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In Memoriam:

It is with great sadness that we report the passing of our long-time partner and Executive Board member Virginia Fry from our Springfield, Missouri, office.

Virginia passed away on November 18, 2018, following a sudden and unexpected illness. 

Virginia was a vital, contributing member of the firm and of the Executive Board. She was a person of great business judgment who never hesitated to share her perspective with the Executive Board. People listened when she spoke because they knew her views were informed by rich experience, intelligence and integrity.

Virginia began her law practice in 1980 as one of the first female attorneys in the southwest Missouri region. She won numerous awards and honors during her 38-year career. She will be dearly missed. 

She is survived by her husband, attorney John Pratt, and two children, Brennan and Jordan. The news announcement on her passing offers many more details.  

The following is her attorney bio as it was presented prior to her death: 

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Virginia is an experienced litigator in federal and state courts in a variety of areas, including constitutional law, commercial and business litigation, breach of fiduciary duty and employment litigation. She advises healthcare clients as well as education clients with respect to the federal and state laws that regulate their operations. She also frequently defends management from many industries and areas in wrongful discharge, harassment, discrimination and related state and federal employment claims. Within the healthcare industry, Virginia’s experience includes:

  • Representing a three-hospital system in favorably resolving federal civil liability charges.
  • Defended a hospital against False Claim Act allegations brought by former employees with favorable results.
  • Defended a hospital against allegations brought by multiple former employees who claimed retaliation for whistleblowing activities.
  • Defended a long-term care provider against multiple allegations of discrimination brought by former employees.

In addition, Virginia has served her local healthcare community through many volunteer efforts. She was a member of the Breast Cancer Foundation of the Ozarks’ Board of Directors, and she previously served on the Board of Directors and as president of the Visiting Nurses Association (VNA). While on VNA’s board, Virginia negotiated a sale to Mercy healthcare system, whereby VNA used the proceeds to establish a foundation that awards healthcare-related grants to organizations in southwest Missouri. Virginia also previously served on the Board of Directors for Springfield Community Hospital.

Virginia also represents school districts and public and private higher education institutions. She regularly advises boards of education, trustees and administrators on matters involving employee hiring, evaluation, remediation and termination, student rights and discipline, civil rights, contracts, the Sunshine Law; church/state issues, and other constitutional matters. Virginia also represents public and private employers in employment discrimination and disability matters and provides preventive employment law services, including supervisor training and employment compliance audits. Virginia is a member of the firm’s Executive and Partner Boards.


Industries

Services

Recognition

  • Biz417, Biz 100, Law, 2016-2017
  • The Best Lawyers in America, Commercial Litigation, Employment Law-Management, Litigation-Labor & Employment, 2005-2017, 2019; Best Lawyers Springfield, Mo., Litigation-Labor & Employment Lawyer of the Year, 2013
  • Martindale-Hubbell AV Preeminent
  • Missouri & Kansas Super Lawyers, Business Litigation, 2005-2018; Top 50 Women, 2005-2012, 2014, 2016-2017
  • Missouri Lawyers Weekly 2015 Women’s Justice Awards, Woman of the Year
  • Missouri State University, Outstanding Alumni, 2006 
  • Springfield Business Journal, Influential Women In Business, 2002; 12 People You Need to Know, 2014 
  • Springfield Metropolitan Bar Association, Distinguished Attorney Award, 2010

Education

  • J.D., University of Missouri-Kansas City School of Law
    • UMKC Law Review
  • M.B.A., Missouri State University
  • B.S., Missouri State University
    • summa cum laude

Admissions

  • Missouri
  • U.S. District Court, Western District of Missouri
  • U.S. Supreme Court

Professional Associations and Memberships

  • American Health Lawyers Association
  • Council for Christian Colleges and Universities
  • Missouri Council of School Attorneys
  • Missouri State University Board of Governors, Chair, 2017
  • Missouri Supreme Court, Disciplinary Hearing Committee
  • National Association of College & University Attorneys
  • National Council of School Attorneys
  • Springfield Metropolitan Bar Association
Experience
  • Represented a three-hospital system facing extensive federal civil liability for physician compensation agreements put in place before Husch Blackwell’s involvement. Possible criminal charges against individual employees were also a threat. Investigation was resolved with no criminal charges and no admissions of violating False Claims Act, largely reducing the system’s repayment obligations and preventing costly post-settlement government oversight.
  • Represented a hospital in multiple lawsuits brought by current and former employees who alleged harassment by a physician employed by the hospital. The employees also alleged retaliation by the board of directors for failing to take appropriate action with respect to the physician and for punishing the employees for reporting the allegations to the state board of healing arts.
Community Leadership
  • Breast Cancer Foundation of the Ozarks, Board of Advisors, 2001-2007
  • Missouri State University, Board of Governors, 2013-present
  • Springfield Chamber of Commerce, Governmental Relations Committee; Visioning Committee, Local Issues Public Policy Task Force      
  • Springfield Innovation Inc., Board of Directors, 2013-present
  • United Way of the Ozarks, Board of Directors, 2011-present