James Vlahakis practices primarily in federal court in matters involving commercial litigation, civil rights and employment law. Mr. Vlahakis has successfully defended cases before the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit.
Mr. Vlahakis' nationwide litigation practice is concentrated in the representation of corporations involved in class action lawsuits involving federal and state consumer rights statutes. Mr. Vlahakis specializes in defending class actions brought pursuant to the Telephone Consumer Protection Act (TCPA). Mr. Vlahakis has defended over four dozen TCPA lawsuits. Mr. Vlahakis has also represented TCPA clients before the Federal Communications Commission. Mr Vlahakis has defended class action claims brought pursuant to the Fair Debt Collections Practices Act.
Mr. Vlahakis' federal civil rights practice is focused on the defense of governmental and corporate entities in all types of constitutional law claims, including, but not limited to, prisoner litigation, housing discrimination and First Amendment issues.
Mr. Vlahakis also represents local governmental entities in the defense of tort claims, FOIA requests, wrongful death claim and false arrest claims.
He represents and counsels employers in all types of business disputes and discrimination claims.
He also has served as a Special Assistant Illinois Attorney General on over two dozen cases. He is currently serving as a Special Assistant Cook County State's Attorney.
Mr. Vlahakis is youth soccer coach and a fan of the "beautiful game." While he continue to play soccer for fun, he has served as outside legal counsel for a Major League Soccer franchise. Additionally, he has represented players and coaches in immigration related proceedings.
Honors & Awards
- Recipient of Chicago Daily Law Bulletin's "40 Under 40," an award which recognizes peer-nominated lawyers under the age of 40, 2008
- Recognized as a "Rising Star" by Illinois Super Lawyers magazine (2008–2009)
- Member of the Leading Lawyers Network, 2011, 2012, 2013, 2014, 2015 and 2016 where he was selected by his peers as a Leading Lawyer in the areas of Commercial Litigation and Governmental, Municipal, Lobbing & Administrative Law
- Mr. Vlahakis has successfully defended dozens of class actions brought pursuant to the Telephone Consumer Protection Act (TCPA). In one "wrong number" TCPA case where the plaintiff had alleged that his number was obtained via a skip trace service, Mr. Vlahakis defeated class certification on the basis that the plaintiff "failed to establish by clear and convincing evidence that the class is ascertainable." In denying a subsequent motion to reconsider, the same court held that there was "no way to identify the subscribers of the cellphone at the time those cellphones were called."
- In another TCPA case, Mr. Vlahakis succesfful moved to decertify a previously certified class on basis that the creditor's records demonstrated that the plaintiff updated his contact information to his cell phone number despite the plaintiff's testimony that he did not provide his cell phone to his creditor and class counsel's argument that the debt collector had improperly obtained the plaintiff's cell phone from from skip tracing.
- Mr. Vlahakis recently defended a former prison medical director who was sued by an inmate under the 8th Amendment in relation to three alleged injuries. The jury returned a verdict in favor of Mr.Vlahakis' client in less than an hour. The inmate was represented by a four-person team of court appointed lawyers.
- Mr. Vlahakis successfully defended the Illinois Department of Human Services and a private corporation in a class action brought by the American Civil Liberties Union on behalf of a class of individuals committed by the State of Illinois pursuant to the Sexually Violent Persons Act. Mr. Vlahakis’ clients prevailed on all aspects of the class members' broad request for injunctive relief in a comprehensive ruling issued in January 13, 2005. He has advised other similar treatment programs across the country facing similar litigation.
- On January 9, 2008, Mr. Vlahakis succeeded in reversing a federal trial court ruling which had held that a psychologist was not entitled to the dismissal of a case on the basis of the defense of qualified immunity. In reversing the district court, the Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals held that the underlying facts did not demonstrate the existence of a constitutional violation, and held that the psychologist acted within the bounds of accepted professional judgment. This case is notable for the fact that the psychologist was able to assert qualified immunity as an employee of a private contractor with the State of Illinois.
- Early in his career in a rare appearance as a plaintiff’s attorney, Mr. Vlahakis prevailed in a civil rights case in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Indiana, which resulted in a jury award of approximately $1.1 million in favor of his client, a former Assistant Police Chief who had been demoted and issued an 11-day suspension with pay.
Panel Participant on "Recent FIFA Scandals and Subsequent Reform", Northwestern Law Sports Law Society,Northwestern University School of Law's Sports Law Week, Chicago, Illinois, April 2016.
"How Do You Get to Be, and Get to Stay, a General Counsel in the Sports Industry?" Northwestern University School of Law's Sports Law Week, Chicago, Illinois, March 2015.
Mr. Vlahakis is the co-author of the Illinois Continuing Legal Education's 1997 chapter on “Civil Rights Liability and Immunities.” His presentations include:
- “Civil Commitment Legal Issues,” Association for the Treatment of Sexual Abusers, Annual Conference, Atlanta, Georgia, October 2008.
- “Current Legal Issues,” Sex Offender Civil Commitment Programs Network, 10th Annual Summit, Atlanta, Georgia, October 2008.
- “Operations at the Treatment & Detention Facility,” Chicago-Kent College of Law seminar “Navigating the ILSVP Process,” Chicago, Illinois, February 2008.
- January 29, 2016
- November 7, 2012
- 7th Circuit Holds That "Called Party" Means Current Subscriber of Cell Phone When Determining "Consent" Under the TCPAMay 11, 2012Consumer & Class Action Litigation
- October 4, 2011
- September 2, 2011
- June 10, 2011
J.D., Loyola University Chicago School of Law, 1995
B.A., Michigan State University, 1992
- U.S. Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit
- U.S. District Court for the Central District of Illinois
- U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Michigan
- U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Illinois
- U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Indiana