JOHN SKAKUN advises companies, boards of directors, and executives in high-stakes litigation and corporate crises, with a focus on securities and shareholder matters, investigations, M&A disputes, and complex commercial and bankruptcy litigation. John’s creative and bold strategies have delivered winning results for clients including Walgreens Boots Alliance, Johnson & Johnson, Apollo Global Management, United Airlines, JP Morgan Chase, CMG Media, Wanxiang America, Herc Rentals, and Phoenix International Publications.
John is a seasoned trial lawyer and trusted counselor who has achieved major victories at all stages of disputes and in forums across the country. He has led some of the largest securities class actions and fiduciary duty cases in the nation, with tens of billions of dollars in potential exposure. He has first-chaired and won trials in complex bankruptcy and commercial cases. He has been lead counsel in board and internal investigations. He has defended government investigations and achieved declinations for companies and individuals. And he has successfully resolved many M&A and post-closing disputes around the world, both before and through litigation. John also counsels boards and companies on risk management, compliance, and D&O insurance.
Recent examples of John’s work include:
- Leading defense of Fortune 50 pharmacy company and board of directors in shareholder derivative litigation in the Northern District of Ohio and investigation regarding alleged breaches of fiduciary duty related to opioids and government settlements.
- Defending board of directors of healthcare company in securities class action and derivative litigation involving allegations of False Claims Act violations, including both Exchange Act and Securities Act claims related to IPO and secondary offerings by private equity sponsors, pending in the Northern District of Illinois.
- Defending financial services company in securities and derivative litigation in the Middle District of Florida related to US$18 billion write-down of acquired business unit, with damages exposure of up to US$9 billion.
- Leading defense of Fortune 50 life sciences company and individual officers in US$11 billion securities litigation pending in the District of New Jersey related to sensationalized media coverage about alleged product safety issues and one of the largest product liability multi-district litigation (MDL) in the country. Retained after the motion to dismiss stage, and devised novel and aggressive strategy to challenge class certification, which remains pending.
- Led defense of Fortune 50 healthcare company in US$2 billion securities and derivative litigation in the Northern District of Illinois, as well as SEC investigation, related to missed financial projections for multi-billion-dollar international merger and defamation suit by the former CFO, which received weeks of front-page news coverage. Won summary judgment on all forward-looking statements in the securities case. Settled SEC investigation for negligence-only claims.
- Won M&A litigation for private equity firm and portfolio media company in the Northern District of Illinois and the Seventh Circuit related to US$3 billion acquisition. Retained after a temporary restraining order was entered, then won 9 straight motions culminating in defeating the motion for a preliminary injunction on the merits, and winning interlocutory appeal of that decision.
- First chair trial counsel for publishing company in M&A dispute in New York state court. Investigated and brought multi-million-dollar claims for fraud and for post-closing indemnification relating to international bankruptcy and regulatory matters. Recovered more than 70 percent of amount claimed.
- Lead litigation counsel providing commercial and government litigation-risk counseling, and related transaction-structuring advice, for private equity firm in US$9 billion media acquisition.
- Lead counsel for board investigation into alleged wrongdoing by former executives for bankrupt financial services company. Resulted in favorable pre-litigation settlement with former executives.
- Led Audit Committee investigation for fintech company relating to whistleblower complaint alleging CEO pressured finance and accounting personnel to improperly adjust non-GAAP financial measures. Complaint was not substantiated.
John is an engaged leader in civic life and the Firm. He has a very active pro bono practice, and has won numerous trials and appeals in asylum cases, including the landmark WGA v. Sessions decision in the Seventh Circuit.
He is co-chairing the National Immigrant Justice Center’s 2023 Human Rights Awards, and is on the NIJC’s Leadership Board. He is the Vice Chair of Horizons for Youth. He is a Class of 2022 Leadership Greater Chicago Fellow.
Additionally, John heads the Firm’s Political Asylum & Immigrants’ Rights Pro Bono Project, and serves on the Firm’s Technology Committee and its Recruiting Committee.