Richard C. Godfrey, P.C. - Partner

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Richard C. Godfrey, P.C.

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Chicago
Phone: +1 312-862-2391
Fax: +1 312-862-2200
Overview News

Professional Profile

Mr. Godfrey is a senior litigation partner in the Chicago office of Kirkland & Ellis LLP, where he has practiced since 1979 and served as a litigation member of Kirkland’s Global Management Executive Committee from 1999 through 2015, having reached his maximum term limit. He has acted as trial and appellate counsel in both individual and class action suits involving complex claims in a variety of practice areas, including antitrust and trade regulation, contracts, consumer fraud, fraud and false advertising, discrimination and employment discrimination, ERISA, environmental, franchise and distribution, insurance, mass torts, products liability, trade secrets, tax, and others. He also provides strategic litigation counseling to corporations and individuals.

In addition to his practice, Mr. Godfrey is a Trustee of various cultural and educational institutions, including Boston University, The Chicago Symphony Orchestra, Augustana College, and The American Air Museum in Britain, among others. Mr. Godfrey also serves as Chancellor for The Northern Illinois Conference of the United Methodist Church.

Illustrative matters in which Mr. Godfrey has represented companies or individuals over the last several years include:

  • A Leading Property and Casualty Insurance Company v. Orthopedic Specialists, Etc., No. SC15-2298, Slip. Op. (Florida Supreme Court, January 26, 2017), motion for rehearing denied (March 27, 2017) (Represent insurance company in cases regarding whether its personal injury protection policies comply with Florida statute; Florida Supreme Court ruled as a matter of law 4-3 in favor of client)

  • MDL 2543: In re General Motors LLC Ignition Switch Litigation (S.D.N.Y.) (Counsel for General Motors LLC in product liability and economic loss litigation relating to vehicle recalls)

  • Kinseth, et al. v. Weil-McLain, No. 15-0943, Slip. Op (Iowa Court of Appeals, April 19, 2017) (Represent Weil-McLain on appeal of adverse jury verdict in asbestos exposure case; reversed in favor of client)

  • City Of Neodesha, Kansas v. BP Corporation North America, et al., 287 P.3d 214 (Kan. 2012) (Represented BP party defendants on appeal after the district court set aside a strict liability jury verdict in favor of BP defendants and entered judgment as a matter of law in favor of plaintiffs. On appeal, the Kansas Supreme Court reversed the liability judgment, ordered the district court to reinstate the jury verdict, and directed entry of judgment for BP party defendants. On remand, the district court denied plaintiffs’ motion for new trial and plaintiffs appealed. The Kansas Court of Appeals affirmed, finding again for the BP defendants on all issues.) See 334 P.3d 830 (Kan. Ct. App. 2014), rehearing denied by the Kansas Supreme Court on October 7, 2015. Subsequent to the rulings in BP’s favor by the Kanas Supreme Court and Kansas Court of Appeals, the City of Neodesha filed individual actions against BP in its municipal court. BP removed those actions to federal court, which recently denied the City’s motion to remand with respect to over 800 of the actions. See City of Neodesha v. BP Corporation, North America Inc., --- F. Supp. 3d ---, 2016 WL 1298087 (D. Kan., March 31, 2016)

  • Romero v. A Leading Property and Casualty Insurance Company, consolidated; 3 F.Supp.3d 313 (E.D. Pa. 2014), affirmed, 778 F.3d 444 (February 13, 2015) (Represented insurance company in EEOC challenge to validity of release on grounds that insurance company allegedly retaliated against terminated employee agents; Court of Appeals affirmed judgment for insurance company); No. 01-6764, 1 F.Supp.3d 319, 2014 WL 796005 (E.D. Pa. Apr. 7, 2014) (Summary Judgment Opinion & Opinion on Motions for Reconsideration with respect to alleged private plaintiffs’ claims); see also 2016 WL 3654265 (E.D. Pa. July 6, 2016) (Order on motion to dismiss regarding certain ERISA Section 510 and retaliation claims); 2007 WL 906158 (E.D. Pa. Mar. 21, 2007); 2007 WL 1811197 (E.D. Pa. June 20, 2007), reversed, 2009 WL 2255817 (3d Cir. 2009) (Counsel for insurance company client in consolidated cases brought by the EEOC and a putative class of former employee insurance agents alleging age discrimination and breach of contract claims, among others); see also earlier decision in related case reported at 404 F.3d 212 (3d Cir. 2005)

  • MDL 2179: In re Oil Spill by the Oil Rig Deepwater Horizon (E.D. La.); see also In re United States Coast Guard - Bureau of Ocean Energy Management Joint Investigation into the Deepwater Horizon Casualty (Counsel for BP in the multidistrict litigation arising out of the Deepwater Horizon oil spill)

  • The Marley-Wylain Company v. The Superior Court of Los Angeles County, No. B267711 (Cal. App. 2nd Dist., March 24, 2016) (Represented Marley-Wylain on application for peremptory writ of mandate; writ granted in favor of client Marley-Wylain regarding law applicable in upcoming personal injury jury trial arising out of alleged exposure to asbestos)

  • Jacobs, et al. v. Yellow Cab Affiliation, Inc., et al., No. 1-15-1107, Slip. Op. (March 16, 2017) (Represented Yellow Cab on appeal from adverse $26 million jury verdict in a personal injury action; Court of Appeals ruled 2-1 against client)

  • Peysin v. City Of Chicago, No. 2016-CH-02292 (Cir. Ct. of Cook County, 2017) (Represent City of Chicago in putative class action alleging impermissible lead levels in the City’s water system)

  • Mirza v. Help at Home, Inc., 16-cv-06152 (N.D. Ill. 2017) (Appointed by court to represent plaintiff in sex discrimination and retaliation employment case)

  • Nettles, et al. v. A Leading Property and Casualty Insurance Company, No. 02-CH-14426 (Circuit Court Cook County, July 6, 2010) (Counsel for an insurance company in certified class action trial alleging violations of Illinois and Washington state wage and hours laws with respect to its adjusters. After bench trial, court ruled for insurance company client finding no liability; appellate court affirmed judgment for the company; see 980 N.E.2d 103 (Ill. App. 1st Dist. 2012). Nettles’ subsequent petition for leave to appeal denied, see 981 N.E.2d 998 (Ill. 2012)

  • New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection, et al. v. Occidental Chemical Corp., et al., No. EXL-L-9868-05, (Superior Ct. N.J.) (Represented foreign oil company defendants in alleged environmental contamination case)

  • Puffer v. A Leading Property and Casualty Insurance Company, 675 F.3d 709 (7th Cir. 2012). See also 614 F.Supp.2d 905 (N.D. Ill. 2009); 255 F.R.D. 450, 2009 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 3533, 2009 WL 136097 (N.D. Ill., Jan. 15, 2009); Rule 23 (f) petitions denied twice (7th Cir., March 25 and Dec. 21, 2009); 614 F.Supp.2d 905 (N.D. Ill. 2009) (Represented an insurance company in putative gender discrimination class action; plaintiff's motions for class certification denied)

  • J.M. v. Briseno, 949 N.E.2d 779 (Ill. App. 1st Dist. 2011) (Represented J.M. (pro bono) on appeal in case involving two University of Chicago Law School students and the Illinois Civil No Contact Order Act; appeals court reversed lower court judgment, ruling in favor of client J.M.)

  • United States v. Individual Defendant, 618 F.3d 619 (7th Cir. 2010) (Represented individual defendant as appointed counsel (pro bono) on appeal of defendant’s criminal conviction for (i) an alleged conspiracy to defraud the IRS, and for (ii) allegedly filing a false tax return. On appeal, the Court ruled in defendant’s favor, vacated defendant’s conviction, and remanded for a new trial on the basis of prosecutorial misconduct)

  • Siegel v. Shell Oil Co., 612 F.3d 932 (7th Cir. 2010), petition for rehearing denied (7th Cir., July 30, 2010); 656 F.Supp.2d 825, 2009 WL 2905552 (N.D. Ill., Sept. 4, 2009); 2009 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 13520, 2009 WL 449073 (N.D. Ill., Feb. 23, 2009); 2008 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 72314 (N.D. Ill., Sept. 23, 2008) (class certification denied); 2008 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 72314, 2008 WL 4378399 (Sept. 23, 2008); 480 F.Supp.2d 1034 (N.D. Ill. 2007) (Represented BP in putative consumer class action challenging gasoline pricing)

  • BP Amoco Chemical Co. v. Flint Hills Resources, LLC, 697 F.Supp.2d 1001 (N.D. Ill. 2010); 615 F.Supp.2d 765 (N.D. Ill. 2009); 2009 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 32708, 2009 WL 1033373 (N.D. Ill., April 17, 2009); 2009 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 13524, 600 F.Supp.2d 976, 2009 WL 449081 (N.D. Ill. 2009); 500 F.Supp.2d 957 (N.D. Ill. 2007); 489 F.Supp.2d 853 (N.D. Ill. 2007); 2006 WL 2505691 (N.D. Ill., Aug. 25, 2006) (Represented BP Amoco in a case alleging breach of contract and fraud arising out of the sale of a chemical plant)

  • Exxon Mobil Corp. v. Gill, 221 S.W.3d 841, 2007 Tex. App. LEXIS 2819, 2007 WL 1080655 (Tex. App. Corpus Christi 2007), reversed in favor of ExxonMobil, 299 S.W.3d 124 (Tex. S. Ct. 2009), petition for rehearing denied (Jan. 15, 2010) (Represented ExxonMobil in putative statewide class action alleging breach of contract and fraudulent concealment over gasoline pricing)

  • In re General Growth Properties, Inc., 409 B.R. 43, 51 Bankr.Ct.Dec. 280 (S.D.N.Y. 2009) (Represented General Growth project-level debtors at trial in challenge to Chapter 11 filings; bench trial opinion in favor of clients)

  • Autry Petroleum Co. v. BP Products N. Am., Inc., 2008 WL 360628 (M.D. Ga., Feb. 8, 2008), motion for reconsideration denied, 2008 WL 693800 (M.D. Ga., Mar. 12, 2008), aff’d, 334 Fed.Appx. 982 (11th Cir., June 26, 2009), petition for rehearing by Autry denied (November 25, 2009) (Represented BP in putative nationwide class action brought by jobbers alleging violations of the UCC and breach of contract over gasoline prices)

  • MDL 1532: In re New Motor Vehicles Canadian Exp. Antitrust Litig., 632 F.Supp.2d 42 (D. Me. 2009) (Summary judgment ruling in favor of defendants in multidistrict litigation antitrust case); 2009 WL 861485 (D. Me., March 26, 2009). See also 522 F.3d 6 (1st Cir. 2008), motion for rehearing denied (1st Cir., May 2008); 533 F.3d 1, 2008 WL 2568457, 2571402 (1st Cir. 2008), and other opinions reported at: 307 F.Supp.2d 136 (D. Me. 2004); 490 F.Supp.2d 12 (D. Me. 2007); 2006 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 10240 (D. Me., Mar. 10, 2006); 235 F.R.D. 127 (D. Me. 2006); 236 F.R.D. 53 (D. Me. 2006); 466 F.Supp.2d 364 (D. Me. 2006); 241 F.R.D. 77 (D. Me. 2007); 243 F.R.D. 17, 20 (D. Me. 2007); 244 F.R.D. 70 (D. Me. 2007); 2008 WL 583548 (D. Me., Jan. 29, 2008); 2008 WL 1924993 (Apr. 29, 2008); 2009 WL 861485 (March 26, 2009); 609 F. Supp. 2d 104 (D. Me. 2009) (Represented General Motors in putative class action alleging antitrust conspiracy)

  • Nolan v. Weil-McLain, 233 Ill.2d 416, 910 N.E.2d 549, 331 Ill. Dec. 140 (Ill. 2009), petition for rehearing denied (June 11, 2009), and reversing, 365 Ill.App.3d 963, 851 N.E.2d 281, 303 Ill. Dec. 383 (Ill. App. Ct., 4th Dist. 2006) (Counsel on appeal for Weil-McLain; Illinois Supreme Court ruled in client’s favor and reversed lower court’s entry of adverse jury verdict and judgment in an asbestos case, and reversed the Court of Appeals to set aside what was known as the “Lipke” rule)

  • Flagler Automotive, Inc., et al. v. ExxonMobil Corp., 582 F.Supp.2d 367, 2008 WL 4604085 (E.D.N.Y. 2008), 67 U.C.C. Rep. Serv. 2d 1 (Callaghan), appeal dismissed (2d Cir., Feb. 2009) (Represented ExxonMobil in putative nationwide class action alleging violations of the UCC and breach of contract with respect to gasoline pricing)

  • Daniel v. Aon Corp., 384 Ill.App.3d 1081, (Ill. App. 1st Dist. 2008), petition for rehearing denied (Represented the Aon parties in putative class action involving allegations of breach of fiduciary duty, constructive trust, and claimed violations of consumer fraud statutes); see also related cases in MDL 1663: In re Ins. Brokerage Antitrust Litig., 2008 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 2818 (D.N.J., Jan. 14, 2008); 2007 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 74711 (D.N.J., Oct. 5, 2007); 2007 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 73220 (D.N.J., Sept. 28, 2007); 2007 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 65037 & 64767 (D.N.J., Aug. 31, 2007); 2007 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 47659 (D.N.J., June 29, 2007); 2007 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 40729 (D.N.J., June 5, 2007); 2007 WL 1062980 (D.N.J., Apr. 5, 2007); 2009 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 17019 (March 3, 2009); 2008 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 63633, 2008 WL 3887616 (Aug. 20, 2008); 2009 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 17754; 17755 (Feb. 17, 2009)

  • UAW v. General Motors Corp., 235 F.R.D. 383, 2006 WL 1071904 (E.D. Mich. 2006); 2006 WL 891151 (E.D. Mich. 2006), aff’d, 497 F.3d 615 (6th Cir. 2007) (Represented GM in class action case involving retiree health care benefits; class settlement resulted in restructuring of union retiree health care benefits); see also Int’l Union v. General Motors Corp., 2008 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 92590, 2008 WL 2968408, 156 Lab.Cas. 11,098 (E.D. Mich., July 31, 2008); 2008 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 16767 (E.D. Mich., Mar. 5, 2008)

  • MDL 1510: In re Daewoo Motor Co., Ltd. Dealership Litig., and Daewoo Motor America, Inc. v. General Motors Corp., 315 B.R. 148 (M.D. Fla. 2004), aff’d, 459 F.3d 1249 (11th Cir. 2006), cert. denied, 127 S. Ct. 2032 (2007) (Represented GM in litigation arising out of the sale of Korean automobile manufacturer’s assets)


Memberships & Affiliations

Trustee, Augustana College (Rock Island, IL: 1996–2003, 2005–2012, 2015–2019)

Trustee, Boston University; also Member, Dean's Advisory Board, Boston University School of Law

Trustee, Chicago Symphony Orchestra

Chancellor, The Northern Illinois Conference of the United Methodist Church

Member, Board of Directors, Chicagoland Chamber of Commerce

Member, Board of Governors, The Mid-America Club (IL)

Member of the Civic Committee, The Commercial Club of Chicago

Member of the American, Illinois, Chicago, 5th and 7th Circuit Bar Associations; Member, Rocky Mountain Mineral Law Foundation

Fellow, The American Bar Foundation

Member, The National Association of Distinguished Counsel

Member, Chicago Inn of Court

Fellow, Litigation Counsel of America

Trustee, The International Museum of World War II (Boston)

Trustee, The American Air Museum in Britain

Former Member, Board of Directors, The Churchill Centre; formerly a Trustee, American Friends of the Churchill Museum (War Cabinet Rooms, London)

Former Member, Board of Directors, The Appleseed Foundation (Washington, D.C.)

Former Member, Board of Directors, National Center for State Courts (2009-2015); also current Member and former Co-Chair, Lawyer’s Committee, National Center for State Courts (Williamsburg, VA)

Former Member, Kirkland Global Management Executive Committee (1999-2015)


Other Distinctions

Chambers USA (2003–2017)

  • Band 1, Litigation: General Commercial: Illinois (2011–2017)
 

Benchmark Litigation

  • National: General Commercial (2008–2018)
  • Illinois (2008–2018)
 

The Best Lawyers in America, U.S. News and World Report, Best Lawyers®

  • Bet-the-Company Litigation (2015–2018)
  • Commercial Litigation (2006, 2010–2018)
  • Litigation: Antitrust (2011–2018)
  • Litigation: Environmental (2011)
  • Litigation: Labor & Employment (2011)
 

The BTI Client Service “All Stars” Survey (2006, 2013, 2014)

Lawdragon Hall of Fame (2017)

  • The Power Brokers

Lawdragon 500 Leading Lawyers in America (2008–2009, 2014–2016)

Lawdragon Guide to World-Class Lawyers (2005–2007 and 2010–2013)

Legal 500 U.S.

  • Named to “Inaugural Hall of Fame” for Energy: Litigation (2017)
  • Listed as a “Leading Lawyer” in the areas of General Commercial Disputes (2015–2017) and Energy: Litigation (2011–2017)
  • Industry Focus: Energy: Litigation (2010–2017)
  • Industry Focus: Environment: Litigation (2011–2012, 2016–2017)
  • General Commercial Disputes (2015–2017)
  • Product Liability, Mass Tort and Class Action: Toxic Tort - Defense (2012–2017)
  • Product Liability, Mass Tort and Class Action: Consumer Products (2017)
  • Industry Focus: Transport (2017)
  • Supreme Court and Appellate (2011)
  • Antitrust (2010)
 

Leading Lawyers (2003–2017)

  • Civil Appellate Law
  • Commercial Litigation
 

Who’s Who Legal: Illinois (2006, 2008)

Illinois Super Lawyers (2005–2017)

  • Business Litigation
  • Appellate

Marquis, “Who’s Who in American Law” (2018)

Martindale-Hubbell (2000–2017)

  • Commercial Litigation, AV Preeminent 5/5 Rating
 

PLC Which Lawyer? (2011–2012)

  • Illinois: Dispute Resolution
 

Pillars of Justice Award, Appleseed Foundation (2013)

10 for Ten: Ten Attorneys Who Raised the Bar Over the Last Decade, Law Bulletin Publishing Company (2010)

Member, Warren E. Burger Society, National Center for State Courts (Williamsburg, VA) (Inducted 2008)

Law360 Distinctions

  • Law360: “Trial Pros: Kirkland & Ellis’ Richard Godfrey” (February 25, 2016)
  • Law360 Practice Group of the Year — Class Action (2011, 2012, 2014)
  • Mr. Godfrey’s inclusion in the 2013 BTI Client Service “All Stars” Survey was highlighted in “GCs Name Cream of the Crop Litigators,” Law360, February 15, 2013.
  • Mr. Godfrey was recognized for his “…responsiveness, his analytical mind, and his ability to think quickly on his feet” in “5 Insights From ADM General Counsel Cameron Findlay,” Law360, May 6, 2014.
  • Mr. Godfrey’s representation of BP in the Deepwater Horizon case was highlighted in “Product Liability Cases to Watch in 2012,” Law360, January 1, 2012.
 

Press Mentions

Excerpt from the May 1, 2015, Bloomberg BNA publication, “Archer Daniels Midland GC: Be Responsive, Keep the Steak,”

"Q. [To Cameron Findlay] With your background you’ve had the chance to be around some very talented people. Who is someone you looked up to?

A.…on the litigation and investigation side, there’s a guy named Rick Godfrey at Kirkland. I got to see him in action during our Spitzer matter. He is just 100 percent client responsive, brilliant, hard-working, and always precise and to the point in terms of his advice."

 

Excerpt from the May 6, 2014, Law360 publication, “5 Insights From Archer Daniels Midland GC Cameron Findlay,”

"Q. Outside your own company, name an attorney who has impressed you and tell us why.

A. …We were given a very short deadline to seek guidance on this question [relating to the possible interaction between a proposed settlement and a pending class action litigation being handled by Kirkland], and so over the lunch break we managed to reach Rick Godfrey of Kirkland, who might have been distracted because he was himself on a lunch break from a multiweek trial for a different client. Without any opportunity to prepare, Rick calmly set forth a proposed solution to our complicated legal problem. The solution satisfied both Aon’s needs and the AG’s needs, and we were able to wrap up the settlement very quickly after that. I have always been impressed by Rick’s responsiveness, his analytical mind, and his ability to think quickly on his feet."


Publications

Co-author, with Catherine L. Fitzpatrick and R. Chris Heck of a chapter in Business and Commercial Litigation in Federal Courts Third Edition, (Robert L. Haig ed.) (Thomson/West 2011); also co-author with Catherine L. Fitzpatrick and R. Chris Heck of the same chapter in the Fourth Edition, which is currently under pre-publication review


Seminars

Duke Law: Future of Multidistrict Litigation Conference, May 2-3, 2013: Panel 3: Selection of Counsel (held at the Renaissance Arlington Capital View Hotel, outside of DC)

Duke Law: Class-Action Settlement Conference, July 23-24, 2015: Panel 5: Class-Action Objectors (held at the Crystal City Marriott Hotel, outside of DC)

The Public Interest Law Project, Lewis and Clark Law School, February 16, 2016: Panel 2: Defending High Profile Class Actions (held in Portland, Oregon)

“Women Lawyers in the Courtroom” Symposium, U.S. District Court, Northern District of Illinois, April 21, 2016: Panel: Getting Real World Trial Experience: Tips From Experienced Trial Lawyers

Seventh Circuit Bar Association Annual Meeting, May 2, 2017: Panel Participant: “Class Action Settlements and Fairness”


Courts

Member of the bars of the United States Supreme Court and United States Court of Federal Claims

Member of the bars of the First, Second, Third, Fourth, Fifth, Sixth, Seventh, Eighth, Ninth, Tenth, Eleventh, and D.C. Circuit Courts of Appeals

Member of the bars of the United States District Courts for the District of Colorado, the Northern District of Illinois, the Central District of Illinois, the Northern District of Indiana, the Eastern and Western Districts of Michigan, and the United States Tax Court

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