Photo of John E. Schiller

Professional Experience

John is a business litigator with over twenty five years experience representing closely held and family businesses in complex business litigation, trust, partnership and shareholder disputes, contract disputes, and business torts. John has tried many different kinds of cases to verdict and appeared in Courts in states outside of Ohio, including New York, Pennsylvania, West Virginia, Michigan and New Jersey. John also has significant health law experience and has litigated health law related cases including physician disputes, ERISA class actions and regulatory matters. In July 2010 John was recognized for his professional rectitude by a client who endowed a chair in legal ethics in his name at the Maurer School of Law, Indiana University.

Here are some examples of John's work as lead counsel:

  • In 2013-2014 John successfully represented a life science company in a dispute with a major university and hospital system about the ownership of a patent. Communications by those entities had created a cloud on ownership of the patent at issue creating a major obstacle to the further development of the patented technology. In September 2013 John brought an action in the form of a declaratory judgment case in State Court to remove the cloud on ownership. The defendants removed to Federal Court and before the Court ruled on a motion to remand, the Judge was persuaded that the matter might well be resolved if the parties were to exchange "proof" of a key fact without the time and expense of formal discovery. As the plaintiff, John's client was more than willing to participate in that process knowing that it would be to its benefit and possibly eliminate years of costly litigation. This process led to a confidential settlement in June 2014 that allowed John's client to proceed with the further development of the patent. Rather than being mired in litigation for years, John's client was free of the problem in only nine months. It was an example of how a streamlined process to determine a key fact can greatly reduce the time and expense of vexatious litigation.
  • In August 2012, John obtained a directed verdict for a client after a jury trial in Stark County Court of Common Pleas, Canton, Ohio. The case involved allegations that John's client had committed professional negligence in connection with the vetting of an entity that provided stop-loss protection but failed to pay certain claims. After the close of all the evidence, the Court heard argument and ruled in favor of John's client and dismissed the case in its entirety.
  • In March 2012, John prevailed at trial on behalf of the operator of a Nevada truck stop casino in a Federal Court case, seeking equitable relief in the form of a declaratory judgment to have his client's late notice of lease renewal declared effective notice. It was a bet-the-company case, because the operator could not relocate, and at issue was the first of three five-year options. The case was tried before a twelve-person, advisory jury whose unanimous verdict was adopted by the Judge. The case was filmed as part of a pilot program for the United States District Courts and will be archived at the United States Supreme Court. (Sierra 76, Inc. v. TA Operating, LLC, Case No. 1:11-CV-1264, United States District Court, Northern District of Ohio).
  • In November 2010, John won a commercial arbitration award of $592,000 for a physician client against his former medical practice. Under his employment agreement, the physician was entitled to severance upon leaving the practice. The practice refused to pay the severance claiming that the physician had breached his fiduciary duty with respect to the management of pension funds and had committed fraud in connection with his departure. The group sought damages in the amount of One Million dollars. After depositions, briefing and a hearing, the arbitrator awarded John's client the full amount of his claim plus interest.
  • In January 2010, John successfully represented an Ohio manufacturer and three of its employees in the defense of a complaint alleging the theft of trade secrets and other business torts. The matter was settled after the plaintiff unsuccessfully attempted to remove the case to Federal Court the day the trial was to commence. The public settlement included a statement that based on the evidence heard, Plaintiff no longer believed that the Defendants had committed theft or misappropriation as originally claimed.
  • In March 2010 John was able to force the release of hundreds of thousands of dollars from a pension fund which whose Trustee had refused to acknowledge John's client as the beneficiary of the funds at issue. The matter was successfully resolved within weeks after John filed a Complaint in Federal Court.
  • In June 2009 John won a unanimous jury verdict for a client who was sued by a law firm for legal fees. After a trial that took almost four days the law firm was found liable to the client on a counterclaim and the client was awarded damages.
  • From April 2007 to June 2009 John successfully represented the beneficiaries of an ultra high net worth family Trust. The litigation involved a claim for trustee fees and counterclaims for breach of fiduciary duty and was litigated in Federal Court for almost two years. The resolution took the form of a confidential settlement.
  • In 2008 John successfully represented the beneficiaries of a Trust in resolving a dispute with a Trustee arising from certain investment decisions made by the Trustee. The amount at issue was in excess of One Million dollars and was resolved without litigation.
  • In March 2007, John successfully defended a New York State homebuilder against a multi million dollar breach of contract claim in New York State Court. After selling land to our client, the plaintiff brought suit for a myriad of claims including fraud, breach of fiduciary duty, breach of contract, and executory accord. All claims other than the contract claims were voluntarily withdrawn by the plaintiff after John took depositions and filed a motion for summary judgment. On the eve of the trial, the two million dollar claim for breach of an executory accord was settled without payment. The remaining claim was resolved for a nominal sum.
  • In January 2006, John served as lead trial counsel in the successful defense of a manufacturer of specialty machine parts in a breach of contract action tried to a State Court jury. The plaintiff sought damages in excess of $150,000. The jury awarded the plaintiff only $5,000.
  • In March 2005, John served as lead trial counsel for a closely held Texas based manufacturer in breach of contract action against a Fortune 200 company in United States District Court in Akron, Ohio. After a week long jury trial, John won a verdict in the amount of $1.8 million - the full amount sought by his client. Payment ensued without delay or appeal.
Walter | Haverfield LLP

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John's practice primarily involves representing closely held and family businesses in complex business litigation as well as family members in trust and shareholder disputes.

Health Law Experience

John's litigation experience in health law matters includes group practice disputes, hospital privileging matters, hospital and insurer reimbursement disputes and ERISA coverage cases. From 1991 to 1997 John was one of a team of outside counsel for a major regional health care insurer. During that time John was involved in a variety of complex litigation matters and class action cases, including litigation arising out of the liquidation of the West Virginia Blue Cross and Blue Shield Plan. Charleston Area Medical Center, Inc. v. Blue Cross and Blue Shield Mut. of Ohio, Inc. , 6 F.3d 243 (C.A.4) 1993. John's work on this matter continued with the representation of the health insurer in connection with an investigation by the United States Senate Permanent Subcommittee on Governmental Affairs in 1993 which conducted a high profile investigation into the insolvency of the West Virginia plan and the solvency and business practices of a number of the participants in the Blue Cross System and the Blue Cross Association.

Entertainment Practice

As part of his entertainment practice, John represented the late Solomon Burke, a Rock and Roll Hall of Fame Inductee and 2002 Grammy award winner, in a variety of matters, including the negotiation of CD and DVD contracts. John also represents independent film producers in various matters, including the negotiation of talent agreements and music related issues.


  • February 29, 2008 - John presented on the topic of "Peer Review" at the annual meeting of the American College of Legal Medicine, which took place in Houston, Texas.

Professional & Community Associations

  • Member, 2013-2014 Cleveland Metropolitan Bar Association Task Force on Civility and Professionalism


B.A. Government and Philosophy, University of Virginia 1979
J.D. Case Western Reserve University School of Law 1984

  • Winner, Best Oral Advocate, 1984 Dean Dunmore Moot Court Tournament

Bar Admissions

  • Ohio
  • United States District Courts for the Northern District of Ohio and Eastern District of Michigan
  • United States Courts of Appeal for the Fourth and Sixth Circuits

Awards & Recognition

July 2010 - John Schiller was honored for his professional rectitude by a client who endowed a $1.5 million Chair in Legal Ethics in his name at the Maurer School of Law, Indiana University at Bloomington. The person who holds the John E. Schiller Chair in Legal Ethics can specialize in any area of the law, but must demonstrate a commitment to the highest standard of legal professional ethics through her or his teaching, scholarship, and service. Professor Hannah Buxbaum was recently named as the first professor to hold the Chair.

The Journal of Financial Services Professionals, through its Kenneth Black, Jr. Journal Author Award Program, has recognized John E. Schiller for his 2008 article, "Trustee Liability: A Litigator's Perspective. " John's article placed second among the top three pieces published in the Journal, as determined by an independent panel of judges. Named in honor of Kenneth Black, Jr. , PhD, CLU, editor of the Journal for forty-one years, these awards were issued on the basis of the originality of the authors' research and on the articles' clarity, timeliness and appropriateness for the Journal's readership.

Articles by John E. Schiller

August 29, 2014 - "Managing obesity from a legal perspective," Managed Healthcare Executive

April 2014 - "Ten tips for effective counsel," Ohio State Bar Association website (News and Publications section)

March 4, 2014 - "The challenge of addressing end-of-life care under the current health care model," Crain's Cleveland Business (Legal Guest Blog)

December 16, 2013 - "End-of-life care requires national dialogue," Managed Healthcare Executive

August 2010 - "Trustee Compensation: Proceed with Caution," The Tax Adviser

Winter 2010 - "A Physician's Last Chance," published by the Federal Litigation Section of the Federal Bar Association

November 2008 - "Trustee Liability: A Litigator's Perspective," Journal of Financial Service Professionals Magazine, November 2008, Vol. 62, No.6

October 2007 - "Observations from the Box," Inside Business

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