Richard M. Johnson, Jr.
In 1969 Dick graduated from Northwestern University with a bachelor’s degree in political science. Three years later he was awarded a juris doctorate from the University of Denver. He has been a member of the state and federal bars in Colorado since 1972 and two years later was admitted to the Illinois state and federal bars, including the Trial Bar. Since 1990 Dick has also been a member of the bar of the U. S. Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit and the U. S. Supreme Court. He is a member of the Chicago, Illinois, Colorado and American Bar Associations.
During the past 40 years Dick has been specializing in almost all areas of insurance defense and coverage work, from discovery through trial and any appeals. For over two decades he has had an “AV” Peer Review Rating from Martindale-Hubbell, the highest ranking conferred on an attorney by that preeminent publication. Several years ago Dick was also selected by his peers as one of the Leading Lawyers in Illinois for personal injury defense work. Over the years he has successfully tried over 25 cases to verdict involving various matters, including premises and product liability, motor vehicle accidents and construction-related injuries. Although assigned out for trial on various cases during the past several years, all were very favorably resolved, usually by settlement, either immediately before or during jury selection.
One of Dick’s most challenging trials occurred in 1996 in which he defended a steel company in a work-related injury lawsuit brought by a 40-year-old deaf-mute plaintiff, whose lower right leg was surgically amputated after being crushed by several steel bars in a bundle that allegedly “scissored” while being unloaded from a tractor-trailer with a forklift. The plaintiff’s special damages were approximately $500,000, and opposing counsel had asked the jury to return a verdict of $5,148,000. During that trial Dick vigorously asserted that his client was not responsible for that accident, and after deliberating for slightly more than an hour the jury ultimately agreed, returning a not guilty verdict.
In June of 2008 Dick and Bill Stone somewhat changed hats and represented a Chinese-national plaintiff in a large legal malpractice action against several attorneys who had represented that gentleman in a deportation proceeding. Because of various violations of the pertinent standard of care, their conduct resulted in the claimant being incarcerated by the INS for approximately two years.
That trial lasted about three weeks, and in closing argument Bill asked for $8,000,000. After deliberating for a little over four hours the jury returned a verdict for the plaintiff in the amount of $4,000,000. Although that case was subsequently reversed on appeal, on the ground that attorneys, unlike doctors, could not be liable for non-economic damages, it well demonstrates Dick’s versatility as a trial attorney.
In December of 2011 he successfully resolved, during mediation with Judge Mike Hogan, a complex construction-related injury case in which the plaintiff, a journeyman mason, purportedly suffered a lower back injury while constructing a Wal-Mart in Plainfield. According to the plaintiff’s theory, that incident ultimately resulted in him becoming a quadriplegic.
Despite a $6,000,000 settlement demand, Dick successfully established the questionable liability on the part of his client, the general contractor, and vigorously challenged the putative causal connection between that accident and the plaintiff’s alleged injury. Because of that strong defense, the matter was eventually settled for approximately $1,500,000.