James R. Studnicka


Personal Profile


Mr. Studnicka has prepared and tried to jury verdict numerous personal injury cases in Federal and State Court involving death claims or catastrophic injuries such as paralysis, brain damage and amputations.  Mr. Studnicka has extensive experience in the areas of construction negligence, premises liability, transportation negligence, products liability, and professional malpractice.


DePaul University College of Law

Juris Doctorate, with Honors, 1988.

Recipient of American Jurisprudence Awards

Cornell University

Bachelor of Arts degree, 1985

Dean’s List

Division I AA Academic All American in Football


United States District Court, 1988; Trial Bar, 2005

Illinois Supreme Court, 1988

Pro Hac Vice Admissions in Indiana and South Carolina


“Cell Phone Radiation”, Federation of Insurance and Corporate Counsel Update (July, 1997).

“Preventing and Defending Employment Discrimination Cases”, seminar publication for Management of Forsythe Technology, Inc. (November, 1996).


Medicare Secondary Payer Regulations Presentation given to SUPERVALU Melrose Park Claims Personnel in 2008

Illinois Premises Law Primer given to Cub Foods Eden Prairie Claims Personnel in 2005 & 2006.


Defense Research Institute

Illinois Association of Defense Trial Counsel

Illinois State Bar Association

Selected to Illinois Super Lawyers list 



Case:  Washington v. Joslyn Construction

Venue:  Circuit Court of Cook County, Illinois, Law Division

Judge:  Hon. Judge Richard Berland

Pltf Counsel:  Mr. Louis Cairo & Mr. Joseph Sorce

Client:  Walter Joslyn Construction Company

Insurer:  Acuity Insurance & Ranger

Facts: Mr. Washington, a 25 year veteran sheet metal worker, fell 14 feet from the top of his ladder while working and suffered a severe traumatic brain injury resulting in severe cognitive injuries including loss of intellect and ability to understand spoken language (aphasia) which prevented him from returning to any type of employment.  Mrs. Washington was a consortium plaintiff.  Mr. Washington claimed Joslyn, the general contractor, failed to provide him with the proper equipment to perform his work, such as a scaffold.  Joslyn’s contract with the Chicago Public Schools placed overall responsibility for safety on the jobsite on Joslyn.  Plaintiff’s past medical specials exceeded $235,000 and he claimed future lost wages of $1.5 million based on his inability to return to any type of employment.   Plaintiffs’ lowest settlement demand during trial was $7.5 million and plaintiffs’ counsel asked the jury for $9.8 million in closing argument.

Result:  Mr. Washington net verdict of $2,687,669.40 ($4,134,876, less 35% comparative fault); Mrs. Washington’s net verdict of $200,200 ($308,000 less 35%).  The verdict was subject to a set-off of $673,286.39 due to plaintiff’s employer’s lien waiver.

Case:  Jacobsen v. Jewel Food Stores, Inc.

Venue:  Circuit Court of Will County, Illinois, Law Division

Judge:  Hon. Judge Edward Petka

Pltf Counsel:  Mr. Robert J. Welz

Client:  Jewel Food Stores, Inc.

Insurer:  Self – Insured

Facts: On November 18. 2008, plaintiff was struck by a five foot tall Christmas Ornament display which fell off of a pallet during transport from the sales floor.  Plaintiff claimed a head injury resulting in chronic daily serve headaches which persisted from the date of the incident and which were expected to last indefinitely into the future.  Plaintiff’s past medical bills totaled over $11,000, with almost half related to narcotic pain medication costs that were projected into the foreseeable future by her treating pain specialist.  Plaintiff’s settlement demand was $2 million prior to trial.     

Result:  The jury found Jewel Food Stores not guilty.

Case:  Bower v. Jewel Food Stores, Inc. et. al.

Venue:  Circuit Court of Cook County, Illinois, Law Division

Judge:  Hon. Judge Donald O’Brien

Pltf Counsel:  Mr. Peter Dr. Tarpey

Client:  Jewel Food Stores, Inc.

Insurer:  Self – Insured

Facts:  On April 20, 2002, plaintiff fell when she tripped on an uncut newspaper band used to bundle newspapers.  Defendant Prism was hired by the Chicago Tribune to fill newspaper displays in the store and remove and cut all bands.  Plaintiff suffered a displaced fracture of the greater tuberosity of her right femur and, requiring surgical repair, and knee trauma resulting in patellofemoral syndrome of her left knee.  Plaintiff’s past medical bills totaled over $44,000 and plaintiff claimed she might need further medical surgery at a cost of over $20,000.  Plaintiff’s last demand was $425,000 (as to both defendants) and she asked the jury for $575,000.   

Result:  The jury found Jewel not guilty and found Prism guilty of negligence.  The jury awarded plaintiff a gross verdict of $187,500 reduced by plaintiff’s 20% comparative fault to $150,000.

Case:  Nolan v. Hawk Enterprises

Venue:  Circuit Court of Cook County, Illinois, Law Division

Judge:  Hon. Judge James McCarthy

Pltf Counsel:  Mr. William Martin

Client:  Hawk Enterprises

Insurer:  Acuity Insurance & Cincinnati

Facts:  On December 8, 2001, at approximately 12:30 p.m., Patricia Nolan, age 68, was walking along a sidewalk when she impacted an unbarricaded helix base that had been installed in the sidewalk by the defendant, Hawk Enterprises, during the course of construction on a street lighting project in Oak Lawn.  Hawk Enterprises was the general contractor for the street lighting project.  The helix bases would later be used as the base of support for light poles installed along the project.  Patricia Nolan fell forward onto her face and hands and fractured both shoulders necessitating surgery.  Plaintiff’s past medical bills totaled $95,001.09, and plaintiff claimed she would need future surgery on her right shoulder.  Plaintiff’s last settlement demand was $1.5 million.  Plaintiff’s counsel asked the jury for $1,195,001.91 in closing argument. 

Result:  Ms. Nolan obtained a gross verdict of $545.001.99.  She was found guilty of 35% comparative fault.

Case:  McLean v. Marigold Foods, Inc.

Venue:  Circuit Court of Cook County, Illinois, Law Division

Judge:  Hon. Judge Daniel Locallo

Pltf Counsel:  Mr. Charles Poretta and Mr. Jerry Latherow

Client:  Marigold Foods Inc., (Becker’s Dairy), and driver, Charles Mobley

Insurer:  Kemper Insurance, with SIR

Facts:  Mr. McLean, operating his Harley Davidson motorcycle, ran into defendant’s milk truck when he tried to pass defendant’s truck on the right while defendant’s truck was turning right from the left lane of Chicago Avenue due to the presence of a semi tractor parked in the right lane. Plaintiff claimed defendant had his emergency flashers on while defendant testified he had his right turn signal on.  Plaintiff suffered severe contusion injuries to his right leg (including a small avulsion fracture) which led to recurring infections in his right leg (hospitalized five times for cellulitis) and claimed permanent damage to his lymphatic system exposing him to the risk of recurring infections for the rest of his life. Plaintiff claimed $89,929 in medical specials but withdrew his LT claim (plaintiff is a Head Chef for Levy Brothers, a national sports area caterer, and he earns a significant salary). Plaintiff's only settlement demand (on the first day of trial) was $1,000,000.  No settlement offer was made.  Plaintiff's counsel asked the jury for $790,000 closing argument.

Result:  Verdict of $137,643 for plaintiff after 48% reduction for plaintiff’s comparative fault.  

Case:  Hoffie v. Dr. Higgins

Venue:  Circuit Court of Cook County, Illinois, Law Division

Judge:  Hon. Judge Michael Kelly

Pltf Counsel:  Mr. Robert M. Winter

Client: Dr. Patricia Higgins

Insurer:  Associated Physicians Insurance Company

Facts:Plaintiff claimed that Dr. Higgins was negligent in prescribing pain medication without examining him when he complained of abdominal pain one day following a colonoscopy/polypectomy procedure.  Plaintiff had suffered a perforated colon which subsequently required a colostomy, rather than simple closure, allegedly due to the delayed diagnosis of the perforation. Plaintiff was hospitalized for severe peritonitis for thirty days.  Plaintiff claimed $60,000 in medical specials and $10,000 in lost wages.  Plaintiff's last demand was $500,000 and plaintiff's counsel asked the jury for $282,225.

Result:  Not Guilty Verdict in favor of Dr. Higgins.

Case:  Love v. Lerch

Venue:  U.S. District Court, Northern District, Illinois

Judge:  Magistrate Judge Rebecca Pallmeyer

Pltf Counsel:  Mr. Mark Schramm

Client:  Lonny Lerch 

Insurer:  Northland Insurance Company

Facts:  Plaintiffs were rear-ended by defendant's truck when a truck ahead of plaintiffs’ vehicle stopped abruptly to turn left in front of the plaintiffs’ vehicle. Mr. Love claimed shoulder injuries, headaches and an inability to have sexual relations with his wife due to headaches he suffered after the occurrence.  Plaintiff Elizabeth Love claimed soft tissue neck injuries.

Result:  Plaintiffs’ pre-trial demand was $100,000, defendant made an offer of judgment for $10,000.  Plaintiffs' counsel asked the jury for $325,000.  The jury awarded each plaintiff $25,000. 


Case:  Modersohn v. Osco Drug

Venue:  Circuit Court of Rockford, Illinois

Judge:  Judge Ronald Pirello

Plaintiff Counsel:  Mr. James Devine and Mr. Marc Gravino

Client:  American Drug Stores, dba Osco Drug

Facts:  Plaintiff, a 17 year old kidney transplant patient, received only 1/3rd of her anti-rejection medication from defendant’s pharmacy, apparently due to a clerical mistake in the physical transfer of the medication to plaintiff. Plaintiff had not been fully compliant with her medication use before the error, and plaintiff subsequently suffered a rejection episode with respect to her transplanted kidney.  Although the rejection episode quickly resolved, less than two weeks later, plaintiff developed shingles (chicken pox) which caused damage to her spinal cord and she was rendered a quadriplegic/paraplegic. Plaintiff’s life care planner claimed over $5 million in future medical/attendant care costs.  Plaintiffs' pre-mediation demand was $19 million. 

Result:  The case settled for significantly less than the plaintiff’s pre-mediation demand although the terms of the settlement are confidential.