Jack has an extensive Product Liability, Commercial Transportation and Catastrophic Loss practice that regularly takes him to courts in Wisconsin and across the nation. In his 30+ years of practice, Jack has been proud to represent clients in litigation in more than 25 states. He has had more than two dozen jury verdicts since he started practicing law in 1985. Jack has had the unique experience of having been a winning plaintiff’s attorney during that time (1989-1995); this provides Jack with a very interesting and productive insight into the thought processes and motivations of his clients’ adversaries. Jack’s Product Liability experience ranges from industrial machinery (conveyors and overhead cranes) to consumer products (furnaces and smoke detectors) to toxic torts (asbestos, silica and mold) to pharmaceuticals (diet drugs), to outline a few.
Jack has been asked to handle and resolve some of his clients’ most problematic and dangerous cases in some of the most challenging venues in this country, oftentimes after the discovery has been completed. These engagements have been particularly rewarding personally because of the faith and trust his clients have placed in him. Jack takes that trust very seriously. His Catastrophic practice always presents very “interesting” problems to solve, as it centers upon Wrongful Death, Spinal Cord Injury and Traumatic Brain Injury matters, and oftentimes involves “bet the company” risks for the clients.
Jack’s specialties include: Catastrophic Case oversight and resolution, Trial and Appellate work as well as an extensive mediation practice on behalf of corporate litigants.
Published Works and Presentations
- Taking “Advantage” of a Catastrophe: Why Every Company Needs an Emergency Response Plan—ACC of Wisconsin Annual Conference—May 17, 2018 (w/ John W. Halpin and Ryan Murphy of Edgerton Contractors, Inc.)
- Personal Jurisdiction and Magnet Jurisdictions: Again?—DALS (Defense Asbestos Litigation Seminar)—June 27, 2018
- Defeating the Reptile: What is Reptile Theory—ACC of Wisconsin Annual Conference—May 16, 2019 (w/ Paul B. Junius of Risk Retention Services, Inc.)
- Litigation Trends in a Post-COVID-19 World: Are We on the Tip of the COVID-19 Litigation Iceberg? Lessons Learned and What to Expect in 2022 and Beyond—USLAW Fall 2021—September 24, 2021 (w/ Constantine “Dean” Nickas of Wicker Smith O’Hara McCoy & Ford P.A.) VIDEO
- How to Shut Down Madison County—or Not: With a Boots on the Ground Update, Defense Asbestos Litigation Seminar, June 9, 2016
- Managing Difficult Trucking Issues – Analysis of Mock Jury Selection Parts I & II, DRI Trucking Law Seminar, April 14, 2016
- The End of Litigation Tourism: Is It Time to Cancel the Madison County Visas?, DRI Asbestos Medicine Seminar, November 6, 2015
- Litigation Strategy and Public Relations Impacts: Which Takes Precedence?”; The Lawyer’s View: Or, A Case for Emergency Response, Evidence Preservation/Analysis and Collaboration with Corporate, panelist, ATA Litigation Center’s Forum for the Motor Carrier General Counsel, July 22, 2015.
- “Junk Scientists Need Not Apply” – Can Daubert Really be Used in State Court, Including Wisconsin?, co-presenter, WHD Products Liability Seminar: Avoiding Suit and Winning Before Trial, March 26, 2015.
- Croc-Proofing: Preparing and Defending Your Case in the Reptile Age, co-presenter with Allan Campo, DRI Products Liability Conference, February 5, 2015.
- Make Love Not War: Effective Use of ADR, presenter, ATA Litigation Center’s 2012 Forum for Motor Carrier General Counsel, July 22-25, 2012.
- State of Toxic Torts in Wisconsin 2011: Where Are We and Where Does Tort Reform Take Us?, co-presenter, Wisconsin Defense Counsel 2011 Summer Conference, August 2011.
- Stompin’ Snakes: An Open Forum for Hot Topics and Conundrums, co-presenter, ALFA International 2011 Transportation Practice Group Seminar “Asleep at the Wheel: A Wake Up Call,” May 2011.
- Jury Selection Issues in the Age of Twitter, co-presenter, DRI Product Liability Conference Crisis Prevention & Management: Product Liability at the Speed of Light, April 2011.
- Jeopardy: Insurance Coverage Considerations, co-presenter, ATA Litigation Center’s Forum for Motor Carrier General Counsels Featuring a One-Day Symposium on Highway Accident Litigation, July 2009.
- A View From the Center: “Winning” the Catastrophic Loss by Reconciling the Different Members of the “Team”, 2009 ALFA International Transportation Practice Group Seminar, May 8, 2009.
- What to Look for in Jury Research, Defense Research Institute Trucking Law Seminar, Phoenix, Arizona, April 17, 2008.
- Emergency Response – Coordinating the Response and Being Ready When the Phone Rings at 3 a.m., Defense Research Institute 2007 Annual Conference, Washington, D.C., October 12, 2007.
- We Can Work It Out : Mock Mediation of a Highway Accident Case, American Trucking Association General Counsel Forum, Santa Fe, New Mexico, August 8, 2006.
- Technology in Transportation Industry: A Double-Edged Sword, Transportation Lawyers Association, Lake Buena Vista, Florida, May 20, 2006.
- Under the Gun in Wisconsin, co-authored with Molly J. Zillig, published in For the Defense, February, 2006.
- Wisconsin, co-authored with Emily J. Olson, published in Spoliation of Evidence: A Compendium of State and Federal Law, 2006.
- Focus Group Testing of Damages: Why Do It, What Are You Really Testing and How to Get it Done, American Bar Association, New Orleans, Louisiana, April 18, 2003.
- Relationship Between and Expectations of Primary Insurer, Excess Insurer, Reinsurer . . . and, Oh Yeah, The Insured, Trucking Industry Defense Association, Kansas City, Missouri, October 24, 2002.
- Catastrophic Injury Cases: Have No Fear, Network of Trial Law Firms, Palm Beach, Florida, October 26, 2001.
- Conducting An Effective Cross-Examination in Wisconsin, Lorman Education Services, Milwaukee, Wisconsin, March 22, 2000.
- Credit Card Discovery, published in Declarations, Summer, 1998.
- Evidence in Trial Practice in Wisconsin, National Business Institute, Inc., Milwaukee, Wisconsin, July 30, 1997.
- Evidence in Trial Practice in Wisconsin, National Business Institute, Inc., Madison, Wisconsin, August 23, 1994, and Milwaukee, Wisconsin, August 24, 1994.
- Products Liability and the Workplace: Cooperation, Modification and Peeking Through the Corporate Veil, Wisconsin Academy of Trial Lawyers, Egg Harbor, Wisconsin, July 9, 1994.
- Premises Liability: Preparation and Trial of a Difficult Case in Wisconsin, National Business Institute, Inc., Milwaukee, Wisconsin, May 27, 1993.
- Ahnert v. Employers Insurance Co. of Wausau, 2016 WL 97612 (E.D. Wis. 2016)
- Ahnert v. Brand Insulation Inc., 2015 WL 461568 (E.D. Wis. 2015)
- Herr v. Linde LLC, 2015 WL 5918609 (E.D. Wis. 2015)
- Ahnert v. Brand Insulation Inc., 2014 WL 4257740 (E.D. Wis. 2014)
- Custom Shutters, LLC v. Saia Motor Freight Line, LLC, 2014 WL 2013375 (E.D. Wis. 2014)
- Custom Shutters, LLC v. Saia Motor Freight Line, LLC, 2013 WL 6145817 (E.D. Wis. 2013)
- Horak v. Building Service Industrial Sales Co., 341 Wis.2d 403, 815 N.W.2d 400 (Ct. App. 2012)
- Spychalla v. Avco Corp., 2011 WL 5903581 (E.D. Wis. 2011)
- Wagner v. Cincinnati Cas. Co., 334 Wis.2d 516, 800 N.W.2d 27 (Ct. App. 2011)
- Behrendt v. Gulf Underwriters Ins. Co., 318 Wis.2d 622, 768 N.W.2d 568 (2009)
- Boyle v. RJW Transport, Inc., 2008 WL 4877108 (N.D. Ill. 2008)
- Horak v. Building Service Ind. Sales Co., 309 Wis.2d 188, 750 N.W.2d 512 (Ct. App. 2008)
- Walker v. Hutchins, 2003 WL 23109634 (W.D. Wis. 2003)
- Locklear v. Litscher, 2002 WL 32349986 (W.D. Wis. 2002)
- Doyle v. Engelke, 219 Wis.2d 277, 580 N.W.2d 245 (1998)
- McLean v. Badger Equipment Co., 868 F.Supp. 258 (E.D. Wis. 1994)
- Niemann v. Badger Mut. Ins. Co., 143 Wis.2d 73, 420 N.W.2d 379 (Ct. App. 1988)
- Sipl v. Sentry Indem. Co., 146 Wis.2d 459, 431 N.W.2d 685 (Ct. App. 1988)
Professional Admissions, Associations, and Honors
U.S. District Court, Eastern District of Wisconsin, 1985
U.S. District Court, Western District of Wisconsin, 1986
U.S. District Court, Northern District of Illinois, 2013
MDL 875 (Asbestos), Eastern District of Pennsylvania, 2008
U.S. Court of Appeals, Third Circuit, 2012
U.S. Court of Appeals, Seventh Circuit, 2006
U.S. Supreme Court, 2007
Defense Research Institute (DRI) – Law Institute, Chair (2016-1); Law Institute, Member (2006-19); Trucking Law Committee, Chair (2002-2004); Product LiabilityCommittee; Professional Liability Committee; Toxic Torts Committee
International Association of Defense Counsel> (IADC)
Transportation Lawyers Association
Trucking Industry Defense Association
American Bar Association – Tort and Insurance Practice, Litigation, and Transportation Law sections
State Bar of Wisconsin, Litigation Section
Selected for inclusion in The Best Lawyers in America® in Product Liability Litigation – Defendants (2014-present)
Selected by the Wisconsin Law Journal as a 2011 Leader in the Law
Named to the Wisconsin Super Lawyers list (2005, 2009-present)
The Ohio State University College of Law, J.D., 1985; Wagner National Labor Moot Court
San Jose State University, B.S., Political Science, with distinction, 1982; Dean’s Scholar
Jack has a life-long commitment to social justice and firmly believes that all animals are better creatures than Joe Goode. Jack and his wife Eileen have been longtime benefactors to Repairers of the Breach, Pathfinders, any number of Humane Societies. Eileen has helped Habitat for Humanity construct homes via its Women’s Build initiative. Jack is hopeful that the Laffey involvement as quasi-official community ambassadors for the local Jesuit Volunteer Corps Milwaukee house will continue for years to come.