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Kevin P. Durkin

Kevin P. Durkin

Chicago, Illinois
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Personal Injury, Wrongful Death and Aviation Accident Attorney

Kevin Durkin is one of the attorneys for personal injury and wrongful death at Clifford Law Offices as well as a respected aviation accident attorney. Mr. Durkin is experienced in many practice areas, including aviation accident litigation and transportation liability; truck, railroad and automobile litigation; and premises liability, security, and medical malpractice. He has received multi-million dollar settlements or verdicts in well over one hundred cases. Mr. Durkin served as President of the Chicago Bar Association, a 22,000-member organization, from 2006 to 2007. He has obtained for his clients some of the largest verdicts recorded in Illinois. The most recent was a $22.75 million dollar wrongful death verdict for a young woman who lost her 31-year old husband in a vehicular crash on I-294. This is the largest wrongful death verdict in Cook County in the last 10 years.

Mr. Durkin has distinguished himself as one of Chicago's leading attorneys for personal injury and wrongful death, and was named a top tier attorney in 2016 by U.S. News-Best Lawyers in the area of personal injury litigation, aviation law and product liability cases based upon peer reviews and his legal ability, professionalism and integrity. As a partner at Clifford Law Offices, he has achieved numerous large jury verdicts and settlements in state and federal courts in cases that are highly complex and often high profile. He tried the case of a mother and her two children who were involved in a devastating truck-car collision on Interstate 90 near Rockford in 1999. After a month-long trial in the Cook County Circuit Court, Mr. Durkin received a $38.3 million verdict on behalf of the family in March, 2004. The verdict was the largest in the country in 2004 involving a motor vehicle crash and was featured as one of the Top 100 Verdicts in the National Law Journal in 2005. In May, 2012, he was part of the trial team that obtained a $112 million verdict for two men who were injured in a grain bin explosion at a ConAgra mill in southern Illinois. In February of 2013, he obtained a $16 million jury verdict in 2013 in Carroll County on behalf of the families of a fourteen year old and nineteen year old who were killed when entrapped in a grain bin, a record wrongful death verdict for a minor in Illinois outside of Cook County. The highest recorded verdict in that county previously was under $250,000.  Most recently, he received a $16 million record verdict in Carroll County, Illinois, involving a grain bin elevator incident for which he received a Trial Lawyer Excellence Award by the Jury Verdict Reporter of the Law Bulletin Publishing Company.

His trial accomplishments include serving as co-counsel in the highly publicized case of internationally acclaimed violinist, Rachel Barton, who was severely injured when a Chicago commuter train dragged her for more than 300 feet. After taking dozens of depositions and a pain-staking investigation for more than four years, the month-long trial resulted in a $29.6 million verdict. Mr. Durkin also tried a tragic Sioux Falls automobile accident case in South Dakota on behalf of a man who suffered permanent brain damage. The case resulted in that state's largest personal injury verdict, $7.5 million. He handled the highly publicized $10 million settlement on behalf of a suburban police officer who was struck by a speeding hearse that ran a red light while the officer was on routine patrol. It made headlines because of the so-called "black box" that was discovered in the hearse that recorded the speed and contradicted the driver's story to police. Mr. Durkin also represented several men who were severely burned in a power plant explosion in Hammond, Indiana, and received multi-million dollar settlements on behalf of the injured workers. He led the plaintiffs in the litigation involving the tragic high-rise fire in the Cook County Administration Building that killed six people and injured sixteen others. This resulted in a $100 million settlement. He was also co-lead counsel in the Amtrak crash that occurred in Bourbonnais, Illinois, killing 11 people and injuring hundreds more.

While he is clearly an established attorney for personal injury, Mr. Durkin is perhaps best known for his work as an aviation accident attorney. He has been involved in nearly every major commercial airline crash of the last two decades, often serving as lead counsel. In 2003, he settled a series of lawsuits stemming from the crash of Alaska Airlines 261 that killed 88 people when it plunged into the Pacific Ocean in January 2000. He reached more than $40 million in settlements on behalf of seven families following three years of depositions led by Durkin, who served as Co-Chair of the Plaintiffs' Executive Committee for the litigation. Because Durkin exposed problems with the aircraft's horizontal stabilizer, Boeing admitted liability despite the National Transportation Safety Board giving the corporate giant a virtual pass in its determination of the cause of the crash. Mr. Durkin served on the Steering Committee of the Singapore Air crash Flight 006 as well as the Steering Committee for the crash of American Airlines Flight 587 that crashed in Queens, New York. He served as Lead Plaintiff's Co-Counsel in federal court where a $110 million settlement was negotiated for a number of families in the American Airlines Flight 4184 crash in Roselawn, Indiana. He represented the family of Joshua Woods, the six-year-old boy who was killed when a Southwest jetliner crashed into his family's car after skidding off the runway at Midway Airport in December 2005. Mr. Durkin represented several families in the August 27, 2006, tragedy involving a Comair plane in Lexington, Kentucky. He also represented several families in the February 12, 2009, tragedy involving the crash of a Colgan Air commuter aircraft near Buffalo, New York., that resulted in a successful settlement for the victims' families.

With his experience and success as an aviation accident attorney, Mr. Durkin served for four years as the Co-Chair of the Aviation Committee for the 75,000-member American Bar Association's Section of Litigation. In that position, he chaired an annual program that brings together the best and the brightest to discuss cutting-edge issues in aviation litigation. He often still serves as a speaker for that annual program. Mr. Durkin served for two years as Co-Chair of the Mass Torts Litigation Committee, and is currently Vice-Chair of the Aviation and Space Law Committee of the Tort Trial and Insurance Practice Section of the American Bar Association.

In addition to his work with commercial aviation litigation, Mr. Durkin has also represented victims of many small plane crashes. For example, he handled the case involving the crash of Bob Collins, WGN radio's most popular disc jockey, who was killed when a small plane crashed into his as he was landing in the Chicago area. In 2007, the judge in that case entered an award for the maximum coverage by the insurance, nearly $1 million. Mr. Durkin also received a $4.1 million settlement in October 2001 on behalf of a photographer killed in a helicopter crash in northwest suburban Chicago.

After he graduated from DePaul University College of Law, Mr. Durkin served as an Assistant State's Attorney in the Cook County State's Attorney's Office in Chicago for eight years from 1980 to 1988. Since then, he has focused on civil litigation at Clifford Law Offices. He previously headed the Chicago Bar Association's Judicial Evaluation Committee, the organization's endorsement arm for the 1998 judicial elections in Cook County.  Working as an attorney for personal injury and aviation accidents, Mr. Durkin has been become a valuable asset to the legal community. He served on the Board of Directors of the Chicago Bar Foundation, which serves the underprivileged of the Chicago legal community. He also served on the Board of Managers of the Chicago Bar Association. Mr. Durkin has been previously appointed an adjunct faculty member at DePaul University College of Law in Chicago, teaching trial advocacy and complex litigation. He previously served as the President of the DePaul University College of Law Center for Public Interest Law.

In 2007, Mr. Durkin was bestowed the "Outstanding Contributions to the Legal Profession Award" by the International Phi Alpha Delta Law Fraternity (PAD) for his tireless work in promoting the legal profession in Chicago and in recognition for his public service to the people of Illinois. In 2009, he was elected a Fellow in the American College of Trial Lawyers as well as being named to the Irish Legal 100, an honor that recognizes the top lawyers of Irish descent throughout the country. In 2010, Mr. Durkin also was inducted as a Fellow in the International Academy of Trial Lawyers. He gives back to the community in many ways including serving on the Board of Chicago Police Memorial Foundation, which helps families of fallen and injured Chicago police officers.

Areas of Practice

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

Certified Legal Specialties

  • National Institute of Trial Advocacy Certified Instructor, 1989

Bar Admissions

  • Illinois, 1980
  • U.S. District Court Northern District of Illinois, 1980
  • U.S. District Court Central District of Illinois, 1993
  • U.S. Court of Appeals 7th Circuit, 1995
  • U.S. District Court Western District of Michigan, 2000
  • U.S. District Court Northern District of New York, 2006


  • DePaul University College of Law, Chicago, Illinois
    • Juris Doctor - 1980
  • University of Illinois
    • B.S., Bachelor of Science - 1977
    • Major: Accountancy


  • Adjunct Faculty, DePaul University College of Law, trial advocacy course and complex litigation course, 1988 - 1994
  • National Institute of Trial Advocacy, Certified Instructor, 1989

Honors and Awards

  • 2015 Trial Lawyer Excellence Award, presented by the Jury Verdict Reporter

Professional Associations and Memberships

  • American Association for Justice (AAJ)
  • American Association for Justice, Aviation Law Section, 1996 - Present
  • American Association for Justice, Aviation Legislation Task Force, 2008 - Present
  • American Association for Justice, Federal Tort Liability and Military Advocacy Section, 1999 - Present
  • American Association for Justice, Motor Vehicle Collision, Highway and Premises Liability Section, 1999 - Present
  • American Association for Justice, Products Liability Section, 1999 - Present
  • American Association for Justice, Railroad Law Section, 1999 - Present
  • American Bar Association (ABA)
  • American Bar Association (ABA), Tort and Insurance Practice Section , 1992 - Present
  • American Bar Association, Aviation and Space Law Committee, Vice Chair, 2005 - Present
  • American Bar Association, Aviation and Space Law Litigation
  • American Bar Association, Aviation Litigation Committee, Co-Chair, 2000 - 2004
  • American Bar Association, Commercial Transportation Litigation
  • American Bar Association, Litigation Institute Training Task Force, 2006 - 2009
  • American Bar Association, Mass Torts Litigation Committee, Co chair, 2004 - 2006
  • American Bar Association, Member, Committee on Aviation Law
  • American Bar Association, Product Liability Litigation Committee
  • American Bar Association, Products General Liability and Consumer Law
  • American Bar Association, Section of Litigation, 1992 - Present
  • American Bar Association, Tort Trial and Insurance Practice Section, 1992 - Present
  • American College of Trial Lawyers, Fellow, 2009 - Present
  • Association of Trial Lawyers of America, Member
  • Center for Conflict Resolution, Board of Directors, 2001 - 2005
  • Chicago Bar Association , President, 2006 - 2007
  • Chicago Bar Association, First Vice President, 2005 - 2006
  • Chicago Bar Association, Second Vice President, 2004 – 2005
  • Chicago Bar Association, Treasurer, 2002 - 2004
  • Chicago Bar Association, Chairman, Appellate Review Committee, 2001 - Present
  • Chicago Bar Association , Board of Managers, 1998 - 2000
  • Chicago Bar Association, Judicial Evaluation Committee , 1989 - 1998
  • Chicago Bar Association, Aviation Litigation Committee, Former Chair
  • Chicago Bar Association, Chairman of Hearing Division, 1995 - 1997
  • Chicago Bar Association, Chairman, Committee on Judicial Evaluation, 1995 - 1997
  • Chicago Bar Association, Forum on Air and Space Law , 1996 - Present
  • Chicago Bar Association, General Chair, 1997 - 1998
  • Chicago Bar Association, Hearing Division Member , 1991 - 1993
  • Chicago Bar Association, Investigative Division Member, 1989 - 1991
  • Chicago Bar Association, Member, Committee Judicial Evaluation, 1989 - Present
  • Chicago Bar Association, Member, Committee on Tort Litigation, 1988 - Present
  • Chicago Bar Association, Products Liability Committee
  • Chicago Bar Association, Section of Litigation , 1992 - Present
  • Chicago Bar Association, Vice-Chair of Hearing Division, 1994 - 1995
  • Chicago Bar Association, Vice-Chair of Investigative Division, 1993 - 1994
  • Chicago Bar Foundation, Board of Directors, 2000 – 2008
  • Chicago Bar Association, Member
  • DePaul University College of Law, President of the DePaul University College of Law Center for Public Interest Advisory Board, 2008 - 2010
  • Illinois State Bar Association, Civil Practice & Procedure Committee, 1989 - Present
  • Illinois State Bar, Member, Committee on Civil Practice and Procedure, 1989 - Present
  • Illinois State Bar, Member, Committee on Tort Law, 1989 - Present
  • Illinois Trial Lawyers Association , Executive Committee , 2013 - 2014
  • Illinois Trial Lawyers Association, Board of Advocates , 1993 - 2001
  • Illinois Trial Lawyers Association, Board of Managers , 2001 - Present
  • Illinois Trial Lawyers Association, Member, Board of Advocates, 1993 - Present
  • Illinois Trial Lawyers Association, Member, Legislative Committee, 1993 - Present
  • International Academy of Trial Lawyers, Fellow, 2010 - Present
  • Judicial Intern Opportunity Program, Regional Chair, 2011 - 2014
  • National College of District Attorneys’ Association

Past Employment Positions

  • Assistant States Attorney to Cook County, 1980 - 1988
  • Robert A. Clifford & Associates, Associate , 1988 - 1994
  • Corboy, Demetrio & Clifford, Partner, 1994 - 1995
  • Clifford Law Offices, P.C., Partner, 1995 - Present

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