Steven P. Blonder
Steve is a valued legal and business counselor in a wide range of matters. As a skilled advocate whose practice focuses on complex business litigation, Steve has argued successfully before the federal and state appellate courts as well as the Illinois Supreme Court, and 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.
As a counselor, Steve helps clients identify and overcome obstacles to success, and strategize plans to accomplish their business objectives. His litigation practice is centered on the gaming, financial services, real estate and food industries, and includes matters such as class action defense, corporate governance and control, securities, insurance, real estate, regulatory compliance and other business issues. Steve also has experience in representing clients before state and federal regulatory and governmental bodies, in response to inquiries from state attorneys general and in qui tam litigation. Further, Steve has led internal investigations regarding alleged corporate misconduct. Most recently, Steve successfully represented parties in a number of trust disputes and other probate matters.
Representative matters include:
- Currently defending a leading pasta maker in multiple nationwide class actions against allegations relating 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.
- Successfully represented the minority shareholder of a business in seeking to enforce the buy-sell provision contained in shareholder agreement that allows the purchase of shares at book value, and in pursuing claims against the other shareholder for misappropriating corporate assets. After winning at trial, Much settled the matter on favorable terms.
- 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. 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 a national financial institution against allegations stemming from the decision not to lend money in connection with a film project. Claims included breach of fiduciary duty, fraud, consumer fraud and breach of contract. The case was dismissed based on the Illinois Credit Agreements Act.
- 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 in pursuing claims that Uber Technologies Inc. is subject to federal anti-discrimination statutes. The matter presents issues of first impression relating 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 companies providing services, such as transportation, livery or taxi cab businesses.
- 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 U.S. Court of Appeals for 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.
- Currently representing 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 fact. The judge then participated in a judicial decision reversing a $1 billion judgment against State Farm. Issues include 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.
- 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 extensively 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.”
Steve currently serves as a member of the firm’s Management Committee.
- American Bar Association
- Illinois State Bar Association
- Chicago Bar Association
- American Bar Foundation, Life Fellow
Steve serves as chair of the Much Social Responsibility Committee. He was elected in 2016 to the board of the Ark, an organization dedicated to poverty relief, and currently serves as a vice president, having completed one term as treasurer. He also serves as a Vice Chair of the Chicago Bar Foundation’s Investing in Justice Campaign, a position he has held since 2010. In the summer of 2016, Steve 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 past service as President of the Division. He is a past recipient of JUF’s Young Leadership Award.
Steve currently serves on the board of directors for the Friends of the Israel Defense Forces (Midwest Region). Previously, he served on the board of the Jewish Community Centers of Chicago, in addition to serving 10 years as a board member of the Jewish Children’s Bureau. He spent three years as the Chairman of The Hillels of Illinois; was President of Ezra Habonim, the Niles Township Jewish Congregation in Skokie, Illinois, for four years; is a former Executive Committee member of the Midwest Region of the Anti-Defamation League; was a member of the United Jewish Communities National Young Leadership Cabinet; and 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
- 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, 2008-2019
- 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