of Law, May 15, 2019
  • Speaker, The News Media's Role in Police Accountability, pre-and post-Ferguson," Access and Accountability: A Conference for Government Transparency Advocates, Yale Law School, October 2017.

In the News

News Releases

Professional Affiliations

  • American Bar Association, Tort Trial and Insurance Practice Section; Forum on Communications Law
  • Kansas Bar Association
  • Kansas City Metropolitan Bar Association, Media Law Committee
  • Media Law Resource Center, New Developments Committee
  • The Missouri Bar, Media Law Committee


  • Selected among The Best Lawyers in America®, 2003-2024
    • Litigation – First Amendment "Lawyer of the Year," 2020-2021
  • Kansas Coalition for Open Government, "Above and Beyond Awards," 2023
  • Missouri Lawyers Media, THE POWER LIST, Sports and Entertainment Law, 2023
  • Missouri Lawyers Media, "Legal Champion Award," 2024
  • Political Activism/1st Amendment Rights Trailblazer, The National Law Journal, 2020
  • Selected as a Lawyer of the Year, by The Best Lawyers in America®, 2015-2018
  • Martindale-Hubbell® "AV" Rating
Photo of Bernard J. Rhodes
F: 816.292.2001


Linda Rittenhouse

Court Memberships

  • Missouri
  • Kansas
  • New York
  • U.S. Supreme Court
  • U.S. Courts of Appeals for the Second, Seventh, Eighth, and Tenth Circuits
  • U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York
  • U.S. District Courts for the Western and Eastern Districts of Missouri
  • U.S. District Court for the District of Kansas
  • U.S. District Court for the Central and Northern Districts of Illinois


Fordham University School of Law, J.D., 1981

University of Missouri-Kansas City, B.A., with honors, 1978