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Hon. John C. Griffin (Ret.)

Hon. John C. Griffin (Ret.)

General Biography
Practice Areas
Business Commercial
Class Action and Mass Tort
Construction Defect
Estate Probate Trusts
Personal Injury Torts
Professional Liability
Real Estate & Real Property
Honors, Memberships, and Professional Activities
Background and Education

Hon. John C. Griffin (Ret.) joins JAMS in Chicago after over a decade of service to the Illinois judiciary. Prior to his appointment to the bench, Judge Griffin was in private practice for over 30 years, with a wide-ranging litigation practice that allowed him to argue before the chancery, law, probate, county and municipal divisions in the Circuit Court of Cook County and the surrounding collar counties. He also practiced in federal district court and bankruptcy court. As an attorney, he did appellate work in the state court and the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit.

In addition, Judge Griffin’s practice included extensive transactional experience, particularly in the construction field, where he represented numerous builders and developers in zoning, developments and related corporate matters. He negotiated and prepared annexation and development agreements with municipalities. He prepared documents for hundreds of condominium, townhouse and single-family home developments.

Judge Griffin is passionate about ADR, believing party autonomy leads to the best outcomes. He uses his keen facilitation skills in many volunteer capacities for the betterment of Chicago communities, including long-standing service and leading roles at Chicago Gaelic Park, Moraine Valley Community College and other area educational institutions.

ADR Experience and Qualifications

  • Supervised the Commercial Section of the Cook County Circuit Court Law Division during implementation of the Illinois Supreme Court’s mandatory arbitration program; preparation of the Commercial Section bench book
  • Served terms as settlement judge and presiding judge on the Illinois Appellate Court
  • Chair-Qualified arbitrator for the Circuit Court of Cook County’s Mandatory Arbitration Program
  • Successfully resolved many matters during pre-trial at the request of parties in the Commercial Division of the Circuit Court of Cook County
  • Presented settlement strategies and techniques to Illinois judges at two state-wide judicial education conferences (2016 and 2018)

Representative Matters

  • Selected to arbitrate a dispute between two law firms regarding fee sharing.
  • Arbitrated a second batch of mass filings seeking to recover costs and attorney fees from a multinational credit card company’s Cardmember Agreement.
  • Mediated a breach of contract dispute regarding the interpretation of a contract between a motor club and a roadside assistance company. 
  • Mediated a partnership dissolution between family members concerning two corporations and two limited partnerships.
  • Mediated a breach of contract dispute related to guaranty action.
  • Mediated a breach of contract dispute between two investment banking firms. 
  • Served as mediator in a dispute between an employee and his former employer regarding racial harassment, discrimination and retaliatory discharge.
  • Mediated a joint venture dispute. 
  • Provided a neutral analysis of an appellate brief in the Court of Appeals regarding trade secret misappropriation and breach of implied-in-fact contract
  • Mediated a dispute regarding a construction defect. 
  • Mediated a breach of contract dispute regarding construction defects. 
  • Selected to arbitrate an employment dispute regarding alleged age discrimination. 
  • Arbitrated an employment breach of Business Protection Agreement regarding employee retention and severance pay. 
  • Mediated an employment dispute regarding unpaid commissions under an Independent Sales Representative Agreement. 
  • Arbitrated an insurance overage dispute concerning recovering millions of dollars owed to an insured. 
On the bench:
  • Calumet City School District v. Great Lakes Soil and Environmental Consultants. Engineering malpractice trial resulting in a $2.2 million jury verdict.
  • Brett v. Advocate Health and Hospitals Corp. Civil Rights – Retaliatory discharge for reporting sexual harassment resulting in a $1 million jury verdict
  • Society Ins. Co. v. Systems Piping Inc. Property damage based on a sprinkler system malfunctioned that flooded a West Loop club
  • Levinson v. Brandt. Defamation suit by an attorney suing over a false statement posted on the Internet resulting in $115,000 jury verdict
  • Wang v. Ostrowski. Personal injury case jury trial in which a pedestrian was struck by an SUV.
  • Janis v. Workhouse Custom Chassis.  Jury trial for breach of warranty allegedly based on a motor home defect resulting in an engine fuel leak
  • Dolan v. O’Callaghan. Employee sued employer law firm alleging breach of contract and a jury awarded her over $300,000 which was affirmed on appeal.
  • Woods v. Rock Fusco A client sued a law firm that represented him for breach of fiduciary duty resulting in a judgment of $1.1 million which was affirmed on appeal
  • First Chicago Ins. Co. v. Mola. A lawsuit by an insurance company regarding a duty to defend which was affirmed on appeal
  • Coe v. BDO Siedman LLP was a ruling that the circuit court case should be stayed pending arbitration and which was affirmed on appeal
  • State Bank of Countryside T him rust 03 – 2481 v. Village of Willow Springs. Breach of contract action regarding an annexation agreement resulting in a judgment of $143,000 which was upheld on appeal
  • Ho Chunk Nation v. Southland Sports and Expo Center LLC was a jury trial regarding fraud in the purchase of real estate and was affirmed on appeal
  • Cadez v.Maibenco was a bench trial regarding an oral loan agreement which was affirmed on appeal.
  • Kaufman v. BDO Siedman was a case involving a motion to stay based on an arbitration provision which was affirmed by the appellate court
  • Inca materials Inc. v. Indigo Construction Services involved a shareholder dispute which was affirmed by the appellate court
  • Live Current Media Inc. v. Corelink Data Centers LLC involve a company suing its former CEO and was affirmed by the appellate court
  • McGinley Partners LLC v. Royalty Properties LLC involved a judgment for over $8 million based on a note and guaranty was affirmed by the appellate court
  • Construction Sys. Inc. v. Fagelhaber LLC was a legal malpractice case where a motion for summary judgment was granted and affirmed by the appellate court
  • Tadros  v Cebula was a bench trial involving claims for breach-of-contract and unjust enrichment which was affirmed by the appellate court
  • Woodfield Grove LLC v. Schaumburg Building Associates involved a breach of construction contract which was affirmed by the appellate court following a bench trial
  • Adjudicated or resolved during pre-trial thousands of mortgage foreclosure actions in the Cook County Circuit Court’s Chancery Division during the 2008 Great Recession
  • Successfully mediated a multi-party, complex asbestosis class action involving approximately 800 plaintiffs
  • Facilitated lengthy labor negotiations for Moraine Valley Community College
  • Adjudicated $27-million construction defect claim involving renovated interiors to Terminals 2 and 3 at O’Hare International Airport
  • Adjudicated mechanic’s lien claim in excess of $1 million involving mansion complex in Chicago’s Gold Coast neighborhood after a six-week trial

Honors, Memberships, and Professional Activities

  • Member, Committee on Judicial Education, Supreme Court of Illinois, 2009–2020
    • Presenter, Bench Trial Nuts and Bolts, Judicial Education Conference, 2018
    • Presenter, Settlement Strategies and Techniques, Judicial Education Conference, 2016 & 2018
  • Board Member, South Suburban Housing Center, 2008–2010
  • Member, Illinois State Bar Association, 1977–present
  • Member, Southwest Bar Association, 1982–present
  • Member, Chicago Bar Association, 1978–present
    • Member, Committee on Evaluation of Candidates, Investigation and Hearing Division, 1981–1992
  • Board Member, Chicago St. Patrick’s Day Parade Committee, 1990-2015
    • Director, 1990–present
    • Treasurer, 1990–2015
  • Board Member, Irish Fellowship Club of Chicago, 1986-2021
    • Director, 1986–present
    • President, 2018
  • Board Member, Chicago Gaelic Park Inc., 1986-2013
    • Director, 1986–2013
    • President, 1991–2011
  • Member, Advisory Council, School for Continuing and Professional Studies, St. Xavier University, 2007–2010
  • Chairman, Morraine Valley, 1988-1991
  • Certificate of Completion, 40-Hour Mediation/Arbitration Training, Illinois State Bar Association, 2014
  • Certificate of Completion, Advanced Workshop for Improved Negotiations Skills: Sophisticated Strategies for In-Person and Virtual Mediation, Chicago Bar Association, 2020

Bar Admissions

  • Supreme Court of Illinois, 1976
  • United States District Court for the Northern District of Illinois, 1976
  • United States Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit, 1977
  • United Sates Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia, 1980
  • Supreme Court of the United States of America, 1980
  • Trial Bar, United States District Court for the Northern District of Illinois, 1983

Elected Office

  • Judge, Circuit Court of Cook County, 2010
  • Trustee, Moraine Valley Community College, 1986 - 1991
    • Chairman, Board of Trustees, 1988–1991
    • Chairman, Finance Committee, 1987–1988
    • Chairman, Building Committee, 1986–1988

Selected Publications and Speaking Engagements

  • Speaker, The Ethics of Conflicts of Interest Webinar, Clifford Law Offices, 2015
  • Presenter, Symposium With the Judges, Chicago Daily Law Bulletin Annual Symposium, 2014–2016
  • Profile, “How Judge Griffin Breaks an Impasse,” Chicago Daily Law Bulletin, Sept. 28, 2016
  • Frequent speaker at Chicagoland primary and secondary schools, including the “Courtroom in the Classroom” series and “Page It Forward,” developed by and given on behalf of the Illinois Judges Association

Background and Education

  • Justice, Illinois Appellate Court, First Judicial District, 2018–2020
    • Presiding Justice, First Division, First Judicial District, Illinois Appellate Court, 2019–2020
  • Judge, Circuit Court of Cook Court, 2008–2018
    • Judge, Law Division, Commercial Calendar, 2011–2018
      • Supervising Judge, 2013–2018
    • Judge, Chancery Division, Mortgage Foreclosure/Mechanic’s Lien Section, 2008–2011
    • Appointed Judge, Circuit Court of Cook County, 2008
  • Partner, Griffin & Gallagher, 1977–2008
  • Chair-Qualified Arbitrator, Mandatory Arbitration Program, Circuit Court of Cook County, 1990–1996
  • Part-Time Law Clerk to the Honorable Leo F. Poch, Court of Claims, State of Illinois, 1980–1992
  • Part-Time Hearing Officer, Illinois Secretary of State, 1978–1980
  • Of Counsel, Walter M. Ketchum Ltd., 1977–1986
  • Law Clerk to the Honorable John F. Hechinger, Chancery Division, Circuit Court of Cook County, 1976–1977
  • J.D., cum laude, DePaul University College of Law, 1976
  • B.B.A., with honors, Business Administration, University of Notre Dame, 1973


This page is for general information purposes.  JAMS makes no representations or warranties regarding its accuracy or completeness.  Interested persons should conduct their own research regarding information on this website before deciding to use JAMS, including investigation and research of JAMS neutrals. See More

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