Ms. Masters has more than 25 years of experience representing clients in complex litigation. The reported decisions in cases she has briefed and argued include the following (cases in which she presented oral argument are indicated by an asterisk).
Ms. Masters has worked on many matters shaping fundamental product liability principles. She has successfully briefed matters in the United States Supreme Court, concerning the constitutional limits of punitive damages, claims for fear of future injury, the standards for settlement class actions and original Supreme Court proceedings:
- Anchor Hocking, Inc. v. Waddill, 538 U.S. 974 (2003), on remand, 190 Or. App. 172, 78 P.3d 570 (2003) (vacating punitive award and remanding for due process analysis).
- Metro-North Commuter R.R. v. Buckley, 521 U.S. 424 (1997) (amicus) (rejecting fear-of-illness claims by FELA plaintiffs exposed to asbestos).
- Amchem Products, Inc. v. Windsor, 521 U.S. 591 (1997) (amicus) (establishing standards for settlement class actions, and rejecting use of class action certification to achieve global settlement of current and future asbestos claims).
- State of Alabama v. W.R. Grace & Co., 495 U.S. 928 (1990) (successful opposition to original Supreme Court proceeding by thirty states for asbestos-related property damage).
She has successfully briefed important product liability matters of first impression in the highest courts of several states, including Ohio, Illinois, Pennsylvania and Texas:
- Ackison v. Anchor Packing Co., 120 Ohio St. 3d 228, 897 N.E.2d 1118 (Ohio 2008) (upholding constitutionality of tort reform statute).
- Board of Education v. A, C and S, Inc., 131 Ill. 2d 428, 546 N.E.2d 580 (1989) (principal drafter, on behalf of multi-defendant defense group, of briefs in case in which Illinois Supreme Court narrowed and clarified fundamental asbestos product liability tort theories).
- Simmons v. Pacor, 543 Pa. 664, 674 A.2d 232 (1996) (important holding that asymptomatic asbestos-related bodily changes are not compensable tort injury).
- Owens-Illinois, Inc. v. Burt, 897 S.W.2d 765 (Tex. 1995) (favorable ruling regarding when legal injury occurs and statute of limitation begins to run).
- A trilogy of cases, Pustejovsky v. Rapid-American Corp., 35 S.W.3d 643 (Texas 2000) (amicus), Temple-Inland Forest Products Corp. v. Carter, 993 S.W.2d 88 (Texas 1999) (amicus), and Childs v. Haussecker, 974 S.W.2d 31 (Texas 1998) (amicus) (adopting interrelated rules that (1) plaintiff may not sue for mere exposure to asbestos and unrealized risk of injury; (2) plaintiff may sue only for actual or reasonably likely injuries, not possible future injuries; and (3) plaintiff may not seek damages for present fear of possible future injury).
She has briefed numerous matters relating to the asbestos MDL proceedings, including:
- In re Collins, 233 F.3d 809 (3d Cir. 2000), cert. denied, 532 U.S. 1066 (2001) (affirming severance of punitive damages claims from MDL asbestos cases remanded for trial).
- In re Patenaude, 210 F.3d 135 (3d Cir.), cert. denied, 531 U.S. 1011 (2001) (rejecting mandamus challenge to legitimacy of asbestos MDL proceedings).
- In re Asbestos Products Liability Litigation (No. VI) (Most Health Services, Inc.), 225 F.3d 648 (3d Cir. 2000) (dismissing appeal of MDL discovery order regarding "screening service" designed to generate lawsuits).
- In re Roberts, 178 F.3d 181 (3d Cir. 1999) (denying mandamus petition challenging asbestos MDL order that severed punitive damages claim when case was remanded for trial).
She has briefed influential cases on important issues, such as courts' authority to manage their dockets by placing marginal cases on inactive status, the application of market-share theory to asbestos litigation and nationwide class certification:
- Burns v. Celotex Corp., 225 Ill. App. 3d 200, 587 N.E.2d 1092 (1st Dist. 1992) (affirming trial court's discretion to create inactive docket).
- In re Asbestos Cases (Mulligan v. Keene Corp.), 224 Ill. App. 3d 292, 586 N.E.2d 521 (1st Dist 1991) (upholding inactive docket).
- Leng v. Celotex Corp., 196 Ill. App. 3d 647, 554 N.E.2d 468 (1st Dist. 1990) (rejecting market-share theory in asbestos litigation).
- Sisters of St. Mary v. Aaer Sprayed Insulation, 151 Wis. 2d 708, 445 N.W.2d 723 (Wis. App. 1989) (affirming denial of certification of nationwide asbestos product liability class action).
She has successfully briefed state and federal product liability appeals nationwide, overturning adverse judgments and upholding favorable judgments:
- Wakeland v. Anchor Packing Co., 344 Ill. App. 3d 1248, 859 N.E.2d 330 (table) (5th Dist. 2003) (affirming asbestos defense verdict).
- Superior Industries Int'l, Inc. v. Faulk, 695 So. 2d 376 (Fla. 5th DCA 1997) (reversing jury verdict based on improper closing argument).
- *Nelson v. Keene Corp., 283 Ill. App. 3d 7, 669 N.E.2d 665 (1st Dist. 1996) (affirming dismissal).
- Bay Summit Community Ass'n v. Shell Oil Co., 51 Cal. App. 4th 762, 59 Cal. Rptr. 2d 322 (4th Dist. 1996) (reversing judgment based on erroneous jury instructions regarding strict liability).
- In re New York City Asbestos Litigation (Silver), 188 A.D.2d 214, 593 N.Y.S.2d 43 (1993) (reversing jury verdict for asbestos plaintiff).
- *Shine v. Owens-Illinois, Inc., 979 F.2d 93 (7th Cir. 1992) (affirming summary judgment).
Ms. Masters has litigated a wide range of employment issues, including the following.
She has successfully defended municipal bodies in numerous Section 1983 cases asserting First Amendment, equal protection, and due process constitutional claims, including reverse-discrimination, "whistleblower" and class action cases. Reported decisions include:
- *Allen v. Chicago Transit Authority, 317 F.3d 696 (7th Cir. 2003) (affirming summary judgment in large part; prior denial of class certification).
- *Healy v. Chicago Transit Authority, 293 Ill. App. 3d 1121, 718 N.E.2d 1083 (1st Dist. 1998) (affirming dismissal).
- Gillis v. Chicago Transit Authority, 96 F.3d 1450 (table), 1996 WL 508615 (7th Cir. Aug. 30, 1996) (affirming summary judgment).
- Billis v. Chicago Transit Authority, 1996 WL 316449 (N.D. Ill. June 10, 1996) (granting summary judgment).
- *Radic v. Chicago Transit Authority, 73 F.3d 159 (7th Cir.), cert. denied, 517 U.S. 1247 (1996) (affirming summary judgment).
- Billis v. Chicago Transit Authority, 1994 WL 23126 (N.D. Ill. Jan. 27, 1994) (granting partial summary judgment in multi-plaintiff whistleblower case).
- *O'Connor v. Chicago Transit Authority, 985 F.2d 1362 (7th Cir. 1993) (affirming summary judgment)
- Powers v. Chicago Transit Authority, 890 F.2d 1355 (7th Cir. 1989) (affirming dismissal).
She successfully litigated the controversial issue of the applicability of pre-dispute arbitration agreements to Title VII claims:
- *Koveleskie v. SBC Capital Markets, Inc., 167 F.3d 361 (7th Cir.), cert. denied, 528 U.S. 811 (1999).
She has successfully litigated an array of other employment issues. Reported decisions include:
- Tepperwien v. Entergy Nuclear Operations Inc., 663 F.3d 556 (2d Cir. 2011), (affirming trial court's post-trial entry of judgment as a matter of law, overturning jury verdict on retaliation and punitive damages)
- Kramer v. Banc of America Securities LLC, 355 F.3d 961 (7th Cir. 2004) (first-impression construction of ADA regarding retaliation).
- Justice v. Martin Automatic, Inc., 34 Fed. Appx. 351, 2002 WL 826335 (9th Cir. April 10, 2002) (affirming summary judgment).
- Papa v. Katy Industries Inc., 166 F.3d 937 (7th Cir.), cert. denied, 528 U.S. 1019 (1999) (defeating cert. review of controversial test for treating affiliated companies as single employer).
Ms. Masters has successfully litigated numerous complex insurance matters. She has "rescued" clients from seriously adverse outcomes, in state and federal courts nationwide, often involving claims of bad faith. Reported decisions include:
- Hartford Underwriters Ins. Co. v. Williams, 936 So. 2d 888 (Miss. 2006) (reversing judgment against insurer and establishing new law requiring bifurcation of coverage and bad faith claims)
- Home Ins. Co. v. Hartford Fire Ins. Co., 164 Fed. Appx. 950 (11th Cir. Feb. 1, 2006) (affirming summary judgment, won in trial court after prior adverse developments).
- *State Industries, Inc. v. Twin City Fire Ins. Co., 158 Fed. Appx. 694 (6th Cir. Dec. 15, 2005) (ordering entry of judgment for insurer in bad-faith action; complete victory for insurer, after we assumed defense following dramatically adverse trial result).
- Twin City Fire Ins. v. Colonial Life & Acc. Ins., 375 F.3d 1097 (11th Cir. 2004) (establishing important principle that insurer defending under a reservation of rights has no duty to settle a claim that is not covered by the policy; complete victory for insurer in bad faith/punitive damages litigation, after we assumed defense following dramatically adverse trial result).
She has also litigated numerous other insurance issues. Reported decisions include:
- AES Corp. v. Steadfast Ins., 283 Va. 609, 725 S.E.2d 532 (Va. 2012) (landmark victory for insurance company client in the first such case to reach a state supreme court, unanimously ruling that claims against an energy company alleging liability for greenhouse gas emissions were not covered by its commercial general liability policies).
- Virginia Surety Co. v. Certain Underwriters at Lloyd’s, London, 2011 WL 2586357 (Ill. App. 1st Dist. Apr. 20, 2011) (affirming vacatur of arbitration award).
- Nelson v. Hartford Underwriters Ins. Co., 630 S.E.2d 221 (N.C. App. 2006) (affirming summary judgment).
- Columbia Propane v. TIG, No. 1-02-1733 (Ill. App. 1st Dist. 2003), app. withdrawn, 813 N.E.2d 221 (table) (Ill. 2004) (winning dismissal of appeal).
- Aetna Casualty & Surety Co. v. O'Rourke Bros., Inc., 333 Ill. App. 3d 871, 776 N.E.2d 588 (3d Dist. 2002) (favorable ruling on duty-to-defend, estoppel, and single-occurrence issues).
In addition to frequently litigating constitutional issues in product liability, employment and insurance matters, Ms. Masters has litigated many additional cases involving constitutional issues, including:
- LaBella Winnetka Inc. v. Village of Winnetka, 628 F.3d 937 (7th Cir. 2010) (affirming dismissal of complaint asserting equal protection and due process claims);
- McDonald v. Village of Winnetka, 371 F.3d 992 (7th Cir. 2004) (affirming summary judgment on class-of-one equal protection claim);
- Gutierrez v. Peters, 110 F.3d 1364 (7th Cir. 1997) (establishing Eighth Amendment medical-indifference standards);
- United States ex rel. Zembowski v. De Robertis, 771 F.2d 1057 (7th Cir. 1985) (affirming entry of habeas relief for Sixth Amendment violation).
Ms. Masters has experience in many additional areas, including contracts, torts, securities law, construction, energy, professional liability, benefits and tax. Reported decisions include:
- Black v. United States, 625 F.3d 386 (7th Cir. 2010) (on remand from the U.S. Supreme Court, holding that erroneous "honest services" instruction was not harmless error, exonerating our client of criminal charges);
- Cavel Int'l Inc. v. Madigan, 500 F.3d 551 (7th Cir. 2007) (amicus) (upholding state statute outlawing horse slaughter for human consumption).
- Columbia Gas Transmission Corp. v. FERC, 404 F.3d 459 (D.C. Cir. 2005) (vacating order requiring meters on gas wells, as outside FERC's jurisdiction).
- *Lenahan v. University of Chicago (Arch Development), 348 Ill. App. 3d 155, 808 N.E.2d 1078 (1st Dist. 2004) (affirming dismissal of civil conspiracy claims).
- *Martin Properties v. Fla. Indus. Inv. Corp., 833 So. 2d 825 (Fla. 4th DCA 2002) (winning new trial and favorable interest ruling).
- Morin v. Foret, 736 So. 2d 279 (La. App. 3d Cir.), review denied, 748 So. 2d 1165 (La. 1999) ("rescuing" client from dramatically adverse contract judgment and persuading appellate court to order outright entry of favorable judgment).
- Northern Indiana Public Service Co. v. Commissioner, 115 F.3d 506 (7th Cir. 1997) (affirming Tax Court recognition of transaction with foreign subsidiary despite tax-avoidance motive).
- Hutchison v. Newell Co., 114 F.3d 1187, 1997 U.S. App. LEXIS 11294 (6th Cir. 1997) (affirming summary judgment for employer on ERISA claim).
Pro Bono Activities
Ms. Masters has a committed pro bono practice, including death penalty proceedings.
Awards and Honors
Leading Lawyer — Products Liability Defense Law; Toxic Torts Law, Illinois Leading Lawyers Network
AV Rated — Martindale-Hubbell