Don M.

St. Louis, Missouri
314-345-2006 (direct line)


Don M. Downing

Don has over thirty-seven years of experience representing interests of his clients.  Don’s practice has focused on complex commercial litigation, including class actions and mass tort actions.  He has been appointed to executive committees and as lead and co-lead plaintiffs’ counsel to represent injured parties against large companies alleged to have engaged in consumer fraud, health care overcharges, and selling defective products.  A native of Kennett, Missouri, Don grew up around farming.  He also has fought for farmers and others in the agricultural industry in cases involving defective seed, market disruption based on premature release of genetically modified seed, herbicide drift resulting in crop loss, and government mistakes in loan program payments.

Don’s tireless advocacy and negotiating skills have resulted in verdicts and settlements of over $3 billion on behalf of many thousands of injured persons and businesses.

Don also is highly experienced in individual disputes, including fraud, breach of contract, negligence, securities, antitrust, and professional malpractice.  After clerking for a federal judge, Don began his legal career at a large defense firm, where he was managing partner of its St. Louis office.  He understands defense thinking and business concerns, valuable assets when advising and advocating for clients injured in commercial dealings.  Don also served as Deputy Attorney General for the State of Missouri, placing him in the front row of policy disputes and governmental issues.  He succeeded in having the photo ID requirement declared unconstitutional in Missouri (Weinschenk v. State of Missouri) and can navigate regulatory and administrative challenges.

Don has been consistently recognized as among the top litigators in this state and the country, receiving numerous prestigious awards.  He has also been honored by, and elected to leadership positions in, numerous organizations including such influential positions as Chair of the University of Missouri’s Board of Curators.

Don earned a degree in economics from the University of Missouri in 1979 (cum laude), and a law degree from the University of Missouri School of Law in 1982, where he served as an editor on the Missouri Law Review.  He served as law clerk for the Honorable Edward L. Filippine, U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Missouri.

Don is licensed in Missouri and Illinois, before the Supreme Court of the United States, the Eighth Circuit, and U.S. District Courts for the Eastern and Western Districts of Missouri.

Practice Areas

Notable Results

In re: Dicamba Herbicides Litigation (E.D. Mo.)
Herbicide drift, extensive crop damage

  • Co-Lead Counsel: MDL mass tort action
  • Lead negotiator: $400 million mass tort settlement
  • Lead negotiator: $4.7 million non-soybean farmer settlements

In re: Syngenta AG MIR 162 Corn Litigation (D. Kan.)
Contamination of U.S. corn supply

  • Co-Lead and Class Counsel: MDL class actions
  • Trial Counsel: bellwether trial for Kansas farmers; $217.7 million verdict
  • $1.51 billion global class action settlement

In re: Genetically Modified Rice Litigation (E.D. Mo.)
Contamination of U.S. rice supply

  • Co-Lead Counsel: MDL mass tort action
  • Trial counsel: three bellwether trials for Missouri, Arkansas, Mississippi, and Louisiana rice farmers; $4 million collective plaintiffs’ verdicts
  • Lead negotiator: $750 million farmer settlement; over $1.1 billion total settlement

In re: Blue Buffalo Co. Ltd., Marketing and Sales Pracs. Litig. (E.D. Mo)
Pet food mislabeling

  • Executive Committee: MDL class action
  • $32 million class action settlement

Mary Plubell v. Merck & Co. (Jackson County Missouri)
Consumer fraud: Vioxx

  • Class Counsel: class action
  • Co-Lead negotiator: $220 million class action settlement

Quinn v. BJC Healthcare Corp. (City of St. Louis)
Overcharges to uninsured patients

  • Class Counsel: class action
  • Lead negotiator: $267 class action settlement

Weinschenk v. State of Missouri 
Constitutionality of photo ID requirement to vote

  • Lead Plaintiffs’ Trial Counsel – Obtained judgment of unconstitutionality
  • Lead Appellate Counsel – Trial judgment affirmed

Professional Accolades

Best Lawyers In America: 

  • Best Lawyers St. Louis Litigation – Banking and Finance Lawyer of the Year (2022)
  • Best Lawyers St. Louis Mass Tort Litigation / Class Action – Plaintiffs Lawyer of the Year (2021)
  • Best Lawyers St. Louis Litigation – Banking and Finance Lawyer of the Year (2020)
  • Best Lawyers St. Louis Litigation – Banking and Finance Lawyer of the Year (2018)
  • Best Lawyers St. Louis Litigation – Banking and Finance Lawyer of the Year (2016)
  • Best Lawyers St. Louis Mass Tort Litigation / Class Actions – Plaintiffs Lawyer of the Year (2015)
  • Best Lawyers St. Louis Litigation – Banking and Finance Lawyer of the Year (2014)
  • Best Lawyers St. Louis Litigation – Antitrust Lawyer of the Year (2013)
  • Best Lawyers in America (2005-present)
    • Bet-the-Company Litigation
    • Commercial Litigation
    • Litigation – Antitrust
    • Litigation – Banking and Finance
    • Mass Tort Litigation / Class Actions – Plaintiffs

Missouri Lawyers Weekly: 

  • Commercial & Consumer Litigation “Power 30 Attorney” (2020-2022)
  • ICON Award (2020)
  • Influential Lawyer Award (2018)
  • Top Plaintiff’s Settlement Award (2018)
  • Legal Champion Award (2011)

Other Accolades: 

  • Chambers and Partners, Band 1 rating (highest), Litigation: Mainly Plaintiffs (2021)
  • American Agricultural Law Association, Excellence in Agricultural Law Award (2020)
  • Faculty-Alumni Award, Mizzou Alumni Association (2015)
  • Merit Selection Panel Member, U.S. Magistrate Judge (2013)
  • Lawdragon 500 Leading Lawyers in America (2012)
  • University of Missouri Law School Citation of Merit (2011)
  • American Lawyer Litigation Daily, National Litigator of the Week (July 7, 2011)
  • Missouri & Kansas Super Lawyers (2006 – present)
  • Missouri & Kansas Super Lawyers – Top 50 in St. Louis and Top 100 in Missouri and Kansas
  • Best Lawyers in America (2005 – present)
  • AV Peer Review Rating, Martindale-Hubbell Law Directory

Professional Associations & Memberships

  • International Academy of Trial Lawyers, Fellow
  • American College of Trial Lawyers, Fellow
  • American Bar Foundation, Fellow
  • Missouri Bar Task Force on Complex Litigation, Member
  • University of Missouri, Board of Curators (2009-2014); Chairman (2014)
  • University of Missouri Law School Foundation, Board of Trustees
  • University of Missouri Law Library Campaign Committee
  • University of Missouri Jefferson Club; Chairman, St. Louis Regional Dinner
  • National Benevolent Association: Chair, Board of Directors, Legal Committee

Published Works

  • Committee Bars Section 1983 Action for Unconstitutional Administration of State Tax System 47 Missouri Law Review 897, 1982
  • Enforcement of Due-On-Sale Clause by Federal Savings & Loan Association 47 Missouri Law Review 366, 1982

Legal Experience

  • Gray Ritter Graham, Director (2004-present)
  • Stinson Morrison Hecker, St. Louis Managing Partner (1996-2003)
  • Missouri Chief Deputy Attorney General (1993-1995)
  • Stinson Mag & Fizzell, Partner (1990-1992), Associate (1984-1989)

Bar Admissions

  • Missouri, 1982
  • Illinois, 1983
  • U.S. District Court Eastern District of Missouri
  • U.S. District Court Western District of Missouri
  • U.S. District Court Southern District of Illinois
  • U.S. Court of Appeals 8th Circuit
  • U.S. Supreme Court

Representative Cases

April 25, 2018 in Commercial Litigation & Class Actions, Don M Downing Featured, News

Downing Named Chair of Plaintiffs’ Executive Committee in Dicamba Multidistrict Litigation

Gray Ritter Graham attorney Don Downing has been appointed Chair of the Plaintiffs’ Executive Committee in the dicamba multidistrict litigation pending in…
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June 23, 2017 in Case Result, Commercial Litigation & Class Actions, Don M Downing, Don M Downing Featured, News, Verdicts & Settlements

Downing part of legal team in $218 Million Verdict for Kansas Corn Farmers in Syngenta Class Action lawsuit

A Kansas jury today sided with Kansas corn producers, represented in part by Gray Ritter Graham attorney Don Downing, in the first…
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