If you ask Jo to identify the key to a successful defense in the high exposure injury and death cases she handles, her answer comes quickly: “Everything centers on trial preparation. If the defense anticipates trial presentation throughout the litigation, the case is postured to accommodate all possible outcomes, from a favorable settlement to a successful trial.” Jo believes that once the initial investigation is complete, every good trial attorney should start outlining the closing argument and gathering evidence to support his or her theory of the case.
Jo earned both her undergraduate and law degrees from the University of Iowa “with distinction,” finishing in 1997, and soon after began her legal career at Quinn Johnston. Within her first year of practice, she tried several cases and within her second year she second-chaired a trial over property damage from a fire, with insurance coverage issues to be decided. “That early experience, following an internship in law school with a state’s attorney’s office, confirmed for me that my place was in the courtroom,” she recalls. Jo’s practice soon evolved into defending cases with high exposure injuries, death cases, or catastrophic property damage losses and coverage issues.
“Some of the insurers I work for often insure farmers. I’m comfortable with that, since I grew up on an Iowa farm myself.” She recalls one claim in particular for a farmer whose cow had escaped from its pen and made its way onto a highway, causing an accident. After receiving a defense verdict for the farmer, she spoke privately with some of the jurors who decided the case. “They told me that early on in the case, they were relatively sure the farmer was responsible for the accident and injury. However, after hearing the law and the evidence, they deliberated less than 20 minutes before deciding the case in favor of my client.”
Jo is often called upon to predict settlement and jury verdict ranges for cases of significant injuries or death. “There’s no formula to use to predict what a jury might do,” she explains. “Generally speaking the factors that drive damages in high exposure claims are not the same set of factors typically considered in settling a soft tissue injury. It requires experience and consideration of many facts specific to each case, including the parties, circumstances of the incident, venue and law to make an accurate assessment of value.” Jo cites the following among the highlights of her years in practice:
- Obtaining summary judgment from the U.S. District Court, Central District and having that judgment affirmed by the 7th Circuit Court of Appeals on a highly contested coverage issue involving allegation s of intentional conduct by an employee.
- Receiving over 30 summary judgments in premises liability claims, many of which have been appealed and sustained on appeal. The only one that was reversed, she eventually tried and obtained a defense verdict.
- Obtaining summary judgment on the basis of no duty due to lack of foreseeability for a tilling operator who accidently started a fire in a field that created enough smoke to effect visibility on a nearby interstate, causing a 17 car pile-up, including one death and several serious injuries.
- Trying over 30 cases to verdict, the vast majority of which resulted in either defense verdicts or verdicts that were less than the pre-trial offer.
- J.D., University of Iowa College of Law, Iowa City, Iowa, 1997
- Honors: with Distinction, Trial Advocacy, Moot Court Board, Client Counseling Board
- Law Review: Business Law Journal, editor
- B.S., Political Science and Sociology, University of Iowa, Iowa City, Iowa, 1993
- Honors: with Distinction
- U.S. District Court, Central District of Illinois
- U.S. Court of Appeals, Seventh Circuit
- Illinois State Bar Association
- Peoria County Bar Association – Committee Chair of Continuing Legal Education (2011-2012)
- Greater Peoria Claims Association
- Defense Research Institute
- Illinois Association of Defense Trial Counsel
- Illinois Defense Counsel
- Abraham Lincoln Inns of Court
- Martindale-Hubbell rating of AV® Preeminent
- Illinois Leading Lawyers List, 2017-2018
- Illinois Super Lawyers List, 2013-2018
- Illinois Rising Stars List, 2011
- Prairie State Campaign for Legal Services
- Peoria County Bar Association, CLE Committee (former Chair)
- St. Jude Volunteer
- Girl Scouts
News & Events
Quinn Johnston’s Entire Partnership Named as 2018 Leading Lawyers in Their Respective Practice Areas
Leading Lawyers has announced that 18 attorneys from the Peoria law firm of Quinn, Johnston, Henderson, Pretorius & Cerulo were named by their peers to the list of the top lawyers licensed to practice law in Illinois. Sixteen of the lawyers were named Leading Lawyers, a distinction earned by fewer than five percent of all lawyers registered to practice in Illinois and two were named Emerging Lawyers, a distinction earned by fewer than two percent. Significantly, every firm partner was named a leading lawyer in their designated areas of practice.
2018 Illinois Super Lawyers and Rising Stars
Eight Quinn Johnston attorneys in Central Illinois were named to the 2018 Illinois Super Lawyers / Rising Stars lists.
Nine Quinn Johnston Attorneys Recognized for Professional Achievement
Nine attorneys from Quinn Johnston have been named to prestigious lists by two prominent ratings services: Illinois Super Lawyers and Illinois Rising Stars. Quinn Johnston is honored that all nine of the attorneys recognized this year have also been recognized for their professional achievement in past years.
Ten Attorneys Recognized for Professional Achievement
Ten attorneys from Quinn Johnston have been named to prestigious lists by two prominent ratings services: Illinois Super Lawyers and Illinois Rising Stars. Each year, only five percent of the total lawyers in the state are selected for inclusion in Super Lawyers. Please join us in congratulating these outstanding lawyers.
Attorneys Named to 2014 Illinois Super Lawyers and Rising Stars Lists
Thirteen attorneys from our Peoria law firm have been recognized for outstanding achievements by two prominent ratings services.
News From the Firm – Summer 2012
Four of Quinn Johnston's attorneys successfully defended a surgeon and a neurosurgeon in two separate medical malpractice jury trials. Jon Stump won a trial related to a motor vehicle accident involving a semi-truck and farm tractor. John Kamin obtained a defense verdict for an employer in a case involving a trip-and-fall in a parking lot.