Francis A. Citera is Co-Chair of the firm's Products Liability & Mass Torts Litigation Group and Co-Chair of the Chicago Litigation Practice. Frank has 30 years of experience defending purported class actions, toxic tort actions, and other complex litigation in both federal and state courts. He has tried many cases, including an action by the Government to enforce a unilateral administrative order, an allocation case among potentially responsible parties, and a complex product liability, wrongful death case. Frank is also an experienced appellate lawyer, having argued many appeals in state and federal appellate courts. Additionally, Frank has substantial experience in bankruptcy litigation, having represented debtors-in possession in a broad range of disputes, as well as lenders, landlords, and trade creditors in bankruptcy litigation matters.
Frank also counsels clients on risk management and product safety matters for both consumer and industrial products. In this capacity, he has been responsible for matters pending before various federal and state agencies and committees regulating the importation and sale of goods in the United States, including the Consumer Product Safety Commission, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, the Food and Drug Administration, the United States House Energy and Commerce Committee, the State of California Department of Justice and the Illinois Attorney General's office. In connection with these efforts, Frank also has counseled clients on crisis management and crisis communications. He has participated in a briefing before the United States House Committee on Energy and Commerce and its Subcommittee on Oversights and Investigations regarding the safety of certain products intended for children. Frank has written and spoken extensively on class action litigation, product safety issues and claims for medical monitoring.
Areas of Concentration
· Class actions
· Mass torts
· Civil practice
· Bankruptcy litigation
Professional & Community Involvement
· Chicago Bar Association
- Chair, Class Litigation Committee, 2001-2002
- Member, Nominating Committee, 2002
· President, Mid-North Association, 2001-2003
· Presidential Appointment, University of Miami Law Alumni Association Board of Directors, 2000-2001
· Chairman, Legal Division, National Basketball Association, Players Awards Dinner, 1993
· Board of Directors, Pottawattomie Country Club, Michigan City, Indiana
· Member, American Apparel and Footwear Association, Product Safety Council
· Member, American Bar Association Section of Litigation, Committee on Class Actions
· Member, City Club of Chicago
· Member, Defense Research Institute
· Member, International Consumer Product Health and Safety Organization (ICPHSO)
· Member, Italian American Chamber of Commerce - Midwest
· Member, Justinian Society
· Member, University of Miami School of Law Dean's Circle Committee
· Past Participant, Principal-For-A-Day Program, City of Chicago
· Past Member, Board of Editors, Fen-Phen Litigation Strategist
· Past Member, Board of Editors, Silica Legal News Report
· Past Member, Board of Editors, Class Action Law & Strategy
Awards & Recognition
· Listed, The Best Lawyers in America, Litigation - Bankruptcy, 2008-2014
· Member, Winning Team, U.S. News - Best Lawyers "Law Firm of the Year" in Bankruptcy & Creditor Debtor Rights / Insolvency & Reorganization Law and Litigation - Bankruptcy, 2013
· Listed, The Legal 500 United States, 2009-2013
· Listed, Leading Lawyers Network, 2005-2013
· Listed, Super Lawyers magazine, Illinois Super Lawyers, 2005-2013
· Team Member, a Law360 "Product Liability Practice Group of the Year," 2011
· Team Member, a Law360 "Appellate Practice Group of the Year," 2010
· Rated, AV Preeminent® 5.0 out of 5
· In 2012, Frank served as counsel for an industrial client in two trials arising from the Lower Fox River and Green Bay Superfund site, one on a Superfund contribution claim and one on the United States' claim for a mandatory injunction.
· Represented Sears, Roebuck & Co. both before the Supreme Court of Mississippi and the U. S. Court of Appeal for the Fifth Circuit. In Learmonth v. Sears, Roebuck and Co., 710 F.3d 249 (5th Cir. 2013) the Fifth Circuit affirmed the constitutionality of Mississippi's $1 million statutory cap on noneconomic damages.
· Represented Sears, Roebuck & Co. in an argument before the Supreme Court of Illinois. Plaintiffs sought to apply Illinois law to the issues of liability and damages in an action involving an allegedly defectively-designed riding lawn tractor. The Court reviewed the choice-of-law analysis to be applied in a tort case in Illinois, concluding that the law of Michigan, as the state where plaintiffs resided and where the injury occurred, governed the conflicting issues presented. Townsend v. Sears Roebuck & Co., 227 Ill.2d 147 (2007).
· Represented Sears, Roebuck & Co. in a series of putative class actions pending in state and federal courts. Plaintiffs allege that Sears deceptively marketed and labeled its proprietary line of Craftsman tools as "Made in USA" when, in fact, some of these tools contained significant foreign components. On March 23, 2012, the Honorable John F. Grady denied plaintiff's motion to certify a class of Florida consumers for claims under the Florida Deceptive and Unfair Trade Practices Act and Florida's unjust enrichment common law. This is the fourth time that the Court has refused to certify a class of consumers in these MDL proceedings. In re Sears, Roebuck & Co. Tools Marketing and Sales Practices Litigation. In two related actions, the Appellate Court of Illinois affirmed the dismissal of two putative class actions seeking compensatory and injunctive relief with respect to the plaintiffs' purchase of various Craftsman brand tools. Baumann v. Sears Roebuck & Company (October 3, 2008).
· In Santamarina v. Sears, Roebuck & Co., No. BC326946 (Los Angeles County November 30, 2012), a related action, the trial court denied Plaintiffs' motion for class certification, finding that Plaintiffs' putative class was not sufficiently ascertainable and was impermissibly overbroad.
· National coordinating counsel for Lockheed Martin Corporation in actions alleging harmful exposure to industrial sand. In one of these actions, the Eighth Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals affirmed the entry of judgment in favor of Lockheed Martin on the grounds that the plaintiff's employer was a sophisticated user of industrial sand, to whom Lockheed Martin had no duty to warn. Bergfeld v. Martin Marietta Corp., et al., 319 F. 3d 350 (8th Cir. 2003). More recently, an Ohio court entered judgment in favor of Lockheed Martin, concluding that the sophisticated user doctrine was a viable and legitimate defense for Lockheed Martin.
· Served on the national counsel for two manufacturers in a series of class action lawsuits that have been filed against manufacturers, suppliers, vendors and lessors of wireless handheld telephones, those who provide wireless services for such devices, and two trade associations. In Farina v. Nokia, et al., the United States Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit affirmed the dismissal of plaintiff's putative class action, concluding that plaintiff's claims are preempted by the FCC's radio frequency regulations. No. 08-4034 (October 22, 2010).
· Represented an insurer in a case of first impression before the United States Court of Appeals for the First Circuit, involving the burden on a removing defendant to establish the amount in controversy under the Class Action Fairness Act of 2005. The Court rejected plaintiffs' argument that the defendant must prove to a "legal certainty" that the amount in controversy exceeds the jurisdictional minimum, holding instead that the removing defendant must show to a "reasonable probability" that the amount in controversy exceeds $5 million. Amoche v. Guarantee Trust Life Insurance Co., 556 F.3rd 41 (1st Cir. 2009).
· Represented Gaming Partners International USA, Inc. ("GPI") in an action for breach of contract. Plaintiff alleged that GPI breached its contract by failing to prepay for cloth used for gaming layouts. GPI filed a counterclaim, alleging that plaintiff failed to deliver cloth that was ordered and purchased by GPI and failed to replace defective cloth in a timely manner. Shortly after trial commenced and following cross-examination of the plaintiff's president, the Judge dismissed plaintiff's claims against GPI and entered judgment in favor of GPI on its counterclaim.
· Represented FPL Energy Power Marketing, Inc. in two putative class actions pending in the Northern District of Illinois. Plaintiffs alleged that certain of the defendants, who are wholesale suppliers of electricity, had conspired and colluded to artificially fix electrical charges in Illinois, causing Illinois consumers to pay inflated prices for electrical service. On December 21, 2007, Judge William Hart dismissed both actions, holding that the Federal Power Act preempts state-law consumer fraud, unjust enrichment and unfair competition claims such as those asserted by plaintiffs. In so holding, Judge Hart concluded that plaintiffs' claims would require the Court to consider matters regarding the reasonableness of rates that are exclusively entrusted to the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission.
· Represented a leading international specialty retailer in a putative class action alleging exposure to excessive amounts of lead and seeking relief in the form of medical monitoring.
· Represented Husky Injection Molding Systems, Ltd., the world's largest supplier of injection molding equipment and services to the plastics industry. On October 13, 2006, the Court of Common Pleas, County of Summit, Ohio, granted Husky's motion for summary judgment in a wrongful death action. In so holding, the Court agreed with Husky's argument that it adequately warned of the risks associated with the operation of a plastic injection molding press manufactured by Husky.
· Represented Mestek, Inc. in connection with the Chapter 11 case of its wholly owned subsidiary, Met-Coil Systems Corporation, Inc., a metal-forming company that manufactures advanced sheet-metal forming equipment. We resolved significant personal injury and property damage litigation relating to the alleged release of chlorinated solvents into the drinking water of a residential area. A recent law journal article described our efforts in this matter as a "new legal model for resolving mass tort claims against a company as a result of environmental contamination." The article went on to state that this model "offers significant advantages to companies and claimants in other mass tort situations in which the universe of future claims is uncertain but potentially overwhelming." Eric Green et al., Future Claimant Trusts and "Channeling Injunctions" To Resolve Mass Tort Environmental Liability in Bankruptcy: The Met-Coil Model, 22 Emory Bankr. Dev. J. 158 (2006).
· Represented the City of Chicago in UAL Corporation's bankruptcy proceedings. United Airlines, Inc. sought a declaratory judgment as to the effect in bankruptcy of a provision in its Airport Use Agreement with the City of Chicago, governing United's use of O'Hare International Airport. 346 B.R. 456 (N.D.I.L. 2006).
· Represented the Official Committee of Unsecured Creditors in action for equitable subordination and recharacterization of senior secured lender's claims. In re Radnor Holdings Corp.
· Represented Xpedior Inc. and related companies as debtors-in-possession in several adversary proceedings in the United States Bankruptcy Court for the Northern District of Illinois. After creditors were paid 100 percent of their claims, there was nearly $750,000 remaining which was donated to charity.
· Represented a leading manufacturer of audio-visual electronics in two putative class actions. In one of these actions, plaintiffs alleged that VHS videotapes prematurely fade, distort or deteriorate, although they were allegedly marketed as a better means to preserve images than 8-millimeter film. The Appellate Court of Illinois affirmed the judgment of the trial court dismissing plaintiffs' third amended complaint with prejudice. The Appellate Court made clear that subjective descriptions relating to quality are not actionable under the Illinois Consumer Fraud Act.
· Defended an offshore gaming company in a putative class action brought on behalf of individuals who wagered and lost personal property by placing wages via wire and the Internet.
· Obtained summary judgment for Nintendo of America Inc. in a putative class action in which plaintiffs alleged that they developed visually induced seizures while playing video games sold and distributed by Nintendo. Coursey v. Nintendo of America, Inc., 309 Ill. App. 3d 1069 (1st. Dist. 1999).
· Brought suit on behalf of the Aircraft Owners and Pilots Association (AOPA) and others to enjoin the City of Chicago, the Chicago Park District and the FAA from closing Meigs Field, an airport located in the City of Chicago. AOPA sought to compel the FAA to prepare an Environmental Assessment or Environmental Impact Statement regarding the closure of Meigs Field.
· Supervised the resolution of the compensatory damages portion of one of the largest product liability class actions (Salmonella victims) certified in the United States.
· Represented the debtor, Robbins Resource Recovery Partners, L.P., a partnership formed to develop and operate a solid waste-to-energy facility in the Village of Robbins, IL.
Publications & Presentations
Articles, Lectures & Publications
· Featured, "And The Defense Wins," DRI, April 3, 2013
· Featured, "Showing Juries that a Corporation Is a 'Collection of People'," Leading Lawyers Magazine, 2012
· Author, "Significant Impact Certain From New Product Safety Act," Lexis Nexis, September 12, 2008
· Author, "EMF Litigation: The Next Asbestos?" EMF Litigation News, September 1994
· Author, "What Effect Will FDA's Failure Have on Fen-Phen Cases," Fen-Phen Litigation Strategist, June 1999
· Author, "High Court Rules on HMO Liability, Evidence, Torts," The National Law Journal, November 8, 1999
· Author, "General Product Liability Issues," Product Distribution Guide, CCH 1999
· Author, "Manufacturers' Defenses Against Strict Liability Claims," Fen-Phen Litigation Strategist, June 1998
· Author, "Class Action and Medical Monitoring Issues in the Fen-Phen Litigation - A Defense Perspective," Fen-Phen: Medical Aspects & Potential Liability, 1998
· Author, "Utilities Urged to Vigorously Defend EMF Actions," Electric Light & Power, September 1994
· Author, "Vested Seniority Rights: A Conceptual Approach," University of Miami Law Review, July 1982
· Editor, "The Year 2000 Problem - Legal Analysis and Recommendations" (unpublished)
· Speaker, "Demolishing Legal Borders: The Availability of Cross-Border Judicial Cooperation and Promoting and Enforcing Remedies for Collective Redress and Class Action Litigants with Claims in Contract and Tort," Annual Conference of the International Bar Association, Boston, MA, October 8, 2013
· Speaker, "Minimizing Company Harm from 'No Injury' Class Actions," Consumer Products Regulation & Litigation Conference, Chicago, IL, June 26-27, 2013
· Program Co-Chair, "Class Actions: Plaintiff and Defense Perspectives," CLE International, Chicago, IL, October 4-5, 2012
· Speaker, "The CPSC's Product Safety Information Database Warrants Strategic Action Now," Product Safety and Chemical Management Seminar, May 25, 2011
· Speaker, "The Current Terrain in Class Actions," Chicago Bar Association's Class Litigation Committee Program, Chicago, IL, April 4, 2011
· Speaker, "State and Federal Regulation & Enforcement Activity Affecting Resolution of Mass Tort Products Liability Claims," ACI's National Advanced Forum on Managing and Resolving Mass Tort Products Liability Claims, New York, NY, September 29-30, 2010
· Speaker, "Multidistrict Class Action Litigation," Class Actions - 6th Annual Conference, CLE International, Chicago, IL, June 14-15, 2010
· Speaker, "U.S. Product Safety and Chemical Management Regulatory Developments," International Apparel Federation Seminar on Product Safety and Restricted Substances Regulations, Paris, France, February 9, 2010
· Speaker, "State Legislation Review," American Apparel & Footwear Association's Moving Beyond the CPSIA Seminar, October 29, 2009
· Speaker, "Effective Product Recalls," American Apparel & Footwear Association's Product Safety/Supply Chain Compliance Seminar & Exhibition, June 11, 2009
· Speaker, "Product Recalls: A Brief Overview," American Apparel & Footwear Association, February 3, 2009
· Speaker, "Consumer Product Safety Improvement Act of 2008," BVR Legal/Mealey's Conference, December 2, 2008
· Speaker, "Dramatic Changes to the Consumer Product Safety Laws: What Are the Implications?" Practicing Law Institute, October 16, 2008
· Speaker, "Product Safety Seminar: What to Expect and What You Can Do," The American Apparel & Footwear Association, New York, July 31, 2008
· Speaker, "Product Recall Conference: Made in China and Beyond," Mealey's, December 10-11, 2007
· Speaker, "China Product Recalls: What's at Stake, What's Next, " NERA Economic Consulting Seminar, November 29, 2007
· Speaker, "Mastering Insurance Coverage Components and Factoring in Bankruptcy Issues," Resolving Mass Tort Products Liability Claims Conference, March 29, 2007
· Speaker, "Recent Trends in Medical Monitoring Claims in Medical Device and Pharmaceutical Class Action Litigation," Drug and Medical Device Litigation Conference, Chicago, IL, June 29, 2006
· Presenter, "Strategies for Defeating Class Certification," 3rd National In-House Counsel Conference on Defending and Managing Complex Litigation in Atlanta, GA, March 30 - 31, 2006
· Speaker, "The Courts of Madison County," Navigant Consulting Legal Roundtable, January 2006
· Speaker, "Interpreting the Class Action Fairness Act of 2005," PricewaterhouseCoopers' General Counsel Forum, August 2005
· Presenter, "An Overview of the Restatement (Third) of Torts: Product Liability," Twelfth Annual Product Liability Conference at University of Wisconsin - Madison, November 7, 2000
· Author, "Impact of Daubert on State and Federal Product Liability Actions," Twelfth Annual Product Liability Conference at University of Wisconsin - Madison, November 7, 2000
· Presenter, "Indemnity Clauses in Supplier-Distributor Contracts," National Association of Chemical Distributors Region I, April 14, 2000
· Quoted, "Will New Product Safety Law Be A Boon To Insurers?" National Underwriter Property & Casualty, November 13, 2008
· Quoted, "New Breed of Hardball Investors Makes Loans, Takes Control," The Wall Street Journal, December 12, 2006