Steven P. Blonder
A member of the firm’s Management Committee, Steve is a valued legal and business counselor who focuses on complex business litigation. Steve has argued successfully before the federal and state appellate courts as well as the Illinois Supreme Court. He possesses a record of consistent success in motion and trial practice (both jury and non-jury) in state and federal courts and in arbitration. His clients range from Fortune 500 companies to government entities to small businesses and entrepreneurs in a variety of industries, including gaming, food and beverage, financial services and real estate.
As a counselor, Steve helps clients identify and overcome obstacles and strategize plans to accomplish their business objectives. He handles matters related to class action defense, corporate governance and control, securities, insurance, real estate, regulatory compliance and other business issues. Steve also represents clients before state and federal regulatory and governmental bodies, in response to inquiries from state attorneys general and in qui tam litigation. He has experience leading internal investigations regarding alleged corporate misconduct as well as successfully representing parties in trust disputes and other probate matters.
Representative matters include:
- Currently defending a leading pasta maker in multiple nationwide class actions against allegations related to mislabeling and violations of “slack-fill” requirements.
- Currently representing Cook County in claims against its former insurance broker for breach of contract and breach of fiduciary duty. A jury verdict in excess of $9 million has been obtained following an eight-figure settlement with the insurer.
- Currently defending the majority shareholders in connection with a corporate merger valued at $800 million in which the shareholders exercised drag-along rights in the corporate charter to effect the transaction.
- Successfully represented the minority shareholder of a business in seeking to enforce the buy-sell provision in a shareholder agreement that allows the purchase of shares at book value, and in pursuing claims against the other shareholder for misappropriating corporate assets. After a victory at trial, the matter settled on favorable terms.
- Represented the plaintiffs in a RICO claim alleging that State Farm and others secretly financed and orchestrated a judge’s successful 2004 campaign for the Illinois Supreme Court, without disclosing that information. The judge then participated in a judicial decision reversing a $1 billion judgment against State Farm. Issues included the due process right of a litigant to an impartial hearing before an impartial court, and whether there are consequences for a wealthy and influential corporation that uses dark money to recruit and elect a sympathetic judge without disclosing that information to the court and the other litigants. After a jury was impaneled, the matter settled for $250 million.
- Defended a pharmaceutical manufacturer in a nationwide consumer fraud class action by purchasers of prescription drugs. The trial court entered final judgment for the defendants on grounds of statute of limitations, federal preemption and failure to prove elements of consumer fraud. The trial court’s decision was affirmed on appeal.
- Successfully defended former directors and officers in a shareholder class action, breach of fiduciary duty suits in bankruptcy and an SEC investigation arising from alleged financial and business misrepresentations. The clients paid nothing.
- Represented a minority owner of one of the country's largest privately held companies in an arbitration regarding the value of company stock. The arbitration panel awarded more than $20 million, which was later affirmed by the federal district court and the Eighth Circuit.
- Defended the exclusive licensee of one of the world's most popular card games against allegations by the inventor that the licensee breached the terms of the license agreement.
- Currently representing parties (on a pro bono basis) in pursuing claims that Uber Technologies Inc. is subject to federal anti-discrimination statutes. The matter presents issues of first impression related to whether an e-commerce business such as Uber, which claims to be merely an electronic marketplace or an app, is subject to the same standards as corporations providing services. Obtained a first-impression ruling that a ride share company cannot discriminate because it is covered as a public accommodation and a travel service under the ADA. The case is on appeal to the Seventh Circuit.
- Successfully defended former directors and officers of a public company against claims brought by former shareholders arising out of a going-private transaction. During trial, the court entered a directed finding in favor of four directors and exonerated the other two in a verdict. The trial court verdict was affirmed on appeal.
- Successfully represented (on a pro bono basis) a 13-year-old girl in alleging that the Girl Scouts violated the federal Rehabilitation Act in not providing sign language interpreters to a deaf girl who sought to participate in scouting. In a case of first impression, the Seventh Circuit reversed a trial court ruling dismissing the matter, holding that the Girl Scouts are an organization covered by the federal statute. The court’s ruling established that private membership organizations that receive federal funds are covered by federal disability discrimination law.
- Represented (on a pro bono basis) condominium owners alleging that the homeowners' association violated their rights under the Fair Housing Act by removing their mezuzah from the doorpost of their unit. The dispute was resolved successfully in the client's favor on the eve of a jury trial.
Steve is a regular speaker and commentator to the media on a range of topics, including financial services, civil procedure and corporate governance. He has written about financial services, health care, real estate, arbitration, qui tam litigation, the use of expert witnesses and class actions. In 2014, Steve served as a visiting professor at the University of Pardubice in the Czech Republic where he taught a class titled “Introduction to American Business Law.”
- American Bar Association
- Illinois State Bar Association
- Chicago Bar Association
- American Bar Foundation, Life Fellow
Steve is chair of Much Community, the firm's social responsibility initiative. He currently serves as vice president of the Board of Directors for The ARK, an organization dedicated to poverty relief. Steve was elected to The ARK's board in 2016 and completed a term as treasurer in 2018. He also serves as vice chair of the Chicago Bar Foundation’s Investing in Justice Campaign, a position he has held since 2010.
Steve previously completed two terms on the Board of Trustees and the audit committee for Chicago public television station WTTW11 and its sister radio station 98.7WFMT.
A former member of the Executive Committee of the Jewish United Fund/Jewish Federation of Metropolitan Chicago (JUF), Steve served on JUF’s Board of Directors for six years and on various committees for 17 years. He has held multiple leadership positions within JUF's Young Leadership Division, including president of the division. Steve is a past recipient of JUF’s Young Leadership Award.
Steve served on the Board of Directors for the Friends of the Israel Defense Forces (Midwest Region) and the Jewish Community Centers of Chicago. He also served for 10 years as a board member of the Jewish Children’s Bureau. Steve spent three years as chairman of The Hillels of Illinois and was president of Ezra Habonim, the Niles Township Jewish Congregation in Skokie, Illinois, for four years.
Steve is a former Executive Committee member of the Midwest Region of the Anti-Defamation League and a former member of the United Jewish Communities National Young Leadership Cabinet. He also served as an officer of the Hebrew Immigrant Aid Society. Additionally, Steve has served as a national officer and campaign cabinet member of the United Jewish Appeal, as a national board member of the Jewish Commission of Public Affairs and Hillel, and as a member of Kol Dor.
Active in politics, Steve has also chaired a Cook County judicial campaign and is presently the co-chair of a judicial campaign for an Illinois appellate court justice.
Insights & Events
- Trial Lawyer of the Year, Public Justice, 2019
- Highest Reported Illinois Verdict or Settlement Since 2018, Trial Lawyer Excellence Awards, Law Bulletin Media, 2019
- Chambers USA, Band 3, Litigation: General Commercial–Illinois, 2019 (recognized since 2017)
- Notable Gen X Leaders in Law, Crain's Chicago Business, 2019
- Trial Team of the Year: Class Action, The National Trial Lawyers, 2018
- Forty Under 40, Law Bulletin Media, 2005
- Martindale-Hubbell Law Directory, AV Preeminent® for more than 16 consecutive years
- Illinois Super Lawyers, 2007-2019
- Leading Lawyers Network, Commercial Litigation, 2008-2020
- Award for Excellence in Pro Bono Service, Judges of the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Illinois, 2012
- Mulroy Prize for Excellence in Appellate Advocacy, University of Chicago Law School