Best Law Firms Rankings

Johnson & Bell, Ltd.

4 Metro Rankings | Website

Significant Matters

Defense verdict in contentious, high profile case. In a highly charged atmosphere and in a trial followed by local and national media, the Johnson & Bell trial team of Shareholder, Brian P. Gainer, and Associate, Monica Gutowski, secured a defense verdict in favor of the City of Chicago.  The trial involved charges of wrongful death against the City and a Chicago police officer in respect to an officer involved shooting that occurred in December of 2015.  There were also claims that one of the plaintiffs was falsely arrested after the shooting.  The decedent’s estate sought damages between $12-$25 million.  After a three-week trial, the jury was asked to answer a special interrogatory during its deliberations.  In response to the special interrogatory, the jury found that the officer’s use of deadly force was necessary to prevent imminent death or great bodily injury.  Based upon that finding, the court entered judgment in favor of the defense.  

Defense verdict in $4M patent infringement and trade secret case. In a major defense jury verdict in Chicago Federal court on Friday, June 24, 2016, Johnson & Bell’s Commercial Litigation team of Joseph R. Marconi, Victor J. Pioli and Peter R. Ryndaksuccessfully defended Crimson AV, LLC against charges of patent infringement and misappropriation of trade secrets.  In a case tried to a jury and presided over by  Judge Joan H. Lefkow, Johnson & Bell represented Crimson AV, a small manufacturer and distributor of television wall mounts based in Glenview, IL that was sued by Peerless Industries, Inc.  Peerless Industries claimed that Crimson AV’s wall mount design infringed its patent and further claimed that the company had misappropriated its trade secrets obtained while Crimson AV’s Chinese supplier had previously served as a manufacturer for Peerless Industries.  The Johnson & Bell trial team had to overcome a prior ruling by the court that Crimson AV’s products infringed the plaintiff’s patent, leaving Johnson & Bell to prove that the plaintiff’s patent was invalid.  In addition, the court entered a discovery sanction against Crimson AV that shifted the burden of proof on the trade secrets claim.  After two weeks of trial, the jury deliberated for two days and returned a verdict finding the patent invalid and finding no trade secrets were at issue.  Peerless Industries sought over $4 million in damages plus fees.  Peerless Industries was represented by Foley & Lardner.

Judgment for defense in $7M retaliatory discharge dispute. It took 14 years, but a large utility company finally put a retaliatory discharge dispute to rest with the assistance of Johnson & Bell Shareholders, John W. Bell and William A. Geiser. The dispute began almost immediately following the plaintiff’s termination by the utility company in 2004. The plaintiff filed suit, claiming retaliatory discharge as he had workers’ compensation petitions pending at the time he was terminated. He sought more than $7 million in compensatory and punitive damages. During the two-week trial, the defense countered that the workers’ compensation claims were not relevant to plaintiff’s discharge, and did not “immunize” him from termination of employment. Consistent with Illinois case law, the defendants articulated a valid “non-pretextual” basis for the termination, and the judge accepted it, resulting in judgment in defendants’ favor.

Defense verdict in wrongful death case against Indiana Hospital. Johnson & Bell Shareholder, Sharon L. Stanzione, received a defense verdict in favor of her hospital client in a medical malpractice wrongful death case. The case involved a 28-year-old woman who came to the emergency room with chest congestion and was treated by an ER doctor and staff, then discharged. The young woman died 56 hours later from acute necrotizing MRSA pneumonia. The young woman’s estate filed a medical malpractice and wrongful death case against the hospital, the ER doctor, and the ER staff. Ms. Stanzione skillfully and aggressively defended the hospital, and the hospital’s nurses, by presenting substantial evidence to the jury, which established that the hospital’s care and treatment met the applicable standard of care, and did not cause the young woman’s death. The young woman’s estate was seeking damages in the millions and in excess of the total amount recoverable under the Medical Malpractice Act. After a week-long trial in Gary, Indiana, the jury returned a defense verdict for all defendants after one hour of deliberation.

Appellate win in $2M coverage case.Johnson & Bell Shareholders, David M. Macksey and Garrett L. Boehm, Jr., secured a win in the Illinois Appellate Court First Judicial District for an insurance company and its insured parties in a difficult and complicated UIM insurance coverage case. Johnson & Bell’s clients were at risk for a $2 million award, but as a result of this Rule 23 Order, which affirmed a previously obtained summary judgment order entered by Judge Mikva in the Circuit Court, Johnson & Bell’s clients will pay nothing.In this dispute, the plaintiff widow filed a wrongful death lawsuit against our clients (subsequently amended as a declaratory judgment complaint) alleging that her husband, a long-haul truck driver, was killed in a collision with an uninsured motorist in Illinois. He was an independent truck driver working for a trucking company. The truck driver’s widow sought UIM benefits in the amount of $2M from Johnson & Bell’s clients on the basis that there was no proper or timely rejection of the higher UIM limits as required under either Illinois or Kansas law (where the vehicle was garaged and where the truck driver lived).  Johnson & Bell argued that the higher limits had been rejected, in writing and within the proper timeframe.The case in the trial court was extremely hard fought with multiple motions for summary judgment filed under Illinois and then Kansas law. After Johnson & Bell won in Chancery court, it offered the plaintiff $200,000 to settle the matter.  Plaintiff refused the offer, convinced they would win on appeal.Macksey and Boehm, both members of the Appellate practice at Johnson & Bell, handled the appeal.  Glenn F. Fencl, a shareholder in the firm’s Insurance practice, obtained the summary judgment order from Judge Mikva. 

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