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Stuart Palmer

Hon. Stuart E. Palmer (Ret.)

Case Manager
Deborah Stewart
T: 312-655-9192
F: 312-655-0644
71 S. Wacker Drive, Suite 2400, Chicago, IL 60606


Hon. Stuart E. Palmer (Ret.) joins JAMS after a highly regarded 22 year career as a Justice of the Illinois Appellate Court and Judge of the Circuit Court of Cook County, Illinois. Throughout his judicial career, Justice Palmer presided over the trial and settlement of many of the most complex matters that came before the courts, including thousands of civil and criminal matters at all stages of litigation. As a chancery judge and an appellate justice, Palmer received consistent high praise for his handling of a wide variety of complex commercial disputes.
Throughout his career on the bench, Justice Palmer has been a proponent of pretrial settlement as well as arbitration in order to avoid the expense, delay and uncertainty of protracted litigation.

ADR Experience and Qualifications

The National Judicial College certified Justice Palmer in mediation in 2006. From that point on, he encouraged mediation wherever he could, participating in countless settlement conferences and often working late into evenings to facilitate mutually agreeable resolutions to difficult matters. As a result, in addition to his own assigned cases, he was frequently called upon to conduct settlement conferences in cases assigned to other judges upon their request and the request of counsel.

Judge Palmer continues his professional education at JAMS and completed the USC-JAMS Arbitration Institute's Advanced Arbitration Academy held at the University of Southern California in August 2016.

Representative Matters

Justice Palmer has extensive experience in the following areas:

  • Appellate: Served with distinction in the 5th and 6th divisions of the First District Appellate Court of Illinois; served as the Presiding Justice of the 5th division and is highly experienced in appellate procedure and advocacy. Presided regularly over appellate motion practice; reviewed hundreds of appellate briefs; presided over oral argument and authored over 300 appellate opinions and orders while participating by concurrence or dissent in many more, all covering a wide variety of issues.
  • Arbitration: Presided over numerous cases involving petitions to confirm or to set aside arbitration awards as well as petitions to compel or to bar arbitration.
  • Administrative Law: Prior to taking the bench, served for several years as a hearing officer for the Illinois State Police Merit Board.  In that position conducted pre-trial and discovery hearings and trials of disciplinary complaints against state troopers, and issued findings of fact and conclusions of law with regard to the complaints.
  • Business/Commercial:
    • Corporate/Partnership: Presided over numerous LLC and partnership disputes from the injunctive relief stage, accountings and through trial. These included dissolutions, disassociations, and claims of fraud and breach of fiduciary duty. Among these was the pre-trial litigation and trial of a dispute between the members of an LLC that controlled a major entertainment complex in Chicago involving claims of fraud and for punitive damages. Presided over the trial of an accounting request by a dissatisfied partner concerning his multimillion dollar investment in an apartment complex in a suburb north of Chicago. Also presided over shareholders rights and shareholders derivative actions.
    • Breach of Contract: Presided over and settled numerous matters involving internet commerce, licensing, mechanics liens and letters of credit, interpretation of contractual provisions and the covenant of good faith and fair dealing. These included a claim for damages and request for injunctive relief which resulted from a leading internet reservations site that removed two nationally recognized rental car companies from the opening page of its website during a dispute. Also presided over the licensing dispute involving the NCAA surrounding the use of the term "March Madness" on a cellular network. Presided over and settled several mortgage foreclosure actions that involved claims of mortgage fraud in the area of mortgage rescues. Also presided over the breach of contract claim and declaratory judgment action involving a local superstar athlete and an individual claiming breach of an agreement not to sue.
  • Class Actions: Presided over numerous class actions including litigating discovery disputes, class certification, class decertification, appointment of class counsel and a steering committee, motions to dismiss and for summary judgment, as well as settlement discussions, approving class settlements, and resolving objections to class settlements by class members. These included an action against a major auto manufacturer, drug manufacturer, the city of Chicago, the Chicago Transit Authority (CTA), Illinois Bell/SBC, a local sanitary district, a nationwide fitness facility company, as well as cases brought pursuant to the Telephone Consumer Protection Act (TCPA). Several cases brought against a drug manufacturer were consolidated from several circuits in Illinois and brought before Justice Palmer. Several matters concerning the fitness facilities were brought from other circuits and the federal system for the purpose of mediation before Justice Palmer at counsels' request and with the consent of the other state and federal judges.
  • Construction/Construction Defect: Resolved claims concerning architects liability as well as liability of general contractors and subcontractors. Worked extensively with regard to general contractor liability pursuant to the Restatement of Torts §414.
  • Education/Schools: Presided over a matter involving the Illinois State Board of Education's decision to open a charter school against the wishes of the local school district. Also handled the class action involving the wrongful termination of school principals and the damages they were owed.
  • Employment: Extensive experience in the field of restrictive covenants including requests for temporary, preliminary and permanent injunctive relief regarding employees moving to new employers. These included issues of geographical and durational scope. Presided over cases concerning investment managers leaving a well-known investment house, and a manager leaving a large department store to work with a nationally known consumer electronics company entering the Chicago market. Also handled restrictive covenants concerning cardiologists and whether participation in the internet Nightingale service for reviewing scans violated geographical limitations.
  • Estates/Probate/Trusts: Presided over and settled matters concerning claims against estates, conduct of executors and trustees as well as actions to recover estate assets. These included claims against estates for loan guarantees, the child award and debts pursuant to a divorce decree, and actions to recover assets held in joint tenancy.
  • Governmental/Public Agency: Presided over numerous matters concerning the review of governmental action including zoning, disciplinary action of government employees, the award of government contracts, governmental care of sewers and water, and the award or denial of disability and pension claims for government employees. Notably presided over the final resolution of a decade long litigation concerning the city of Chicago's zoning action preventing the high-rise development of the last empty buildable space on North Lake Shore Drive, an action against the Illinois Department of Transportation (IDOT) regarding the award of billboard permits, and an action by a local suburb against the Metropolitan Water Reclamation District of Greater Chicago (MWRDGC) regarding its conduct regarding floodwaters. Also settled a long-standing zoning dispute in Chicago by mediating the matter with the corporation counsel's office, the developer and the local alderman. In addition, presided over several actions concerning government contact bidding procedure, including an action to enjoin the award of a 248 million dollar pharmaceutical contract by Cook County for the county's hospital system.
  • Insurance: Presided over and settled numerous declaratory judgment actions concerning the duty to defend and indemnify, primary, secondary and excess coverage, bad faith claims, and uninsured and underinsured coverage claims. These included issues of indemnity of 3rd parties, additional insureds, innocent spouses, arson, lack of cooperation, notice, environmental exclusions, coverage of college students away from home as well as estranged spouses, and the slayer statute among others. Resolved multimillion dollar insurance claims for reimbursement of settlement and for 3rd party indemnity regarding a trademark infringement action.
  • Intellectual property: Most of the many restrictive covenant employment matters handled by Justice Palmer involved allegations of the taking of trade secrets, including customer lists, pricing and sales data, many times by the unauthorized downloading of computer files, as well as claims of inevitable disclosure.
  • Personal Injury/Torts: Extensive appellate experience with regard to trucking accidents involving issues of proximate cause and agency, liability of public carriers for the criminal acts of its employees, construction accidents and the issue of spoliation.
  • Professional Liability: Decided cases concerning architectural, legal and medical malpractice. Specifically decided the leading case in Illinois regarding the Good Samaritan Act, as well as questions of tort immunity for treatment at Cook County Hospital. Presided over and settled legal fee disputes including the legal fees of several major class actions.
  • Privacy related claims, including BIPA (Biometric Information Privacy Act)
  • Real Property: Presided over numerous matters concerning the interpretation of lease provisions, purchase and sales contracts, implied and express warranties, condominium association procedures and disputes with association members. Notable among these are cases involving the requirement of open meetings for condominium association actions, the interpretation the tax provisions of a lease for a major suburban sports facility, the appropriate use of retail space pursuant to a cooperative lease agreement covering an entire square block of downtown Chicago, and a dispute concerning the development of Block 37, also in downtown Chicago.
  • Certificate of Completion, Advanced Arbitration Academy, University of Southern California-JAMS Arbitration Institute, August 2016
  • Certificate of Recognition by the Illinois Supreme Court for excellence in the delivery of judicial education programs
  • Recipient, Seymour Simon Justice Award, Jewish Judges Association of Illinois
  • Certificate of Appreciation, DePaul College of Law for contributions to the Lawyering Skills Program
  • Diploma of Judicial Skills, American Academy of Judicial Education
  • Member, Illinois Supreme Court:
    • Special Committee on Evidence
    • Committee on Education
    • Committee on Legislation
    • Special Committee on Courthouse and Judicial Security
    • Special Committee on Capital Cases
  • Member, Illinois Judicial Conference
  • Fellow, American Bar Foundation
  • Fellow and lecturer, ASTAR (Advanced Scientific and Technological Adjudication Resource Project), National Science and Technology Resource Judges Program funded by the U.S. Department of Justice
  • Frequent Judge for the Annual National Trial Competition and the National Criminal Justice Trial Advocacy Competition, ABA Criminal Justice Section
  • Member/Past Board member, Illinois Judges Association
  • Board member, Jewish Judges Association
  • Member, American Bar Association
  • Member, Illinois State Bar Association
  • Member, Chicago Bar Association
  • Member, Decalogue Society of Lawyers
  • Member, Chicago Inn of Court
  • Member, American College of Business Court Judges
  • Frequent faculty member, Illinois Judicial Conference seminars for judges, the biannual Education Conference, and the New Judge Seminar
  • Frequent lecturer at Chicago Bar Association, Decalogue Society and local law firm CLE presentations
  • Frequent Guest Lecturer, local area high school classes
  • Adjunct Lecturer, DePaul College of Law
  • Guest Lecturer, University of Chicago School of Law
  • Faculty, National Institute for Trial Advocacy
  • Chair and Editor, Illinois Judicial Benchbook on Criminal Law
  • Justice of the Illinois Appellate Court, First District, 2012-2016
    • Assigned to the Appellate Court by order of the Illinois Supreme Court
    • Presiding Justice, 5th Division, September 2014-September 2015
  • Judge, Circuit Court of Cook County, Illinois, 1994-2012
    • Chancery Division, 2005-2012
    • Criminal Division, 1994-2005
    • First Municipal District, 1994
  • Law Offices of Stuart E. Palmer, January 1993-January 1994
  • Hearing Officer, Illinois State Police Merit Board, October 1988-January 1994
  • Partner, Kanter & Mattenson, Ltd., April 1988-January 1993
  • Partner, Kulwin & Palmer, April 1987-April 1988
  • Assistant State's Attorney, Cook County State's Attorney's Office, November 1979-April 1987
  • J.D., Northwestern University School of Law, 1979
  • B.A., cum laude, Phi Beta Kappa, University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign, 1976

Counsel Comments

    • “I mediate cases across the country. You and [JAMS colleague] rank as the finest mediators I've encountered. Thank you again for your excellent work yesterday. I look forward to working with you again.”
    • “It was a real pleasure, thank you for your excellent help. I am sure we will cross paths again, I have spent much time over the years with some of your other colleagues at JAMS, great to now have worked with you as well.  I hope all of you stay well and continue with ZOOM meetings, it worked great.”
    • "I just completed a mediation before Judge Palmer. It was a vigorously contested commercial fraud case with at least one party emotionally invested in the case and the parties miles apart in settlement proposals. Not only did Judge Palmer conduct a successful mediation, he did so without pressuring or squeezing the parties. His calm, but persistent approach, focusing on the merits of each side’s case was perfect in defusing the rancor and getting the parties to come to an agreement. I highly recommend Judge Palmer as a mediator."
    • “I wanted to say thank you again for all of your work on the case. Wednesday’s result was great for the class, and I know that wouldn’t have been possible without you. So, thank you!”
    • “Thank you, Judge Palmer, for your assistance along the way – very much appreciated.”
    • “My view: you did an excellent job. I do not doubt that is the view of all the parties and counsel involved.”
    • “Make this the second time this week you have caused all of the parties and their lawyers to agree on something, Judge Palmer.  Your hard work, wisdom, and guidance were invaluable.  Thank you.”
    • “We appreciate your skillful assistance in getting this dispute resolved at such a preliminary stage.”
    • "Justice Palmer is highly regarded for his knowledge of civil and criminal law, judicial experience, work ethic, and excellent judicial demeanor"
      -Chicago Bar Association, Retention evaluation, 2012
    • He is praised for being especially hard-working and diligent
      -Evaluation for the Appellate Court, Chicago Council of Lawyers, 2009



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