With over 200 successfully litigated disputes under his belt, and many years of industry experience representing over a dozen automotive clients, Jim brings unmatched talent in resolving the most complex and serious issues those clients face as they interact with dealers in their networks and with state regulators who oversee those business activities.
Jim is the founder and former co-chair of the firm’s Motor Vehicle Group. He is also a senior partner in BFKN’s Litigation and Intellectual Property Groups.
Jim has counseled dozens of motor vehicle and other franchisor clients, and has litigated disputes for them, on a broad range of legal issues throughout the U.S. His track record for motor vehicle franchisors includes, in addition to an unblemished record of success in close to 50 add-point and relocation cases, litigation involving dealer terminations, market encroachment, warranty reimbursement (audits, disputes, policies and fraud), national allocation systems, facility and site control regulation, minority dealer representation programs, advertising regulation, antitrust regulation, franchise transfers, Dealer-Day-in-Court Act claims, gray market trading, dealer and distributor licensing, company-owned dealerships, product marketing and consumer fraud regulation.
Jim has also litigated cases involving land use planning, tax increment financing, zoning, commercial class actions, copyright and trademark infringement, trade secrets, restrictive employment covenants, whistleblower employee termination, antitrust claims, lender liability, environmental regulation, condemnations, truth-in-lending claims, political asylum, and claims under the federal Racketeering Influenced and Corrupt Organizations (RICO) Act.
In addition to practicing before dozens of administrative agencies around the country, Jim is admitted to practice in the State of Illinois, the U.S. Supreme Court, the Fifth and Seventh U.S. Courts of Appeal, and numerous U.S. District Courts.
Throughout his career, Jim has served on several business boards, including U.S. Laboratories Inc., Pharos Innovations LLC; and on the boards of several not-for-profit organizations, including: Rise International, which has now built nearly 200 schools in rural Africa; Children’s Heart Foundation, Williams Heart Foundation, Tyndale Theological Seminary, and The Chicago Foundation.
- State of Illinois
- U.S. District Court - Northern District of Illinois
- U.S. District Court - Central District of Illinois
- U.S. District Court - Southern District of Illinois
- U.S. Court of Appeals - 5th Circuit
- U.S. Court of Appeals - 7th Circuit
- U.S. Supreme Court
- Southern Illinois University School of Law, J.D., cum laude, 1977
- Harvard College, B.A., magna cum laude, 1974
Jim has litigated over 200 cases representing automotive companies in disputes with their dealers. Among Jim’s successful litigation engagements have been a number of precedent-setting cases, including:
- A decision by the Illinois Supreme Court striking the Illinois dealer establishment statute as an unconstitutional delegation of legislative powers to the judicial branch.
- Following a multi-week bench trial involving an add-point on Long Island, the dismissal of suits by two New York dealers who, advancing common law claims for breach of the implied covenant of good faith and fair dealing, had sought both $20 million in damages and an injunction to block the dealership’s establishment.
- A decision by the Illinois Appellate Court enjoining the retroactive application of the Illinois dealer establishment statute to dealer agreements pre-dating the statute’s adoption.
- A first-of-its-kind damage award under the RICO Act, entered by the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Illinois against a dealer engaged in wire fraud involving the submission of false warranty claims, the investigation of which also led to a federal indictment and conviction of the dealer principal.
- A decision by the Missouri Supreme Court that blocked an attempt to challenge an add-point under the franchise statute’s prohibition against “capricious, in bad faith, or unconscionable” conduct.
- A decision by the U.S. Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals upholding the termination of a dealership for lack of facilities in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina.
- A decision by the U.S. District Court for the District of Maryland dismissing common law claims advanced to challenge a dealership add-point in the absence of a state “relevant market area” statute.
- A decision by the Virginia Supreme Court finding that the Virginia vehicle allocation statute was unconstitutionally vague.
- Jim has also led legal teams involved in a major expansion of an automotive dealer network, in the national roll-out of an expanded facility upgrade program, and the U.S. launch of a new vehicle brand.
- September 18-20, 2019
- The Best Lawyers in America© (2021-2023)
- Franchise Law
- Leading Lawyers Network (2005-2023)
- Illinois Super Lawyers (2010-2012, 2014-2017)
- Board of Directors (former) and Legal Counsel, RISE International
- Board of Directors, The Chicago Foundation
- Board of Directors, Tyndale Theological Seminary (Amsterdam)