Mark M. LeitnerPartner
Mark M. LeitnerPartner
Mark Leitner has been successfully trying and arguing cases in Wisconsin and throughout the United States for three decades. Inspired to attend journalism school by Woodward and Bernstein’s relentless Watergate reporting, his training armed him with the investigative and fact-finding skills needed to shine as a trial lawyer. Mark combines blue-collar street smarts with an outstanding academic background to create a persuasion style that gets through to judges and juries alike.
Now a seasoned veteran, he has taken dozens of cases to verdict at trial and has handled countless injunction matters and other summary proceedings. His appellate work includes several precedent-setting cases in Wisconsin, and he is one of the very few lawyers nationwide to have won both a jury verdict and a settlement of more than nine figures.
Outside of his law practice, Mark is an exuberant sports fan, reader, and live music attendee. In 2011, he began competing in powerlifting meets, focusing on the deadlift.
- Defended manufacturer of binoculars and rifle scopes in trademark infringement lawsuit and settled case with payment from plaintiff to client.
- Won summary judgment for insured in coverage litigation over salmonella outbreak at restaurant; case settled with no contribution by client to settlement.
- Settled copyright infringement claim against Web-based truck parts distributor early in case for a third of likely defense costs.
- Defeated effort to dismiss lawsuit for lack of personal jurisdiction against out-of-state Internet bandwidth provider that illegally seized client’s servers.
- Obtained $1 million settlement for policyholder in coverage litigation over cost of defending against government investigation of environmental conditions at client’s former factory site.
- Defeated franchisor’s motion for summary judgment against client franchisee on client’s fraudulent inducement claims and obtained substantial settlement for client on eve of trial.
- Defended cookie manufacturer on patent infringement claims arising from product formula and obtained dismissal of claims with no payment by client.
- Won motion to dismiss RICO claims against data synchronization company.
- Represented Internet “penny auction” business and obtained decision dismissing suit and ruling that client’s business did not violate state gambling laws.
- Represented Internet “penny auction” business and obtained plaintiff’s voluntary dismissal of putative class action alleging fraud, RICO, and other claims after filing motion to dismiss.
- Defeated motion for preliminary injunction by client’s former employer at hearing on claims against clients for alleged theft of trade secrets and violation of non-compete agreements.
- Acted as class counsel for plaintiff franchisees in $206 million national class action settlement against submarine sandwich shop franchisor.
- Won summary judgment for client auto dealer dismissing claims for breach of agreement to sell a dealership to another local dealer.
- Represented client policyholder on claims for insurer’s breach of duty to defend and indemnify client on serious injury claim by young child; obtained settlement paying all of client’s defense and indemnity expenses.
- Obtained injunction under Wisconsin Fair Dealership law preventing window manufacturer from implementing two-step distribution system that would have put client distributor out of business.
- Represented insurer and won summary judgment dismissing contractor’s claim for more than $600,000 of work removing and replacing valves in the Lambeau Field HVAC system.
- Won Daubert motion disqualifying opposing party’s damages expert who had claimed several million dollars in lost profits in breach of contract claim; case settled on favorable terms for client shortly thereafter.
- Won summary judgment dismissing bad faith claim against health insurer that had denied child’s claim under parent’s policy and affirmance of that judgment on appeal.
- Served as first-chair trial counsel for elevator manufacturer in four-day jury trial of local dealer’s claims for breach of contract and violation of state dealership statutes.
- Served as first-chair trial counsel for manufacturer of paintball guns in four-day trial of invalidity and damages claims; jury returned verdict of just over $100,000 against plaintiff’s claim exceeding $1 million. Won motions after verdict finding patent invalid; decision was affirmed on appeal.
- Served as first-chair trial counsel for insurer in four-day court trial of coverage dispute over health insurance policy.
- Defended local government officials in lawsuit claiming that town’s refusal to approve wind farm project deprived plaintiffs of constitutional and other rights; settled case for five-figure payment after summary judgment hearing when plaintiff had initially demanded more than $10 million to settle.
- Won two-day court trial defeating plaintiff’s breach of warranty claims against client boat manufacturer.
- Defended boat manufacturer against claims by dealer of Wisconsin Fair Dealership violations and resolved case favorably for client.
- Won affirmance on appeal of summary judgment in favor of insurance company clients denying coverage for multi-million dollar groundwater and well cleanup of heavy metals and solvents because pollution was “expected or intended.”
- Served as first-chair plaintiff’s counsel in one-week jury trial over breach of nondisclosure agreement made in corporate acquisition negotiations.
- Served as first-chair defense counsel in one-week jury trial of claims alleging fraud and misrepresentation in the sale of a $1.5 million home in a Milwaukee suburb. Jury returned verdict of $38,000 against plaintiff’s claims for more than $400,000.
- Won appeal reversing trial court judgment dismissing client restaurant franchisor’s claims against meat supplier on grounds of federal preemption.
- Won affirmance on appeal of summary judgment in favor of insurer alleged to have insured van involved in accident that killed seven young people selling magazine subscriptions; also handled companion state court cases resolved in insurer’s favor on summary judgment.
- Won summary judgment for defendant sanitary district in §1983 claim by former employee alleging that district fired him for exposing purported coverup of bad water test results.
- Won then-record $104.5 million verdict for Wisconsin municipality and manufacturing company in six-week jury trial against utility company found to have deliberately buried manufactured gas plant waste on easements over clients’ land. Jury awarded $4.5 million in compensatory damages and $100 million in punitive damages. Compensatory damages award was affirmed on appeal and punitive damages were vacated and remanded for retrial, and settled for a total of $17 million after remand.
- Obtained order under “blighted property” statute allowing client city to enter polluted former factory site to perform environmental testing; decision affirmed on appeal.
- Resolved trade secret and breach of non-compete claims by clients’ former employer at mediation for less than client’s previous settlement offer through predecessor counsel.
- Hired as replacement local counsel for insurer after adverse trial and appellate court decisions concerning duty to defend; won summary judgment dismissing multimillion dollar claim for environmental cleanup costs and affirmance of summary judgment on appeal.
- Won summary judgment of minority shareholder oppression claim against closely-held defense contractor and affirmance of judgment on appeal.
- Took over representation after default judgment entered against client and obtained reversal by appellate court decision setting new precedent interpreting Wisconsin’s service of process statute.
- Served as second-chair trial counsel in one-week court trial of patent infringement claims against client chair manufacturer; case settled favorably for client while decision was pending.
- In trade secret theft case, obtained temporary restraining order and appointment of special master to conduct private search of defendant’s office that contained numerous stolen documents; obtained preliminary injunction barring defendant from operating his new business.
- Represented elevator manufacturer in dispute under Wisconsin Fair Dealership law when its Wisconsin distributor was acquired by client’s main competitor and negotiated settlement allowing client to terminate relationship with distributor.
Published Works and Presentations
- Co-Presenter: 2018 Judicial Update, 51st Annual Legal Symposium, International Franchise Association, Washington D.C. (May 6-8, 2018)
- Co-Presenter (Solo and Small Firm Breakfast): Tap Dancing Through a Minefield: Client Selection and Red Flags, 40th Annual ABA Forum on Franchising, Palm Desert, CA (October 20, 2017)
- Co-author: Seven Years Hence: Constructive Termination Since Mac’s Shell, 36 Franchise L. R. 627 (2017)
- Presenter: One Hundred Days to Trial or Final Arbitration Hearing, 37th Annual ABA Forum on Franchising, Seattle, WA, October 15-17 (2014)
- Co-author: One Hundred Days to Trial or Final Arbitration Hearing, 37th Annual ABA Forum on Franchising, Seattle, WA, October 15-17 (Conference Materials)
- Presenter: Keys to Successful Mediation: Tactics and Strategy, International Franchise Association, 45th Annual Legal Symposium, Washington, D.C., May 20-22, 2012
- Co-author: Keys to Successful Mediation: Tactics and Strategy, International Franchise Association, 45th Annual Legal Symposium, Washington, D.C., May 20-22, 2012 (Conference Materials)
- Roundtable Facilitator: How to Maneuver Among the Landmines of State Termination/Relationship Laws, International Franchise Association, 44th Annual Legal Symposium, Washington D.C. (May 17, 2011)
- Co-Author: Class Action Prohibitions And The Effect Of Contract Rules On The Collective Pursuit of Common Claims, The Franchise Law Journal, Vol. 30, No. 3, at 167 (Winter 2011)
- Author and Presenter: Evidence and Expert Testimony Best Practices: Supporting Your Case (2007)
- Author and Presenter: Insurance Coverage Litigation (2007)
- Author and Presenter: Real Evidence for the Trial Practitioner in Wisconsin (2007)
- Author and Presenter: Keys to Effective Expert Witness Examination (2007)
- Author and Presenter: Sarbanes-Oxley: Looking out for Legal Landmines (2006)
- Author and Presenter: Rules and Procedures for Federal Court Success (2006)
- Co-Author: Exhibits and Other Evidence of the Case, Federal Civil Procedure and Evidence During Trial – 7th Circuit (Vol. 2, 1997)
- Author: Requests for Admission, Wisconsin Discovery Law and Practice (1990 ed.)
- Author: FTC v. General Motors: An Unsettling Settlement, 7 Journal of Consumer Policy (1985)
- Author: Liberalism, Separation and Speech, 1985 Wisconsin Law Review 79
- Arcangelo, Inc., et al. v. DirectBuy, Inc., No. 3:13-CV-104-PPS, 2015 WL 5148513 (N.D. Ind. Sept. 2, 2015)
- Vesuvius Technologies, LLC v. ServerCentral, Inc., 2013 WL 1879107 (E.D. Wis., May 3, 2013)
- Roberts v. C.R. England, Inc., 2013 WL 3893987 (D. Utah, July 26, 2013)
- State ex rel. Godfrey & Kahn, S.C., v. Circuit Court for Milwaukee County, 2012 WI App 120, 344 Wis. 2d 610, 823 N.W.2d 816
- Cousins Subs Systems Inc. v. Better Subs Development Inc., 2011 WL 4585541 (E.D. Wis., September 30, 2011)
- Edgenet, Inc. v. GS1 U.S., Inc., 742 F. Supp. 2d 997 (E.D. Wis. 2010)
- Siemer v. Quizno’s Franchise Co., LLC, 2010 WL 3238840 (N.D. Ill., Aug. 13, 2010)
- Bonnano v. Quizno’s Franchise Co., LLC, 2009 WL 1068744 (D. Colo., Apr. 20, 2009)
- Westerfield v. Quizno’s Franchise Co., LLC, 2008 WL 2512467 (E.D. Wis., Apr. 16, 2008)
- Builder’s World, Inc. v. Marvin Lumber & Cedar, Inc., 482 F. Supp. 2d 1065 (E.D. Wis. 2007)
- Sawotka v. Midwest Security Life Ins. Co., 2006AP2362, 301 Wis. 2d 750, 731 N.W.2d 384 (Wis. Ct. App., Mar. 20, 2007) (unpublished)
- Tweet/Garot – August Winter, LLC v. Liberty Mut. Fire Ins. Co., 2007 WL 445998 (E.D. Wis., February 7, 2007)
- Ariens Co. v. Woods Equipment Co., 2006 WL 2597979 (E.D. Wis., Sept. 9, 2006)
- Braun Elevator Co. v. ThyssenKrupp Elevator Corp., 379 F. Supp. 2d 993 (W.D. Wis. 2005)
- City of Elkhorn v. 211 Centralia Street Corp., 2004 WI App 139, 275 Wis. 2d 584, 685 N.W.2d 874
- Estate of Kriefall ex rel. Kriefall v. Sizzler USA Franchise, Inc., 265 Wis. 2d 476, 665 N.W.2d 417 (Wis. Ct. App. 2003)
- Wild v. Subscriptions Plus, 292 F. 2d 526 (7th Cir. 2002)
- City of West Allis v. Wisconsin Electric Power Co., 2001 WI App 226, 248 Wis. 2d 10, 635 N.W.2d 873
- Reget v. Paige, 2001 WI App 73, 242 Wis. 2d 278, 626 N.W.2d 302
- Production Stamping Corp. v. Maryland Cas. Co., 234 Wis. 2d 524, 611 N.W.2d 470 (Wis. Ct. App. 2000) (unpublished)
- Eberle v. Dane County Bd. of Adjustment, 227 Wis. 2d 609, 595 N.W.2d 730 (1999)
- Bar Code Resources v. Ameritech Information Systems, Inc., 229 Wis. 2d 287, 599 N.W.2d 872 (Wis. Ct. App. 1999)
- RecycleWorlds Consulting Corp. v. Wisconsin Bell, 224 Wis. 2d 586, 592 N.W.2d 637 (Wis. Ct. App. 1999)
- Bauder v. Delavan-Darien School District, 207 Wis. 2d 310, 558 N.W.2d 881 (Wis. Ct. App. 1996)
- Stoppleworth v. Refuse Hideaway, Inc., 200 Wis. 2d 512, 546 N.W.2d 870 (1996)
- Whirlpool Corp. v. Ziebert, 197 Wis. 2d 144, 539 N.W.2d 883 (1995)
- Steinberg v. Jensen, 194 Wis. 2d 439, 534 N.W.2d 361 (1995)
- Dog Federation of Wisconsin, Inc. v. City of South Milwaukee, 178 Wis. 2d 353, 504 N.W.2d 375 (Wis. Ct. App. 1993)
- Azco Hennes Sanco, Ltd. v. Wisconsin Ins. Sec. Fund, 177 Wis. 2d 563, 502 N.W.2d 887 (Wis. Ct. App. 1993)
- Maleki v. Fine-Lando Clinic Chartered, S.C., 162 Wis. 2d 73, 469 N.W.2d 629 (1991)
- Johnson v. Calado, 159 Wis. 2d 446, 464 N.W.2d 647 (1991)
- Miller v. Minority Brotherhood of Fire Protection, 158 Wis. 2d 589, 463 N.W.2d 690 (Wis. Ct. App. 1990)
- Matter of Estate of Katze-Miller, 158 Wis. 2d 559, 463 N.W.2d 853 (Wis. Ct. App. 1990)
Professional Admissions, Associations, and Honors
American Bar Association
American Bar Association Forum on Franchising
U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit
U.S. Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit
U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Wisconsin
U.S. District Court for the Western District of Wisconsin
U.S. District Court for the District of Colorado
U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Illinois (General and Trial Bar)
U.S. District Court of the Northern District of Indiana
State Bar of Wisconsin
State Bar of Illinois
Best Lawyers in America 2010-2017 (Commercial Litigation and Appellate Practice)
Wisconsin Super Lawyer 2006-2017
Animal Legal Defense Fund 2017 Advancement in Animal Law Pro Bono Achievement Award
University of Wisconsin Law School / J.D., cum laude, 1985
Senior Articles Editor, Wisconsin Law Review 1984-85
Marquette University / B.A., cum laude, 1980
University of Minnesota / 1980-1982
Mark serves as a volunteer monitor for the Wisconsin Lawyer Support and Monitoring Program, which is offered through the State Bar of Wisconsin’s Lawyers Assistance Program (WisLAP) and the Office of Lawyer Regulation to assist lawyers dealing with addiction and other mental health issues in rehabilitating themselves.