John M. Fitzgerald is a trial lawyer and appellate practitioner who focuses his practice in business and commercial litigation, with an emphasis on business partnership and contract disputes; appeals; constitutional and governmental litigation; and employment disputes, including restrictive covenant enforcement litigation, severance negotiations and employment discrimination litigation. John represents clients in a variety of industries, including construction, health care, public accounting and manufacturing. He also frequently represents other attorneys in disputes with their partners and law firms.
John has achieved recognition as an outstanding lawyer. He currently serves as the 53rd President of the Appellate Lawyers Association, an association of lawyers who practice in courts of review and judges who serve on those courts. John previously had served as the Vice President, Secretary and Treasurer of the ALA.
In 2019 and again in 2020, John was selected as a Super Lawyer by SuperLawyers magazine, a recognition reserved for attorneys “who have attained a high degree of peer recognition and professional achievement.” In 2015, John was selected as one of the “40 Illinois Attorneys Under Forth to Watch” by the Law Bulletin Publishing Company from a field of over 1,200 nominees.
John has authored dozens of articles on current legal topics. He is the author of A Guide to the Illinois Biometric Information Privacy Act, which was published in 2020 by the Illinois State Bar Association. It is the first published book to examine the Illinois Biometric Information Privacy Act and cases interpreting it.
In the words of one client, “John Fitzgerald puts the word ‘counsel’ in counseling. . . . His advice--unlike others--is very practical and sound. He has a way about navigating you through difficult transitions that makes you forget he is your attorney and makes you believe he is your friend and advocate and the only guy who has your six. He is truly inspiring and an advocate for you. Going through something difficult? Need to focus on what is important? Call John. He will take your problems and make them his so you can focus on your brightest future. A great attorney and a great guy - a very rare combination.”
Business and Commercial Litigation
John represents businesses and individuals in litigation arising out of contract disputes, business partnership disputes, shareholder oppression claims, professional malpractice claims, real estate disputes, claims of statutory and common law fraud, and trade secret and unfair competition disputes. John represents clients at every stage of litigation, from the initial pleading through trial and appeal, and in arbitration, mediation and negotiations.
John is an experienced appellate practitioner and currently serves as the 53rd President of the Appellate Lawyers Association. A protégé of retired Illinois Appellate Court Justice and TDR founding partner Gino L. DiVito, John has achieved outstanding results for his clients on appeal.
Representative appellate victories include:
- Linneman v. Vita-Mix Corp., 970 F.3d 621 (6th Cir. 2020): Successfully argued before the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit that a fee award in class action litigation was unreasonable. The Sixth Circuit vacated the district court’s fee award.
- Hayward v. Scorte, 2020 IL App (1st) 190476: Successfully obtained reversal of personal judgments against a former officer and a former employee of a corporate judgment debtor in a case involving the interpretation of statutes governing supplemental (judgment enforcement) proceedings.
- Hanna v. City of Chicago, 2017 IL App (1st) 160493-U: Successfully obtained reversal of judgment against plaintiff in constitutional challenge to City of Chicago’s landmark designations.
- Koenig & Strey GMAC Real Estate v. Renaissant 1000 South Michigan I, LP, 2016 IL App (1st) 161783: Successfully obtained vacatur of a $18.4 million judgment against clients in commercial guaranty litigation.
- Heaton v. Quinn (In re Pension Reform Litigation), 2015 IL 118585: Successfully represented plaintiffs in a constitutional challenge to Public Act 98-0599. The Circuit Court for Sangamon County, Illinois, awarded the plaintiffs summary judgment, judgment on the pleadings and a permanent injunction, finding that the Act was unconstitutional and void. The Illinois Supreme Court unanimously affirmed.
- BorgWarner Inc. v. Kuhlman Electric Corporation, 2014 IL App (1st) 131824: Successfully represented BorgWarner Inc. in an appeal from an order granting BorgWarner’s motion to compel production of documents that BorgWarner’s indemnitee claimed to be shielded from production by the attorney-client privilege. The appellate court affirmed the circuit court and found that the attorney-client privilege did not permit the indemnitee to withhold the documents.
- Donald W. Fohrman & Associates, Ltd. v. Marc D. Alberts, P.C., 2014 IL App (1st) 123351: Successfully represented law firm client in appeal from a judgment entered in its favor in a fee dispute. This opinion addressed important issues concerning the application of Illinois Rule of Professional Conduct 1.5(e).
- American Economy Insurance Company v. Haley Mansion, Inc., 2013 IL App (3d) 120368-U: Successfully represented the defendant insured in an important case concerning a common exclusion in commercial general liability policies. The appellate court affirmed an award of summary judgment to the defendant insured on a claim that an insurance company had a duty to defend its insured in underlying litigation.
- Coghlan v. Beck, 2013 IL App (1st) 120891: Successfully represented a non-profit association in an appeal from an order dismissing a defamation complaint that had been filed against it by a former officer of the association.
For several years, John co-authored Chicago Lawyer magazine’s regular column on appellate practice, On Appeal, with Hon. Gino L. DiVito. As co-chair of the Appellate Lawyers Association’s Rules Committee from 2013 to 2017, John testified before the Illinois Supreme Court Rules Committee multiple times concerning proposed amendments to the Illinois Supreme Court Rules governing appellate practice.
Constitutional and Governmental Litigation
John frequently represents individuals and non-profit associations in litigation against governmental entities, in constitutional litigation, and in administrative appeals.
John represented retired teachers in litigation that resulted in a unanimous Illinois Supreme Court opinion invaliding pension reform legislation that violated the Pension Protection Clause to the Illinois Constitution, Heaton v. Quinn (In re Pension Reform Litigation), 2015 IL 118585.
John successfully represented property owners in an appeal from an adverse judgment in constitutional litigation against the City of Chicago, Hanna v. City of Chicago, 2017 IL App (1st) 160493-U.
John represents a coalition of non-profit industry associations in litigation against Cook County for violating the Safe Roads Amendment to the Illinois Constitution.
John also has successfully represented a health care business in an administrative appeal from a decision of the Illinois Health Facilities and Services Review Board.
Employment and Executive Compensation Disputes
John routinely represents employers and employees in severance negotiations, employment discrimination litigation, retaliatory discharge litigation, and in connection with other claims and disputes involving employment. John has successfully litigated claims under the Illinois Wage Payment & Collection Act, claims for retaliatory discharge, defamation claims in the employment context, employment contract claims, trade secret misappropriation claims, and restrictive covenant enforcement claims. John also routinely represents business and non-profit executives in confidential compensation and severance negotiations.
John currently serves as the 53rd President of the Appellate Lawyers Association.
Selected as a Super Lawyer (2019, 2020)
Named one of the “40 Illinois Attorneys Under Forth to Watch” by the Law Bulletin Publishing Company (2015)
Certificate of Appreciation, Chicago Daily Law Bulletin (2016)
John is a member of the Trial Bar of the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Illinois. He is admitted to practice law in the State of Illinois, in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Illinois, in the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit, and in the United States Supreme Court. John also has been admitted to practice law pro hac vice in several other jurisdictions.
John received his J.D. from the University of Chicago Law School in 2004, and his B.A. with Honors in Political Science from the College of the University of Chicago in 2001. While in law school, John served as a judicial extern for U.S. District Court Judge Milton I. Shadur and worked as a research assistant to Professor Richard Epstein.
John is a graduate of St. Ignatius College Prep in Chicago.
Memberships & Affiliations
The Appellate Lawyers Association
- President (2020-present)
- Vice President (2019-2020)
- Secretary (2018-2019)
- Treasurer (2017-2018)
- Co-Chair of Rules Committee (2013-2017)
- Member, Board of Directors (2013-2016)
- Contributor to The Brief, the ALA’s Blog on appellate practice (2011-present)
Illinois State Bar Association
- Author, A Guide to the Illinois Biometric Information Privacy Act (forthcoming, to be published by the ISBA in early 2020)
- Member of ISBA Assembly (2013-2016)
Chicago Lawyer Magazine
- Co-Author of On Appeal column, with Hon. Gino L. DiVito, concerning Illinois appellate practice (2014-2015)
Chicago Daily Law Bulletin
- Author of The Bottom Line column concerning business and commercial litigation (2012-2016)
The Chicago Litigation Blog, Contributor
News & Publications
A representative sample of John’s publications include:
- A Guide to the Illinois Biometric Information Privacy Act (Illinois State Bar Association, 2020)
- A Palpable Conflict, Illinois Bar Journal, co-authored with Anthony J. Longo (Nov. 2020)
- Palm v. Holocker: A Study in Legislative Inactivity, Cook County Record (Nov. 13, 2019)
- Carmichael and Ambiguity in Constitutional Law, The Brief: The Blog of the Appellate Lawyers Association (Dec. 27, 2018)
- On Appeal: Twombly’s Limited Influence in Illinois, Chicago Lawyer, co-authored with Hon. Gino L. DiVito (April 2015)
- The Bottom Line: High Court Revisits Tobacco Class Action, Chicago Daily Law Bulletin (Oct. 28, 2014)
- New Limits on Subject Matter Waiver of Attorney-Client Privilege, Illinois Bar Journal, co-authored with Hon. Gino L. DiVito and Brian C. Haussmann (July 2013)