I am proud to serve in the role of “trusted advisor” to longstanding firm business clients as well as the firm itself in my capacity as its general counsel.
Ultimately when clients’ disputes can only be resolved through litigation, I and my team have the experience and skills to prevail. As succinctly put by a client: “We hire Steve when we need to win.”
Steve Hartmann is a Partner in the Litigation Practice Group Head of the Firm's Labor and Employment Group, and a member of the Firm’s Executive Committee and Alternative Fee Arrangements Committee. He also serves as the Firm's long-standing General Counsel, making him the proverbial “lawyer’s lawyer.”
For over 35 years Steve has handled and served as lead trial attorney on a variety of complex business and employment litigation matters. He has successfully tried to verdict dozens of jury and non-jury commercial cases in federal and state courts throughout the country, as well as appeals, arbitrations and mediations.
- Commercial Loans: Steve represents secured lenders in the enforcement of commercial loan agreements in various contexts such as work-outs, foreclosures, receiverships, lender liability and prepayment premiums.
- Insurance: Steve represents life insurance companies in litigation involving sales practices, disputes with agents, and policies including claim disputes, rescissions and interpleaders.
- Employment: Steve represents employers in single-plaintiff and class action litigation involving claims alleging discrimination, retaliation, wrongful discharge, sexual harassment, whistle-blower retaliation and wage and hour violations. He also represents companies in occupational safety and health investigations and OSHA enforcement actions.
- Bankruptcy: Steve represents bankruptcy trustees in investigations and fraud and director and officer litigation.
Steve also counsels company presidents, CFOs and other senior executives with respect to employment agreements, executive comp and separations, and serves as outside general counsel to a number of closely-held businesses.
Obtained a $5 million judgment following a three-week jury trial in Colorado federal court on behalf of four clients for whistleblower retaliation against a $1B defense contractor.
Prevailed on the trial of an action by the Wisconsin Department of Insurance seeking to suspend the insurance broker’s license of our client for alleged misrepresentation of certain insurance policies procured by him.
Represented class of bank loan officers on claims for minimum wages, overtime pay and unpaid commissions, which settled for $5 million.
Represented the relator-plaintiff in a qui tam case under the Federal and State False Claims Acts against a Fortune 500 company in a case alleging fraud with respect to a Cook County technology contract. We defeated defendants’ motion for summary judgment and the case settled for $25 million.
Prevailed on summary judgment for the employer on a whistle-blower retaliation claim brought by our client's senior executive.
Defeated multiple chapter 11 “cram-down” reorganization plans proposed by commercial borrowers on behalf of secured lender clients.
Prevailed on summary judgment on behalf of the firm’s commercial mortgage lender client in multiple cases brought by borrowers that attempted to challenge the enforceability of prepayment premium provisions in their loan documents.
Obtained a $3.7 million judgment on behalf of a bankruptcy trustee against a bankrupt company’s president based on breach of fiduciary duty and fraud.
Obtained dismissal of claims against our client, a steel fabrication company, for indemnification and contribution in a large construction defect case involving construction of an ethanol plant.
Prevailed on summary judgment on behalf of a major railroad in a case alleging that the client’s policy to exclude persons with a felony conviction within 7 years from access to its hub operations constituted race discrimination in violation of Title VII.
Obtained a defense jury verdict in favor of our client on Title VII gender discrimination and retaliation claims brought by the company’s female vice president of operations.
Prevailed before trial court and had judgment affirmed on appeal granting clients the full limits of two insurance policies plus attorney’s fees in declaratory judgment action against insurance company for breach of duty to defend insureds in lawsuit for alleged fraudulent conveyances.
Honors & Awards
Honors & Awards
- Illinois Super Lawyers – Business Litigation - 2015-2019 (cited in multiple years)
- Leading Lawyers – Commercial Litigation, Creditors’ Rights/Commercial and Bankruptcy & Workout Law/Commercial
- Illinois Leading Lawyers - 2015-2020 (cited in multiple years)
• Illinois State Bar Association
• Cook County Bar Association
• American Bankruptcy Institute
- Author, "Lawyers as Employees: Rights and Responsibilities," Illinois Institute of Continuing Education’s Employment Termination–2008 and 2013 Editions.
- Author, "Revisiting Till: Has a Consensus Emerged in chapter 11s?" ABI Journal (July/August 2008).
- Author, "Seventh Circuit Decision Enforcing Contractual Loan Prepayment Fee Reaffirms Sanctity of Contract in Illinois," American Bar Association Business Litigation Newsletter (Winter 2008).