Walter Haverfield Attorney

John E. Schiller

  • Partner
  • Cleveland Direct: 216.928.2941
  • Cleveland Fax: 216.916.2363

Overview

John is a business litigator and trial lawyer with over 25 years’ experience representing clients in complex business disputes, trust, partnership and shareholder disputes, contract disputes, real estate disputes, and cases involving a variety of business torts. John also has significant health law related experience and has litigated diverse 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 his name at the Maurer School of Law at Indiana University. The prestigious $1.5 million dollar endowment, the John E. Schiller Chair of Legal Ethics, is a lasting testament to both the quality of John’s work and his professionalism. Read more about the endowed Chair here.

Experience

Litigation Experience As Lead Counsel

Commercial
  • Won jury verdict of $1.8 million for a Texas-based manufacturer who sued a Fortune 200 company for breach of a supply agreement. The case was tried for a week in federal court. The verdict included five years of lost future profits. Payment was made without delay or appeal. Houston Die Casting v. Eaton Corp. (N.D. Ohio, J. Adams, 2005).
  • 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 begin. The public settlement included a statement that, based on the evidence heard, the plaintiff no longer believed that the defendants had committed theft or misappropriation as originally claimed.
  • Obtained a directed verdict for a client after a jury trial in Stark County Court of Common Pleas. 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 evidence, the court heard argument and ruled in favor of John's client and dismissed the case in its entirety.
  • 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.
  • Represented 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.
Real Estate
  • Won a declaratory judgment action seeking to enforce a five year renewal option in a commercial lease for a casino operator in Reno, Nevada. It was a bet-the-company case because the casino operator could not relocate and if the Court did not enforce the option the client would be out of business. The case was tried before a 12 person advisory jury whose unanimous decision in favor of John’s client 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).
  • Defended a New York State homebuilder against a multi-million dollar breach of contract claim in a New York 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 trial, the $2 million claim for breach of an executory accord was settled without payment. The remaining claim was resolved for a nominal sum.
Health Care
  • Won an arbitration award of $592,000 for a physician client against his former medical practice. The practice refused to pay agreed-upon severance to John’s client when he left the practice claiming that the physician had breached his fiduciary duty had committed fraud. The group sought damages in the amount of $1 million. After depositions, briefing and a hearing, the arbitrator awarded John's client the full amount of his claim plus interest.
  • Represented a physician in a challenge to a summary suspension of his hospital privileges by a government hospital and termination of employment at a teaching hospital. 
  • Represented a physician in a challenge to his summary suspension and loss of employment. John brought an action in federal court that resulted in a confidential settlement that allowed his client to continue to practice his specialty and enjoy the fruits of many hard years of training.
  • From 1991 to 1997 John was one of a team of outside counsel for a major regional health care insurer. During this time he 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 Senate Permanent Subcommittee on Governmental Affairs, which in 1993 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.
Intellectual Property
  • Represented a life science company in a dispute with a major university and hospital system over the ownership of a patent. Communications between the entities had clouded ownership of the patent at issue and created a major obstacle to the further development of the patented technology. In September 2013 John brought a declaratory judgment action in state court to remove the cloud on ownership. The defendants removed to federal court. The judge was persuaded that the matter would be resolved if the parties were to exchange "proof" of a key fact without the time and expense of formal discovery. John's client was more than willing to participate in this process, knowing it would be to its benefit and would 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 and enabled to obtain significant additional financing.
ERISA
  • Defends claims of breach of fiduciary duty, fraud and self-dealing.
  • Forced the release of hundreds of thousands of dollars from a pension fund 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.
Tax
  • In a case that garnered national attention in tax circles, John challenged an IRS decision denying John's client access to the IRS's e-file system. He brought an action in the United States District Court for the Northern District of Ohio asserting that the IRS's refusal to allow his client to e-file was arbitrary and capricious. After both sides moved for summary judgment, the IRS reversed its position and the client obtained his EFIN without any further litigation. (Davis v. IRS, et. al., Case No. 1:14-CV-00261, United States District Court for the Northern District of Ohio, J. Solomon Oliver). 
Trusts and Estates
  • 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 matter was resolved with a confidential settlement.
  • Represented the beneficiaries of a trust in resolving a dispute with a trustee arising from certain investment decisions made by that trustee. The amount at issue was in excess of $1 million and was resolved without litigation.
Entertainment Law
  • John had the privilege of becoming a close friend, representative, and advisor to the late Solomon Burke, a Rock and Roll Hall of Fame Inductee and 2002 Grammy Award winning singer. John was involved in Solomon’s renaissance beginning in 2000 and continuing until his passing in 2010, during which time Solomon recorded multiple CDs, received multiple Grammy nominations, performed in 20 countries, and appeared prominently in the music film, “Lightning in a Bottle,” produced by Martin Scorsese.

Recognition

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 currently holds the Chair. Read more about the endowed Chair here.

The Journal of Financial Services Professionals, through its Kenneth Black, Jr. Journal Author Award Program, recognized John E. Schiller for his 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., Ph.D, CLU, and 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

Presentations

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

Associations

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