Bernetta Bush

Hon. Bernetta D. Bush (Ret.)

JAMS Mediator, Arbitrator and Referee/Special Master

Case Manager
Michael McCants
T: 312-655-9199
F: 312-655-0644
71 S. Wacker Dr., Suite 2400, Chicago, IL 60606


Hon. Bernetta D. Bush (Ret.) joined JAMS in 2007 after over 15 years of distinguished service to the Circuit Court of Cook County, Chicago,  Illinois.  She is known for her ability to listen to both sides of a dispute and for her success in achieving fair, expeditious and cost effective resolutions for parties.

Judge Bush has particular expertise in disputes that arise in the context of higher education, including Title IX disputes and investigations, faculty ethics advice and disciplinary actions, special education law, and procurement issues for public institutions.  She has served as an ethics officer for both the City Colleges of Chicago and Chicago State University, and served for many years as Legal Counsel for the Illinois State Board of Education.

Judge Bush is adept at guiding unrepresented parties through dispute resolution systems, especially in the areas of consumer credit and mortgage lending, asbestosis claims and government settlement trust work.

ADR Experience and Qualifications

Judge Bush brings over 30 years’ experience as a judicial officer and legal practitioner to her dispute resolution practice.  She has extensive experience in the resolution of a wide array of complex and multi-party disputes in the following areas:

  • Arbitration
  • Business Commercial
  • Class Actions
  • Employment
  • Environmental
  • Higher Education
  • Insurance
  • Personal Injury
  • Real Estate

Representative Matters


  • Consumer credit disputes, including breach of cardholder agreements, collections actions, dispute of debt validity and default arbitration
  • Rendered decisions in multiple arbitration matters for violations of the Telephone Consumer Protection Act (TCPA) and the Deceptive Trade Practices Act (DTPA)
  • Decided multimillion, multi-party dispute between shareholders regarding valuation and dissolution of a manufacturing company
  • Decided valuation dispute between shareholders in a closely held wine distribution company
  • Settled a dispute involving a national hotel chain’s billing procedures
  • Handled a multi-party dispute involving a wireless communication company and a competitor over tower access issues 
Class Action:
  • Mediated and arbitrated claims pursuant to the Armstrong World Industries Asbestos Trust, a national class action involving asbestosis
  • “Class A” Claims Adjudicator, Pigford v. Glickman, a/k/a Black Farmers, a case in which a large group of African-American farmers alleged that the U.S. Department of Agriculture had discriminated against them with respect to government lending practices
  • Appointed special master in a class action involving detention conditions of suspects retained in the City of Chicago Police Stations
  • Mediated a class action involving warranty of major window manufacturer
  • Resolved nationwide class action involving price fixing in the music industry
  • Settled nationwide class action involving mislabeling of baby formula where the directions provided in Spanish resulted in incorrect preparation of the formula
  • Settled a class action involving a dispute with a major newspaper over circulation numbers in the Chicago area
  • Settled a national class action involving telephone service charges to hotel guests of a national chain 
  • Settled a class action involving service fees associated with mail-order Chicago Cubs tickets


  • Settled, mediated and adjudicated numerous disputes involving restrictive covenants, and non-compete, non-solicitation and confidentiality clauses 
  • Decided disputes involving entitlements under employment contracts of high level executives
  • Decided disputes under the Illinois Wage Payment and Collection Act
  • Resolved law firm partnership and dissolution disputes


  • Decided a dispute involving the Chicago Metropolitan Water Reclamation District and discharge of waste materials by a metal manufacturer into the waters of Lake Michigan 
  • Resolved a dispute involving a major natural gas company and insurers over underground contamination and seepage issues 
  • Decided many disputes involving contamination caused by underground storage tanks
  • Settled a matter involving a dispute over contamination caused by printing equipment owned by a local newspaper company
  • Decided disputes involving mold and toxic substances in condominiums, single family homes and commercial properties


  • Decided an insurance coverage dispute between a major gas company and multiple insurers 
  • Decided or settled numerous disputes involving duty to defend and/or indemnify in personal injury, property damage and medical malpractice claims against insured parties 
  • Decided or settled multiple disputes between owners of motor vehicles and insurance carriers involving coverage and duty to defend 
  • Decided or settled numerous malpractice and professional coverage disputes involving the legal and medical profession

Real Estate:

  • Decided multi-million dollar dispute between limited partners and their LLC over a real estate development in Chicago’s South Loop
  • Decided a dispute between the City of Chicago, developer, and a condominium association over air and land rights applicable to further construction on the site
  • Decided or settled numerous disputes involving residential and commercial foreclosures
Completed Virtual ADR training conducted by the JAMS Institute, the training arm of JAMS. 

  • Presenter,  New England School of Law, November 2020
  • Member, National Collegiate Athletic Association's (NCAA) Independent Resolution Panel
  • Speaker, Win, Lose or Draw:  Defining What it Means to “Win” for the Corporate Litigant, Chicago Bar Association, April 27, 2018
  • Member, Chicago Bar Association, Cook County Bar Association, National Bar Association, Black Women’s Bar Association, Black Women Lawyers’ Association
  • Former Board member, Illinois Judges Association and Illinois Judicial Council
  • Former Member, Board of Trustee’s, City Colleges of Chicago
  • Former Member, Illinois Attorney Registration Disciplinary Inquiry Board  
  • Judicial Fellow, Association of Trial Lawyers Presenter First International Congress on Mediation (Guayaquil, Cuenca and Quito, Ecuador), October 2012
  • Lecturer and Panelist, Chicago Bar Association, Illinois Bar Association, National Bar Association, Association for Conflict Resolution (Chicago Chapter), DePaul University School of Law, Loyola University School of Law, and many other legal organizations
  • Faculty, Mediation Course, Chicago, National Judicial College, 2007, 2008
  • Faculty, Illinois Supreme Court Conference, 2005-2007
  • Arbitrator/Mediator, JAMS Chicago, 2007-Present
  • Ethics Officer Chicago State University, 2009-Present
  • Ethics Officer City Colleges of Chicago, 2007-2009
  • Judge, Circuit Court of Cook County, 1992-2007
  • Legal Counsel, Illinois State Board of Education, 1979-1992
  • Private Practice, 1977-1979
  • J.D., DePaul University College of Law, 1977
  • M.A., Northeastern Illinois University, 1973
  • B.A., Northeastern Illinois University, 1970



Practice Areas

  • Arbitration
  • Business/Commercial
  • Class Action/Mass Tort
  • Employment
  • Environmental
  • Higher Education & Title IX
  • Insurance
  • Personal Injury/Torts
  • Real Property


Available nationwide


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