Steve Wood is a Principal who leads Chuhak & Tecson's litigation practice group. He brings to the firm more than 25 years of experience litigating and trying cases of significant complexity and exposure against some of the largest firms in the country. Steve focuses his practice on complex civil litigation, including a wide range of commercial disputes, mass tort and products liability matters. He has represented clients in courts across the country and has tried cases in state and federal courts from New Jersey to California. He also has participated in a variety of evidentiary hearings in state and federal courts, and before administrative bodies. Steve has argued several appeals and has been involved on the brief in numerous other appellate proceedings. He appears as counsel of record in several reported decisions.
Steve’s experience in complex commercial litigation spans a wide range of substantive areas including breach of contract, the Uniform Commercial Code, Lanham Act, employment torts and contracts, whistle-blower suits, unfair competition and antitrust, among others. His practice also has emphasized the defense of manufacturers in toxic substances, products liability and mass tort cases. He has experience as both regional counsel and national counsel for Fortune 500 companies in recurrent products liability litigation. He has served as defense liaison counsel in statewide coordinated products liability litigation. He also has extensive experience in multidistrict litigation proceedings. Steve’s clients span a diverse range of industries, including aerospace, energy, communications and pharmaceuticals. He is a frequent speaker on litigation matters and trial techniques.
Steve is a former captain in the U.S. Marine Corps, having served on active duty as an AV-8A/C Harrier pilot and training command flight instructor from 1980-1989.
Starstream Capital LLC. v. Platinum Energy Solutions, Inc., (234th Judicial Dist., Harris County, Tex. 2014)
Lead counsel for several defendants in shareholder derivative action brought in Texas state court. Board of Directors appointed a Special Litigation Committee to investigate allegations and make recommendation as to the disposition of the action. Adverse rulings by trial court on discovery of SLC's investigation led defendants to file a petition for writ of mandamus with the 14thCourt of Appeals in Houston. Petition was conditionally granted vacating trial court’s discovery orders. In granting the petition, the appellate court applied Texas law which significantly limited the scope of discovery of an SLC, and in doing so resolved an issue of first impression in Texas.
Qui Tam Action (U.S.D.C. 2014)
Lead trial counsel for several defendants in a qui tam action seeking in excess of $1 billion in damages and penalties. Disposed of 18 of Relator’s 19 claims through dismissal with prejudice and summary judgment. After court’s rulings on motions in limine, which overwhelmingly favored the defense, case settled on the eve of trial for a nominal fraction of Relator’s previous nine figure settlement demand.
ACLI v. Illinois Dept. of Insurance (Circuit Court of Cook Co. Ill. 2013)
Represented trade association in an action against the Illinois Department of Insurance for declaratory and injunctive relief to invalidate an administrative rule as unconstitutional and improperly promulgated. Defeated multiple defense motions to dismiss premised on lack standing, mootness and failure to exhaust administrative remedies. Obtained summary judgment for plaintiff invalidating the rule as well as an award of fees and costs for the client.
Hodapp v. Abex Corp., et al. (Circuit Court Madison Co. Ill. 2013)
Lead counsel for defendant in wrongful death case alleging death from asbestos-caused mesothelioma. When pre-deposition discovery failed to reveal basis for suit against defendant, moved for dismissal as a sanction because Madison County Standing Order precludes summary judgment earlier than 60 days before trial. Case subsequently voluntarily dismissed by plaintiff with prejudice prior to hearing.
Kallal v. Ciba Vision Corp. (N.D. Ill. 2013)
Lead counsel for defendant in medical device products liability suit. Plaintiff alleged injuries from use of defective contact lenses, which had been subject to a limited recall. Lenses were Class III medical devices, approved for marketing through FDA premarket approval process. Summary judgment granted at the close of fact discovery when plaintiff failed to adduce evidence connecting his injuries to recalled lenses. Court also found that summary judgment would have been warranted because plaintiff’s claims were preempted by federal law.
Wesolek v. Platinum Energy Solutions, Inc. (S.D. Tex. 2012)
Lead counsel for defendant in putative securities fraud class action filed in state court. Removed to federal court under Class Action Fairness Act and sought dismissal for lack of standing, failure to meet pleading requirements, among other grounds. Negotiated voluntary dismissal of client after moving for Rule 12 dismissal and serving class counsel with Rule 11 motion.
GE Railcar v. National Steel Car (Circuit Court of Cook County, Ill. 2011)
Lead trial counsel for defendant, a leading North American manufacturer of freight rail cars, in connection with an action for breach of contract and warranties arising out of a $110 million transaction to build and sell rail cars to plaintiff. Case settled on confidential terms 10 days prior to trial. Key to the case was defense evidence of the course of performance and the usage of trade showing that defendant’s limited express warranty governed the transaction. In addition, the defense undermined plaintiff ’s theory of causation with compelling fact and expert evidence.
Harris v. France Telecom S.A., et al. (N.D. Ill. 2011)
Represented defendant in action alleging violations of RICO, breach of fiduciary duty, fraud and theft of trade secrets. Obtained dismissal of the action on forum non conveniens grounds.
Perkins v. A.W. Chesterton, et al. (Cir. Ct. Madison County, Ill. 2011)
Lead counsel for defendant in wrongful death case alleging death from asbestos-caused mesothelioma. After plaintiffs twice continued the trial date, obtained dismissal as part of a nominal settlement negotiated after moving to vacate ex parte order obtained by plaintiff continuing trial setting for the third time.
Insignia Systems, Inc. v. News America Marketing In-Store, Inc. (D. Minn. 2011)
Trial counsel for plaintiff, a small in-store advertising company, in action against competitor for violations of federal and state anti-trust and unfair competition laws. Three days into jury trial in the District of Minnesota case settled for payment to plaintiff of $125 million.
Hedum, et al. v. Abbott Laboratories, et al. (Cir. Ct. Cook County, Ill. 2009)
Lead counsel for defendant in drug products liability case. Obtained pleading stage dismissal with prejudice of several actions based on an absence of a duty to warn plaintiffs or healthcare providers against the risks posed by exposure to gadolinium-based contrast agents used in magnetic resonance imaging procedures.
United States Securities and Exchange Commission v. BCI Aircraft (N.D. Ill. 2007)
Represented defendants in SEC civil enforcement proceeding. SEC sued client seeking temporary restraining order, asset freeze and order appointing a receiver for alleged violations of securities laws. After conducting an evidentiary hearing and extensive briefing, court denied substantially all of the SEC’s motions.
The Hoover Company v. Bissell Homecare, Inc. (N.D. Ill. 2007)
Represented defendant in Lanham Act, consumer fraud and deceptive business practices suit. Case was the mirror image of a suit filed months earlier in Michigan federal court by client against the Illinois plaintiff. Global settlement of both suits negotiated on the eve of opening statements of the Illinois preliminary injunction trial.
Ploense v. Electrolux Home Products and the Chrome Coalition (Cir. Ct. McLean County, Ill. 2007)
Lead trial and appellate counsel for defendant in toxic tort case. Obtained reversal on appeal of trial court’s denial of client’s motion to dismiss for lack of personal jurisdiction. In doing so, persuaded the 4th District Appellate Court that its earlier decision in Cameron v. Owens Corning Fiberglas Corp., which affirmed a broad application of the conspiracy theory of jurisdiction, was wrongly decided.
Nano-Proprietary Inc. v. Keesmann, et al. (N.D. Ill. 2006)
Represented plaintiff in licensing dispute. Obtained preliminary injunction preventing termination of patent license. Defendant had granted to plaintiff a perpetual and exclusive license for patents relating to carbon nanotube cathode technology. Defendant sought to terminate the license in violation of the agreement.
Liesse v. Honeywell International, Inc. (Cir. Ct. Cook County, Ill. 2006)
Represented defendant in toxic tort case. Lead counsel for defendant in summary judgment proceedings. This case consolidated actions of 37 plaintiffs against 22 defendants where plaintiffs alleged they had developed systemic injuries from chronic exposure to ethylene oxide, a chemical used to sterilize heat sensitive medical instruments in hospitals, which allegedly caused various neurological and other injuries. Plaintiffs also alleged that defendants engaged in a conspiracy to conceal or distort information about the hazards of ethylene oxide. Obtained summary judgment for client on all counts.
Pedley v. Precoat Metals, a division of Sequa Corporation (Cir. Ct. Cook County, Ill. 2005)
Lead trial counsel for defendant in premises liability case brought by truck driver who suffered traumatic leg amputation when a load of steel being repositioned by defendant's forklift operator fell on plaintiff. Defense case was complicated by missing evidence (documents and physical evidence) and former employee forklift operator who was openly cooperating with plaintiff. Case settled during jury deliberations when questions from jury indicated jurors were focused on plaintiff ’s contributory negligence.
Vail Systems, Inc. v. Webley Systems, Inc., et al. (Cir. Ct. Lake County, Ill. 2004)
Lead counsel for third party defendant in breach of contract action. Client sued for unlawfully promoting litigation between its employee and the employee’s former employer. Obtained dismissal of complaint with prejudice for failure to state a claim (first dismissal motion granted with no leave to amend).
Lyons v. Janssen Pharmaceutica (Cir. Ct. Peoria County, Ill. 2001)
Trial counsel for defendant prescription drug manufacturer in wrongful death failure to warn case. Verdict for plaintiff on liability, but damages awarded were well below plaintiff’s pretrial bottom line settlement demand.
Sorce v. Warner-Lambert (N.D. Ill. 2000)
Lead counsel for defendant in drug products liability case. Plaintiff allegedly developed metabolic bone disease from chronic use of aluminum-containing antacids. Due to plaintiff ’s novel injury and causation claims, argued for and won ruling limiting discovery to medical causation in preparation for Daubert hearing prior to commencement of full merits discovery. Case settled for nominal amount on the eve of Daubert hearing.
Moeller v. Owens Corning (Cir. Ct. Cook County, Ill. 1997)
Trial counsel for defendant in wrongful death case alleging death from asbestos-caused mesothelioma. Sole defenses in the case were state of the art and exercise of due care. Defense verdict.
McClain v. Owens Corning (N.D. Ill. 1996)
Lead trial counsel for defendant at retrial of damages phase of wrongful death action brought against manufacturer of asbestos-containing insulation products. Damages awarded to plaintiff were less than the amount offered to settle the case prior to trial.