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David E. Morrison

Principal
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David Morrison is a principal in the firm's Litigation and Labor & Employment groups. He is an experienced litigator and trial lawyer, having litigated employment, commercial, and bankruptcy cases on behalf of public and private companies in 27 states and in every region of the country. In his more than 25 years as an employment litigator and trial lawyer, Mr. Morrison has litigated or tried: single plaintiff, multi-plaintiff and class action employment discrimination cases (including discrimination, harassment, retaliation, wrongful termination, violation of public policy, and a variety of state law tort claims); single plaintiff, collective action and class actions brought under the Fair Labor Standards Act, state minimum wage, wage and hour and privacy laws (including under the Illinois Biometric Information Privacy Act or BIPA); and breach of covenants-not-to-compete or other restrictive covenants, breach of fiduciary duty, breach of confidentiality agreements and violation of state and federal trade secret acts.

In addition, Mr. Morrison has counseled employers on issues concerning handbooks and policies, reductions in force, terminations, various type of employee agreements (employment, separation, severance, temporary employee, covenants-not-to-compete, restrictive covenants and confidentiality), wage and hour issues, BIPA policies and consents, Sarbanes-Oxley, issues under WARN, Section 1981, and the Family and Medical Leave Act.

Mr. Morrison's substantial commercial litigation experience has involved litigation, arbitration and mediation of commercial cases involving securitized credit agreements; commercial licensing disputes; sales, promotion, distribution and marketing agreements; accounting fraud; securities litigation; commercial lease disputes; breach of letters of intent, asset purchase agreements and stock purchase agreements, breach of warranty; construction litigation; enforcement of guarantees; fraudulent transfer, piercing the corporate veil, and alter ego; and dozens of bankruptcy issues.

He has represented banks and other commercial lenders, private equity firms, pharmaceutical companies, trading firms, real estate operators and lessors, general merchandise stores, restaurants, manufacturers, distributors, and various service sectors, including pharmaceutical, banking, manufacturing, trading, hospitality, engineering, telecommunications, architectural, accounting, and research and testing.

“David Morrison has consistently provided Andersen Tax with highly responsive, informative and practical employment counseling and legal advice which demonstrates a keen sensitivity to those charged with implementing it—the business people who have to live with the results." Michelle Ventress, General Counsel and Managing Director of Andersen Tax.

Mr. Morrison served as the firm's Hiring Partner from 2006-2008. As a past chair of the firm's Diversity Committee, Mr. Morrison helped draft the firm's first diversity initiative. He also serves as the firm's Employment Counsel. He received his law degree, cum laude, from the University of Michigan in 1993, where he was Executive Note Editor of the University of Michigan Journal of Law Reform, and his B.A. in political science, with honors, from Indiana University in 1990. He is a former law clerk to the Honorable Suzanne B. Conlon, United States District Court for the Northern District of Illinois. He is admitted to practice in Illinois and New York, in the Third, Fourth, Sixth, Seventh, and Tenth Circuit Courts of Appeal and the Northern District of Illinois. Mr. Morrison has been consistently selected for inclusion in "SuperLawyers” for both employment and business litigation for over 10 years.

Mr. Morrison serves on the Innovation Practices Committee for Makom Solel Lakeside, in Highland Park, Illinois.  He previously served as president and a member of the board of directors of College Bound, Inc., and is a past officer and co-chair of the Executive Committee and member of the board of directors of Scholarship Chicago, Inc., both of which are not-for-profit charitable organizations established to assist underprivileged Chicago-area high school students attend and graduate from college. Mr. Morrison coached girls and boys AYSO soccer teams in Deerfield, Illinois for 14 years.

Representative Matters

A representative sampling of Mr. Morrison's litigation experiences include the following:

  • Mr. Morrison represented a California-based private equity company that had formed a business to acquire the majority lender position in a secured credit facility. Working with the firm's Creditor's Rights group, the firm's client acquired the assets of a Chapter 11 debtor that operated 80 restaurants and bars nationwide in a Section 363 Sale under the Bankruptcy Code. Another private equity firm, a disappointed auction participant and minority lender in the facility, sued the firm's client in the Southern District of New York, attempting to use the implied covenant of good faith and fair dealing to extract 1/3 of the value of the purchased company from our client.   Mr. Morrison first successfully argued for the dismissal of the good faith and fair dealing claim. Then, after a February 2019 trial on the merits, in which the minority lender attempted to establish that the firm's client breached the "sharing provision" contained in the credit agreement when instead of tendering cash at closing, the client tendered court-approved non-cash consideration, the SDNY entered a judgment fully in favor of Mr. Morrison's client. Based on the record evidence Mr. Morrison developed at trial, the decision represents a significant win for majority lender rights, and rejection of the minority lender's efforts to establish a rule of law that would have prohibited the use of non-cash consideration at bankruptcy auctions.
  • Mr. Morrison was retained to represent two former executives of the plaintiff and their new employer who were sued in federal court on federal and state trade secret misappropriation claims. The Court had entered a form of TRO before Mr. Morrison was retained, based on allegations that the defendants had a massive number of electronic files in their possession and had used them in setting up a business competitive to the plaintiff. Seeing the Court's initial impressions of the case, Mr. Morrison almost immediately turned the tables on the plaintiff and focused the Court on what he saw as the key issue: regardless of what information was in his clients' possession, the plaintiff had not reasonably protected its information as if it were truly a trade secret. Mr. Morrison then led a team and his clients through extensive emergency discovery and a two-day trial. The Northern District of Illinois entered a published decision fully in favor of Mr. Morrison's clients and eviscerating the plaintiff's trade secret claims and denying the plaintiff's motion for preliminary injunction. The opinion has been discussed heavily by intellectual property and employment counsel around the country, and Mr. Morrison has been a sought-after speaker on the topic of reasonable protections for trade secret information as a result. See Abrasic 90 Inc. v. Weldcote Metals, Inc. et al., 364 F. Supp.3d 888 (N.D. Ill. Mar. 4, 2019).
  • In February 2019, Mr. Morrison obtained the first known dismissal of a class action brought under the BIPA against an employer for using fingerprint technology as part of its biometric time clock system since the Illinois Supreme Court issued its seminal January 25, 2019 decision in Rosenbach v. Six Flags Entertainment. Morrison has lectured on and been interviewed by the press about the BIPA and Rosenbach.
  • For 19 years, Mr. Morrison has represented a Fortune 125 company on a variety of commercial matters, including serving as its national employment counsel responsible for defending more than 100 single-plaintiff employment discrimination cases throughout the country. Mr. Morrison has obtained summary judgment or dismissal in cases throughout the country. Over a one-year period, Mr. Morrison won appeals affirming three of those summary judgment decisions in the Sixth, Seventh and Tenth Circuit Courts of Appeal. An example of a representative case was when Mr. Morrison successfully defended the corporation and five individual defendants in a California state court case against a former employee who sought $7,000,000 in her nine count wrongful termination suit. Mr. Morrison led a team of lawyers in extensive discovery including 25 depositions as the plaintiff tried to amass a tremendous record to create what she claimed was more than 150 disputes of material facts in an attempt to force our clients to a four-week jury trial. Mr. Morrison was able to simplify the facts and issues and persuasively argue that not one material fact was in dispute, resulting in the clients being granted summary judgment. The California Appellate Court affirmed the trial court's decision in full after hearing argument from Mr. Morrison, and the California Supreme Court denied the plaintiff's Petition for Review.
  • When the United States affiliate of an international lighting manufacturer suspected its lead salesman of breaching his fiduciary duty and restrictive covenants and conspiring to steal the company's trade secrets, Mr. Morrison aggressively protected the company's trade secrets and rights through a forensic investigation and injunction litigation. Mr. Morrison ultimately was able to negotiate a permanent injunction that protected the company's interests, as part of a meaningful settlement. "David Morrison is an attorney who understands how to work in the best interest of his client. In working with David, our company was very impressed with David’s attention to detail. David was very clear in communicating with our team on the strategies and recommended actions to best pursue a positive outcome. I can say I was most impressed with how tenacious David was in representing our company’s best interest. Without doubt, David has earned my full trust and confidence." John W. Camp, former Chief Executive Officer, Schreder Lighting LLC.
  • When an international airline was sued by a former employee for sexual orientation harassment and discrimination, Mr. Morrison successfully led the client through discovery and a three-day trial before the Chicago Commission on Human Relations, obtaining a final judgment in his client's favor. "As in-house counsel responsible for the selection, coordination and supervision of outside counsel in three countries and multiple states and provinces within those countries, I have had the opportunity to work with many competent attorneys. David Morrison is one attorney who was outstanding in the handling of an alleged sexual harassment claim filed against Mexicana Airlines. His questioning of the claimant and his witnesses were extremely effective overcoming opposite counsel’s attempt to exploit what could have been a biased notion that Mexican corporations are not supportive of homosexual employees and a sympathetic claimant. David’s approach of trying to understand the company’s operations and culture, and to team up with in-house lawyers and management was valuable, and paired with his experience and competent lawyer skills ultimately proved to be successful. David has become a trusted outside counsel for Mexicana Airlines." Maru E. Johansen, Vice President Legal & Corporate Affairs , U.S., Canada & U.K., Mexicana Airlines.
  • When a start-up business and its principals were sued on allegations of trade secret violations, breach of fiduciary duty and breach of restrictive covenants, Mr. Morrison jumped into the matter and defeated the plaintiff's motion for temporary restraining order. Mr. Morrison then led his clients through significant discovery and obtained summary judgment on all counts. Based on the record developed by Mr. Morrison, which reflected that the plaintiff filed false pleadings and intended on using the litigation as a weapon to drain Mr. Morrison's clients of their resources, the trial court awarded the firm's client all of its attorneys' fees and expenses incurred in the 9-month long case as a sanction against the plaintiff and its attorneys. The award was affirmed by the Illinois Appellate Court, and the Illinois Supreme Court denied the petition for leave to appeal filed by the plaintiff and its law firm. "I am so glad that I retained David Morrison. David suggested that we file a motion for sanctions as we had spent over $150,000 defending ourselves, and it was obvious that they were trying to drain me and my partner of all of our operating capital. The judge agreed and we were awarded full sanctions. David and his staff did an outstanding job. Receiving sanctions is very rare, but David fought hard for us and we won." Larry Samples, President, Cutting Edge Document Destruction.
  • After being appointed by the federal court to provide pro bono representation to an individual who was denied a job at a car dealership, Mr. Morrison developed a factual record that served to defeat summary judgment, obtain a jury verdict after a three-day jury trial, and to create a roadmap for all employers on the need for proper management training. The jury awarded liquidated damages doubling the compensatory damage award, finding that the dealership willfully violated the Age Discrimination in Employment Act because Mr. Morrison proved that it failed to properly train its managers on hiring decisions and employment discrimination laws after the hiring manager admitted he was not aware that he could not consider age in making employment decisions. Mr. Morrison won the appeal before the Seventh Circuit, which resulted in an often cited opinion (Mathis v. Phillips Chevrolet, Inc., 269 F.3d 771 (7th Cir. 2001)) that has been discussed by dozens of legal commentators who have declared it to be "significant to all employers within the Circuit's jurisdiction," and one that will "apply to all important employment decisions.
Thought Leadership:

Mr. Morrison is the author of “You’ve Built the Bridge, Why Don’t You Cross It? A Call for State Labor Laws Prohibiting Private Employment Discrimination on the Basis of Sexual Orientation,” 26 University of Michigan Journal of Law Ref., 245 (1992); “Against the Odds, Holiday Office Parties Thriving,” Bridge News (Dec. 16, 1998); "Altering Overtime Rule Sets the Stage for More Debate," 27 Crain's Chicago Business 34 (Aug. 23, 2004); “Is Your E-mail Company Property?,” The Providence Journal and The Fresno Bee (May 19, 2005); "'English Only' May Be Discriminatory," Lodging Law (August 2006); "Caution! 'English-Only' in the Workplace can be a Discriminatory Practice," The Rooms Chronicle/HospitalityLawyer.com (August 2006); and of, “Can Local and State Governments Tie Tax Incentive Financing (TIF) to Pro–Union Concessions?” Lodging Law, The American Hotel and Lodging Association (September 2006).

Seminars or conferences at which Mr. Morrison has presented include: "Reasonable Measures to Protect Trade Secrets: Lessons for In-House Counsel and Litigators," IP Chat Channel Webinar, Intellectual Property Owners Association (May 2019); "What You Need to Know About Biometric Privacy Laws and How to Comply," Meritas U.S./Canada Litigation and Labor & Employment Group Joint Fall Meeting (October 2018); “Reducing Hiring Risk While Winning the Race for Talent,” HR.com Educational Webcast (February 2014); ERE Recruiting Conference (September 2013); "Wage Hour Crackdown: Are Your Interns Really Employees," Association of Corporate Counsel (ACC) Webinar (February 2013); "What In-House Counsel Should Know about Recently Passed Legislation," North Shore Labor Counsel (February 2009); "The Changing Face of the Legal Profession," Northwestern University School of Law (September 2008); "Avoiding the Heartburn of Class Action: How to Create an Effective Meal Break Plan," 2nd Annual National HR in Hospitality Conference & Expo (March 2008); "Discussion on Restrictive Covenants and Confidentiality Agreements," North Shore Labor Counsel (November 2007); “Promoting Diversity Within Your Firm, Pushing the Issue Forward: Retaining & Advancing Women Attorneys in Your Firm” (July 2007); “Overcoming Mid-Size and Small Firm Challenges,” The American Conference Institute (ACI) National Forum on Law Firm Diversity (January, March and June 2007); "Employment Law for the Entrepreneur," Northwestern University Law School (March 2006); “Up-the-Ladder Reporting Responsibilities under the Sarbanes Oxley Act,” Practicing Law Institute (PLI) (January 2005); "Best Practices in FMLA Administration," Council on Education in Management (July 2004); "Negotiating Executive Compensation and Employment Agreements," Robertson Lowstuter Inc. Management Consulting Seminar Series (November 2003); Illinois Payroll Basics,” Lorman Education Services (August 2001); and “Employment Law for Small Business,” National Business Institute (1998). He has been interviewed by the Wall Street Journal, National Public Radio, CNN Radio, the National Law Journal, Crain's Chicago Business, Business Week, Law 360, the Chicago Daily Law Bulletin, the Society For Human Resource Management (SHRM), Chicago Lawyer, HRDive, World at Work, lawcrossing.com, workforce.com, and WLS-ABC Channel 7 in Chicago on a range of employment topics.

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55 East Monroe Street
Suite 3300
Chicago, Illinois 60603-5792
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Education

  • University of Michigan, J.D., cum laude, 1993
  • - Louis Honigman Memorial Award Recipient
  • - Raymond K. Dykma Scholarship Recipient
  • - Scribes award for outstanding legal writing
  • Indiana University, B.A. in political science, with honors, 1990
  • - Wendle L. Wilkie Senior Thesis Award

Bar Admissions

  • Illinois
  • New York
  • Third Circuit Court of Appeals
  • Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals
  • Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals
  • Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals
  • Tenth Circuit Court of Appeals
  • U.S. District Court, Northern District of Illinois

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Suite 3300
Chicago, Illinois 60603-5792
Tel: 312.201.4000
Fax: 312.332.2196
Email: info@goldbergkohn.com

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