Photo of Rich  McNelley

Rich McNelley

Senior Counsel


Washburn University School of Law, 2002, cum laude

Washburn University, B.A., 1999, magna cum laude




As a veteran of the U.S. Marine Corps and later the U.S. Army, Rich has an exceptional discipline, accountability and “can do” spirit that he brings to his practice of law. Some attorneys say they are always on call, but Rich really means it. He has driven to meet vessels involved in casualties in the middle of the night, he has taken client calls from the beach in St. Barth’s and he regularly visits with clients and provides his opinion on any question they have, even if he isn’t currently involved in that specific matter.

As a member of the Commercial Litigation Practice Group, Rich represents clients in litigation arising out of marine and transportation accidents.

In one of his most memorable cases, Rich represented a Marine transportation client who lost a number of barges as its vessel was attempting to navigate past a dam on an Illinois river. The barges damaged the dam and the town near the river flooded resulting in hundreds of claimants in the limitation action, including the United States of America and hundreds of property owners in the town that flooded. While some claims were settled, others were tried, including claims of more than 100 property owners, totaling in the tens of millions of dollars. The judge ruled that the incident was 100% the fault of the dam operator, an employee of the United States, and exonerated Rich’s client.

When Rich isn’t practicing law you can find him on the field coaching his daughters’ youth sports teams.


  • Selected to The Best Lawyers in America© in Commercial Litigation: 2022

Memberships & Involvement

Member: Maritime Law Association of the United States; Bar Association of Metropolitan St. Louis (BAMSL), BAMSL Maritime Law Section; Kirkwood United Soccer Club, Coach St. Peter Parish (Kirkwood); Nerinx Hall (High School) Father's Club, Essay Contest Chair

Former Chair: 2018 Maritime Law Seminar Missouri Organization of Defense Lawyers; BAMSLA Maritime Law Section


  •  Secured a defense verdict for a Marine transportation client who lost a number of barges as it’s vessel attempted to navigate past a dam on an river, which resulted in damage to the dam and flooding of a nearby town
  • Secured summary judgment on the issue of contractual indemnity in a Marine services contract where the employee’s company was ordered to pay the entire settlement to the employee and the client’s attorneys’ fees
  • Investigated an incident where a truck driver died attempting to unload dredging equipment from a flatbed trailer, and represented the owner of the equipment through discovery before the case settled for a reasonable sum
  • Drafted the Daubert Motion and supporting memorandum of law that resulted in the exclusion of the Plaintiff’s causation expert and, as a result, won summary judgment in favor of the client in a case where the client’s employee alleged that he developed cancer as a result of exposure to diesel exhaust while working aboard towboats

Presentations & Events