Overview

Fred has more than three decades of experience with high profile, complex civil litigation, including successfully representing national entertainment and media companies and major sports figures. He has a broad litigation and counseling practice that includes sports, media, and entertainment law; misappropriation of the right of publicity; defamation; professional liability; trusts; real estate; and commercial law.

  • Experience

    Cases that Fred has handled include:

    • Obtained a verdict after a two-week jury trial of $8.9 million in favor Michael Jordan against Safeway and Dominick's for the unauthorized use of his identity in an ad published in a Sports Illustrated commemorative issue celebrating Michael Jordan's induction into the Basketball Hall of Fame.
    • Successful prosecution of claims and establishment of appellate precedent on the scope of commercial speech for Michael Jordan against Supervalu and Jewel Food Stores for the unauthorized use of his identity in an ad published in a Sports Illustrated commemorative issue celebrating Michael Jordan's induction into the Basketball Hall of Fame.
    • Successful prosecution of claims against Samsung for the unauthorized use of Pele’s identity in a look-alike ad published in The New York Times and other national publications.
    • Successful prosecution of claims against Fox Broadcasting Company for the unauthorized use of Muhammad Ali’s identity in a promotional video broadcast during the pregame show before the Super Bowl.
    • Successful defense of claims seeking $40 million for breach of contract, unjust enrichment, fraudulent inducement, tortious interference with business relationships, and violation of the Illinois Trade Secrets Act against Elton Brand.
    • Successful prosecution of Warner Bros.’ claims for infringement of its copyrights in The Wizard of Oz, Gone with the Wind, and the Tom and Jerry cartoons.
    • Successful defense in an evidentiary hearing of a motion for a preliminary injunction to enjoin the release of Warner Bros.’ movie The Hangover Part II based on a claim of copyright infringement by the tattooist who created Mike Tyson’s facial tattoo.
    • Successful defense in a jury trial of a $14 million claim against the developer of the River East real estate project for the purchase of CFC Investment's interest.
    • Successful defense of claims in excess of $150 million for commercial disparagement by TII Industries against ANTEC and Keptel.
    • Successful defense of claims in excess of $40 million for goodwill on the termination of a joint venture and conversion by Cincinnati Bell against Anixter.
    • Successful prosecution of claims and establishment of appellate precedent on the standing of a discretionary beneficiary against her lawyers and trustee for malpractice and breach of fiduciary duties.
    • Successful defense in a five-week jury trial of a $28 million claim for breach of a contract to act in a movie by Heaven Corporation against Michael Jordan.
    • Successful prosecution at trial of claims by Michael Jordan to terminate license agreements for a restaurant and an associated retail store.
    • Successful defense of an attempt to enjoin the construction and operation of a restaurant owned by Michael Jordan.
    • Successful defense of a claim against Michael Jordan for breach of an alleged contract to pay Karla Knafel $5 million upon Jordan’s retirement from professional basketball.
    • Successful prosecution of trademark infringement and misappropriation claims by Michael Jordan against Avon and M.Z. Berger.
    • Successful defense of claims for trademark infringement and unfair competition by Chattanooga Manufacturing against Michael Jordan.
    • Successful prosecution of Michael Jordan’s claims in the WorldCom bankruptcy for amounts owed under an endorsement agreement.
    • 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 Fox Television Stations and its investigative reporter.
    • Successful defense of multimillion-dollar claims for defamation against (a) CBS Broadcasting and its reporter and (b) Fox Television Stations, its general manager, and its reporter.
    • Successful defense of multimillion-dollar claims for defamation and related torts against the Chicago-Crawford Currency Exchange and its president.
    • Successful defense of multimillion-dollar defamation claims 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 a claim for the recovery of retirement funds by the Eagle Industries Pension Plan and defense of an indemnification claim against Eagle Industries for those funds.
    • Successful prosecution of securities claims by a group of hedge funds against Salomon Brothers.
  • Credentials

    Education

    • University of Chicago Law School, J.D., 1979
      The University of Chicago Law Review, Associate Editor
    • Amherst College, B.A., 1975, cum laude

    Bar Admissions

    • Illinois
    • U.S. Supreme Court
    • U.S. Court of Appeals for the First Circuit
    • U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit
    • U.S. Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit
    • U.S. Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit
    • U.S. Court of Appeals for the Eighth Circuit
    • U.S. Court of Appeals for the Tenth Circuit
    • U.S. District Court for the Central District of Illinois
    • U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Illinois (Trial Bar)

        Clerkships

        • Hon. James Hunter, U.S. Court of Appeals, Third Circuit (1979-1980)

        Professional Memberships

        • American Bar Association, Past Member of the House of Delegates
        • Chicago Bar Association
        • Chicago Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law, Past President
        • Chicago Council of Lawyers, Past President
        • Governor’s Task Force on Judicial Merit Selection, Past Member
        • Illinois State Bar Association
        • Illinois Supreme Court Special Commission on the Administration of Justice, Past Member

        Teaching Appointments

        • Faculty, National Institute for Trial Advocacy
      • Insights

        TITLE
        Event

        Protecting the Rights of Publicity of Michael Jordan, Pele, and Muhammad Ali

        Kernochan Center for Law, Media and the Arts at Columbia Law School Annual Symposium

        Article
        News Release

        61 Schiff Attorneys Named to 2019 Best Lawyers in America List and Six Recognized as “Lawyer of the Year”

        Schiff Hardin is pleased to announce that 61 attorneys have been included in the 2019 edition of The Best Lawyers in America, as well as six who were named a “Lawyer of the Year” in their respective areas of practice.

        News Release

        95 Schiff Hardin Lawyers Named to 2018 Leading Lawyers Lists

        Ninety-six Schiff Hardin lawyers have been named to the 2018 Leading Lawyers lists for Illinois and Michigan.

        News Release

        40 Attorneys Named to 2018 Illinois Super Lawyers, Rising Stars, and Top Women Lists

        Forty Schiff Hardin attorneys have been recognized on the 2018 Illinois Super Lawyers and Rising Stars lists.

        News Release

        Muhammad Ali Enterprises Files Complaint in Federal Court in Chicago Against Fox Broadcasting Company for $30 Million

        Today Muhammad Ali Enterprises filed a complaint in the United States District Court for the Northern District of Illinois against Fox Broadcasting Company seeking in excess of $30 million in damages for Fox’s unauthorized use of Muhammad Ali’s identity in a promotional video that Fox broadcast immediately before the start of Fox’s broadcast of the 2017 Super Bowl.

        News Release

        Schiff Hardin Lawyers Named to 2018 The Best Lawyers in America

        Schiff Hardin is pleased to announce that five attorneys have been named a “Lawyer of the Year” in the 2018 edition of The Best Lawyers in America©.

        News Release

        99 Schiff Hardin Attorneys Named to 2017 Leading Lawyers List

        Ninety-nine Schiff Hardin lawyers have been named to the 2017 Leading Lawyers list for Illinois and Michigan.

        News Release

        39 Schiff Hardin Lawyers Named to 2017 Illinois Super Lawyers, Rising Stars Lists, and Two Schiff Hardin Attorneys Named to Top 50 Women Lawyers

        Thirty-nine Schiff Hardin attorneys have been selected for inclusion on the 2017 Illinois Super Lawyers and Rising Stars lists.

        Article

        Schiff Hardin Secures $2.6M Win for Warner Bros.

        The Eighth Circuit affirmed a $2.57 million damages award and permanent injunction in favor of Warner Bros., protecting its copyrights and trademarks in The Wizard of Oz, Gone With the Wind, and Tom & Jerry cartoons.

        Other Publications

        • A Primer on Illinois Defamation Law

        Speeches & Presentations

        • “Protecting the Rights of Publicity of Michael Jordan, Pele, and Muhammad Ali,” Kernochan Center for Law, Media and the Arts at Columbia Law School Annual Symposium, New York, N.Y. (Oct. 19, 2018)
      • Citizenship

        Pro Bono Activities

        Fred has been involved in numerous pro bono cases, including:

         

        • Ballot access and other election law cases
        • A series of bias violence cases, including the first civil case tried under the Illinois Hate Crime Act
        • A First Amendment case in the Illinois Supreme Court for the publisher of a small magazine
      image description

      Schiff Hardin secures $2.6M win for Warner Bros.

      The Eighth Circuit affirmed a $2.57 million damages award and permanent injunction in favor of Warner Bros., protecting its copyrights and trademarks in The Wizard of Oz, Gone With the Wind, and Tom & Jerry cartoons. MORE

      image description

      Schiff Hardin secures $8.9 million verdict in favor of Michael Jordan

      On August 21, 2015 a federal court jury in Chicago returned a verdict of $8.9 million in favor of client Michael Jordan and against Safeway and Dominick's for the unauthorized use of his identity in an advertisement. Lead attorney Fred Sperling discussed the case in an interview on WGN Radio 720 AM. More