Madison - St. Clair Record

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Cunningham was Madison County's 'winningest' civil defense attorney at trial in '14

By The Madison County Record | Jan 16, 2015

John cunningham

Belleville attorney John Cunningham was Madison County's winningest civil defense attorney in 2014.

In a review of Law Division cases at trial last year, Cunningham won three cases in which the plaintiff had sought more than $50,000 in damages.

Cunningham, a shareholder at Brown & James in Belleville, specializes in the areas of first-party insurance claims and tort law, including arson and fraud litigation, premises liability, product liability and automobile litigation.

He had back to back wins in February 2014.

In Cunningham's first trial of the year, he successfully persuaded jurors to rule for client Wild Duck Saloon of Alton in a Dram Shop and negligence suit brought by a customer who claimed injuries at the hands of another bar patron.

Plaintiff Thomas Garrett had sought more than $100,000 in damages for pain and suffering, medical expenses and disability.

During closing arguments in another case a week later, Cunningham correctly predicted it wouldn't take long for jurors to find for his client

Following a two-day trial, jurors took 25 minutes to rule for Cunningham's client David Tarrant of Collinsville on all three counts in a suit filed against him by Robert Dorman, also of Collinsville.

Dorman claimed he lost his stake in the 125-member Collinsville Recreation Club because Tarrant advocated for his ouster after the two engaged in a heated argument at the club in October 2010. Dorman had sought in excess of $50,000 in damages.

When Cunningham addressed jurors during closing, he apologized to them for having to sit through “a case like this.”

“In my 27 years this has got to be the most ridiculous one I have ever been involved in,” he said. 

And in September, a jury returned a verdict for Cunningham's client for less than a settlement offer in an admitted liability case.

Martin and Lois Tiemann demanded $450,000 to settle a case they brought against Jessica Weissman, who had admitted fault for an auto accident in St. Jacob in 2011.

The settlement offer was $40,000 and the jury verdict was $29,000, according to Cunningham.

Cunningham was named an Illinois "Super Lawyer" in 2014 in the category of insurance coverage.

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