Schiff Hardin's largest and most diverse practice area is Litigation. Our approximately 200 litigators have extensive experience in virtually every kind of litigation, with a particularly strong track record in complex cases.
We represent corporate clients as both plaintiffs and defendants in federal and state courts, and before federal, state and local administrative agencies.
While trial work is a key component of our practice, our attorneys are skilled at all types of alternative dispute resolution including:
- Neutral evaluation
- Binding or non-binding arbitration
We explore such options when appropriate to help reduce the cost, disruption, and time sometimes required for traditional courtroom proceedings.
In addition to being experienced litigators, our attorneys are active members of the American Bar Association's Section of Litigation, and have published and spoken widely on litigation-related issues at conferences and industry events across the country.
Our preeminence in litigation is evidenced by the fact that Chambers USA recognized our litigation practice in their annual rankings for many consecutive years. Nine of our litigators were listed as Leading Lawyers by Chambers USA.
Nine of our litigators have been elected Fellows of the American College of Trial Lawyers (ACTL), the most distinguished professional organization in this field.
Twenty-eight attorneys have been named to the 2012 Illinois Leading Lawyers Network.
Benchmark Litigation consistently lists Schiff Hardin as a "Recommended Firm".
Alternative Dispute Resolution
Representation of a client involved in a dispute requires objectivity, creativity, sensitivity to the client's needs and objectives, and superior advocacy skills.
Schiff Hardin attorneys work with our clients to develop the proper course of action based on the importance of the matter, the economics of litigation and the probability of outcome.
In today's climate, this may lead to our recommending arbitration, mediation or other forms of alternative dispute resolution to achieve our client's objectives.
Recognized Capability and Experience
Schiff Hardin attorneys are authors of major treatises on arbitration and other forms of alternative dispute resolution. They are frequent lecturers before groups of other attorneys on the use of these procedures, and serve on the advisory committee to the federal court in Chicago on alternative dispute resolution.
Roger Pascal, immediate past chair of Schiff Hardin's Litigation Group, is a regular and active participant in International Institute for Conflict Prevention & Resolution (CPR Institute) seminars and programs promoting the use of alternative dispute resolution. Our firm has signed CPR's pledge to consider alternative dispute resolution before filing litigation.
Paul Lurie, immediate past chair of Schiff Hardin's Construction Law Group, is a member of the select panel of national arbitrators and mediators for large complex cases of both the American Arbitration Association and the International Institute for Conflict Prevention & Resolution (CPR Institute), and he is a co-author of Arbitration of Construction Disputes (Wiley Law Publications, 1990).
Schiff Hardin has a national Animal Law practice covering animal protection, welfare and public interest issues. We have also litigated and helped develop the law in cases involving companion animals. This burgeoning area of the law requires particular experience and skills, and these cases involve a unique combination of animal law issues and Schiff Hardin's well known strengths in civil litigation.
Our experience in the field of animal law includes, but is not limited to:
- Federal litigation challenging the treatment of animals under the Animal Welfare Act, Endangered Species Act and other federal statutes
- Protection of great apes through creative litigation attacking cruelty and abuse
- Animal hoarding litigation seeking to rescue suffering animals, assist communities in need and stop the underlying problem
- Protection of farm animals subjected to pain and suffering in violation of state and federal laws
- Private client cases involving injuries caused to animals and by animals
- Custody disputes over companion animals
|Most recently, Schiff Hardin represented a family whose dog's execution had been ordered by county officials in the wake of a biting incident. Our attorneys had the dog evaluated by a behaviorist, briefed the issues and argued for the application of a "mitigating circumstances" exception to the order of execution. The hearing officer returned a quick ruling reversing the execution and sending the dog home to her family.|
Bruce A. Wagman, a partner in our San Francisco office, leads the Animal Law practice. His expertise ranges from groundbreaking civil actions advocating for the interests and protection of animals to animal injury cases, as well as pet custody and major federal litigation over the application of federal laws to animal health and welfare. He is the author of the premier casebook on the subject, Animal Law, and has been teaching the course in law schools including Stanford, and the University of California's Boalt Hall and Hastings law schools since 1996.
Mr. Wagman is also the chief outside litigation counsel of a national law-based animal advocacy organization, and in that role oversees and devises the group's nationwide animal protection civil litigation program.
Schiff Hardin's Animal Law practice is augmented by attorneys in our New York, Atlanta, Chicago and Washington offices, giving it a truly national scope.
Choose Proven Experience and Skill
We think the way appellate courts do
Our team is led by former Chief Justice Leah Ward Sears, who joined Schiff Hardin in 2009 after 17 years of distinguished service on the Georgia Supreme Court. Other team members have handled hundreds of appeals and excel at counseling clients throughout the appeal process and briefing and arguing complex legal issues at the appellate level.
| Why choose our Appellate Team? |
After 17 years of service as an appellate jurist, I am able to see and understand a case from the perspective of an appellate court judge. I simply know what works and what doesn't. These insights are helpful when devising a winning strategy for my clients.
- Hon. Leah Ward Sears, Appellate Team Leader
Have a Fresh Perspective
The attorneys on our Appellate Team know how to provide a fresh perspective in a case on appeal, carefully choosing which issues to present and how to present them. We also assess the strengths and weaknesses in the case that might not be obvious to the lawyer who worked on the case at trial, selecting the best arguments to persuade the appellate court.
| You Can Expect from Our Team: |
- A detailed strategic review of your case
- Exceptional research and writing skills
- The capacity to present the case, both orally and in writing, in a manner that appellate judges understand
- A consummate understanding of the appeal process and appellate law
- An in-depth understanding of the underlying law and issues of the case at trial
Many clients who have used another law firm at the trial level retain us for the first time at the post-trial and appellate level. Others bring us in at the trial level to provide strategic guidance for an appeal. Either way, we offer a new, outside perspective that regularly results in a positive outcome for our clients.
Develop Your Appeal Strategy as You Plan for the Initial Trial
Our attorneys frequently brief complex legal issues during a trial, both to bring brief-writing skills to bear and to ensure that arguments are properly preserved for possible appeal. Although most cases settle, our planning gives us the ability to move quickly and effectively when necessary. By planning for the possibility of appellate litigation at the beginning of a trial, we can frequently offer our clients several viable appellate strategies.
We have handled cases in virtually every area of the law, from product liability to commercial disputes and insurance to environmental matters. With one of the lowest attorney turnover rates among large U.S. law firms, our firm's stability and continuity of personnel mean the Schiff Hardin team that clients work with today will be there tomorrow and for many years to come.
Trust Our Experience
With a former appellate court judge leading a team of seasoned litigators, our experience comes from both sides of the bench. We offer assistance at all stages of an appeal. Our experience includes:
- Ongoing consultation during trial
- Assessing cases and evaluating the issues for appeal
- Taking and defending appeals as of right
- Petitions for discretionary review
- Petitions for extraordinary relief, such as mandamus relief or supervisory orders
- Post-trial motions, often prerequisites to appeals
- Summary judgment motions
- Interlocutory appeals
- "Rescue" litigation, in which clients seek our assistance after experiencing adverse litigation results
- Consultation with trial teams regarding preservation of appellate rights
- Amicus curiae briefs
- Administrative appeals
| Schiff Hardin to the Rescue |
We have strong experience with "rescue" appellate litigation, when clients lose confidence in how their current appellate lawyers handle the case.
Schiff Hardin has more than 100 lawyers with extensive experience in both trial and appellate litigation in courts throughout the United States. Our Appellate Team works closely with attorneys in numerous areas of the law and has handled a wide variety of matters, including:
- Business torts
- Civil rights
- Criminal law
- Class actions
- Commercial law
- Constitutional law
- Insurance bad faith
- Insurance coverage
- Intellectual property
- Labor and employment
- Product liability
- Real estate
- Trusts and estates
Our appellate litigation clients range from multinational public companies to small, closely-held businesses and individuals, from governmental and non-profit organizations to industry groups. We represent clients in industries as varied as pharmaceuticals, utilities, insurance, banking and finance, education, professional sports and real estate.
Notable Appellate Cases
- McCune v. Graco Children’s Products, Inc., No. 12-40147 (5th Cir. Oct. 31, 2012) (affirming jury verdict for our car-seat manufacturer client in product liability claim alleging that a car seat defect caused a child’s quadriplegia)
- Tepperwien v. Entergy Nuclear Operations Inc., ___ F.3d ___, 2011 WL 5142555 (2d Cir. Oct. 31, 2011) (affirming trial court's post-trial entry of judgment as a matter of law, overturning jury verdict on retaliation and punitive damages)
- O'Neil v. Simplicity, Inc., 574 F.3d 501 (8th Cir. 2009) (victory for our client in affirming dismissal of baby cribs product liability asserted class action)
- Ackison v. Anchor Packing Co., 120 Ohio St. 3d 228, 897 N.E.2d 1118 (Ohio 2008) (in a victory for our client and making new law, the Ohio Supreme Court held it constitutional to apply state's asbestos tort reform statute to cases that were already pending when statute became effective)
- Washington Gas Light Co. v. FERC, 532 F.3d 928 (D.C. Cir. 2008) (certificate approving new project vacated after court finds FERC failed to fully consider safety issues)
- Cavel Int'l, Inc. v. Madigan, 500 F.3d 551 (7th Cir. 2007) (upholding state statute against constitutional challenge in ruling favorable to our pro bono amicus client)
Click here for an expanded case list.
Avoidance Powers and Lender Liability
Schiff Hardin attorneys have developed substantial experience in connection with the defense and prosecution of preference and fraudulent transfer claims or piercing the corporate veil that may be important in bankruptcy cases. In particular, we have had substantial experience with the special provisions of the Bankruptcy Code, which bear on the avoidance of settlement payments of forward and futures contracts for natural gas and power.
Civil and Criminal Antitrust Litigation
Civil Antitrust Litigation
Schiff Hardin represents a range of businesses in complex, nationwide, multi-district civil antitrust litigation, including:
- Dealer termination
- Unfair competition
- Patent abuse
- Other trade regulation matters
Schiff Hardin has represented clients in proceedings initiated by the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) and the Antitrust Division of the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ), including Section 7 merger cases, Robinson-Patman Act investigations and criminal investigations and prosecutions.
In connection with the pre-merger notification reports required by the Hart-Scott-Rodino Act, we also handle the resulting negotiations with the Antitrust Division of the Department of Justice and the Federal Trade Commission.
Criminal Antitrust Investigations and Prosecutions
Schiff Hardin represents corporations, including Fortune 500 companies, and corporate officers in antitrust grand jury investigations and prosecutions. These representations have included negotiation of immunity agreements and various forms of amnesty under the Department of Justice's corporate and individual leniency programs and trials.
Class Action Litigation
Schiff Hardin has an active and experienced team of litigators who concentrate their practice in defending corporations against class actions and other complex civil litigation. Our attorneys have defended our corporate clients in class action cases in both state and federal courts throughout the United States.
Our experience includes:
- Removing alleged class actions from state to federal courts
- Defending against numerous class certification motions
- Extended evidentiary hearings on class certification motions
- Extensive briefing and oral arguments on class certification issues
- Dispositive motion practice directed against the claims of named plaintiffs and class members
- Extensive discovery
- Negotiation and administration of class action settlements (both statewide and nationwide in scope)
- Trial of class action matters
We also have substantial appellate experience on class certification matters. In litigating these cases, we tailor our role to the needs of the particular client. Generally, we work as lead counsel with local counsel, developing effective and efficient relationships in representing our clients in differing locales. Depending on the jurisdiction, however, local counsel may not be needed. In other instances we assist the client's other retained counsel with such tasks as briefing, witness development and expert development.
Our class action litigation team has handled class action defense cases in a variety of matters, including:
- Automobile Insurance
- Property Insurance
- Civil Rights
- Life, Accident and Health Insurance
- Consumer Products
- Employment Matters
- Employee Retirement Income Security Act (ERISA)
- Gas Pipelines
- Product Liability
- Telephone Services
- Toxic Torts
Schiff Hardin trial lawyers have a proven track record for bringing commercial disputes to successful conclusions through trial, settlement and alternative dispute resolution (ADR) methods. We know how to minimize surprises, in both results and litigation expenses, and settle cases creatively with outcomes tailored to clients' business needs.
Our attorneys handle a wide range of general business and commercial litigation involving:
- Business and commercial torts, such as:
- Breach of fiduciary duty
- Business defamation and commercial disparagement
- Deceptive trade practices and false or misleading advertising
- Fraud and negligent misrepresentation
- Interference with contract and prospective economic advantage
- Misappropriation of trade secrets
- Invasion of privacy
- Unfair competition
- Securities litigation
- Disputes concerning distributorship and franchise agreements
- Disputes arising out of agreements for the purchase and sale of businesses
- Claims for breach of contract and breach of warranty under common law and the Uniform Commercial Code (UCC)
- Real estate leases, mortgages, and sale contracts
- Federal, state and local tax matters
Our firm also is a sustaining member of both the American Arbitration Association and the International Institute for Conflict Prevention & Resolution (CPR Institute), which have taken leadership roles in helping businesses design and use alternative means of resolving business and commercial disputes.
Consumer Product Safety
Times have changed at the Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC), and manufacturers need counsel who can keep up. Succeeding at today’s CPSC is not a matter of being a Washington insider or being able to recite how things “used to be.”
Instead, success in today’s regulatory environment requires substantive product knowledge. It requires knowledge about the myriad of regulations the CPSC has recently enacted, particularly for juvenile products. And it requires lawyers who understand that the decisions they make will affect the company’s reputation, product line, and litigation. A seemingly favorable result with CPSC does a company no good if it unwittingly exposes the company to ruinous class action or product liability litigation that capitalizes on mistakes made during a CPSC regulatory investigation.
Clients come to Schiff Hardin because our product liability experience has proved well-suited for addressing the challenges of today's CPSC. Schiff Hardin attorneys don't just throw around buzzwords or try to call in favors; rather, they retain the best experts and contest investigations on their merits. When a product does require corrective action, we work to ensure that the resulting regulatory action and press releases are fair to our clients. And when it comes to the most sensitive products of all — children’s products — Schiff Hardin uses its experience as counsel for multiple juvenile product manufacturers to reach the best possible result.
Of course, many of our clients value our ability to steer them away from regulatory minefields in the first place. To do so, we provide everyday guidance to our clients on the following issues, and others:
- Consumer Product Safety Act
- Consumer Product Safety Improvement Act (CPSIA)
- Federal Hazardous Substances Act (FHSA), including flammability
- ASTM industry standards
- Children’s products
- Toys / arts / crafts regulations
- Mandatory product safety standards
- Lead, lead paint, paint coatings, and phthalates
- Section 15 substantial product hazard reports
- Section 37 lawsuit reports
- General Conformance Certificates / Children’s Product Certificates
- Tracking labels
- Reimbursement from suppliers of defective / recalled component parts
- Saferproducts.gov incident database
- Freedom of Information Act requests
- Periodic testing, including the “Valley Girl Rule”
- A client was concerned that an impending CPSC safety standard could effectively outlaw an existing product. Schiff Hardin’s analysis of the standard and its consultations with CPSC staff provided assurance that the client’s product was outside the intended scope of the standard, and could still properly be sold.
- A client who had agreed in principle to a CPSC recall was concerned about a proposed CPSC press release that wrongly insinuated the client’s product was responsible for the accidental death of a child. Combining its product liability and regulatory experience, Schiff Hardin commissioned and presented expert opinion that persuaded CPSC to revise the press release and remove the references.
- A client dealing with both a potential CPSC product recall and threatened product liability litigation retained Schiff Hardin to ensure a coordinated response to both challenges. Schiff Hardin was able to address CPSC’s investigation in a manner which mitigated the regulatory impact and prevented the abuse of the CPSC investigation in the product liability cases.
- A client whose product was the subject of a Freedom of Information Act request sent to the CPSC sought Schiff Hardin’s assistance in ensuring that confidential product information was not compromised. Applying its years of experience in handling such requests, Schiff Hardin worked with the CPSC to ensure that all appropriate exemptions were applied to protect against inappropriate disclosures.
Employment Discrimination and Civil Rights Litigation
Schiff Hardin attorneys have extensive experience in litigation under
- Title VII
- The Age Discrimination in Employment Act (ADEA)
- The Equal Pay Act (EPA)
- The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA)
- Section 1981
- Other civil rights statutes
We appear before state and federal trial and appellate courts and administrative agencies such as the
- Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC)
- Office of Federal Contract Compliance Programs (OFCCP)
- Illinois Department of Human Rights
- Chicago Human Relations Commission
- New York State Division of Human Rights
- New York City Commission on Human Rights
- Georgia Department of Labor
- California Division of Labor Standards Enforcement
- California Department of Fair Employment and Housing
- California Employment Development Department
- California Workers' Compensation Appeals Board
We are involved in the litigation of a broad spectrum of employment discrimination issues, including class allegations, affirmative action, sexual harassment, disabilities and accommodation, free speech, equal protection, and due process. Schiff Hardin has successfully represented clients in employment discrimination and civil rights suits and regularly produces judgments in favor of employers at both the summary judgment and jury verdict stages.
Schiff Hardin has a national energy litigation practice and has substantial experience representing energy companies in state and federal courts and in arbitration and mediation proceedings, and before federal and state regulatory commissions.
Our firm has been involved in a variety of litigation matters for energy companies, including:
- Commercial and contract litigation
- Securities/commodities, antitrust, and government enforcement matters
- Corporate governance matters
- Construction litigation
- Environmental litigation and toxic tort proceedings
- Bankruptcy and creditors' rights litigation
- Trade secrets
Alternative Dispute Resolution
As litigation can be very expensive, time consuming and a drain on a company's resources, we have developed core skills in alternative dispute resolution.
Our firm is a sustaining member of the International Institute for Conflict Prevention.
On behalf of our clients, we regularly mediate and arbitrate acquisition and contract disputes before accounting firms, the CPR Institute, the American Arbitration Association (of which we are a sustaining member) and other arbitration organizations, such as JAMS/Endispute.
Commercial and Contract Litigation
Schiff Hardin has litigated substantial, multi-million dollar commercial and contract cases for:
- Electric power marketing contracts
- Breach of open access transmission tariffs
- Breach of national gas sales agreements
- Breach of government contracts for disposal of spent nuclear fuel
- Force majeure disputes and similar matters
We are actively defending allegations that an energy industry client breached its obligations under a contract to divest certain gas exploration and production assets, and we have negotiated resolution of disputes arising from the construction of a merchant cogeneration plant in an effort to avoid contested proceedings.
We have longstanding experience representing our energy industry clients in disputes arising from alleged breaches of fuel procurement agreements, including coal and rail contracts. In light of bottlenecks for rail lines running from Wyoming, and resulting dislocations in the marketplace, our experience in these matters may be of increasing importance to our energy industry clients.
Securities, Commodities and Antitrust
We regularly represent clients before the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC), Federal Trade Commission (FTC),and Commodity Futures Trading Commission (CFTC). Our clients include corporations, partnerships, directors, officers and other parties in class, derivative and other litigation involving charges of fraud, inadequate disclosure, and breach of fiduciary duty under securities laws and regulations. Our antitrust litigators have represented energy industry clients against claims under the Sherman Act and the Robinson-Patman price discrimination statutes in connection with false price reporting matters in the natural gas industry.
Environmental Civil Litigation and Toxic Torts Litigation
We served as lead trial counsel in the New Source Review environmental enforcement actions filed by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) against a power plant and have recently been involved in contested disputes involving creosote on utility poles and alleged fly ash contamination of water resources. We also have a leading national practice in the defense of asbestos claims for an array of Fortune 500 clients.
Schiff Hardin also represents clients on Capitol Hill. With more than 80 years of cumulative experience working on legislative matters, our lobbyists have worked with grassroots coalitions and key committee staff on:
- Securing funding for federal agencies that market power to clients
- Drafting key utility provisions of the Telecommunications Act of 1996
- Negotiating amendments addressing corporate utility structure in the Energy Policy Act of 2005
- Seeking innovative solutions for clients with policy concerns with federal agencies
Environmental and Toxic Tort Litigation
Schiff Hardin lawyers represent clients in major environmental and toxic tort litigation throughout the United States. Working together across a broad range of practice areas, our experienced attorneys can quickly and efficiently assess matters, develop and manage cost-effective litigation approaches and execute appropriate strategies for clients confronting environmental or toxic tort exposure.
We represent clients against both government and private entities, in both civil and criminal matters, in administrative proceedings, and at the trial and appellate levels of the state and federal courts. We collaborate with our clients to budget, plan and execute strategies that are in harmony with their business objectives, and we use sophisticated accounting, database and case management tools to help them achieve their goals.
Substantive Environmental Knowledge
Our environmental attorneys possess exceptional substantive knowledge of environmental law. We have handled cases for clients under all of the major federal and state environmental acts:
Schiff Hardin has many skilled and experienced trial lawyers who handle a wide range of problems across the country. Because plaintiffs choose the forum, our clients need lawyers who can try cases in the most difficult forums and under the most difficult circumstances.
The depth of our trial experience always gives our clients a full range of viable strategies.
Environmental, Scientific and
Scientific evidence and expert testimony are often critical to the successful resolution of a toxic tort or environmental matter. Our lawyers have strong working relationships with nationally recognized scientific and medical experts, and we also have an exceptional track record when attacking opponents' experts in Daubert, Frye and other proceedings to exclude scientifically unreliable expert testimony.
Class Action Experience
Many of our attorneys concentrate their practice in defending class actions and other complex, multi-party litigation filed in state and federal courts throughout the country. Our experience includes successful removal to federal courts, obtaining dismissals through motion practice, extended class certification hearings, trial, and negotiating and administering class settlements.
Energy Company Representation
Schiff Hardin's energy litigation practice often focuses on environmental and toxic tort disputes. We represent energy companies in state and federal courts and in arbitration and mediation proceedings around the country, and before federal and state regulatory commissions. We served as lead trial counsel in the second trial of the EPA's New Source Review enforcement actions against power generators, and we have represented energy companies in water and soil contamination cases, as well as personal injury asbestos actions.
Multi-District Litigation and Consolidated Proceedings
Environmental and toxic tort litigation often occurs within the context of federal multi-district litigation (MDL) or its state-law equivalent. We understand that the question of whether to seek or oppose MDL or consolidation is critically important, and we guide our clients to pursue the option that is most likely to lead to success.
Environmental Enforcement and Litigation
Schiff Hardin's Environmental Group litigates disputes on behalf of its clients against both governmental and private entities. We represent clients in both civil and criminal matters, in administrative proceedings and at the trial and appellate levels of the state and federal courts. Examples of our experience include:
- Representing clients in enforcement actions brought by federal, state or municipal authorities, or by citizen groups, involving air, water and solid and hazardous waste statutes and Superfund matters
- Negotiating administrative consent orders with federal and state environmental agencies for the investigation of current and former manufacturing facilities, and for the subsequent removal or remedial actions to address releases at those facilities
- Defending enforcement actions and investigations by the Environmental Protection Agency relating to nonattainment New Source Review and Prevention of Significant Deterioration permitting issues
Private Party Litigation
- Prosecuting or defending cost recovery and contribution lawsuits involving disputes over responsibility for contamination of property
- Litigating contractual or quasi-contractual claims related to indemnification for environmental liabilities, such as claims between current and former owners of real property or a company, lenders and borrows, and insurance companies and policy holders
- Litigating state law claims for personal injury and property damage
ERISA and Employee Benefits Litigation
Schiff Hardin attorneys have successfully defended plan administrators, broker/dealers, investment advisers and investment managers, trustees, and other fiduciaries in all aspects of ERISA and employee benefits litigation in courts across the country.
Our team is led by a former trial attorney in the ERISA litigation division of the U.S. Department of Labor (DOL) and is composed of skilled trial lawyers who are deeply knowledgeable in the complexities of ERISA. The ERISA Litigation Team collaborates with Schiff Hardin’s Employee Benefits and Executive Compensation Group when the need arises.
We have represented plan fiduciaries, directors and officers, as well as plan service providers in class actions and other litigation alleging violations of ERISA's fiduciary standards of care in a variety of contexts, including fiduciary breach allegations involving the selection and monitoring of service providers, retention of company stock in the 401(k) menu, claims related to self-dealing and prohibited transactions, subrogation claims, participant challenges to downsizing and severance claims, and a variety of additional benefit claims. We also have extensive experience in defending fiduciaries under DOL investigations.
- Representation of a prototype plan document sponsor alleging violations of ERISA because neither trust agreement nor plan document fixed obligation to monitor and collect delinquent contributions on a trustee.
- Representation of fiduciaries against allegations of payment of more than reasonable compensation to service providers in the health care arrangement.
- Representation of fiduciaries in a class action alleging fiduciary breach in the sale of post spin-off employer stock.
- Representation of members of the Taft-Hartley board of trustees against allegations of fiduciary self-dealing.
- Representation of court-appointed independent fiduciaries over insolvent welfare funds.
- Representation of an insurance and financial services provider in multistate ERISA litigation involving breach of fiduciary duty claims relating to the negotiation, administration, amendment and termination of group annuity contracts issued to hospital groups.
- Representation of a service provider in a class action lawsuit alleging ERISA and common law claims for unjust enrichment in connection with subrogation payments made by plan participants or beneficiaries of benefits.
- Representation of the acquiring company in a class action filed by participants of an employee stock option plan challenging the application of the plan’s change in control provision in connection with a merger.
- Representation of an indenture trustee in a lawsuit brought by pension plans alleging breach of fiduciary duty in connection with the disposition of collateral over which the trustee had possession by virtue of a default in the indenture agreement.
- Representation of banks, investment managers, broker/dealers, plan sponsors, trustees and other fiduciaries in ERISA lawsuits and investigations by the U.S. Department of Labor.
- Representation of the trustees of a union pension plan in connection with a nationwide investigation and subsequent civil litigation commenced by the U.S. Department of Labor alleging that the trustees had engaged in breaches of fiduciary duty, selfdealing and prohibited transactions in connection with a variety of allegedly imprudent investments.
Franchise and Distribution Litigation
Our franchise and distribution team has substantial experience and a track record of success in addressing the rights and obligations of suppliers, manufacturers and franchisors, including the protection of their distribution strategies, systems, trademarks, service marks and trade dress.
Our litigators have represented major distribution and franchise systems in counseling and litigating a broad range of issues within the consumer and industrial products, hospitality, food and beverage, and real estate industries.
We bring substantial efficiencies to regional and national representation of a distribution or franchise system, as well as the depth of resources necessary to address a "bet the company" challenge.
We have represented a major soft drink supplier, for example, for almost two decades in helping resolve disputes with its bottler system.
We also serve as counsel for nationally known franchisors, and have obtained preliminary and permanent injunctions, summary judgments and other rulings by former franchisees, unauthorized transferees and other infringers.
We offer valuable guidance to our clients in the pre-litigation stages as well, with substantial experience in negotiating and preparing distribution agreements, providing advice on issues that arise in the operation of distribution systems, and planning for disputes that may arise with current and former distributors, franchisees, dealers and sales representatives.
Many on our team have held leadership positions with organizations like the ABA Forum on Franchising.Franchise Law Journal and The Franchise Lawyer.
Schiff Hardin's representative franchise and distribution cases include:
- Danforth & Associates, Inc. v. Coldwell Banker Real Estate LLC (W.D. Wash. 2011)
- em>Broderick v. Baymont Franchise Systems, Inc. (E.D. Mich. 2009)
- Muno v. Better Value Inns, et al. (Cir. Ct. of Lake County, Ill. 2009)
- Monugian, et al., v. Desarollo Marina Vallarta S.A. de C.V., et al. (C.D. Cal. 2008)
- Egli v. Days Inns Worldwide (Cir. Ct. of Cook County, Ill. 2008)
- Days Inns Worldwide v. Growth Property Investment Group, Inc. (C.D. Ill. 2007)
- Days Inns Worldwide v. CP Partners II (N.D. Ill. 2007)
- Days Inns Worldwide v. Gold Coast Investors (N.D. Ill. 2007)
- Ramada Worldwide Inc. v. Homewood Hotel, Inc. (N.D. Illinois 2007)
- Schwab Realty Ltd. v. Coldwell Banker Real Estate Corporation (Winnebago Co., Wisconsin 2005)
- PepsiCo, Inc. v. Marion Pepsi-Cola Bottling Company (S.D. Illinois 2003)
- Howard Johnson Int'l v. Ariff (C.D. Illinois 2003)
- Travelodge Hotels Inc. v. People's Hospitality (N.D. Illinois 2003)
- Bunn-O-Matic Corporation v. Bunn Coffee Services, Inc. (C.D. Illinois 2000)
- Howe Corporation v. Scotsman (American Arbitration Association 2000), worldwide distributor dispute presenting tort, contract and antitrust claims, tried for three weeks before the Hon. Richard Curry, Chicago, acting as AAA arbitrator (affirmed by Cook County Circuit Court and Illinois Appellate Court).
- Jerry Martin Associates Inc. v. Thermos (D. South Carolina 1997) (defended client against legal and equitable claims brought by former sales representative; claims resolved by settlement reached during course of jury trial).
- Bratton v. Safeguard Business Systems, et al. (Riverside Co., California 1996)
- Safeguard Business Systems, Inc. v. Reed-Rite (N.D. Illinois 1995)
Insurance Antitrust Litigation
Schiff Hardin's attorneys have played leading roles in numerous antitrust cases involving property-casualty insurance. These cases include allegations of:
- Nationwide boycotts
- Insurance boycotts
- Boycotts in the commercial automobile residual market
Among our most notable experiences in insurance antitrust litigation, Schiff Hardin was involved in a case that led to a precedent-setting decision on the McCarran-Ferguson Act. In Hartford Fire Ins. Co. v. California, 113 S.Ct. 2891 (1993), 19 state attorneys general filed complaints alleging that defendant insurers
The Court of Appeals reversed the District Court's decision, rejecting the conclusion that the defendant insurers were entitled to antitrust immunity under the McCarran-Ferguson Act. The U.S. Supreme Court held that foreign companies could be held liable if they attempted to restrain trade in the United States.
This landmark case is just one example of the leading roles our attorneys have played in antitrust cases involving a range of insurance industry issues.
Media and Communications Law
Range of Practice
Schiff Hardin provides counseling and litigation services to both media and non-media clients in a broad range of areas, including:
- Defamation (libel and slander)
- Commercial disparagement
- Invasion of privacy
- Misappropriation of name, likeness and image
- Right of publicity
- Internet issues
- Comparative and false advertising
- Interference with contract or prospective economic advantage
- Intentional infliction of emotional distress
- Reporter's privilege and shield laws
- Right of access to court and other governmental records
- Other First Amendment issues
- Successful defense in the United States Supreme Court of multi-million dollar claims for defamation against Fortune.
- Successful appeal in the Illinois Supreme Court of claims for defamation against a magazine publisher establishing that the fair report privilege cannot be defeated by actual malice and that there is no judicial action limitation on the privilege.
- Successful defense of claims for defamation and false light invasion of privacy against Forbes.
- Successful defense of claims for defamation and false light invasion of privacy against Fox Television Stations and its investigative reporter.
- Successful defense of claims for defamation against (a) CBS Broadcasting and its reporter and (b) Fox Television Stations, its general manager and its reporter.
- Successful defense of claims for defamation against a reporter and the publisher of the New York Post.
- Successful defense of claims for defamation against the Bergen Record.
- Successful prosecution of claims for public and press access to court proceedings in the Baby M surrogate mother case on behalf of the Bergen Record.
- Successful prosecution of challenge to Clifton, New Jersey newsrack ordinance on behalf of the Bergen Record.
- Successful defense of claims in excess of $150 million for commercial disparagement against ANTEC and Keptel.
- Successful defense of claims in excess of $6 million for defamation and tortious interference with business relationships against Charles Schwab & Co.
- Successful defense of multi-million dollar claims for defamation and related torts against the Chicago-Crawford Currency Exchange and its president.
- Successful defense of multi-million dollar claims for defamation against the auditor of the Bank of Bellwood.
Successful defense of claims for defamation and invasion of privacy against the Chicago Council of Lawyers and its president.
- Successful prosecution of multi-million dollar claims for misappropriation of name, likeness and image and trademark infringement on behalf of Michael Jordan.
Other Illustrative Experience by Attorneys Now at Schiff Hardin
- Antidote Int’l Films, Inc. v. Bloomsbury Publishing, PLC, 242 F.R.D. 248 (S.D.N.Y. 2007)
- Valassis Communications, Inc. v. News America Inc., Case No. 07-706645 (Wayne County Circuit Court 2007)
- Valassis Communications, Inc. v. News America Inc., Case No. BC367743, (Los Angeles County Superior Court, California 2007)
- Valassis Communications, Inc. v. News America Inc., Case No. 2:06-cv-10240 (E.D. Mich. 2006)
- Dickerson v. Raphael, Civil Action No. NG-W-92-0007117-NZ, (Washtenaw County, Michigan) on appeal 222 Mich.App.185 (1997), rev'd 461 Mich 851 (1999) (Michigan eavesdropping statutes)
- Dougherty v. Capitol Cities Communications, Inc., 631 F.Supp. 1566, 12 Med. L. Rptr. 1952 (E.D.Mich. 1986) (defamation; summary judgment)
- Swenson-Davis v Martel, 135 Mich. App. 632, 354 N.W. 2d 288 (1984) (media; defamation)
- Fry v. Ionia Sentinel Standard, 101 Mich. App. 725; 300 N.W. 2d 687 (1980) (media; invasion of privacy)
One of Schiff Hardin's greatest strengths is its experience in litigating and trying sophisticated patent infringement lawsuits in federal courts around the country and before the International Trade Commission (ITC). Our patent litigation experience crosses a wide range of industries and technologies, including electronic, computerized and technical products, medical devices, pharmaceuticals, and household goods.
In litigation involving electronic, computerized and technical products, our lawyers have worked with
- Cellular phone filter technology
- Semi-conductive layering of an accelerometer
- Laser bar code scanners and engines
- Video games
- Electromechanical security tag devices for the apparel industry
- Computer boards
- Liquid crystal displays
Our computer experience also includes matters involving Internet URL identifiers, and software programs for securities firms and financial institutions.
In the pharmaceutical industry, we have represented the generic manufacturers of loratadine, omeprazole, and other drugs, and have also litigated issues involving Cardizem Beta Blockers. With respect to medical devices, we have litigated issues arising from a computer-based system for detecting cancerous and pre-cancerous conditions, as well as coronary heart stents.
With respect to commercial and industrial products, we have litigated successfully a variety of matters, involving:
- Insulated containers
- Camping equipment
- Automotive equipment
- Gourmet cookware
- Construction of one-sided "no-flip" mattresses
- Polypropylene products in the cotton market
- Cleaning and sanitizing systems for ice machines
- Refrigeration systems
- Recycling systems
- Polypropylene in a crystalline form
- Carbonate chemistry cleansing for uranium
- A variety of automotive products, including:
- Truck suspensions
- Automobile radiators
- Aluminum wheels
- Air bags
Over the past two decades, Schiff Hardin has developed a national product liability practice. We represent a diverse group of clients who confront mass tort, class action and catastrophic injury litigation.
Our strengths are:
- The trial, appeal and settlement of such cases
- Client counseling in the area of product liability risk management
- Compliance with government and industry standards
- Product recalls and reporting obligations
We have extensive experience helping clients anticipate and avoid product liability litigation, and we handle the cases that are filed in a cost-effective manner through the use of specialized small-team staffing and, where appropriate, computerized case management and budgeting systems.
Our product liability group has the scale and geographic reach necessary to handle the largest, most complex cases. We have more than forty lawyers with extensive experience in this field. We have experienced product liability attorneys with first chair jury trial experience in our offices coast to coast.
Trial, appeal and settlement
The core strength of our product liability group is trial experience. Our lawyers have:
- Handled complex product liability matters in 48 states, Puerto Rico and Guam.
- Tried major product liability jury cases in 40 different jurisdictions
- Handled appeals in 23 different jurisdictions
Our firm also has extensive experience in the day-to-day management of thousands of cases and in the development of national strategies and tactics for those cases. We understand that the first principle of the successful defense of repetitive tort litigation concerns the effective allocation of limited litigation resources. It is not enough just to win; a defendant confronted with a significant number of serious cases needs to win with effect. That means fighting battles at the right time and place, while efficiently managing risk in other venues.
Our client counseling activities encompass:
- Product design and development
- Risk management
- Quality control procedures
- Investigation of field incidents
- The development of warnings, warranties, advertising, and assembly and instruction manuals
Compliance with government and industry standards
We advise clients in connection with government, trade association and industry activities concerning the development of product safety standards. We assist clients in their dealings with governmental agencies such as:
- The U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC)
- The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA)
- Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA)
Product recalls and reporting obligations
Schiff Hardin advises clients on product labeling, instructions, testing and design in order to reduce their product liability exposure. We also work with clients to formulate and implement nationwide product recalls and other corrective action plans when necessary.
The products that have been the subject of our litigation and counseling efforts include:
- Insulation materials
- Roofing materials
- Car seats
- Children's swings
- Children's play yards
- High Chairs
- Automobile airbags
- Electronic control modules and sensors
- Various implantable medical devices
- Pharmaceutical containers
- Printing presses
- Plastic drink containers
- Glass containers
- Construction materials
- Commercial fire extinguishers
- Plumbing fixtures and supplies
- Conveyor belt systems
- Barbecue grills
- Plywood laminate
- Toxic waste containers
- Propane and electric space heaters
- Evaporative coolers
- Polybutylene piping
- Industrial casters
- Heavy-duty engine components
- Prefabricated fireplaces and chimneys
- Step Stools
- Folding Chairs and tables
The challenges presented to our clients by the product liability laws have never been greater. They require creative, committed efforts to determine and respond to the unique needs of each client in each case and setting. Our ultimate responsibility is to achieve the goals of the client according to the priorities the client establishes.
Real Estate Litigation
In conjunction with our extensive real estate transactional and finance practices, Schiff Hardin also has extensive experience in real estate litigation, including alternative dispute resolution.
Our attorneys represent clients with respect to disputes involving:
- Mortgage foreclosures
- Forcible eviction
- Condemnation and eminent domain
- Zoning and land use
- Lease, mortgage, and purchase contracts
- Mechanics liens
Our attorneys have decades of experience in reinsurance litigation, having handled scores of arbitrations and lawsuits for a long list of national clients. The breadth and depth of Schiff Hardin's reinsurance practice is unmatched in the industry, and reaches to every segment of the reinsurance marketplace, including property, casualty, life, health, and marine matters.
We have successfully resolved matters involving issues including:
- Rescission and reformation of reinsurance agreements
- Allocation of pollution, asbestos and mass tort settlements
- Collections against insolvent insurers
- The doctrine of forum non conveniens
- The Convention on the Recognition and Enforcement of Foreign Arbitral Awards
- Offset and recoupment
- Follow the fortunes and follow the settlements
- Uberrimae fidei
- Fronting and pooling arrangements
- London Market practice
- Workers' compensation carve out business
- Restructuring, reorganizing and transferring insurance rights and interests in mergers and acquisitions
Schiff Hardin represents plaintiffs and defendants in a wide variety of litigated matters under all of the federal securities laws, including:
- The Securities Act
- The Securities Exchange Act
- The Investment Advisors Act
- The Investment Company Act
Our firm represents corporations, partnerships, securities exchanges, broker-dealers and other securities professionals, directors, officers and other parties in class, derivative and other litigation involving charges of fraud, inadequate disclosure, violation of regulatory requirements and breach of fiduciary duty.
Our firm has been involved in ground-breaking litigation involving civil liability of securities exchanges and clearinghouses, the scope of culpability and the scope of contribution under the federal securities laws, and other fundamental issues of securities and corporate law.
Although very few securities class actions have ever been tried to a verdict before a jury, our firm has tried several such cases, including one in which we represented more than 30 underwriters of an initial public offering.
Schiff Hardin's extensive experience in this area includes litigation and enforcement representation under state and federal securities laws and federal commodities laws in the following venues:
- Federal and state courts across the country
- The Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) and Commodity Futures Trading Commission (CFTC)
- Securities and commodities self-regulatory organizations where disciplinary proceedings are conducted against securities professionals
- Arbitrations and other alternative dispute resolution forums
Our securities litigation practice is fully integrated with the general litigation, securities and futures regulation, class action litigation and white collar crime and corporate compliance practices to provide a comprehensive, multidisciplinary approach to securities litigation.
The recent widespread developments in the subprime lending market present a far-reaching array of potential legal issues for a variety of entities and individuals with direct or indirect involvement in that market. These include:
- Securities and banking regulatory investigations of lenders and those who packaged the loans for resale
- Private damage actions against those who sold the packaged loans
- Internal investigations of institutions involved in making the loans or in packaging and selling them
- Derivative actions brought against directors, officers and others alleging that their management or other involvement in a business that made or purchased subprime loans damaged that enterprise
- Workouts, receiverships and bankruptcies of entities sustaining losses as a result of subprime loans
Schiff Hardin has the capability to address these and other legal needs that may arise out of these events. Attorneys in Schiff Hardin's Derivative and Securities Litigation, White Collar Crime and Corporate Compliance, Securities and Futures Regulation, Financial Institutions, and Restructuring, Bankruptcy and Creditors' Rights practice areas can provide the services necessary to address these complex problems. Schiff Hardin's Class Action Litigation and General Corporate Litigation capabilities add a crucial dimension to certain challenges that may arise in this area.
Schiff Hardin attorneys have handled all manner of contested tax matters, including litigation in the United States Tax Court, the Court of Federal Claims and U.S. district courts, state courts and administrative tribunals.
Such matters include:
- IRS deficiencies resulting from complex business transactions and tax accounting matters
- Estate and gift tax matters involving family partnerships and family LLCs, other substantive transfer tax issues and valuation issues
- Disputes involving tax shelters and hybrid accounting issues
- Contested penalties
- State tax disputes involving structured products
We regularly advise accountants and local counsel who do not have tax controversy experience concerning tax litigation strategies in connection with tax disputes involving their clients.
Along with members of our White Collar Crime and Corporate Compliance Group, we have represented taxpayers in connection with tax fraud investigations and have defended tax fraud criminal charges.
Schiff Hardin has represented telecommunications companies in litigation throughout the United States in a variety of different areas, such as:
- Consumer class actions challenging billing and marketing practices
- Intellectual property disputes
- Challenges to taxes and fees assessed to the industry
- Antitrust claims
- Consumer claims involving limited access to services
- Disputes with wireless service dealers and representatives
- Easement and other right-of-way disputes
- Local land use disputes over cell site locations pursuant to Section 332(c)(7) of the Telecommunications Act of 1996
Trade Secrets Litigation
Companies that derive a substantial portion of their value from customer relationships or intellectual property often find themselves vulnerable when departing employees violate non-compete or non-disclosure agreements or when disgruntled suppliers or other business partners threaten to misuse or disclose trade secrets. Immediate and effective action is crucial for protecting these important company assets. We provide both.
Schiff Hardin's team is composed of lawyers from our Litigation, Intellectual Property and Labor and Employment Groups. This team has unsurpassed and nationally recognized experience in the substantive law that applies to trade secrets and non-compete agreements, and we are well versed in the state and federal procedural rules governing the emergency hearings that so often determine the outcome of disputes regarding trade secrets and non-compete agreements.
Indeed, through our trial and appellate work, we have created and shaped the law of trade secrets, including development of the doctrine of “inevitable disclosure” of trade secrets. In PepsiCo, Inc. v. Redmond and Quaker Oats Co., 54 F. 3d. 1262 (7th Cir. 1995), we alerted the court to the danger that our client’s trade secrets would inevitably be used by the defendant, a recently departed marketing executive who had joined the competition, and we obtained an injunction against that former executive and his new employer — despite the absence of a non-compete.
Our experience in the area of trade secrets, restrictive covenants, and confidentiality helps clients both inside and outside of the courtroom. In addition to our litigation victories, we help our clients implement effective non-compete, non-disclosure and anti-raiding agreements, and we assist our clients to address the confidentiality issues that arise in the workplace as a result of today’s global marketplace and in the increasingly computerized office. Familiarity with the “virtual office” is crucial to designing and implementing an effective information protection program, and our experience in computer forensics and electronic discovery helps us to prevail in disputes regarding trade secrets misappropriation.
Trademark and Trade Dress Litigation
Schiff Hardin has substantial experience in protecting the trademarks, service marks and trade dress of our commercial clients. We routinely obtain preliminary injunctions to protect their marks and the traveling public from the unauthorized use of their marks by former franchisees or unauthorized franchisees.
We have successfully protected a consumer products company's trademarked goods in a series of infringement actions against a wholesale club and other manufacturers of beverage tumblers and containers.
We have litigated successfully in defense of the rights of our celebrity clients in multiple trademark infringement and appropriation disputes regarding their names and likeness.
We have advised and represented professional sports leagues in connection with trademark and counterfeiting issues as well, and protected trademarks for athletic merchandise.
We have won federal decisions against prolific counterfeiting operations, and coordinated a raid by Chinese officials against the counterfeiter's operation in China, seizing the counterfeiter's inventory. Working with the U.S. Customs Service and international authorities, we have protected a number of other marks, by such means as seizure of product and other solutions for grey market issues.
International Trade Commission Proceedings
Situations often arise where the owner of a U.S. patent finds itself being damaged by the importation of goods from outside the United States. This frequently occurs from more than one source or from a foreign source that is elusive (i.e., folds and reestablishes business, moves frequently, etc.) or over which it is perceived necessary to exercise far-flung jurisdiction. In such cases a proceeding before the International Trade Commission (ITC) may be in order.
The ITC law enforcing intellectual property rights has as its fundamental purpose the protection of United States industry against unfair methods of competition and unfair acts in the importation of goods into the United States. Schiff Hardin has broad experience in handling such cases.
Trust and Estate Litigation
Effectively resolving complex trust and estate disputes requires not only a clear understanding of the substantive issues that are in play, but also a trial lawyer’s strategic judgment, procedural and evidentiary experience, and ability to present a case to a judge or jury. So our trust and estate litigation practice pairs our nationally recognized Private Clients lawyers with a core group of full-time litigators who focus their practices on fiduciary matters.
Our trust and estate litigators have handled scores of fiduciary disputes in courtrooms across the country. We have successfully tried multi-million-dollar cases, we have set new precedent on appeal, and we have taught trust officers, in-house lawyers, and fellow practitioners. We pride ourselves on finding creative ways to resolve disputes before a lawsuit is filed, but when litigation cannot be avoided, we know the landscape and we know how to navigate it.
We have particularly in-depth experience representing corporate fiduciaries, who bring us their most sensitive trust and estate matters. We also regularly represent individual trustees and executors as well as trust and estate beneficiaries. Among the issues we have addressed are:
Fiduciary Liability Issues
- Closely held businesses – defense of fiduciary holding a controlling interest in a closely held business
- Duty of loyalty – defense of allegation of self-dealing and violation of the duty of loyalty between beneficiaries
- Petitions for instructions
- Statute of limitations for accountings
- Laches defense
- Estoppel defense
Questions of Jurisdiction
- Personal jurisdiction of state courts over non-resident beneficiaries
- Impact of foreign judgments
- Impact of prior pending cases on jurisdiction of state courts
- In rem jurisdiction
- Right to jury trial – legal vs. equitable actions
- Burden of proof on accountings
- Standing of contingent beneficiaries
- Standing of takers under powers of appointment
- Common law and statutory virtual representation
- Citation to enforce judgment against spendthrift trust
- Construction of spendthrift clause upon termination of trust
- Fraudulent conveyances
- Insolvent estates
- Contested incompetency proceeding
- Annulment of marriage by guardianship court
- Validity of deathbed estate planning changes, including burden of proof/fiduciary relationship issues
- Various complex trust construction issues
- Construction and enforceability of “no contest” clauses
- Allocation of assets in wrongful death action
- Conversions to total return trust
- Contested fee petitions for fiduciaries and attorneys
- Revocation of self-settled trusts by settlor on theory of undue influence
- Contested dissolution of statutory family partnerships
- Probate of photocopy of a will
- Severance of trusts
- Spousal renunciation against revocable living trust – illusory trusts
- Spendthrift trusts
- Contested heirship
White Collar Crime and Corporate Compliance
Schiff Hardin attorneys have extensive experience providing corporate compliance counseling and handling white-collar criminal matters. This encompasses:
- Defending corporations and individuals accused of crimes
- Representing corporate victims of crimes
- Counseling at the internal investigation stage
- Effecting criminal prosecution
- Pursuing civil remedies against criminal tortfeasors
Our lawyers have represented corporations and individuals in a wide range of criminal investigations and prosecutions, as well as in proceedings before numerous state and federal agencies, including:
- Securities & Exchange Commission (SEC)
- Commodities Future Trading Commission (CFTC)
- Department of Justice (DOJ)
- Department of Health and Human Services
- Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI)
- Comptroller of the Currency
- Department of Transportation (DOT)
- Environmental Protection Agency (EPA)
- Internal Revenue Service (IRS)