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John F. Kennedy

JOHN F. KENNEDY is a trial lawyer. He is often involved in "bet the company" cases and business emergencies. John concentrates his practice in complex litigation involving commercial disputes, pension reform, trade secrets, corporate and partnership disputes, fiduciary duties, restrictive covenants, land use, government authority, construction litigation, real estate litigation, electrical energy, and employment law. John’s practice also focuses on business emergencies involving special remedies such as emergency and permanent injunctive relief.

John is a member of the Federal Trial Bar, has first-chair trial experience, and has tried numerous cases to judgment. He has also successfully prosecuted and defended class-action suits including commercial disputes, fair trade practices, and civil rights claims. John also has appellate experience, with two cases before the Illinois Supreme Court in 2015. His litigation experience also includes prosecuting and defending appeals in both state and federal appellate court.

John is an Adjunct Professor (Accelerated Trial Advocacy for Intellectual Property, including misappropriation of trade secrets, trademarks and patents) at the John Marshall Law School, and has been for over 15 years. He is also an Instructor at the Illinois Professional Responsibility Institute, which is an arm of the Illinois Supreme Court.

John has been awarded an AV® Peer Review Rating from Martindale-Hubbell, its highest rating for ethical standards and legal ability. He is also a member of the Leading Lawyers Network, which consists of the top 5% of Illinois Lawyers, as selected by his peers. John received his B.A., with honors, from Niles College of Loyola University of Chicago and his J.D., with honors, from DePaul University College of Law.

Recent Representations

  • Successfully represented the Village of Matteson in a lawsuit against the owner of Lincoln Mall, seeking permission from the court to close the property due to a multitude of building and fire code violations. A judge ordered the mall to close after the holidays on January 7, 2015, more information on the case can be found at NBC Chicago, Chicago Real Estate Daily and Chicago Tribune. Past coverage of this case can be found at Chicago Tribune, Southtown Star NBC Chicago, CBS Chicago, ABC Chicago, WGN-TV, WBEZ, Chicago Real Estate Daily, Northwest Indiana Times, and Southtown Star .
  • Successfully secured a $10.4 million judgment in a coverage dispute against National Union, an affiliate of AIG, following a bench trial before Judge John W. Darrah of the Federal District Court for the Northern District of Illinois. See Pacific Employers Insurance Company v. Clean Harbors Environmental Services, Inc., et al. v. National Union Fire Insurance Company of Pittsburgh, P.A., No. 08 CV 2180.
  • Successfully secured an arbitration award in the amount of $4.7 million in a dispute involving the rights and obligations of a coal mine operator under a coal mine lease.
  • Successfully obtained a temporary restraining order and preliminary injunction, both of which were affirmed on appeal, to prevent the premature closing of a coal mine on behalf of the coal mining client.
  • Successfully represented the insured in obtaining partial summary judgment that the pollution exclusion contained in the excess insurer’s policy was ambiguous and, therefore, did not exclude coverage for the insured.
  • Successfully represented family-owned real estate development company in remediating design and construction defects in a multi-million dollar mixed use, Class A property.
  • Successfully defended a small closely held company accused by a multinational conglomerate of misappropriating alleged trade secrets. At trial, the conglomerate unsuccessfully sought to shut down the client's business operations.
  • Successfully prosecuted to judgment a claim against a 50% shareholder of a close corporation alleged to have breached numerous fiduciary duties to the corporation and fellow shareholders.
  • Successfully defended designers accused of breaches of fiduciary duties and unfair competition by a former employer.
  • Successfully tried to judgment a contract claim against the State of Indiana for an amount in excess of $3 million.
  • Successfully challenged to judgment the constitutionality of the City of Chicago’s liquid waste tax, which had imposed an annual financial burden in excess of $500,000 on the client, a publicly traded company. Thereafter, John worked with the City of Chicago and his client to draft and enact a new liquid waste ordinance that was not confiscatory.
  • Successfully enjoined certain members of an art museum from assuming control of the museum and transferring its assets and artwork out of state. By virtue of a multi-party mediated settlement approved by the Court, the museum reconstituted its Board of Directors and its art will remain in Illinois well into the 21st Century.
  • Successfully defended an employer corporation against multiple suits involving restrictive covenants.
  • Successfully prosecuted a claim of cyber-squatting, resulting in the cyber-squatter removing the disputed Internet name.
  • Successfully prosecuted a claim by a real estate developer alleging substantial construction and design defects in a new-construction multistory condominium building.
  • Successfully defended a prominent bank involving flawed real estate surveys and development of real estate.
  • Successfully represented a large law enforcement agency in a suit alleging a violation of civil rights for an inmate’s health care.
  • Represents constitutional officers and law enforcement agencies relating to various civil right matters.
  • Provides advice and counsel to employers regarding the efficacy of restrictive covenants, including nondisclosure provisions, nonsolicitation provisions, and covenants not to compete.
  • Successfully defended and prosecuted employment cases including claims to enforce covenants not to compete, confidentiality agreements, and non-solicitation agreements.

Recent Speeches and Publications

  • On December 17, 2015, John presented an ARDC professionalism seminar on attorney ethics entitled “Conflicts of Interest; Loyalty and Independent Judgment.” View the seminar here.
  • On March 15, 2012, John was a featured speaker for the CBA Trust Law Seminar entitled, "Estate and Succession Planning for Private Business Owners and Ethical Considerations."
  • On June 16, 2011, John presented a lecture entitled “Conflicts of Interest: Identifying and Resolving Conflicts” at an ARDC Professionalism Seminar:  The Essentials of Ethical Practice.
  • On April 28, 2011, John presented a lecture entitled “Appeals of Injunctive Relief” to an appellate lawyers seminar sponsored by the Appellate Lawyers Association.
  • On February 18, 2011, John presented a lecture entitled “Direct Examination of an Expert Witness” at a seminar on expert witnesses sponsored by  Pincus Professional Education.
  • Chancery and Special Remedies, 2011 supplement (IICLE, 2011), Certificate of Publication
  • 2011 Edition Illinois Business Law: Mergers and Acquisitions (IICLE, 2011), Certificate of Publication
  • Chancery and Special Remedies, 2004 edition, Updated 2009 (IICLE, 2009), Certificate of Publication
  • IICLE Presentation Speaker on the IICLE course entitled, “Business Succession Planning for the Family Business.” (2010)
  • ARDC Professionalism Seminar: The Essentials of an Ethical Practice, presenter on "Conflicts of Interest: Identifying and Resolving Conflicts" (2010).
  • Presentation on Rules of Professional Conduct, including Conflicts of Law with the Attorney Registration and Disciplinary Commission (2010).
  • Presentation on Conflicts of Law under the New Rules of Professional Conduct and Coordination with the Attorney Registration and Disciplinary Commission. (2009)
  • Presentation on “Responding to the Business Emergency: Special Remedies Including: Injunctions, Preliminary Injunctions, Temporary Restraining Orders and Permanent Injunctions under Illinois Law.” (2009)
  • The Rights and Remedies of Shareholders in Closely Held Corporations Under Illinois Law, Loyola University of Chicago Law Journal (1998).
  • Frequent speaker at Illinois Institute for Continuing Legal Education (IICLE) seminars, including "Employment Contract with Restrictive Covenants and Confidentiality" and “Business and Corporate Governance Issues Relating to Estate Planning for the Family or Closely Held Business.”

Recent Representative Published Opinions

  • Ernst, et al. v. City of Chicago, 1:08-cv-04370 (April 13, 2015) (First Chair Trial Attorney for the City of Chicago in jury trial and parallel bench trial in which the jury and the judge entered judgment in favor of the client).
  • Pacific Employers’ Insurance Company v. Clean Harbors, Inc., 2010 WL438372 (February 4, 2010) (First Chair representing insured wherein the court awarded the insured partial summary judgment, ruling that the pollution exclusion in the excess insurance policy is ambiguous and, therefore, did not apply to exclude coverage for the benefit of the insured.)
  • Vermillion Coal Company v. Black Beauty Coal Company, 4009-0657 (Ill. App. 4th District, December 21, 2009) (First Chair Trial Counsel for Vermillion Coal Company, in which the court granted a temporary restraining order followed by a preliminary injunction to halt the premature shut-down of Vermillion’s coal mine. The appellate court affirmed the trial court’s injunction orders. Trust chair of arbitration hearing, multi-million dollar award for the client.)

Recent Press

  • WTTW, Chicago Tonight, April 14, 2016. Quoted in his capacity as General Counsel of the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) Chicago, participated in the roundtable discussion on the Police Accountability Task Force Report.  NAMI Chicago advocates for the rights of those in our community living with mental illness. John is featured at minute 29:39.
  • State Journal Register, "State appeals court upholds FutureGen power agreement," July 22, 2014. Quoted in his capacity serving as counsel to the alternative power suppliers—commenting on the impact the ruling will have on Illinois ratepayers.
  • Chicago Tribune, "Creditors Win Right to See Bank Accounts of Millionaire's Sons," January 15, 2011. Quoted again in his capacity serving as counsel to Plymouth Consultants—arguing for the recovery of money loaned to bankrupt North Shore businessman.
  • Chicago Tribune, "Estate of North Shore Businessman under Judge’s Control," October 7, 2010. Quoted in his capacity serving as counsel to Plymouth Consultants of the British Virgin Islands—arguing for the recovery of money loaned to bankrupt North Shore businessman whose debts amounted to $20 million before his death in December 2009.