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Colin H. Dunn

Colin H. Dunn

Chicago, Illinois
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Premise Liability, Trucking, Transportation & Aviation Accident Attorney

Colin Dunn started his career at Clifford Law Offices in 2006, and was immediately assigned to a number of high profile, complex cases, including the litigation stemming from a 2003 fire at the Cook County Administration Building, which resulted in a $100 million dollar settlement for the victims and their families. Mr. Dunn also was involved in representing several families in the litigation stemming from the crash of Comair Flight 5191 in Lexington, Kentucky.

During his decade-plus at Clifford Law Offices, Mr. Dunn has had numerous multi-million dollar settlements and verdicts, including:

- $112 million dollar verdict for two men injured in a grain bin explosion at a ConAgra mill in southern Illinois (11th highest verdict by National Law Journal's The Top 100 Verdicts of 2012 );

- $22.7 million dollar verdict for the family of a husband and father killed by an intoxicated driver (90th highest verdict by Top Verdicts for 2016);

- $10 million dollar verdict in a premises liability case for the family of a 22 year old woman murdered in her apartment due to the landlord's negligent security practices;

- $18.5 million settlement on behalf of two workers who suffered severe burns after an explosion at a train derailment clean-up site in Kentucky;

- $11 million settlement for a family of a father of three who was killed when a building under construction partially collapsed;

- $9 million settlement for the family whose parents were killed when their car was struck by a news van;

In addition to his practice in premises liability, trucking, transportation, and aviation accidents, Mr. Dunn is an Adjunct Professor of Law, having taught Appellate Advocacy at his alma mater for a decade, and Private International Aviation Litigation at DePaul University School of Law since 2011.

He has authored dozens of articles for several national publications and is a monthly columnist for the Chicago Daily Law Bulletin, the nation's oldest daily legal publication. As a successful premises liability, transportation, trucking, and aviation accident attorney, Mr. Dunn also has been invited to speak on various topics for the American Bar Association, the Chicago Bar Association, the Illinois Trial Lawyers' Association, the Property Loss Research Bureau and Liability Insurance Research Bureau, and the Illinois Defense Counsel.

Mr. Dunn was named to the Law Bulletin Publishing Company's "40 under 40" attorney list recognizing Illinois' top up and coming lawyers in 2010. He was also named a Super Lawyers' "Rising Star" from 2009-2013. Since 2013, he has been named both a Super Lawyer and a Leading Lawyer. He was named a Best Lawyer of 2017.

He obtained his law degree from Loyola University School of Law in Chicago, graduating magna cum laude and serving on the school's Law Journal. During law school, he worked for the Honorable Justice Ann Williams of the Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals as well as for the Honorable Judge Ronald Guzman of the United States District Court for the Northern District of Illinois.

After graduating from law school, he began his career as a prosecutor in the Cook County State's Attorney's Office under Richard Devine, where he tried a number of cases and argued before the First District Appellate Court of Illinois. He then served as an "elbow" law clerk for the Honorable Justice Patrick J. Quinn of the Illinois Appellate Court, First District, assisting the judge in drafting court opinions.

Areas of Practice

  • Aviation Litigation
  • Personal Injury
  • Premises Liability
  • Transportation Liability

Bar Admissions

  • Illinois
  • U.S. District Court Central District of Illinois
  • U.S. Court of Appeals 7th Circuit
  • U.S. Supreme Court
  • U.S. District Court Northern District of Illinois
  • U.S. District Court Southern District of Illinois
  • U.S. District Court Northern District of Illinois Trial Bar


  • Loyola University Chicago School of Law, Chicago, Illinois
    • J.D. magna cum laude - 2002
    • Honors: Two-Year Academic Tutor for Professor Spencer Waller in Civil Procedure
    • Honors: Judicial Extern for the Honorable Judge Ann Williams of the Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals
    • Honors: Judicial Extern for the Honorable Ronald Guzman of the United States District Court, Northern District of Illinois
    • Honors: Judicial Extern for the Honorable Stephan Schiller of the Circuit Court of Cook County, Chancery Division
    • Law Journal: Loyola University of Chicago Law Journal, Member of Student Articles Committee
  • Miami University
    • B.A. - 1999
    • Honors: Habitat for Humanity Member 1996-99
    • Honors: Trip Leader to South Carolina and Florida
    • Major: Political Science and Classical Humanities

Published Works

  • Monthly columnist for the Chicago Daily Law Bulletin (since 2007). Entitled “Torts,” the column critically discusses recent cases that significantly impact state and federal tort litigation. It also addresses issues in state and federal tort law that are unresolved
  • Each party receives chance to one ‘judge-shopping’ motion (Feb. 29, 2012)
  • Defendants get ‘fair opportunity to investigate’ (Jan. 25, 2012)
  • ERISA plan may stall in reimbursement recovery (Dec. 28, 2011)
  • Bankruptcy plaintiffs must disclose lawsuits (Nov. 30, 2011)
  • Pleadings in federal court require distinctions (Oct. 26, 2011)
  • When does the risk-utility balancing test apply? (Sept. 28, 2011)
  • Dealing with coverage in interstate trucking cases (Sept. 1, 2011)
  • Damages and the common fund doctrine (July 27, 2011)
  • Valid basis for social host liability (June 29, 2011)
  • Letter fails to trigger coverage (May 25, 2011)
  • Looking at how ‘willful and wanton’ gets defined (April 27, 2011)
  • Doe is dead (March 30, 2011)
  • Don’t use a fake name without leave of court (Feb. 23, 2011)
  • Do treating physicians have to issue expert reports? (Dec. 29, 2010)
  • Post-filing appointment (Nov. 24, 2010)
  • No punitive damages in death case (Oct. 27, 2010)
  • Ice, snow, rain and the CTA (Sept. 29, 2010)
  • Dismissal for ‘losing’ evidence (Aug. 25, 2010)
  • How can doctors and hospitals justify these actions? (July 28, 2010)
  • The issue of presenting medical bills to the jury (June 30, 2010)
  • Reducing the anxiety over Hudson and Thornton (May 26, 2010)
  • Settling with agents extinguishes principal’s liability (April 28, 2010)
  • Does Thornton require pleading for set-offs? (March 31, 2010)
  • Exceptions exist to claim-splitting rule (Jan. 27, 2010)
  • The battles over what is binding or non-binding dicta (Feb. 24, 2010)
  • The aftermath of Hudson: What constitutes a final adjudication on the merits (Dec. 30, 2009)
  • Emotional distress may not be beyond the ken of jurors (Nov. 25, 2009)
  • Clarification needed on nursing home arbitration (Oct. 14, 2009)
  • Article Titles Date Appeared in Chicago Daily Law Bulletin
  • When a state regulation is not a ‘statute’ (Sept 2, 2009)
  • Overcoming transfer decision a Herculean task (Aug. 7, 2009)
  • In Illinois, it’s still cheaper to kill than to hurt (June 24, 2009)
  • Liability under the Domestic Violence Act (May 6, 2009)
  • Preserving your case in the event of a death (March 25, 2009)
  • Make sure to always read the labels (March 4, 2009)
  • High court clarifies who should be on verdict form (Jan. 28, 2009)
  • ‘Independent contractor’ defense unavailable (Dec. 3, 2008)
  • Uncertainty surrounds the public duty rule (Oct. 29, 2008)
  • A return to the General Assembly’s good faith (Aug. 27, 2008)
  • Illinois adheres to the ‘reasonable value’ rule (July 30, 2008)
  • Recent guidance on self-imposed (June 18, 2008)
  • Split over construction statute of repose (April 30, 2008)
  • Split over who should be on the verdict form (March 26, 2008)
  • Reaffirming the special relationship doctrine (Feb. 27, 2008)
  • Working your way through the federal thicket (Oct. 24, 2007)
  • An open door to punitive damages (Sept. 11, 2007)
  • Timing key to impeachment material (June 22, 2007)
  • Direct participation liability comes to Ill. (March 16, 2007)
  • Feres doctrine commands liability for military (Jan. 24, 2007)
  • Ruling on prior injuries echoes case law (Aug. 13, 2015)
  • Emotional distress may be connected to suicide, but causation is another matter (Jun. 24, 2015)
  • Court ruling creates more questions in standards of review (May 11, 2015)
  • Illinois Supreme Court declares its eagerness to defer to lawmakers (April 30, 2015)
  • Attorney who hid client’s death dooms deal (Feb. 26, 2015)
  • Premises liability and the open-and-obvious-danger rule (Oct. 6, 2014)
  • Governmental immunity and the quest for a ‘willful and wanton’ escape hatch (Aug. 27, 2014)
  • Torts, wrongful-death claims and suicide (July 22, 2014)
  • School loses bid for immunity in suit over girl’s fall in ‘cafetorium’ (May 12, 2014)
  • Pleading a duty to settle in insurance cases (April 2, 2014)
  • Property repair found to be discretionary (Jan. 29, 2014)
  • Serving the dead: High court reviews case involving deceased defendant (Dec. 4, 2013)
  • Is a crane operator a borrowed employee? That’s a jury question (Sept. 12, 2013)
  • Diligent inquiry by plaintiffs required for proper service (Aug. 13, 2013)
  • Plaintiff’s ‘eggshell’ argument cracks under 3rd District’s analysis (May 30, 2013)
  • ‘Freaky fast’ delivery crash leads to civil procedure question in suit (April 17, 2013)
  • Back surgery leads to equitable estoppel question (March 21, 2013)
  • Math helps appellate court decide case (Feb. 27, 2013)
  • Court reviews immunity in gym accident (Jan. 30, 2013)
  • Court looks at immunity of a public entity from an injury due to snow, ice (Nov. 28, 2012)
  • Ruling finds error over fictitious name (Oct. 31, 2012)
  • Court weighs complaint with false name (Sept. 26, 2012)
  • Courts may face issue of several statutes applying in same case (Aug. 29, 2012)
  • Court allows health insurance testimony (July 25, 2012)
  • Ruling favors plaintiff in scissor lift case (June 27, 2012)
  • Court considers EMS Systems Act and liability to third (April 25, 2012)
  • Recent zero-damage awards lack support (March 28, 2012)
  • Co-wrote “Use of Expert Witnesses in Aviation Cases” Litigating the Aviation Case: From Pre-Trial to Closing Argument, Chapter 20, Third Edition
  • “Ask And Ye Shall Receive: A Party’s Obligation To Disclose Impeachment Material In Federal Civil Cases,” Aviation Litigation Quarterly, (Spring 2008)
  • “State Courts Can Hear Commercial Aviation Cases: Bennett v. Southwest and In re Air Crash Disaster at Lexington, Kentucky on (August 27, 2006)," The Federal Lawyer, (January 2008), Vol. 55, Number One
  • Co-wrote “Building Your Case for the Jury,” Litigation, The Journal of the Section of Litigation for the American Bar Association, Vol.36, (Number 3, Spring 2010)
  • “Rule 191(b) affidavits: Should Lawyers Be Able To Sign Them,” Trial Journal, Illinois Trial Lawyers’ Association, Vol. 18, (Number 1, W inter 2016)
  • “Liability Insurance as Evidence of Witness Bias,” Trial Journal, Illinois Trial Lawyers’ Association, Vol. 17, (Number 1, W inter 2015)

Representative Cases

  • Lichaw, et al., v. 69 West Washington, et al. Litigation stemming from the fire at the Cook County Administration Building ($100 million settlement)
  • Jentz v. ConAgra, et al. 38-year-old suffered 75% burns to his body after grain bin in which he was working exploded ($71 million verdict)
  • Schmidt v. ConAgra, et al. 36-year-old suffered burns to hands after grain bin in which he was working exploded ($36 million verdict)
  • Dorner v. Wilmette Real Estate & Management Co., et al. 22-year-old woman was murdered in her apartment by a co-tenant ($10 million verdict)
  • Beemsterboer v. Joseph J. Duffy Co., et al. Husband and father of three killed in partial collapse of building during construction ($11 million settlement)
  • Allie v. Frontline. M arried couple was killed while driving on I-57 after their car was struck by a news van ($9 million settlement)
  • Naras v. Flextronics, et al. A husband and father of two was crushed by a punch press at a factory ($6.85 million settlement)
  • Bazik v. Hoekstra, et al. W oman suffered multiple fractures after her car was struck by truck in W ill County ($3.9 million settlement)
  • In re Air Crash Disaster at Lexington, Kentucky on August 27, 2006. Litigation stemming from the crash of Comair Flight 4191 in 2006. (Confidential settlement)
  • Woods v. Southwest, et al. Boy killed when Southwest plane crashed through the barrier at M idway Airport and struck the car in which he was a passenger (Confidential settlement)
  • Swenson v. Hussman Corp. & Adam Troy. Young husband and father is killed by a speeding trucker. ($22.7 million verdict)
  • Powers & Carillo v. CSX Transportation, Inc.; Paducah & Louisville Railway Co.; and Center for Toxicology and Environmental Health. Two workers severely burned in a flash fire during a derailment cleanup in Kentucky. ($18.5 million settlement)


  • Illinois Trial Lawyers Association seminar on Liens & Settlements, Chicago, IL 2012
  • Loss Executives Association conference, "Honest Insights from Defense and Plaintiff’s Counsel, Insurers and Adjusters into Why a Claim is Resolved and Why it Lingers," Tampa, FL 2012; Jacksonville, FL 2013
  • "Update in Aviation Law" Panel at the ABA Tort Trial & Insurance Practice Section on Aviation and Space Law Litigation in Washington D.C.
  • ITLA Update and Review Seminar,"Intervening Causes," 2015
  • ITLA Damages Seminar, "Pain and Suffering," 2014
  • Adjunct Professor of Appellate Advocacy, 2004 - 2014
  • Loyola University of Chicago School of Law, Chicago, IL, Weekly, two-hour lecture course for second-year law students on appellate writing and oral argument presentation
  • Adjunct Professor of Private International Aviation Law, 2011 - Present
  • DePaul University School of Law, Chicago, IL, Course for second and third-year law students on the international legal system that governs air carrier liability for international flights
  • Illinois Defense Counsel 2015 Spring Symposium, Mediation Round Table

Honors and Awards

  • Super Lawyers Rising Star, 2009 - 2012
  • Law Bulletin’s 40 Illinois Attorneys Under Forty To Watch 2010
  • National Law Journal’s The Top 100 Verdicts of 2012 (#11)
  • Trial Excellence Award, Jury Verdict Reporter, 2012
  • William J. Harte Amicus Volunteer Award from the Illinois Trial Lawyers Association 2010, 2011, 2017
  • Leading Lawyers, 2013-present
  • Super Lawyers, 2013-present
  • 2017, Best Lawyers, Product Liability Litigation - Plaintiffs
  • 2017 Volunteer of the Year Award, ITLA
  • Top 100 Verdicts of 2016 (#90)
  • Best Lawyers® in America, Product Liability Litigation - Plaintiffs, 2018

Professional Associations and Memberships

  • Chicago Bar Association Member of the Judicial Evaluation Committee which investigates applicants for and sitting judges of the Circuit Court of Cook County and the Illinois Appellate Court (2006-2011). Chair of the Aviation Litigation Committee (2008). Co-Chair of Tort Litigation Committee of Young Lawyers Section (2009)
  • Illinois Trial Lawyers Association Board of Managers
  • Member of the bar of the United States Supreme Court, the Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit, the Northern District of Illinois, the Central District of Illinois, the Southern District of Illinois, and State of Illinois
  • Member of the trial bar for the Northern District of Illinois

Past Employment Positions

  • The Late Honorable Justice Patrick J. Quinn, Illinois Appellate Court, First District, Law Clerk, 2004 - 2006
  • Cook County State’s Attorney’s Office, Assistant State’s Attorney, 2002 - 2004

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