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For more than 36 years, John Sheller has defended lawyers, accountants, insurance agents, real estate brokers, appraisers and stock brokers in professional malpractice actions and related claims such as malicious prosecution and fraud. Mr. Sheller is a Certified Specialist in Legal Malpractice Law by the State Bar of California's Board of Legal Specialization.

He has handled many complex business tort actions, and has appeared in 20 reported Court of Appeals decisions. As an advocate of the American Board of Trial Advocates, he has tried more than 70 jury trials in addition to numerous bench trials and arbitrations.

Mr. Sheller has extensive experience in both defending attorneys in claims arising from Employment Litigation; and defending Employers in such litigation.

Professional Background

Mr. Sheller joined Hinshaw & Culbertson LLP in January 2004. He is the co-leader of the firm’s Lawyers for Professionals Department, and is a former member of the firm’s Executive Committee, as well as a past partner-in-charge of the Los Angeles office. Previously, he spent his entire legal career at the Los Angeles law firm of Haight Brown & Bonesteel LLP, where he was the lead partner in the Professional Liability Practice Group for 20 years.

Professional Affiliations

  • Los Angeles County Bar Association
  • American Board of Trial Advocates, Associate

Honors & Awards

  • Recognized as a "Super Lawyer" by Southern California Super Lawyers magazine (2007-present)
  • Holds the AV® Peer Review Rating from Martindale-Hubbell, its highest rating for ethics and legal ability

Representative Matters

Mr. Sheller has tried many significant jury cases over the years.

Mr. Sheller for the last five years has been on the Los Angeles Police Department outside panel of defense counsel. Mr. Sheller handled several complex high profile civil actions. He tried an action entitled Christle v. City of Los Angeles, et al. to a verdict less than pretrial demand. Plaintiff detective claimed she was forced to work in a sex charged hostile work environment created by, the Assistant Chief, and complained. The firm won summary judgment for defendant Assistant Chief; and summary judgment for the department on hostile work environment and the jury found a job transfer was retaliation.

Mr. Sheller has handled over 30 cases of alleged attorney negligence against both employee and employer employment lawyers involving failed employed litigation, alleged bad human resource advice to employers, wage and hour issues and non-compete agreements.

In 2009, Mr. Sheller tried a legal malpractice jury trial involving alleged malpractice by a defense attorney in evaluating and communicating with a client, who had been hit with a $16 million judgment based on a partnership dispute. Mr. Sheller secured a defense verdict for his client.

In 2007, Mr. Sheller successfully defended in a district court jury trial, a law firm charged with fraud in representing one partner in a car wash partnership against the interests of his partner. Damages alleged in excess of $10 million.

In 2005, Mr. Sheller tried a four-week legal malpractice jury trial for the defense in which the corporate plaintiff alleged the defendant firm committed malpractice in failing to tender an insured claim, mishandled a plaintiff's CPA malpractice case, failed to properly document a corporate buy out transaction and misdrafted transfer documents, which resulted in plaintiff suffering a fraud judgment against it. He won all but the last claim in the trial court, and the last claim in the court of appeals. Combined claimed damages of $16,000,000.

From 2002 to 2003 in southern California, Mr. Sheller represented one of two trustees of a $75 million trust in settling multiple complex litigations and intra-family disputes.

In 1998, Mr. Sheller successfully defended a prominent Orange County attorney in a claim that the trial attorney mishandled a catastrophic medical malpractice case on behalf of the OPSC, which suffered an $11 million judgment against it. The OPSC made a policy-limiting demand that was rejected before the trial of the legal malpractice case. The jury returned a defense verdict.

Mr. Sheller handled a Northern California case involving claims that the defendant attorneys had interfered with a real estate syndication business, defamed the plaintiff to his investors, and maliciously prosecuted him in both U.S. District Court and Bankruptcy Court. The plaintiff was asking for $5 million in damages. The case settled favorably after the court granted 12 out of 12 of Mr. Sheller's motions, excluding claims and certain damaging evidence.

He won a defense verdict for his attorney client in Multieles Unies v. Kroll, a $3 million legal malpractice suit brought by an international insurance company that claimed the attorney defendants mishandled the preparation and trial of a brain injury case brought by a middle-aged surgeon. The insurance company rejected the defendant attorney's advice to settle before trial, alleging that Mr. Sheller's client mishandled the case.

Mr. Sheller won a defense verdict in an Orange County Superior Court case, in which multiple millions of dollars were claimed by the plaintiff under the California securities fraud statute alleging Mr. Sheller's client conspired with the promoters of the venture to mislead the plaintiff about the value of the property and the forecast of the business prospects.

Presentations

Mr. Sheller is a frequent lecturer and author in the field of malpractice and malicious prosecution, having recently spoken at the annual convention of the Association of Southern California Defense Counsel on attorney ethics. His presentations include:

  • "Mining the Social Media Treasure Trove: Discovery in the Social Media Era," West LegalEdcenter, live webcast, June 2015.

  • "Arbitration: Do You, Can You, How To?," Legal Malpractice & Risk Management Conference, Chicago, Illinois, February 2015.
  • “Prophets and Monday Morning Quarterbacks: Drawing the Boundaries of Experts in Proof of Liability, Causation and the Case-Within-a-Case,” and “Stump the Panel,” Legal Malpractice & Risk Management Conference, Chicago, Illinois, March 2014.
  • “Insurance Counsel: In the Crosshairs,” Legal Malpractice & Risk Management Conference, Chicago, Illinois, March 2013.
  • “Recent Cases and Strategies Involving Expert Witnesses in Legal Malpractice Cases,” Hinshaw’s annual Legal Malpractice & Risk Management Conference, Chicago, Illinois, February 2012.
  • “Establishing a Fiduciary Breach,” Hinshaw’s annual Legal Malpractice & Risk Management Conference, Chicago, Illinois, February 2011.
  • “Standing to Sue, Privity and Duty of Disclosure,” Hinshaw’s annual Legal Malpractice & Risk Management Conference, Chicago, Illinois, March 2010.
  • “Guess Where You Are Being Sued – Bankruptcy Court,” Hinshaw’s annual Legal Malpractice & Risk Management Conference, Chicago, Illinois, March 2009.
  • “New Exposures for the Litigation Attorney and the Significant Developments in Litigation the Claim,” Hinshaw’s annual Legal Malpractice & Risk Management Conference, Chicago, Illinois, February 2008.
  • “Transactional Law – Issues on the Periphery,” Hinshaw’s annual Legal Malpractice & Risk Management Conference, Chicago, Illinois, March 2007.
  • “Legal Malpractice in Transactions – the Evolving Rules in Proving Causation of Damages,” WestEdcenter live webcast, November 2005.

Education

J.D., Loyola Law School, 1975

B.A., Stanford University, 1972

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