John Ruskusky - Complex Commercial Disputes lawyer - Nixon Peabody LLP

John Ruskusky

John Ruskusky, a partner in Nixon Peabody’s Litigation department, is a business counselor and trial attorney who represents companies and individuals in high-stakes and bet-the-company business disputes. John leads the firm’s Complex Disputes practice group, leads the Medical Device, Pharmaceutical and Diagnostic Health team, co-leads the Biometric Information Privacy Act team, and 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 owners, officers, and investors in a wide range of disputes, including large business transactions (such as distribution and purchase agreements), life sciences and medical devices, food and beverage disputes, fiduciary duty claims, data privacy matters, and dissolution and valuation. Some of my relevant recent experience includes the following:

  • In 2021–2022, lead counsel for a start-up pharmaceutical company in expedited arbitration relating to a series of incorrectly calculated earnout payments. The arbitrator awarded our client more than $3 million in reimbursement, plus pre- and post-judgment interest, as well as attorney fees and costs.
  • In 2021-2022, lead counsel for the former shareholders of Plated, a meal delivery and subscription service, relating to a multi-million dollar earnout claim.
  • In 2019-2021, 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. The Court later awarded over $49 million in damages and pre-judgment interest to our client. Media coverage of the win is here and here.
  • In 2020-2021, lead counsel for drug compounder that successfully obtained dismissal of a competitor’s claim for unfair competition based on federal preemption, which further defeated competitor’s motion for preliminary injunction, in the Central District of California. Media coverage of the win is here.
  • In 2020-2021, lead litigation counsel for a large real estate developer in Nevada defending against a $35 million claim. The dispute was successfully resolved following the assertion of a counterclaim and significant motion practice.
  • In 2020-2021, lead litigation counsel for a regional company involved in multi-million dollar claims and counter-claims with a former business partner. After the former business partner sought a preliminary injunction, obtained an order barring a key witness for the former business partner, and soon after, the matter settled.
  • In 2019-present, lead litigation counsel for 10+ companies spread among various industries defending against claims relating to Illinois’ Biometric Information Privacy Act (BIPA). In one circuit court case, John’s team successfully argued that the accrual date for BIPA purposes was the first date that the challenged device was used, not each subsequent use, which resulted in the dismissal of the plaintiff’s claims.
  • 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.
  • Significant experience with emerging issues involving privacy and data claims including data breach claims and the flood of lawsuits recently filed pursuant to BIPA.
  • 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.
  • 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, General Services Administration, and healthcare 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.


  • “Fingerprint Scans and Other Biometric Privacy Claims: Limiting Your Company’s Exposure,” CHRMS Risk Management and Patient Safety Law Day 2020, Webinar, November 20, 2020

NP thought leadership in leading journal

Privacy & Cybersecurity Law Report | March 21, 2022

This industry journal, which covers the latest legal issues involving cybersecurity and data privacy, includes two NP articles based on client alerts. Complex Disputes practice group leader John Ruskusky, partners Rich Tilghman and Laura Bacon, and associate Kate Letcher, all in Chicago, contributed an article entitled, “The Seventh Circuit certifies question regarding accrual of BIPA claims to Illinois Supreme Court.” John and Rich also contributed a second article, “Workers’ Compensation Act does not bar claims under the Illinois Biometric Information Privacy Act, Illinois Supreme Court rules.” Both pieces provide insight on the Illinois Biometric Information Privacy Act and its litigation impacts to date.

CDLB people

Chicago Daily Law Bulletin | February 10, 2022

Chicago Complex Disputes partner John Ruskusky is highlighted in this roundup of significant attorney news for his selection as NP’s Complex Disputes practice leader.

Wake up call

Bloomberg Law | February 08, 2022

Chicago partner John Ruskusky is featured in this roundup of notable legal news for his promotion to leader of NP’s Complex Disputes practice.

Albertsons must face suit over unpaid $125m merger earnout

Law360 | June 08, 2021

The following articles cover the latest development in Shareholder Representative Services LLC v. Albertsons Cos. Inc., in which an opinion released Monday by the Delaware Chancery Court said the breach of contract suit against Albertsons can move forward. Chicago Complex Commercial Disputes partners John Ruskusky and Lisa Sullivan are mentioned in the coverage for representing the shareholders, and the Reuters Legal article quotes John and Lisa saying the plaintiffs are pleased with the court’s decision.

Ex-Plated shareholders can sue Albertsons over merger payout, Delaware court says

Reuters Legal | June 08, 2021

The following article covers the latest development in Shareholder Representative Services LLC v. Albertsons Cos. Inc., in which an opinion released Monday by the Delaware Chancery Court said the breach of contract suit against Albertsons can move forward. Chicago Complex Commercial Disputes partners John Ruskusky and Lisa Sullivan are mentioned in the coverage for representing the shareholders, and the Reuters Legal article quotes John and Lisa saying the plaintiffs are pleased with the court’s decision.

Litigator of the Week shout outs and runners-up

The AmLaw Litigation Daily | May 07, 2021

This article recognizes the full NP team that secured a major damages win on behalf of Takeda subsidiary Millennium Pharmaceuticals. Litigation Department vice chair and partner Ethan Trull and partner John Ruskusky, both of the Complex Commercial Disputes group in Chicago, led the damages trial team. The NP team also included partner Lisa Sullivan, associate Katie Burnett, e-discovery specialist Anders van Marter, and paralegal Donna Long, all of the Complex Commercial Disputes group in Chicago. In addition, Intellectual Property partner Mark FitzGerald and Complex Commercial Disputes associate Tarae Howell, both of the Boston office, played integral roles in the initial fraud win for Millennium in 2020.

Chancery awards biopharm company $38M for fraud-tainted deal

Law360 | April 23, 2021

This article, covering the Delaware Chancery Court’ s $38.2 million damages judgment in favor of Takeda subsidiary Millennium Pharmaceuticals for its fraud claim against Harpoon Therapeutics, mentions Chicago Complex Commercial Disputes partners Ethan Trull, John Ruskusky and Lisa Sullivan; associate Katie Burnett; senior e-discovery specialist Anders van Marter; and paralegal Donna Long for representing Millennium. Intellectual Property partner Mark FitzGerald, Complex Commercial Disputes associate Tarae Howell, and Intellectual Property patent specialist Angela Hafner, all in Boston, have also played integral roles in the matter.

NY, FTC Lead Charge to Expand Biometric Privacy Shields

Law360 | January 15, 2021

In this article on the increasing regulatory scrutiny around biometric data, Chicago Complex Commercial Disputes partners John Ruskusky and Rich Tilghman are quoted for their outlook on New York’s bill introducing a biometric privacy bill and the move toward more disclosure and transparency in the way companies collect biometric data.

A Post-Thanksgiving Litigator of the Week Runner-Up and Shout Out Marathon

The American Lawyer | December 04, 2020

This week’s “Litigators of the Week“ column by American Lawyer includes the dismissal for outsourcing facility Leiters, Inc. in a multiple-state dispute. Leiters was represented by Chicago partners Ethan Trull, John Ruskusky, and Lisa Sullivan, and associates Bill Kirby and Tina Jonsson; and San Francisco partner Bruce Copeland and counsel Lauren Michals—all in the Complex Commercial Disputes group.

Adding value through litigation funding: Unique solutions can help your firm, clients

Chicago Lawyer | October 15, 2020

Chicago Complex Commercial Disputes partner John Ruskusky co-authored this article with Longford Capital Management on how litigation funding can offer unique and flexible financial solutions to clients.

Illinois Workers’ Comp Law Doesn’t Pre-Empt Biometric Privacy Claim

HR Magzine | September 28, 2020

Chicago Complex Commercial Disputes partners Rich Tilghman and John Ruskusky, and associate Henry Caldwell contributed this article, based on their recent blog post, on the rise in putative class actions in Illinois by employees against entities that employ biometric technology.

Takeda Subsidiary Seeks $130M for Drug Firm's Spinoff Fraud

Law360 | September 22, 2020

This article covers a trial to consider the amount of damages to be awarded to Millennium Pharmaceuticals for being fraudulently induced into investing more than $100 million into a spinoff of Harpoon Therapeutics. The story mentions Chicago Complex Commercial Disputes partners John Ruskusky and Lisa Sullivan for representing Millennium.

Plated Sues Albertsons in Del. Claiming Post-Merger Letdown

Law360 | September 02, 2020

Chicago Complex Commercial Disputes partners John Ruskusky and Lisa Sullivan were mentioned in this article for representing Shareholder Representative Services LLC in a post-merger suit accusing the food and drug chain of breaches of contract, fraudulent inducement and breaches of good faith covenants. Complex Commercial Disputes counsel Tracey Scarpello in Buffalo and associate Tina Jonsson in Chicago were also part of the litigation team.

Biggest Illinois Decisions So Far in 2020: Midyear Report

Law360 | July 16, 2020

This article includes commentary from Chicago Complex Commercial Disputes partners John Ruskusky and Seth Horvath on some of the most noteworthy Illinois decisions thus far in 2020. John discusses a decision related to the Illinois Biometric Information Privacy Act, while Seth comments on a decision regarding parents suing paint makers for children’s lead test costs, as well as a ruling on a record destruction provision in the Chicago police union contract.

Breaking Down Illinois' Biometric Privacy Litigation Boom

Law360 | April 27, 2020

In this article on the rise of BIPA litigation in Illinois, Chicago Complex Commercial Disputes partner John Ruskusky is quoted for his outlook on what it means for a defendant to be negligent under BIPA, and the technologies at issue.


John Ruskusky

Practice Group Leader, Complex Commercial Disputes
Leader, Medical Device, Pharmaceuticals and Diagnostic Health


Phone: 312-977-4460

Fax: 844-571-6779

George Washington University Law School, J.D., with highest honors; Order of the Coif; The George Washington University Law Review

University of Notre Dame, B.S., cum laude


U.S. District Court, Northern District of Illinois

  • Recommended in The Legal 500 United States 2021 editorial for Intellectual property - Trade secrets (litigation and non-contentious matters)
  • Representing indigent persons in all stages of jury and bench trials in criminal courts.
  • Representing victims of domestic violence in obtaining orders of protection.
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