Practices & Industries
- U.S. District Court, Northern District of Illinois (Trial Bar)
- U.S. Court of Appeals, Seventh Circuit
- Courts across the United States on particular cases, pursuant to local rules.
- Brandeis University (B.A., cum laude, Economics)
- Marquette University Law School (J.D., 1986)
- The John Marshall Law School (LL.M. in Taxation, 1992)
Fred Mendelsohn's practice focuses on multiple interrelated areas: complex commercial litigation and dispute resolution; litigation involving fiduciaries, wills and trusts; labor and employment law; market channel matters involving dealers, distributors, and sales representatives; and the general representation of middle market businesses. Mr. Mendelsohn is the co-chair of Burke, Warren, MacKay & Serritella's Business Partner and Shareholder Dispute group, which represents individuals and businesses in disputes arising out of their relationships as shareholders, partners, members, and/or venture partners. He appears before state and federal courts and in other forums across the country on a regular basis.
Mr. Mendelsohn represents clients in a wide range of complex, commercial litigation and dispute resolution matters, from shareholder and other ownership and governance disputes, to complex patent and international customs litigation, antitrust cases, and matters arising from financial transactions and intellectual property concerns (including patents, trademarks, copyrights, trade secrets, covenants-not-to-compete, licensing, and other protective agreements). Mr. Mendelsohn has also been involved in a number of construction cases, ranging from construction defects (including latent defect cases) to contract disputes and disputes involving the design professionals and related subcontractor disputes.
The diversity of Mr. Mendelsohn’s practice extends beyond those described above. He has, for example, handled a significant number of complex professional negligence cases and has represented attorneys in malpractice suits and professional misconduct proceedings. This aspect of his practice also extends to representing individual attorneys and law firms regarding separation of attorneys from their firms and the winding down of law practices.
Mr. Mendelsohn also has extensive experience in litigation involving wills and trusts, focusing primarily on the representation of individual and corporate fiduciaries. These matters arise from issues including the construction and validity of wills and trusts, undue influence, breach of fiduciary duty, and seeking instructions and accountings and can involve the interpleader of assets subject to interest, rights, and ownership disputes. Mr. Mendelsohn’s work in this area intersects with his regular representation of life insurance companies with regards to death claims, beneficiary contests, contested payments and contract rights.
Mr. Mendelsohn has also, for nearly three decades, represented parties involved in labor and employment matters before administrative, state, federal and appellate courts. He has represented clients before the National Labor Relations Board and multiple state and federal administrative agencies, such as the Department of Labor, and the EEOC, and numerous state investigative and adjudicatory agencies that administer labor and employment laws. This work includes all legal aspects of union organization efforts, negotiating collective bargaining agreements, conducted labor arbitrations (interest and alleged labor agreement disputes), and participated in litigation relating to union organizational and decertification elections.
Prior to joining Burke, Warren, Mr. Mendelsohn was a partner in a mid-sized commercial law firm, where he practiced for fifteen years, and prior to private practice he served as an assistant state's attorney in the Financial and Government Fraud Task Force of the Cook County State's Attorney's Office.
Commercial Litigation and Dispute Resolution
- Successfully tried a preliminary injunction hearing in the Chancery Division of the Circuit Court of Cook County. At issue was a dispute between shareholders of a closely held corporation that owns and manages real property. The firm’s client filed suit after the defendant shareholder attempted a hostile takeover of the company in contravention of corporate governance documents, including purporting to remove the firm’s client as a director and appointed officer, while also looting company bank accounts and freezing our client out from access to certain company software. At the conclusion of the four-day hearing that included multiple witnesses and expert testimony, the judge granted all relief sought by the firm’s client in its entirety, including restoring corporate governance positions, ordering the defendant’s name be removed from all company bank accounts, and ordering the defendant to restore complete access to all software accounts. The client said, “You told me exactly what you were going to do, you did it, and it worked out exactly like you said it should. I can’t thank you enough.”
- Successfully resolved multiple disputes involving a long standing client and government subcontractor on multiple government projects governed by the detailed obligations and requirements of the Federal Acquisition Regulations (FAR), where disputes developed involving design, defect, contract disputes such as cost overruns and those relating to the scope-of-work statement, all of which are inextricably linked to the FAR.
- Defended and resolved claims brought by billion-dollar conglomerate against a smaller competitor, asserting copyright, trade secret, and conspiracy and contractual interference claims arising out of the hiring of the conglomerate’s former employees. Resolved with limited exposure to the smaller consulting firm and in time to minimize potentially disastrous costs.
- Obtained favorable jury verdict for national health insurance company seeking an eight figure recovery, in claim brought by medical provider denied entrance to a medical network; jury granted further relief on amounts due our client by the owner of the medical provider.
- Litigated and obtained substantial damages and permanent injunction against consulting employee who sold company assets including valuable trade secrets to a competitor in which he held an interest, as well as a first-ever injunction against the United States Patent and Trademark Office, to protect client’s purloined trade secrets disclosed in patent documents.
- Obtained significant payment of commissions due a Canadian sales representative based upon the bad faith termination of the representative. This case settled midway through a weeklong jury trial in federal court in Boston.
- Successful defense and countersuit in patent and trade dress infringement case brought by international cosmetic supplier against private-label, middle market manufacturer/fulfillment house. Defeated supplier in its home state and successfully obtained declaratory relief so that the case resolved without any findings of liability for the client and without any exchange of meaningful consideration.
- Obtained a permanent injunction and seven-figure judgment against a gray-market operator who was illegally importing goods intended for other destination countries and who diverted sales of the subject equipment from authorized dealers of the manufacturer. Ultimately, the gray-market importer was put out of business, maintaining the integrity of both the market channel for the initial dealer and the supplier-dealer relationship for all of the channel partners as well as the infamous trade mark of the manufacturer
- Initiated litigation against a corporate target planning a $35 million ESOP transaction to effectively freeze out its minority shareholders. After obtaining temporary and preliminary injunctive relief on the heels of the purported ESOP closing, obtained a multi-million dollar payment for the client which well exceeded the value of that proposed in the ESOP transaction.
- Successfully resolved case involving a multi-million dollar dispute between a property owner, architect and general contractor, in arbitration, that involved AIA contract forms and the opinions of after-the-fact expert opinion witnesses retained to support the client’s positon.
- Successfully mediated complex accounting claims alleging malpractice around sourcing and treatment of state revenue and improper reporting of related payments to insiders. Effected a voluntary disclosure agreement with applicable taxing authorities and averted seven-figure exposure for client.
- Settled disputes between OEM contractor and related client as to alleged design defects, which were demonstrated not to be the fault of the client, such that the case (involving design counterclaims and claims for amounts due for goods) was resolved, short of a two week international jury trial and that resulted in a shift in resolution payments from $1.7 million in favor of the OEM contractor to a substantial payment in favor of the manufacturing client.
- Successfully tried to award multi-million dollar dealer-distributor dispute, including franchise act claims against dealer, in week long arbitration trial. In addition, resolved multiple dealer disputes between wholly owned distributor avoiding multiple litigation claims and reportable violations of various state law dealer statutes relating to heavy equipment, such as excavators, wheel loaders and back hoe lifts.
- Successfully obtained arbitration awards in over a dozen cases for a client in labor disputes covered by applicable collective bargaining agreement. Further, obtained favorable results for client in defeating organizational efforts to certify union, defeated various claims to aggregate union and non-union facilities in hearings before the NLRB and in arbitration, and aided client to successfully obtain petition decertifying union in case where the client’s employees sought to terminate union representation.
Business Divorce Litigation and Dispute Resolution
- Successfully obtain temporary, preliminary and permanent injunctive relief for a multi-state staffing company, where the managers of the entity attempted to steal the business of the staffing company including trade secret theft. After filing suit, and asserting claims against counsel for the rouge managers, the staffing company not only reacquired its business in the remote location in which the rouge manager sought to steal its business, but obtained payment of damages including attorney’s fees, such that the “coup” was not only put down but the client was made whole.
- Successful representation at trial of a minority corporate shareholder, establishing and recovering his share interest at fair value.
- Obtained expulsion of self-dealing LLC member/manager, recovering diverted funds as offset to the purchase of the rogue member’s interest.
- Recently filed suit and resolved, at mediation, a business- break up that if not resolved could have destroyed the client’s business. The underlying business was founded on key trade-secret technology, which was safely maintained as a result of the litigation initiated and key dispute resolution tactics that lead to a victorious outcome for the client.
- Successfully represented a shareholder who had been frozen out by his fifty percent partner, forcing a fair split of assets and business between partners and also recovered attorneys’ fees for client.
- Obtained preliminary and permanent injunctive relief against a medical practice partner caught clandestinely soliciting patients before departing for another practice; negotiated division of all practice assets favorably for client.
- Successful arbitration of all claims of our client, a joint-venture partner, involving millions of dollars in damages. After a week-long hearing, arbitrators awarded the client all relief requested.
- Represented an original shareholder marginalized by partners prior to their selling the business to a larger entity. Employing dissenter’s rights and obtaining an independent valuation of the client’s net worth, we re-engineered the transaction to result in a more-than satisfactory buyout for client as well as waiver of non-competition covenants for his future operations and other non-monetary benefits.
- Obtained a multimillion-dollar judgment against and removal of a key man partner attempting to defraud his shareholder partner in a closely held business.
- Successfully resolved in arbitration dispute between former venture partners in multimillion-dollar vacation property ownership/management venture, resulting in a confidential settlement of disputes involving LLC, corporate and equitable accounting, and other legalities, while avoiding disclosure of client’s sensitive financial information.
- Successfully mediated between various corporate partners in a complex structure of more than a dozen interrelated entities, arising out of claims of one partner’s breach of fiduciary duty. After proving no breach or any other wrongdoing, following significant discovery and depositions, mediation exonerated the accused partner and allowed recovery of significant costs incurred.
- In a bitter, ongoing shareholder/partnership dispute between two siblings, successfully defeated a motion to appoint a receiver to take control of the key operating business and structured the litigation to effect a successful resolution of the dispute tied to the underlying corporate entity.
- Successfully restructured an LLC involving two corporate partners (one a subsidiary of a group of consolidated business corporations), arising from poor accounting advice. A successful suit against the accountants for professional negligence and a restructuring achieved the resolution of significant tax ramifications for both the restructured entity and the controlled group of related businesses.
- Effected a complete “business divorce” between two shareholder/partners, officers, and directors in several interrelated financial recovery businesses. Our client was released from all obligations, including those tied to existing bank loans and non-competition restrictions. Resolution included fair value payment to the separating partner for his ownership interest in each of the entities.
- Successfully resolved several partnership disputes, partner separations, and conclusions of business ventures, in a variety of businesses, whether by litigation, negotiation, and/or alternate dispute resolution, including the following business: an electrical wiring business; cosmetic surgery day spa; temporary staffing business; health aid computer programming operation; medical practices involving anesthesia, urology and internal medicine; a similar physical therapy practice: an orthotics and prosthetics practice; a thoracic surgery practice; and a mortgage brokerage business.
- Crafted comprehensive agreement resolving disputes between two joint-venture partners, relative to complex, international customs documents governed by treaty—avoiding litigation and effecting a contract preserving value of client’s business in perpetuity, creating other long-term commitments between the parties, and establishing governance formerly lacking in the partnership.
- Resolved litigation before the United States Tax Court arising out of disputes between a father and son formerly in professional practice together. After demonstrating son’s innocence of conversion and unfair competition, the matter was positioned to be successfully resolved between the parties.
- Resolved disputes between two family factions operating a myriad of entities to develop, own, and manage commercial real estate projects, arising from allegations that one faction had engaged in self-dealing, theft, and mismanagement. Through a series of derivative and direct lawsuits, all disputes were successfully resolved, including return of significant monies to the complaining faction and the reassignment of various operating partners relative to certain projects.
Fiduciary and Insurance Litigation
- Tried and obtained resolution for corporate trustee resolving disputes among more than thirty beneficiaries, in order to terminate trust and distribute its assets, while vindicating trustee of alleged statutory and common law violations.
- Obtained a jury verdict in favor of a multinational, life insurance company regarding correct payment of death benefits and defeating claim that the owner had changed his beneficiary configuration.
- Successfully tried to a jury competing claims for multi-state Fortune 500 insurance company relating to billing for various classes of patients, defeating a $30 million counterclaim and obtaining verdict in favor of insurer on payment obligations.
- Successfully defeated claim against trustee of family trust for breach of fiduciary duty by establishing that complaining beneficiary had full knowledge of the administration and trust activities of the various assets of the deceased’s “estate,” including various trusts, and demonstrating that formal accounting was not required due to waiver by disgruntled beneficiary. The case was upheld on appeal and a final order was entered against the rouge beneficiary such that the final order became law of the case.
- Successfully prevailed in multiple institutional trustee litigation involving issues from instructions on trust interpretation (petitions for instructions), equitable reformation of trust documents, including those that were when suit was filed roughly a century old, to application of law to the date of existing testamentary documents (decades old), to removal of trustees and adjustments to trusts with outdated trust language that required an upgrade to keep pace with current institutional trends and procedures.
- Obtained several reformation and/or equitable deviation judgments in litigation ranging from adjustment to distribution language of trust, affecting trust terms and provisions involving diversification issues, to determining proper beneficiaries, including as to testamentary documents that are at least a century old and/or trust language that is substantially ambiguous.
For more than ten years, Mr. Mendelsohn has regularly served as a volunteer adjunct faculty member of the National Institute of Trial Attorneys (NITA), teaching younger attorneys the art and skill of trying cases. NITA is a leading and highly reputable provider of legal advocacy skills training, having pioneered the learning-by-doing methodology for legal skills in the 1970s.
Mr. Mendelsohn has served on ad hoc committees for several not-for-profit ventures and has contributed to the programs sponsored by the Illinois Supreme Court's Committee on Professionalism.
Mr. Mendelsohn has presented at the National Business Institute, on topics such as “Business Partner and Shareholder Disputes.” He speaks and writes on legal topics related to his practice, and he authors a regular column, “Legal Watch,” for Industrial Distribution Today, a bimonthly business magazine serving the industrial distribution market.
- June 11, 2020
- June 10, 2020
- May 11, 2020
- April 9, 2020
- March 27, 2020
- March 19, 2020
- November 5, 2018
- January 22, 2018
- When Shareholders Fight, Courts Can Take ControlJanuary 3, 2017
- March 2016
- December 1, 2015
- October 15, 2015
- July 13, 2015
- December 3, 2014
- November 18, 2013
- June 4, 2013
- November 28, 2012
- January 6, 2012
- April 14, 2011
- featuring Stephen C. Voris, Susan M. Horner, Victoria R. Collado, Jay S. Dobrutsky, George J. Lynch, James C. Geoly, Edward J. Lesniak, Frederic A. Mendelsohn, Gerard D. Ring, April 5, 2010