Retired Partner Louis Lehr has practiced for over 50 years at Arnstein & Lehr. On behalf of Corporate America, he has represented and defended major corporations in 44 of this country’s 50 states and in Puerto Rico and Mexico. He has been National Trial Counsel for DeSoto Chemical, Johnson Controls, Inc., Roper Corporation, Sears, Roebuck and Co. and Whirlpool Corporation and Illinois Trial Counsel for International Harvester and Joy Technologies, Inc.
1965 – $19M Workout – Appliance Buyers Credit Corporation became the country’s largest used aircraft dealer when Mr. Lehr teamed with Whirlpool executives to work out about $19 million in bad loans on used aircraft by renegotiating improperly executed documents with used air craft dealers and repossessing and selling air craft ranging from Cessna 310’s to B-29’s.
1971-72 – Sears Tower Litigation – Successfully defended Sears, Roebuck and Co. in two lawsuits to enjoin the completion of construction of Sears Tower in Chicago. When construction had reached 50 stories of the 110 story building, the States Attorney of Lake County, Illinois and several villages in Chicago’s northern suburbs sought to halt construction claiming that the completed building would interfere with television reception. Sears won both suits in the trial courts; they were consolidated and, on a direct appeal, the Supreme Court of Illinois upheld the lower courts’ decisions.
1977 – Was invited to testify, as a member of the Defense Bar, before a sub-committee of the United States Senate on S.403, a bill to establish programs, standards and procedures for responsibilities and liabilities arising out of product-related injuries.
1977-78 – Tijuana Fire – Working in Tijuana and Mexico City, he negotiated a multi-million dollar settlement of insurance claims arising out of a fire which destroyed a Warwick Television manufacturing plant in Tijuana and then in a federal court suit in Chicago won a $1.9 million settlement of claims against U.S. contractors whose employees were responsible for the fire.
1978-81 – Japanese Electronics Products Anti-Trust Litigation – Successfully defended Sears who was claimed to be a co-conspirator in this massive anti-trust and dumping suit in the United States District Court in Philadelphia and in the Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit. Plaintiffs were seeking over $1 billion in damages from the Japanese and U.S. Defendants.
1987 – School Bus Crash – Successfully defended International Harvester, the manufacturer of a school bus which struck another vehicle rendering an 18 year old female passenger a spastic quadriplegic. Plaintiff claimed the driver’s compartment of the bus was negligently designed and sought $5.5 million in damages.
1990 – San Juan DuPont Plaza Hotel Fire – On New Year’s Eve in 1987 ninety seven people perished and over two hundred were injured in a fire which spread through the hotel and casino after being set by disgruntled employees in a vacant ballroom. The case was tried in a specially built federal courtroom in Hato Rey, Puerto Rico. Mr. Lehr defended Johnson Controls, Inc. of Milwaukee who plaintiffs claimed sold and installed an energy management system which failed to give an early warning of the fire. Johnson Controls, one of 90 some defendants, won on a directed verdict after eleven months of trial. At that time plaintiffs had received over $150 million in settlements.
1991 – Methane Gas Explosion – Won for Joy Technologies, Inc., the manufacturer of a well cap, in a suit by plaintiffs who were severely burned by an explosion caused by the ignition of escaping methane gas. The jury found against a co-defendant and awarded plaintiffs $2,719,000.00.
2000 – 2010 – Automobile Tire Litigation – In April 2000, Mr. Lehr won a jury verdict for Sears in Circuit Court in Truth or Consequences, N.M. Plaintiff claimed that the death of Glenda Tofoya was caused by the improper installation of tires and sought $4.2 million in damages. Since then he has headed the firm’s defense team in over 90 lawsuits throughout the United States against tire retailers and servicers arising out of automobile tire failures.
2011 – Retained as an expert witness on Illinois law in a breach of contract suit pending in the Court of First Instance, Sint Maarten Island in the Dutch Antilles.
Activities & Achievements
Mr. Lehr is a past president and executive director of the Trial Attorneys of America, an organization limited to 200 of this country’s premier products liability trial attorneys. In addition, he is a member of the Federation of Insurance & Corporate Counsel and is a former chair of the Premises Liability Committee of that organization. He is a member of and previously served as the chair of the Governmental Liability Committee of the Defense Research Institute and is a fellow of the International Society of Barristers. He is also a member of the Illinois Defense Trial Lawyers Association; the Chicago Bar Association, the Illinois State Bar Association; and the American Bar Association. He was a founding board member of the Illinois Catholic Conference and is a past State Deputy of the Illinois Knights of Columbus.
Publications & Speaking
While serving in the United States Army during the Korean conflict, Mr. Lehr taught Military Justice at the Provost Marshall General’s School and later served as the attorney for the Military Railroad in Korea. He has been a frequent speaker and author of articles on trial technique, products liability, premises liability, insurance contract interpretation, litigation management and law firm management, and the author of Premises Liability Third Edition, published by West Publishing Co.
Loyola University College of Law (J.D., 1951)
State of Illinois
U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Illinois
U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Michigan
U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Wisconsin
U.S. Courts of Appeal for the Third, Fifth, Sixth, Seventh, Eighth and Tenth Judicial Circuits