Edward J. Matushek III
- Highest professional rating, “AV Preeminent (5.0 out of 5)” from his peers in Martindale-Hubbell Law Directory.
- Named to Illinois Super Lawyers as among the top 5% of Illinois attorneys who practice in the area of mass torts.
- Named a “Leading Lawyer” in mass tort defense by the Law Bulletin.
- Avvo Rating: Superb, 10.0 out of 10.0.
Edward J. Matushek III founded Matushek Nilles LLC in 1998. He has more than 36 years of legal experience handling civil jury trials and appeals. He focuses on the defense of asbestos and toxic tort claims, and has experience in cases involving environmental and occupational exposure to benzene, silica, mold, mixed dusts and toxic fumes, as well as premises liability and product liability for chemicals and other toxins. He also defends complex aviation and construction defect claims. Mr. Matushek has received the highest rating, “AV (5.0 out of 5),” from his peers, as published by the Martindale-Hubbell Law Directory and was named a “Leading Lawyer” in the area of mass tort defense by the Law Bulletin Publishing Company. He was featured in the February 2018 issues of Chicago Magazine and Illinois Super Lawyers as among the top 5% of Illinois attorneys who practice in the area of mass torts.
Legal Experience: Ed Matushek has defended thousands of asbestos and toxic tort cases involving multi-party personal injury claims with multi-million dollar verdict potential. He has defended silica, benzene, asbestos, and chemical exposure cases involving strict product liability, general negligence, the Jones Act, FELA railroad, and occupational exposure and premises liability claims involving health hazards. Mr. Matushek also has lengthy experience defending a national window manufacturer sued in toxic mold claims asserting both personal injury and property damage. He is widely respected for his effective litigation skills and often achieves an early favorable resolution on behalf of his clients as a result.
Trials: Mr. Matushek has demonstrated his willingness to try a case where warranted. He has tried high-profile cases to verdict in Cook County, McLean County and Madison County, Illinois.
In 1994, on behalf of a Johns-Manville industrial insulation distributor/contractor, he proceeded to verdict as first chair in McLean County, Illinois against the Walker & Wylder firm on a disputed lung cancer claim for wrongful death, and obtained the only defense verdict among the several defendants in the case.
In 2003, Mr. Matushek was first chair in the Madison County, Illinois trial of Roby Whittington vs. United States Steel Corporation, a living mesothelioma claim involving an employee of his client. This was during the height of Madison County’s reputation as the “No. 1 Judicial Hellhole” in the nation. After Judge Nicholas Byron inexplicably denied U.S. Steel’s motion to dismiss based upon the exclusive remedy provision of the Worker’s Comp Act, Mr. Matushek proceeded to trial at the direction of NCC, preserving numerous errors for later appeal of the largest single plaintiff’s verdict at that point in the litigation. This allowed for a confidential settlement which vacated the verdict and resolved the case at a level far below the published verdict. The case also led to the retirement of Judge Byron shortly thereafter due to the negative publicity he had generated from the trial.
Later that same year, Mr. Matushek was first chair in the jury trial of a plaintiff with asbestosis (and certified disability due to schizophrenia) against the Cooney & Conway firm in Cook County, Illinois, William Jackson vs. A & M Insulation Co., before Judge Sharon Johnson-Coleman. Mr. Matushek effectively cross-examined the plaintiff’s medical expert, Dr. Arthur Frank, to an extent that even prompted a respectful comment from opposing trial counsel. The case resulted in a plaintiff’s verdict of $825,000, far below Mr. Jackson’s $2 million demand from which he flatly refused to budge.
In 2011, Mr. Matushek commenced a trial in Rockford, Illinois on behalf of a talc manufacturer. Plaintiff’s demand stood at $2.5 million. After Ed Matushek prevailed on motions in limine and obtained partial summary judgment on the issue of lack of successor liability, 80% of the exposure period was eliminated, and the case settled for 10% of the plaintiff’s demand.
In 2012, Ed Matushek began trial of a silicosis case in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Illinois before Judge Pallmeyer in Frank Greenwood v. EJ&E. Mr. Greenwood claimed that his lung transplant was necessitated as a result of exposure to silica during his work as a switchman for the defendant railroad, and brought a FELA case against his employer alleging that he developed pulmonary interstitial fibrosis and pneumonitis. The plaintiff had accrued nearly a million dollars in medical specials due to his lung transplant, and made a settlement demand of six million dollars against Matushek’s client. Despite the relaxed causation standard under FELA, Matushek mounted a formidable defense by retaining a certified industrial hygienist and pathologist to refute the plaintiff’s claims. Our certified industrial hygienist testified that the plaintiff’s exposure to silica at the railroad would not have exceeded OSHA permissible exposure levels, and our pathologist testified that the plaintiff’s disease was idiopathic and not caused by his occupational exposures. As a result of Matushek’s success arguing motions in limine before Judge Pallmeyer, the plaintiff settled the case at a considerable reduction at the outset of jury selection.
Also in 2012, Mr. Matushek defended a benzene case set for trial before Judge Hylla in Madison County, Illinois, Paula Dangerfield v. BP Corp., et al. The plaintiff alleged that she developed acute myelogenous leukemia (AML) as a result of her occupational exposure to benzene as a lab technician. She claimed that she developed her leukemia from testing our client’s crude coal tar product in her lab. The case settled at a reduced value just prior to trial after Mr. Matushek obtained favorable admissions from the plaintiff that she failed to wear a recommended respirator at all times when she worked with benzene, and established that her employer negligently failed to replace a faulty exhaust hood to reduce benzene emissions in the lab.
In January 2013, Ed Matushek was called in by an insurer to substitute as trial counsel for a product distributor after the prior defense counsel had completed jury selection in a Cook County mesothelioma wrongful death case brought by Connelly & Vogelzang and the Levy Phillips firm from New York. Settlement negotiations were headed in opposite directions, and the parties were millions apart. After three jurors failed to appear or sought medical excuses, Mr. Matushek selected a new panel of jurors, many of who appeared to favor the defense, won a motion in limine to allow evidence of sole proximate cause from a non-party, and delivered opening statements to the jury. After further negotiation, the plaintiff radically reduced her demand, and the case was finally settled on a reasonable basis.
Significant Insurance Coverage Trial: Ed Matushek represented an insurance company as a named defendant in a jury trial of a declaratory judgment action brought by a widow for death benefits under a $1,000,000.00 insurance policy. Despite the sympathy displayed toward the plaintiff whose husband died from horrible burn injuries resulting from a gasoline explosion, Mr. Matushek achieved a Cook County jury verdict in favor of the insurer which had denied coverage.
Appellate Experience: In addition to jury trials, Mr. Matushek has a lengthy record of success in the appellate courts and the Illinois Supreme Court. This includes being affirmed by the First District Appellate Court of Illinois after he won a rare entry of summary judgment on statute of limitation grounds in a mixed dust pneumoconiosis case with a differential diagnosis, Estate of Benny Smith v. A.P. Green Industries, et al., No. 1-01-1639, as well as cases of first impression such as McIntosh v. A & M Insulation Co., 244 Ill. App. 3d 247 (1st Dist.1993) (the first application of the Illinois Construction Statute of Repose defense to asbestos claims against insulation contractors), and Leng v. Celotex Corp., 196 Ill. App. 3d 647 (1st Dist.1990) (prevention of the application of market share liability to Illinois companies in latent injury cases). He was retained as amicus counsel on behalf of an Illinois contractors’ association in Krueger v. A.P. Green Refractories, 283 Ill. App. 3d 300 (3rd Dist.1996) (asserting successfully that asbestos-containing insulation products constitute an improvement to real property which is afforded the protection of the construction statute of repose). His winning motion for summary judgment in an aviation crash case against the Clifford Law Offices was upheld by the First District Appellate Court after Mr. Matushek delivered oral argument in Garland v. Morgan Stanley, et al., 2013 IL App 1st, No. 1-11-2199.
Ed Matushek also joined in an amicus brief filed in the Illinois Supreme Court on behalf of three of his employer-clients, and the Illinois Supreme Court reversed the decision of the Appellate Court which had created unlimited tort liability for Illinois employers of asbestos plaintiffs. In Folta v. Ferro Engineering, 2015 IL 118070, released November 4, 2015, the Court held that it was the responsibility of the State Legislature, not the courts, to modify the language of the Illinois Workers’ Compensation Act, and restored the exclusive remedy defense to Illinois employers of plaintiffs who incur latent injuries. This overturned a very dangerous decision by the Illinois Appellate Court that had adopted the reasoning of the Pennsylvania courts in Tooey.
Speeches and Presentations: For the past 18 years, Ed Matushek has been a featured speaker at the Chicago Bar Association’s annual seminar, Taking and Defending Depositions in State and Federal Courts. Mr. Matushek also recently spoke at Perrin Conferences’ National Asbestos Litigation Conference in San Francisco, California on “Settlement Dynamics and Negotiation Strategies: Ethical Considerations and Effective Strategies for Finding Middle Ground.” He has also assisted his clients in conducting national counsel training sessions on defense strategy and tactics.
Professional Associations: Mr. Matushek has served on the Board of Managers for the Chicago Bar Association and is past Chair of the CBA’s Continuing Legal Education Committee. In 1990, he was Chair of the 11,000-member Young Lawyers Section of the Chicago Bar Association, with responsibility for guiding more than 30 substantive law and service committees. During his tenure, he motivated a team of volunteer lawyers to earn the ABA Award of Achievement for the success of many public service projects. From 1992 to 1998, he served on the Board of Directors of the American Judicature Society. Mr. Matushek has been a member of the Illinois Association of Defense Trial Counsel, the Defense Research Institute, the Illinois Bar Association and the American Bar Association’s Tort & Insurance Practice and Litigation Sections.
Education: Mr. Matushek received his B.A. from Illinois Wesleyan University in Bloomington, Illinois. He earned his Juris Doctor from The John Marshall Law School in Chicago, where he placed first in the JMLS Moot Court Competition, receiving both the Outstanding Oralist Award and Best Brief Award.
Admitted to Practice: Mr. Matushek is admitted to practice before the Illinois Supreme Court, the United States District Court for the Northern District of Illinois, Trial Bar, the United States District Court for the Northern District of Indiana and the United States District Court of Arizona. He has also been admitted pro hac vice for cases in five other states.
Community Service: Ed Matushek was elected to two terms as Village Trustee for the Village of Tinley Park, Illinois, and was recently Chair of the Plan Commission.
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