Jeffrey L. Willian

Jeffrey Willian

is a senior litigation partner with Kirkland & Ellis LLP. As lead trial attorney, he has obtained many nationally recognized results in forums throughout the country. His practice focuses on shareholder disputes, corporate governance, intellectual property issues, breaches of fiduciary and contractual duties, class actions, real estate matters, antitrust, fraud, corporate investigations, construction/engineering disputes, product liability, and contested corporate control. Jeff’s efforts have resulted in billions of dollars in damages and awards for his clients and the successful resolution of many defense claims, including the following significant outcomes:

The Largest Illinois Judgment: Obtained then-largest judgment in the history of Illinois and the largest breach of fiduciary duty judgment in the United States for JMB Realty Corporation. After ten years of litigation, including a trip to the Illinois Supreme Court where new privilege law was made, the Illinois state court found that three of the world’s largest REITs had breached their duties to a target company’s shareholders by, among other things, usurping more than $2.5 billion in corporate opportunities and violating basic principles of corporate governance. Center Partners Ltd., et al. v. Urban Shopping Centers, LP., et al., No. 04 L 12194, 2013 WL 8846708 (Ill. Cir. Ct.).

The Largest Wisconsin Jury Verdict: Obtained a $203 million breach of fiduciary duty, fraud and RICO jury verdict in Wisconsin state court for S.C. Johnson & Son, Inc. The jury found that multiple corporate defendants and individuals had engaged in a decades-long conspiracy involving racketeering through logistics price fixing and kickbacks. S.C. Johnson & Son, Inc. v. Morris, 2010 WI App 6, 322 Wis. 2d 766, 779 N.W.2d 19.

Notable Defense Victories: Obtained many widely recognized defense verdicts and rulings. E.g., a landmark ruling for Motorola, later touted by the insurance industry, precluding Plaintiff’s use of a proportional decay damage model, used for years by plaintiffs to assert large lump sum shareholder damage claims (see Proportional Trading Model Precluded); a complete defense verdict for the Chicago Board of Trade in an antitrust price fixing claim, regarding attempts by market participants to corner the soybean market (see Zimmerman, et al. v. Chicago Board of Trade, et al., 360 F.3d 612 (2004); successfully defended Starwood in an attempted hostile takeover of its hotel property (see Chicago Sun-Times, “The Battle of Michigan Avenue,” February 2, 2004); made law by obtaining ruling that Plimus, a high-profile e-commerce facilitator was not liable for misleading statements of its e-commerce sellers (San Francisco); and secured many dismissals of complaints at the motion to dismiss stage; obtained summary judgment on $70 million claim of fraud and breaches of duties against developer in master planned community (Orlando).

Other Notable Plaintiff Victories: Obtained a summary judgment ruling (in Georgia state court) for the Army and its partner, Clark Realty Capital, that the property manager for privatized military housing had engaged in a pattern of intentional misconduct on multiple Army bases resulting in the termination of 50‑year management contracts and saving the projects tens of millions of dollars; achieved the first-ever ruling (Seattle) de-flagging the Four Seasons hotel for poor performance; obtained a $10 million dollar plus judgment (Miami) for a contractor against a marina and condominium owner for bad faith; received a judgment finding against a JMB Realty Corporation partner (Houston) for tens of millions of dollars in a breach of contract action for refusal to honor a right of first refusal; and obtained numerous successful outcomes in trade secret and intellectual property infringement claims.

Pre-litigation and Trial Counseling: Jeff regularly advises a host of clients nationwide regarding pre-litigation matters with the goal of avoiding litigation and ensuring the correct positioning prior to any potential litigation. His many successes are attributable to adhering to carefully-developed litigation and trial strategies, which includes a creative, detail‑oriented approach to litigation.

Good to know

Areas of Practice 1) Litigation and 2) Antitrust & Competition
Law School American University Washington College of Law, J.D., 1986, cum laude
Education Miami University, B.A., 1983
Bar Member / Association State bar of Illinois
Most recent firm Kirkland & Ellis LLP
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