Steve Wood is a Principal who co-leads Chuhak & Tecson's Litigation practice group with more than 30 years of experience litigating and trying cases of significant complexity and exposure, many against some of the largest firms in the country. He has represented clients in courts across the country and has tried cases in state and federal courts from New Jersey to California. 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 civil litigation spans a wide range of substantive areas including breach of contract, the Uniform Commercial Code, Lanham Act, employment torts and contracts, unfair competition and antitrust, among others. His practice also has emphasized the defense of manufacturers in toxic substances, products liability and mass tort cases. Most recently, Steve has specialized in defending cases brought under the False Claims Act and otherwise representing clients in government enforcement proceedings. Steve’s clients span a diverse range of industries, including aerospace, energy, communications, medical devices, 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-8 Harrier pilot and training command flight instructor.
Government Enforcement/Qui Tam
Qui Tam Action (U.S.D.C.)
Lead counsel for aerospace defendant in qui tam action seeking substantial nine figures in damages. Summary judgment motion pending.
United States Securities and Exchange Commission v. BCI Aircraft (U.S.D.C. N.D. Ill.)
Represented defendants in SEC civil enforcement proceeding seeking temporary restraining order, asset freeze and order appointing a receiver for alleged violations of securities laws. After limited discovery, two-day evidentiary hearing, and extensive briefing, court denied substantially all of the SEC’s motions.
Qui Tam Action (U.S.D.C.)
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 summary judgment. After 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.
Insignia Systems, Inc. v. News America Marketing In-Store, Inc. (U.S.D.C. D. Minn.)
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 case settled for payment to plaintiff of $125 million.
Commercial Arbitration (A.A.A. Chicago, IL)
Lead counsel for Fortune 100 company in $18 million breach of contract arbitration. After discovery and motion practice seeking preliminary equitable relief, case settled on favorable terms for client.
Starstream Capital LLC. v. Platinum Energy Solutions, Inc., (Dist. Ct., Harris County, Tex.)
Lead counsel for several defendants in shareholder derivative action. Board appointed a Special Litigation Committee to investigate and make recommendation as to the disposition of the action. Plaintiffs sought discovery of SLC's investigation which defendants opposed. Defendants filed a petition for writ of mandamus with the Texas Court of Appeals to overturn trial court’s discovery rulings. Appellate court granted petition thereby vacating trial court’s discovery orders, making new law significantly limiting the scope of discovery of an SLC.
ACLI v. Illinois Dept. of Insurance (Circuit Court of Cook Co. Ill.)
Lead counsel for plaintiff 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 of standing, mootness, and failure to exhaust administrative remedies. Obtained summary judgment for the trade association, invalidating the rule, as well as an award of fees and costs for the client.
Wesolek v. Platinum Energy Solutions, Inc. (U.S.D.C. S.D. Tex.)
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.)
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.
Harris v. France Telecom S.A., et al. (U.S.D.C. N.D. Ill.)
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.
The Hoover Company v. Bissell Homecare, Inc. (U.S.D.C. N.D. Ill.)
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.
Nano-Proprietary Inc. v. Keesmann, et al. (U.S.D.C. N.D. Ill.)
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.
Product Liability/Toxic Tort
Fornek v. Sterigenics, et al. (Cir. Ct. Cook County, Ill.)
Trial counsel for defendants in toxic tort case. Plaintiff developed a form of leukemia allegedly from environmental exposure to ethylene oxide used to sterilize medical devices at defendant’s Willowbrook, Illinois facility. The jury deliberated for approximately eleven hours before rendering a defense verdict. Fornek v. Sterigenics was the second case to be tried arising out of the operations of defendant’s facility and follows another Cook County jury’s award of significant damages in the first case to be tried to verdict.
Ford v. Sun Chemical (Cir. Ct. Cook County, Ill.)
Lead trial counsel for defendant chemical company in toxic tort case. Plaintiff developed leukemia allegedly from occupational exposure to benzene in defendant’s products. All other defendants (more than twenty originally named) had settled or were dismissed prior to trial. After 4-week trial, the jury returned a complete defense verdict.
Kallal v. Ciba Vision Corp. (U.S.D.C. N.D. Ill.)
Lead counsel for defendant in medical device products liability suit. Plaintiff alleged injuries from use of defective contact lenses, which had been subject of a product 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 present evidence connecting his injuries to recalled lenses. Court also found that summary judgment would have been proper because plaintiff’s claims were preempted by federal law.
Hedum, et al. v. Abbott Laboratories, et al. (Cir. Ct. Cook County, Ill.)
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.
Lyons v. Janssen Pharmaceutica (Cir. Ct. Peoria County, Ill.)
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.)
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.
Ploense v. Electrolux Home Products and the Chrome Coalition (Cir. Ct. McLean County, Ill.)
Lead trial and appellate counsel for defendant. 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.
Liesse v. Honeywell International, Inc. (Cir. Ct. Cook County, Ill.)
Co-lead counsel for defendant in consolidated action involving claims of 37 plaintiffs alleging systemic neurological injuries from chronic occupational exposure to ethylene oxide, a chemical used to sterilize medical instruments. 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.)
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.
Perkins v. A.W. Chesterton, et al. (Cir. Ct. Madison County, Ill.)
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.
Moeller v. Owens Corning (Cir. Ct. Cook County, Ill.)
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.
Hodapp v. Abex Corp., et al. (Cir. Court Madison Co. Ill.)
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 was subsequently voluntarily dismissed by plaintiff with prejudice prior to hearing.
McClain v. Owens Corning (N.D. Ill.)
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.