Dennis J. Graber focuses his practice on the representation of major manufacturers, distributors, service providers, premises owners, and retail businesses in the defense of product liability, toxic tort, and environmental matters, with an emphasis in the defense of asbestos litigation in both Illinois and Missouri. He has also been involved in the defense of asbestos cases in Delaware, Kentucky, Rhode Island, California and New York.
Mr. Graber has also represented clients in the defense of other product liability and toxic tort matters where claims were made regarding chemicals, coatings, and appliances.
Mr. Graber routinely appears in the circuit courts in most counties in Southern Illinois. He has handled numerous civil trials in St. Louis, Missouri and throughout Southern Illinois, as well as in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Illinois.
Mr. Graber joined Hinshaw & Culbertson LLP in August 1987. He has been rated by Martindale-Hubbell for ethics and legal ability, and has been recognized as a Leading Lawyer in the categories Insurance/Insurance Coverage/Reinsurance Law, Personal Injury Defense Law, Professional Malpractice Defense Law - Legal/Tech/Financial, and Workers’ Compensation Defense Law.
- Illinois State Bar Association
- Bar Association of Metropolitan St. Louis
- Defense Research Institute
Honors & Awards
- Holds the AV® Peer Review Rating from Martindale-Hubbell, its highest rating for ethics and legal ability
- Leading Lawyers, Problem Solvers Award for Insurance/Insurance Coverage/Reinsurance Law; Personal Injury Defense: General; Professional Malpractice Defense; Workers Compensation Defense List
- Clendenny vs. Austin, Madison County, Illinois. (Fall down basement steps. Result: jury verdict for defendant.) Plaintiff was a young girl visiting the daughter of a tenant of our client. She claimed that she was looking for her friend when she tripped over a piece of wood at the top of the basement steps, falling down the steps and breaking her wrist. The tenant, and his daughter, testified that there was no piece of wood at the top of steps, and that when they found the little girl in the basement, she was wearing roller skates. The jury returned a verdict for our client, the landlord.
- Peters & Gibbs vs. Twomey, Jackson County, Illinois. (Legal malpractice claim for $580,000. Result: jury verdict for plaintiffs in the amount of $280,000.) Our client was retained by plaintiffs to represent them with respect to a marina that they were selling, under contract. During our client's representation of plaintiffs, the buyer declared bankruptcy. Plaintiff's prior attorney had prepared a fixture filling and a financing statement in order to perfect a security interest in the assets sold to the buyer. However, the fixture filing was defective, and the financing statement had lapsed during our client's representation of plaintiffs without being refilled. As a result, plaintiffs were unsecured creditors in the bankruptcy, and received only a small portion of the amount owed under the contract. Plaintiffs demand for settlement had been in excess of $450,000 until after the case was submitted to the jury. At that point, plaintiffs reduced their demand to $300,000. The jury returned a verdict for plaintiffs in the amount of $280,000.
- Carbondale Convention Center vs. City of Carbondale, Jackson County, Illinois. (Breach of contract – claimed damages in excess of $7 million. Result: after four days of trial, settlement was reached for substantially less than the policy limits of $1 million.) Our client, the City of Carbondale, had entered into an agreement with plaintiff whereby our client was to acquire certain parcels of land and turn them over to plaintiff so that plaintiff could construct a hotel convention center. The City of Carbondale was not able to acquire all of the parcels of land within the time specified in the agreement. However, the parties attempted for some period of time thereafter to determine if the parcels could be acquired and the hotel and convention center could be constructed. Eventually, plaintiff filed suit against the City of Carbondale alleging in excess of $7 million in economic and other damages by virtue of the City's alleged breach of the agreement to provide the parcels of land. The City of Carbondale was defended under its Errors and Omissions policy of insurance. Prior to trial, plaintiff's demand was in the amount of the policy limit of $1 million. After four days of trial, settlement was reached. By Order of Court, the settlement amount was deemed to be confidential; however, settlement was reached at a figure substantially less than the policy limit.
- Bleem vs Eagle Bank, Randolph County, Illinois. (Legal malpractice claim. Result: Complaint dismissed, with prejudice – affirmed on appeal.) Plaintiff had obtained a loan from the defendant, Eagle Bank, secured by a mortgage. When he defaulted on his payments, the bank proceeded to obtain a judgment on the note. Our client was the attorney contacted by the bank to effectuate the confession of judgment provisions of the promissory note. Plaintiff sued our client for legal malpractice, and we were able to obtain a dismissal of the counts against our client. The dismissal was affirmed on appeal.
- Niederbrach vs. Johnston, St. Clair County, Illinois. (Trip and fall on stairs. Result: verdict for defendant.) Plaintiff claimed that she tripped on steps of uneven height in our client's place of business, falling face first into a foosball table. Plaintiff claimed $19,426 in medical bills and $9,000 in lost wages. At trial, plaintiff produced witnesses that provided three different versions of the height difference between the steps she allegedly tripped upon. We produced a photograph, taken after the incident, which showed that the steps were of uniform height. Plaintiff claimed various neurological injuries, and testified in her pre-trial deposition that she had never had similar complaints. Through discovery, we developed substantial evidence that plaintiff had virtually identical complaints for several years prior to her alleged injury at our client's premises. The jury returned a verdict for our client.
- Potter vs. Estate of Tate, Jackson County, Illinois. (Vehicular accident, claim in excess of $1 Million. Result: verdict for the plaintiff in the amount of $450,000.) Our client's son and plaintiff had been dating for several months. While visiting plaintiff, our client's son, plaintiff and a friend of hers were returning from a day of rock climbing. Our client's son was traveling in excess of 100 miles per hour when he attempted to pass another vehicle, clipping a trailer being pulled by that vehicle. This caused his car to spin out of control and eventually collide, back end first, into a concrete culvert. Plaintiff's friend and our client's son were killed. Plaintiff sustained a fracture in her femur, just below the hip, as well as various other injuries. She also claimed to be suffering post-traumatic stress disorder, as well as an aggravation of pre-existing rheumatoid arthritis and insulin dependent diabetes. A wrongful death claim had also been brought on behalf of the next of kin of the plaintiff's friend. That claim was settled prior to trial. Plaintiff's demand, up to the time of trial, was in the amount of $600,000, the remaining policy limits. The verdict in this potential "excess" case was $450,000 (resulting in a savings of $150,000 off the policy limits).
- "Worker's Compensation: Interplay with UM/UIM Coverage, Set-Offs, and the Petrillo Doctrine," Hinshaw in-house CLE Seminar, 2005
- "Advanced Worker's Compensation in Illinois," National Business Institute Seminar, 2005
- "Managing the Employment Relationship," Hinshaw in-house CLE Seminar, 2002
- "Managing Employee Relationships in Illinois," Lorman Education Services, 2002
- "Fundamental Issues in Illinois Human Resources Law," National Business Institute Seminar, 2000
- "Advanced Worker's Compensation in Illinois," National Business Institute Seminar, 1999
- "Don't Lose Your Case Before Trial," Speaker at Worker's Compensation Claims Association Seminar, 1998
- "Recent Case Law on Workers' Compensation," Hinshaw in-house CLE Seminar, 1995
J.D., Southern Illinois University College of Law, 1984
B.A., Illinois College, 1981
- 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 Southern District of Illinois