Ryan T. Brown
Ryan Brown is the founding partner of the Chicago office of Gordon & Rees, and he currently works from both the Chicago and St. Louis offices. Mr. Brown is a litigator whose practice focuses primarily upon insurance coverage, professional liability, and employment defense matters.
In his insurance practice, Mr. Brown has successfully litigated numerous complex coverage issues through judgment, including issues of insurer bad faith, rescission, duty to defend, estoppel, prior knowledge, and late notice. Mr. Brown also serves as claims management counsel for certain London-based insurers in relation to D&O and E&O claims. In addition, Mr. Brown regularly defends professionals, including lawyers, accountants, and insurance producers, in administrative and civil proceedings throughout the Midwest. Finally, Mr. Brown has represented employers in both state and federal courts in Illinois, Missouri and Wisconsin against a wide-array of allegations, including discrimination, harassment, retaliation, and wage-and-hour violations.
In addition to his core practice areas, Mr. Brown has successfully litigated complex and contentious disputes involving commercial agreements, business torts, intellectual property, white collar crime, consumer class actions, and wrongful death.
Gordon & Rees successfully argued on summary judgment that an ERISA claim for benefits brought under section 502(a), as codified at section 1132(a)(1)(B), could not be maintained against its client, a third party claims administrator, when the TPA client was not the current plan administrator. Anderson v. Aetna Life Ins. Co., et al., Case No. 11-cv-04356-BP (W.D. Mo., January 13, 2014) (District Judge Beth Phillips).
Gordon & Rees attorneys from Chicago and Seattle won affirmance in the Ninth Circuit of a ruling involving first impression under Washington law that no coverage is available under a D&O policy for the failure of a director or officer to honor a personal guarantee on behalf of a corporation. McRory. v. Catlin Specialty Ins. Co., No. 11-36084, 2013 U.S. App. LEXIS 5005 (9th Cir. March 13, 2013)(affirming Order granting summary judgment to Catlin (Case No. 10-cv-02095 (W.D. Wash., November 2, 2011) (District Judge Richard A. Jones).
On summary judgment, Gordon & Rees successfully argued that its insurer client had timely and properly rescinded a policy based upon a material misrepresentation in the application. RiverSource Life Ins. Co. v. Amy Plumbing, Case No. 12-cv-01388 (N.D. Ill., March 15, 2013) (District Judge Ronald A. Guzman).
Gordon & Rees successfully argued on summary judgment that its insurer client had, in fact, complied with the strict requirements of Wisconsin Statute § 631.11(4)(b) when rescinding a life insurance policy during the two-year contestability period. Broege v. The Lincoln National Life Ins. Co., et al., Case No. 11-cv-00566 (W.D. Wis., April 9, 2012) (Magistrate Judge Stephen L. Crocker).
Summary judgment was granted to the firm's school district client with the Court finding that Plaintiff was not disabled within the meaning of the Americans with Disabilities Act. Scott v. Kaneland CUSD # 302 et al., Case No. 10-cv-03871 (N.D. Ill, August 31, 2012) (Judge Der-Yeghaiyan).
Summary judgment was granted for the firm's hospital client with the Court adopting each of the hospital's arguments while rejecting Plaintiff's claims of disability discrimination and retaliation under the Americans with Disabilities Act. Hardwick v. John & Mary E. Kirby Hosp., 860 F. Supp. 2d 641 (C.D. Ill. 2012).
Gordon & Rees secured the outright dismissal of a lawsuit alleging malpractice against its law firm client in relation to alleged errors in the drafting of a living trust. While the statutory limitations periods afforded to attorneys in estate planning situations have been criticized as being as “clear as mud,” the Court agreed with Gordon & Rees’s arguments, finding that Plaintiff’s malpractice claim was time-barred under any conceivable interpretation of that statute. Confidential, (Cook County, IL, November 14, 2013) (Judge Daniel T. Gillespie)
Gordon & Rees won the dismissal, with prejudice, of a third-party complaint filed against a management consulting firm specializing in the provision of turnaround services to financially troubled companies. The third-party complaint sounded in misrepresentation, negligence, breach of contract and breach of fiduciary duties, all related to an alleged conspiracy between the consulting firm and Plaintiff’s lender. In bringing the third-party complaint, Plaintiff sought to void $18.5 million in personal guaranties and recover compensatory and punitive damages related to the failure of his business, once the third-largest construction glass company in the United States. Following extensive briefing and more than two hours of oral argument, the Court agreed that Trainor’s third-party complaint failed as a matter of law, dismissing it with prejudice. Trainor v. Fort Dearborn Partners, Case No. 12-L-12483 (Cook County; September 24, 2013) (Judge Margaret A. Brennan)
Gordon & Rees was successful on summary judgment for its law firm client (and its individually-named lawyers) in a case alleging defamation through an argument that the alleged defamatory statements regarding plaintiff were protected by the "fair reporting" doctrine. Stoller v. Roylance Abrams, et al., Case No. 11-L-12519 (Cook County, IL, March 15, 2013) (Judge Kathy M. Flanagan).
Gordon & Rees successfully won the dismissal of its accountant clients (including the firm and individual partner) in a lawsuit alleging professional negligence, fraud and breach of contract in relation to a failed turnaround and eventual insolvency of a large private company. Gemberling v. Kutchins, et al., Case No. 11-CH-27303 (Cook County, IL, October 17, 2012) (Judge Franklin U. Valderrama).
Gordon & Rees successfully argued that a holdover franchisee was liable for infringement and counterfeiting which resulted in a judgment on issues of first impression. Century 21 Real Estate, LLC v. Destiny Real Estate Properties et al., 2011 WL 6736060 (N.D. Ind., Dec. 19, 2011)
In the Circuit Court of Kane County, the Court granted summary judgment for the firm's client based upon unlawful conversion and unjust enrichment. Vargo Companies v. Mid-States Express, Inc., Case No. 2008-L-000527 (Kane County, IL, March 11, 2009) (Judge Judith M. Brawka).
Presentations and Publications
Over the past 15 years, Mr. Brown has addressed various insurance coverage, professional liability, and employment defense issues in firm publications and at industry conferences and client seminars. Mr. Brown’s recent publications and presentations include:
Assurance University Webinar (August 2014) - Private Company D&O: Liability Trends
Off Site Presentation (April 2014) - Beware of the Mega-Watchdog: Consumer Financial Protection Bureau
CLE Presentation (September 2013) - Insurance Defense Best Practices: Adherence to Guidelines and Protocols
Presentation to SHRM (July 2013) – Preventing Sexual Harassment in the Workplace
Insurance Law Quarterly Newsletter (October 2012) - Recent Developments - The Estoppel Doctrine In Illinois
CLE/CE Presentation (January 2011) – Professional Liability Claims Handling: A Quick Reference Guide
Insurance Law Quarterly Newsletter (May 2010) - Impact of US Economic Downtown on Professional Liability Insurers: Dealing with Insolvent or Bankrupt Insureds
DRI ICCI in Chicago (April 2010) - Trends in Agent-Broker Liability
What do you enjoy most about your practice?
My clients; I am blessed to work for many intelligent, congenial and diligent people who understand the importance of balancing work and family.
What is the secret to obtaining successful trial results?
Preparation, self-awareness, and honesty.
What are your favorite pastimes when you are not practicing law?
Spending time with my wife and four children (preferably at Wrigley Field on a warm summer day with a cold beer in my hand – Go, Cubs, Go!).
U.S. District Court, Central, Northern, and Southern Districts of Illinois
U.S. District Court, Northern and Southern Districts of Indiana
U.S. District Court, Eastern and Western Districts of Wisconsin
U.S. District Court, Eastern District of Missouri
U.S. District Court, Eastern District of Michigan
U.S. Bankruptcy Court, Northern and Southern Districts of Illinois
United States Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit
United States Court of Appeals for the Eighth Circuit
United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit
Professional Liability Underwriting Society
DRI-The Voice of the Defense Bar
American Bar Association