Francis A. Citera

Francis A. Citera

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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 over 30 years of experience defending toxic tort actions, and other complex litigation in both federal and state courts. He has tried many cases to verdict, 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. He has been described by Legal 500 as being "renowned for his toxic tort and product liability work."

Frank defends class actions for companies from virtually all industries and business sectors. He has been an architect of strategies to defeat class certification and has obtained favorable results across the country on a host of claims, including mass tort, product liability, unfair competition, consumer protection, and breach of contract/warranty claims. He regularly handles multi-state consumer class actions and often serves as national coordinating counsel for companies facing multidistrict and overlapping class action proceedings. 

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 National Transportation Safety Board, 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 counseled clients on crisis management and crisis communications. He has participated in a briefing before the U.S. 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.

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.

Concentrations

  • Litigation
  • Class actions
  • Mass torts
  • Environmental
  • Civil practice
  • Appellate
  • Bankruptcy litigation
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Capabilities

Experience

  • Served as counsel for an industrial client in two trials arising from the Lower Fox River and Green Bay Superfund site:
    • Represented defendant on claims of the government for a mandatory injunction to implement the remedy for the Lower Fox River and Green Bay Superfund site tried December 2012, and for recovery of costs and natural resource damages. Significantly, the Seventh Circuit held that the permanent injunction entered by the district court was improper and must be vacated. In so holding, the Court concluded that permanent injunctive relief is not available to the government as a means of enforcing an administrative clean-up order. This action makes clear that CERCLA cannot be used by the EPA to evade legal requirements for permanent injunctive relief. United States v. P.H. Glatfelter Co. et al., 768 F.3d 662 (7th Cir. 2014). 
    • Represented defendant and counterclaim plaintiff in Superfund allocation case for the Lower Fox River and Green Bay Superfund site tried February 2012. NCR Corp. v. Geo. A. Whiting Paper Co., No. 13-2447 (7th Cir. 2014).
  • 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 on the Chicago lakefront. AOPA sought to compel the FAA to prepare an Environmental Assessment or Environmental Impact Statement regarding the closure of Meigs Field.
  • Represented Sears Roebuck and Co. in three consolidated class actions alleging that that Sears’ transmittals of the plaintiffs’ names, addresses, telephone numbers, and encrypted credit card information violated their privacy rights and the Illinois Consumer Fraud Act.  The trial court granted Sears’ motion for summary judgment on all of the class’s claims. In an opinion that adopted all of Sears’ legal arguments, the trial court confirmed that retailers can safely share “personal” information about their customers for purposes of marketing additional products or services as long as that information is not “private” information and that a plaintiff cannot establish a violation of the Illinois Consumer Fraud Act without demonstrating actual economic injury.  On January 6, 2017, the Appellate Court of Illinois, First Judicial District, again adopted all of Sears’ legal arguments and affirmed the trial court’s entry of summary judgment in favor of Sears, concluding inter alia that plaintiffs could not prove the requisite “actual damage” required under the Illinois Consumer Fraud Act. Bovay v. Sears, 2016 IL App (1st) 142672-U.
  • Represented Sears, Roebuck and Co. in a series of putative class actions pending in state and federal courts since 2005. 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.
    • In Santamarina v. Sears, Roebuck and Co., plaintiffs commenced a putative class action against Sears alleging violation of California’s Unfair Competition Law and the False Advertising Law. Plaintiffs sought to certify a class consisting of: “All persons who purchased, in the state of California…any Craftsman branded tool or product where any unit or part thereof was entirely or substantially made, manufactured or produced outside of the United States.” The Los Angeles Superior Court denied the plaintiffs' motion for class certification, finding that plaintiffs' putative class was not sufficiently ascertainable and was impermissibly overbroad (November 30, 2012). The Court of Appeal of the State of California, Second Appellate District, affirmed the trial court’s order (April 26, 2016).
    • In In re Sears, Roebuck and Co. Tools Marketing and Sales Practices Litigation, 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. The United States Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit dismissed plaintiff's appeals in the MDL proceeding (March 23, 2012).
    • In Baumann v. Sears Roebuck and Company, 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 (October 3, 2008).
  • Represented Albertsons Safeway in a class action in which the plaintiff alleged that the defendants filled prescriptions presented by the plaintiff and the putative Class for Concerta, a prescription product approved for the treatment of attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), with generic drugs that are not therapeutically equivalent to Concerta. Less than five months after the action was commenced, Judge Der-Yeghiayan dismissed the plaintiff’s complaint and entered judgment in favor of the defendants, finding that the plaintiff failed to allege that the generic failed to act in the same matter as Concerta or failed to provide the minor plaintiff with safe and effective treatment for his ADHD. The Court further concluded that even if the plaintiff could establish that the generic was not a therapeutically equivalent product, the plaintiff had not shown any injury-in-fact harm stemming from receiving the generic. Thus, the Court concluded that the plaintiff lacked standing. Turetsky v. American Drug Stores LLC, et al., Case No. 15-cv-10491 (November 2015).
  • Serve as 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 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 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).
  • Represented Sears, Roebuck and 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 and 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 and Co., 227 Ill.2d 147 (2007).
  • 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. 
  • Represented Husky Injection Molding Systems, Ltd., the world's largest supplier of injection molding equipment and services to the plastics industry, in a wrongful death action. On October 13, 2006, the Court of Common Pleas, County of Summit, Ohio, granted Husky's motion for summary judgment. 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 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.
  • 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.

Recognition & Leadership

  • Listed, The Best Lawyers in America, Litigation - Bankruptcy, 2008-2017
  • Listed, Super Lawyers magazine, Illinois Super Lawyers, 2005-2017
  • Listed, Leading Lawyers Network, 2005-2017
  • Listed, The Legal 500 United States, 2009, 2011-2017
    • Environment: Litigation, 2014-2017
    • Product Liability and Mass Tort Defense: Consumer Products (Including Tobacco), 2011-2014, 2017
    • Supreme Court and Appellate, 2009, 2017
  • Team Member, U.S. News - Best Lawyers®, Best Law Firms Edition, "Law Firm of the Year," Environmental Law, 2016Recipient, Alumni Achievement Award, University of Miami School of Law, October 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
  • 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

AV®, AV Preeminent®, Martindale-Hubbell DistinguishedSM and Martindale-Hubbell NotableSM are certification marks used under license in accordance with the Martindale-Hubbell® certification procedures, standards and policies.

  • Board of Directors, Lawyers for the Creative Arts, 2014-present
  • Chicago Bar Association
    • Chair, Class Litigation Committee, 2001-2002
    • Member, Nominating Committee, 2002
  • International Bar Association
    • Member, Litigation Committee
    • Member, Consumer Litigation Committee
    • Member, Negligence and Damages Committee
  • Member, American Apparel and Footwear Association, Product Safety Council
  • Member, American Bar Association Section of Litigation, Committee on Class Actions
  • Member, Appellate Lawyers Association
  • 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
  • Member, University of Miami School of Law National Advisory Council
  • Board of Directors, Pottawattomie Country Club, Michigan City, Indiana
  • 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
  • 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

Credentials

Education
  • J.D., cum laude, University of Miami School of Law, 1983
    • Student Research/Writing Editor, University of Miami Law Review
    • Moot Court
  • B.A., English, Columbia University, 1980
Admissions
  • Illinois
  • U.S. Court of Appeals for the Eighth Circuit
  • U.S. Court of Appeals for the Eleventh Circuit
  • U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit
  • U.S. Court of Appeals for the First Circuit
  • U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit
  • U.S. Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit
  • U.S. Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit
  • U.S. District Court for the Central District of Illinois
  • U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Michigan
  • U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Wisconsin
  • U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Illinois, including Trial Bar
  • U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Illinois