John Ruskusky, a partner in Nixon Peabody’s Complex Commercial Disputes practice group, is a trial attorney who represents companies and individuals in high-stakes and bet-the-company business disputes. John also serves on the firm’s Pro Bono committee.
What do you focus on?
I have more than twenty years of trial, arbitration and counseling experience involving the management of complex business disputes and disputes involving law firms.
General Commercial Litigation
I counsel businesses and their executives, members and owners in a wide range of disputes, including large business transactions (such as distribution and purchase agreements), life sciences and medical devices, fiduciary duty claims and dissolution and valuation. Some of my relevant recent experience includes the following:
- In 2019, lead counsel for large pharmaceutical company in expedited trial in Delaware Chancery Court claiming fraud against defendant (a biotech company). Following a six-day bench trial, the Court found in our client’s favor on this fraud claim.
- In 2019, lead counsel for large international manufacturing company in expedited arbitration defending against claim seeking injunctive relief (which was withdrawn following responsive briefing) and damages. The arbitration panel rejected the claimant’s entire claim for millions in lost business value and its request for over $1.2 million in attorneys’ fees.
- In 2018, lead counsel for three California companies facing a more than $25 million alter ego levy claim brought by the United States on behalf of the IRS. Through focused and aggressive discovery, we defeated the United States’ motion for summary judgment and resolved the case for less than 10% of the claim.
- Regularly represent Fortune 500 and other large business clients in litigation in Illinois, Delaware and other venues throughout the country in a variety of business disputes relating to their agreements and operations.
- Recently represented a Fortune 500 life sciences company in a dispute involving its Cellular Therapy business and the use of stem cells for chronic myocardial ischemia and critical limb ischemia.
- Represented a company that received a cease and desist letter of its operations and its enrollment of new students from the State of Illinois. Through the expedited filing of a verified complaint and a motion for temporary restraining order, and follow-up representation, the cease and desist was vacated and the company continued to grow its successful operations in 2018.
- Significant experience with emerging issues involving privacy and data claims including data breach claims and the flood of lawsuits recently filed pursuant to Illinois’ Biometric Information Privacy Act (BIPA).
- Represent high-performing employees and executives when they resign from their prior employers. I recently tried a week-long case in which a $2.8 million judgment, plus attorneys’ fees and expenses, was awarded in favor of my clients under the Illinois Wage Payment and Collection Act and for unjust enrichment.
- Obtained the dismissal of two lawsuits (one on a motion to dismiss (which was not appealed) and one on summary judgment) in favor of a deceased client, the former majority owner of a real estate auction company, and his probate estate, claiming that more than $5 million was misappropriated by the decedent. The summary judgment decision was affirmed by the Illinois Appellate Court.
- Obtained a defense verdict at trial for a Fortune 200 company against claims of national origin discrimination seeking more than $5 million in damages. I also successfully argued the Seventh Circuit appeal.
- Represent business clients with pre-litigation resolution of claims against their former professionals, including a recent case that settled with a multimillion-dollar payment to the client relating to faulty tax and transactional advice. I also represent large law firms in their disputes with their former clients.
False Claims Act and Qui Tam
I represent corporate clients in a variety of False Claims Act cases, including those at the pre-intervention stage. My experience includes Department of Defense, Department of Education and General Services Administration matters.
I also represent clients in government investigations and proceedings, including the Department of Defense, the Department of Justice and the Internal Revenue Service.
Real Estate and Construction Litigation
I represent corporate clients in a variety of construction and real estate disputes, including construction defect and delay, property management, general contract, indemnity, Fair Housing Act and zoning matters.
What do you see on the horizon?
As litigation costs continue to rise, I see growing client demand for alternative-fee arrangements, including discounted rates coupled with “banked” fees and success fees. I have employed these and other risk-reward sharing arrangements with my clients to fairly allocate risk, and to provide certainty in fee exposure while ensuring the best possible result.