Ohio

Review

Dispute resolution
Benesch

Benesch is a national law firm with eight locations across the U.S., as well as operating an office in Shanghai. One client opines, "We have a great partnership with the firm. They are very familiar with our business, culture and plans for the future. As a result, resolving conflicts and addressing issues is very easy."
    The attorneys at the firm’s Cleveland office provide the driving force behind the majority of litigation matters. Gregory Phillips serves as chair of the firm’s business litigation group as well as vice-chair of their overall litigation practice group. Among his notable cases, Phillips successfully defended Daniel Harrington CEO of HTV Industries, against breach of fiduciary duty and fraud claims. In addition, Phillips currently represents Cleveland Electric Illuminating Company in a constitutional challenge to a municipal utility that has moved aggressively into its territory, in apparent violation of limits on extraterritorial sales by such municipal entities. The municipal utility seeks to distinguish the leading case or have it reconsidered, and has counterclaimed for malicious litigation. The client seeks a change in the municipal utility's method of doing business to comply with the constitutional rule.
     Working alongside Phillips is Joseph Castrodale, with both of them successfully representing Eaton Corporation and its affiliates in breach of contract litigation against a Canadian licensee over allegedly millions in overdue royalties. The case settled on favorable terms, with the client receiving a $3.2 million payment. Yelena Boxer serves as vice-chair of the litigation practice group. She is active in complex commercial disputes relating to intellectual property, breach of contract and fiduciary duty, general tort, among other areas. Among her recent matters, Boxer successfully negotiated the dismissal of a federal case for a large publicly-traded industrial company in a wage-and-hour dispute. The case was filed as a collective action with the potential of millions of dollars in exposure.

DiCello Levitt Gutzler

Plaintiff specialty shop DiCello Levitt & Gutzler makes its debut on Benchmark and at only three years old, is a relatively new addition to the legal landscape. However, the firm has made waves in a short period of time. This momentum could be attributed to the background of its founding partners – Adam Levitt was previously with securities plaintiff shop Grant & Eisenhofer, and Mark DiCello was formerly a prosecutor – but it could also be due to the firm’s business model. Eschewing the singular approaches employed by many other plaintiff firms, such as a class actions or a single-incident personal injury, the firm has remained dedicated to a variety of strengths across a number of different areas. Several of its cases have made headlines. Ostensibly a boutique, the firm operates out of offices in Chicago, Cleveland, New York and St. Louis.
     Exemplifying the firm’s flexible and forward-looking approach, Chicago’s Levitt has teamed up with celebrated Houston plaintiff attorney Mark Lanier in a very timely case pertaining to the issues of “business interruption insurance” that have bedeviled many businesses in the wake of COVID. These specific cases allege that certain insurers rejected special property coverage insurance claims made by small businesses impacted by mandated closures over COVID-19. The lead plaintiffs include a restaurant and nightclub in Bonita, California, and a Florida chain with locations in Coral Springs and Boca Raton. Levitt also represents the State of New Mexico in litigation that arose from Volkswagen, Audi, and Porsche’s sale of purportedly “clean diesel” vehicles that, in fact, contained “defeat device” software designed to conceal the fact that the vehicles emitted harmful pollutants in gross excess of legal. In marketing and selling these vehicles in New Mexico, the defendants violated the New Mexico Unfair Practices Act and New Mexico False Advertising Act through their misrepresentations to consumers regarding the environmental impact of their vehicles. In August 2019, Levitt secured a $13.5 million settlement. Mark DiCello, based in Cleveland, represents the victims of the 2017 disaster at the Grenfell Tower a high-rise apartment building in West London. DiCello identified the US courts as the proper forum in which to bring this case and coordinated with a number of solicitors, barristers and Queen’s Counsel from the United Kingdom to seek justice in the US District Court for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania. The firm’s youngest partner, Amy Keller, has become a leading force in several data privacy-related cases taken on by the firm. When she was just 34 years old, Keller was named Consumer Plaintiffs’ Co-Lead Counsel in a massive Equifax data breach MDL. The litigation stemmed from Equifax’s ineffective handling of a 2017 data security breach that exposed the Social Security Numbers, birth dates, addresses and—in some cases—the driver’s license and credit card numbers of 147 million American consumers. Keller is also active in a similar case regarding the 2018 data breach experienced by the Marriott hotel chain. A client of Keller’s speaks on her behalf: “A company filed a suit against me for slander and Amy Keller defended me. I am a consumer advocate and Amy defended me against this company pro bono. Amy was very patient with me, explaining all aspects of my case, providing me with options, providing me advice. I felt VERY well taken care of. Any questions I had or worries about the lawsuit (this was the first time I had someone sue me) were promptly addressed.”

Faruki PLL

Litigation boutique Faruki has an established presence in the Buckeye state, with two locations in Cincinnati and Dayton. In particular, the firm has a growing reputation for handling complex business litigation as well as contentious matters involving data privacy, cybersecurity, intellectual property, and class actions.
     Based in Dayton, Erin Rhinehart is a star practitioner and leads the firm’s media and communications practice. Rhinehart, who is also recognized in Benchmark Litigation’s 40 and Under Hot List, handles a variety of disputes regarding the First Amendment, defamation, intellectual property, in addition to defending a number of companies in class action suits at both the state and federal level. Notable clients of hers include Cox Media Group, Procter & Gamble, and Cargill. D Jeffrey Ireland also operates out of the firm’s Dayton office and has over 40 years of experience litigating complex business disputes in Ohio as well as across the country. Ireland, who serves as managing partner at the firm, worked alongside Rhinehart in defending Procter & Gamble in a consumer class action case as well as another dispute involving breach of contract claims. Highly respected partner Jeffrey Cox has a comprehensive litigation practice that has recently focused on data privacy and intellectual property disputes. Among his recent matters, Cox represented Procter & Gamble in a patent infringement case the company brought against Coca-Cola regarding the chemical composition of its beverage products. In addition, Cox defended British information conglomerate Reed Elsevier in front of the Federal Trade Commission in an investigation involving federal data protection compliance. 

Thompson Hine

Thompson Hine has made a name for itself representing entities primarily in the fields of business litigation and product liability. Initially a pure Cleveland institution, the firm has since branched out into other venues such as Atlanta and DC with relative success.
     In the Atlanta office, Marla Butler attends to a commercial litigation practice that centers largely on clients in the medical and tech sectors. Butler is a member of the Litigation Counsel of America and one of the firm’s leading female trial and arbitration partners.
     Elizabeth “Missy” Wright is another star litigator and operates in the firm’s flagship Cleveland office but enjoys a national reputation in the product liability field, having tried cases as national counsel for household name clients in the food, automotive and pharmaceutical industries. Wright garners unanimous praise from peers and has been a consistent repeat appearance in Benchmark’s Top 250 Women in Litigation since its first edition in 2013. Another member of the Cleveland product liability team, Timothy Coughlin represents PolyOne Corporation, a manufacturer of a plastic compound, in a novel claim in California. The plaintiff claimed pulmonary fibrosis from occupational exposure to plastics. PolyOne took the lead of an industry-wide joint defense group in confronting these first-of-a-kind claims. The plaintiff was claiming over $1 million, including a lung transplant. Coughlin also represents PPG Industries, a global coatings and paint company, in a putative class action matter in pending in Federal court in Newark, New Jersey. The class representatives initially sought a class covering tens of thousands of current and former residents of Jersey City, New Jersey for property damage for properties around over 150 sites in Jersey City.  The class representatives claim that PPG and the former co-defendant are responsible for contamination generated from almost 100 years of chromate production (to make chromium) in Jersey City.  Coughlin and his team have been successful in having the claims narrowed to one former main plant site (from 150 sites) and from tens of thousands of residents and former residents to 200-300 homes. The putative class claims for property damage and diminution in value arising from trespass and nuisance claims will be tested through Daubert motions and hearings.

Ulmer & Berne

Ulmer & Berne offer a wide array of litigation services throughout Ohio, with offices in Cleveland, Cincinnati, and Columbus. The firm is highly regarded for its team of experienced litigators with one client testifying, “I utilize Ulmer for any regulatory or litigation needs in the state of Ohio. They are extremely knowledgeable in my little niche of the financial services industry. The consistently handle matters thoroughly and efficiently and always with an eye toward minimizing cost to me." Another confirms, “They are experts on the issues that I face. I’ve come to know and trust the attorneys with whom I work. Ulmer and the attorneys at the firm with whom I work are the first names out of my mouth when I’m asked for a recommendation on a firm in this area of the law.” Still another client raves, “Ulmer has provided us excellent counsel on restrictive covenant and business litigation matters for some time.”
     Frances Floriano Goins operates out of the firm’s Cleveland office and co-chairs the Financial Services and Securities Litigation group, as well as the Cybersecurity and Privacy group. Goins is highly skilled in complex business matters and has been recognized on our Benchmark Litigation Top 250 Women in Litigation. Goins frequently represents clients in SEC and other enforcement actions, as well as conduct internal corporate and special litigation investigations.  Michael Ungar is chair of the firm’s litigation department and is well regarded in the field. Ungar, who also operates from the firm’s office in Cleveland, focuses his practice on civil litigation, particularly on complex matters involving commercial and financial services disputes. Among his current clientele, Ungar is defending AXA Advisors in an arbitration involving alleged misconduct by former representatives at the company. In addition, Ungar is serving as lead counsel for Sherman-Williams Company in a putative class action case involving alleged defects of several of their duck coating products.
      Based in the firm’s Cincinnati office, Frederic “Fritz” Shadley is chair of the firm’s construction group and has over 30 years of experience litigating on behalf of a variety of clients. In addition to representing a number of clients in the construction space, Shadley also focuses his practice on general environment, product liability, and toxic tort litigation.
     The firm secured a major coup earlier this year as highly respected business litigator Steven Kaufman joined, bringing with him several other highly capable attorneys from his private practice Kaufman & Company. Kaufman represents a variety of clients in high-stakes litigation involving commercial, real estate, employment, and securities disputes among others. Among his current matters, Kaufman defending American Litho in an employment dispute regarding the hiring of six employees from the plaintiff, successfully having a temporary restraining order dismissed. All defendants have filled motions for summary judgement and is now pending in front of the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Illinois.

Labor and employment
Ulmer & Berne

Headquartered in Cleveland with six additional offices spread across Ohio and nationwide, Ulmer & Berne has a highly respected group of labor and employment litigators advising a variety of clients in disputes.
     Jeffrey Dunlap serves as vice-chair of the firm’s litigation department and has over 30 years of experience handling a number of labor and employment-related matters. Dunlap represents a variety of regional and national companies in disputes involving discrimination, non-solicitation, non-compete, and wrongful termination. Stephanie Harley is highly regarded for offering a full list of services including employment counseling, conflict resolution, and litigation. Harley has advised clients both large and small against allegations of harassment, wrongful termination, and discrimination.
     Leading the firm’s Employment and Labor Practice Group is William Edwards. Edwards, who along with Dunlap and Harley are based in the firm’s Cleveland headquarters, has extensive experience representing a number of employers in a range of matters including EEOC collective action litigation as well as single-plaintiff wrongful termination claims.
     Kip Schwartz is based in Washington, D.C. and has nearly 40 years of experience as a first-chair trial attorney. While Schwartz has handled a variety of complex civil disputes, he is particularly renowned for his work in the labor and employment space. Among his notable matters, Schwartz a number of D.C. universities against separate employment discrimination cases as well as the Washington Metropolitan Transit Authority against similar claims.