R.J. VanSwol focuses his practice on insurance coverage, insurance litigation, professional liability and appellate matters. In addition to representing insurance companies in coverage and subrogation matters, R.J. has also advised and represented clients including lawyers and law firms, local governments, and companies in the transportation, construction, and dining and hospitality industries.
■ Obtained affirmation of summary judgment on the issue of whether a property owner could deselect its own policy in an underlying slip-and-fall case and seek coverage under a policy issued to the contractor that had agreed to clear snow and ice from the property. P&W successfully shifted the risk away from the property owner’s policy. Pekin Insurance Co. v. AP POB Bannockburn, LLC, 2017 IL App (1st) 163159-U.
■ Obtained dismissal of a federal lawsuit arguing that P&W’s clients, an attorney and law firm, were part of a conspiracy to deprive the plaintiff of his civil rights in connection with an underlying wrongful-death lawsuit in state court. The plaintiff disclaimed any interest in the wrongful-death suit and said he would pursue his own suit, which the courts rejected. At oral argument before the Seventh Circuit, R.J. argued on behalf of all fourteen appellees. The court unanimously affirmed the trial court’s dismissal order and warned the plaintiff that pursuing any further federal litigation arising out of the state-court case would subject him to sanctions. Klein v. O’Brien, 884 F.3d 754 (7th Cir. 2018).
■ Obtained judgment on the pleadings in favor of an attorney on the question of whether her contract for legal services was valid and enforceable, and obtained affirmance on appeal before the Illinois Appellate Court. Two brothers retained P&W’s client to bring a suit under the False Claims Act but only one of the brothers was a plaintiff in that suit. After the disbursement of an award in the underlying suit, the brother who acted as the plaintiff tried to argue that the contract was invalid in an effort to avoid splitting the recovery with his brother and the attorney. The Illinois Appellate Court not only affirmed judgment in the attorney’s favor but also reversed the trial court’s denial of prejudgment interest. Chandra v. Chandra, 2016 IL App (1st) 143858.
During law school R.J. served on The Journal of Criminal Law and Criminology and worked as a teaching assistant in the school’s legal writing program.
PRESENTATIONS AND PUBLICATIONS
R.J. has authored numerous articles, including:
■ “Key Issues in Professional Liability Insurance Coverage,” ABA Section of Family Law, Family Advocate, , Vol. 40, No. 2, Fall 2017.
■ “The Debate Over Insurance Coverage for Alleged ‘Blast Fax’ Violations,” Illinois Bar Journal, Vol. 105 #10, October 2017.
■ “Are Courts Moving Past the ‘Four Corners’ Rule in Duty-to-Defend Cases?,” Illinois Bar Journal, Vol. 104 #12, December 2016.
■ “Shrinking the Target: New Developments in ‘Targeted Tender’,” Illinois Bar Journal, Vol. 103 #3, March 2015.
■ “The Not-So-Accidental Claimant: Insurance Coverage for Intentional Harm,” Illinois Bar Journal, Vol. 102 #9, September 2014.
In addition, R.J. was a contributing author for the Illinois Association of Defense Trial Counsel’s 2017 Survey of Law.
AWARDS AND RECOGNITION
R.J. has been named a 2019 Illinois “Rising Star” by Super Lawyers in the area of Insurance Coverage. Only about 2.5 percent of Illinois lawyers are named “Rising Stars.” He previously received this honor in 2011 and 2018.
R.J. received second place in the 2014 Illinois State Bar Association’s Lincoln Award Legal Writing Contest for his article, “Playing with Fire: Limitations on Insurance Coverage for Expected or Intended Harm.” In 2019, R.J. served as a judge for this writing competition.
- J.D. cum laude, Northwestern University Law School, 2008
- M.A. English, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, 2005
- B.A. English and B.A. rhetoric, summa cum laude, University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign, 2003
- 2014 Lincoln Award Legal Writing Contest, Second Place
- Illinois Super Lawyers “Rising Star” in Insurance Coverage, 2011, 2018, 2019
- Illinois, 2008
- Illinois Supreme Court, 2008
- U.S. District Court, Northern District of Illinois, 2009
- U.S. District Court, Northern District of Indiana, 2010
- 7th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, 2011
- U.S. District Court, Eastern District of Wisconsin, 2011
- U.S. District Court, Southern District of Illinois, 2012
- U.S. District Court, Central District of Illinois, 2014
- Illinois Association of Defense Trial Counsel
- Illinois State Bar Association
- Chicago Bar Association