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John J. Kohnke

Of Counsel |
Of Counsel | Chicago, IL
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Mr. Kohnke has been a trial attorney for his entire professional life. He is experienced in the defense of toxic/environmental torts and is responsible for the firm's asbestos docket in Central Illinois. He has defended claims in both federal and state court for catastrophic injuries including brain damage, death, and paraplegia as well as claims seeking compensatory and punitive damages in toxic tort and transportation cases.

Mr. Kohnke chaired the Segal McCambridge Hiring Committee for six years. He was also a member of the firm's Pro Bono and Public Service Committee and is involved in several other firm committees. Since Mr. Kohnke joined, Segal McCambridge has become a national firm with eight offices located across the country.

In addition to his leadership positions with the firm, Mr. Kohnke was elected to the Board of Trustees for the Village of Glen Ellyn, and he served as Glen Ellyn's Administrative Hearing Officer for four years.


  • Recognized as a Top 100 Civil Defense Litigator in America for Civil Defense Litigation, Environmental Litigation and Government Relations Law (2018)
  • Recognized as an Illinois Leading Lawyer (a designation limited to less than 5% of all lawyers licensed to practice law in Illinois), nominated and selected by peers in the legal community (2012-2019)
  • Listed in Chicago Daily Law Bulletin as a Leading Lawyer--Appellate (2014)
  • Selected for inclusion in the Illinois Super Lawyers list (no more than 5% of lawyers in the state are selected), nominated and selected by peers in the legal community (2005-2007)
  • Judicial externship with Justice Allen L. Donielson, Iowa Court of Appeals (1982)

Professional & Civic Involvement

  • American Bar Association
  • DuPage County Bar Association
  • Illinois State Bar Association
  • Village of Glen Ellyn, Past Trustee (1999-2003)
  • Village of Glen Ellyn, Administrative Hearing Officer (2010-2014)

Representative Matters

  • Victorious in trial defending an insulation contractor in a death case where damages sought totaled $3.5 million.
  • Successfully defended a bowling center from a slip and fall suit where plaintiff sought $1.6 million in damages, claiming broken neck and other injuries and medical specials in excess of $160,000; jury returned "not guilty" verdict.
  • Recently obtained several early voluntary nonsuits from plaintiffs' attorneys after providing evidence that defendant construction companies were not responsible for jobsite safety.
  • Successfully defended Campton Township (IL), obtaining voluntary dismissal of employment charges alleging wrongful termination and violations of the Family and Medical Leave Act.

Published Appellate Opinions

White v. Garlock Sealing Technologies, LLC, 398 Ill. App. 3d. 610, 924 NE 2d. 53 (4th Dist. 2010)

Caruso v. M & O Insulation, 345 Ill. App. 3d. 345, 802 NE 2d. 327 (4th Dist. 2003)

Johnson v. Grossinger, Inc., 324 Ill. App. 3d. 354, 753 NE 2d. 431 (1st Dist. 2001)

Fuller's Car Wash, Inc., 298 Ill. App. 3d. 167, 698 NE 2d. 237 (2d. Dist. 1998)

Culver v. Velcor, 247 Ill. App. 3d. 589, 616 N.E. 2d. 1013 (2d. Dist. 1993)

Rector v. Mattingly, 273 Ill. App. 3d. 344, 652 N.E. 2d. 811 (5th Dist. 1995)

Redlin v. Hanover Park, 278 Ill. App. 3d. 183, 662 N.E. 2d. 459 (1st Dist. 1996)

Nolan v. Elliott, 179 Ill. App. 3d. 1077, 535 N.E. 2d. 1053 (2d. Dist. 1989)

Speaking Engagements

"Lung Cancer Causation: Smoking and/or Asbestos," 22nd Annual FETTI Conference, Chicago, IL, (October 8, 2015).

"Asbestos Filing Trends," 2013 National Forum for Environmental & Toxic Tort Issues (FETTI), Chicago, IL (September 26, 2013).

"Post-Accident Repair and Maintenance of Property Without Spoliation of Evidence," Illinois Municipal League's 98th Annual Conference (September 15-17, 2011).

In-house Claims Adjusters' Seminar, "Plaintiff's Injuries: Are They Real? How Can You Tell?" (September 25, 2008).

Golden Rule Risk Control Workshop, Schiller Park, IL, "The Dos and Don'ts of the Hiring Process: How to Minimize the Risk of Litigation" (September 18-19, 2007).

Articles & Publications


"Confidential settlements vs. non-settling defendants' right to know," Trial Brief, IL State Bar Assoc., Vol. 58, No. 5 (November 2012). 

"Mold Litigation," Segal McCambridge Singer & Mahoney's Toxic Tort Newsletter, Volume 2, Issue 2 (Spring 2003).

"The Abolishment of Joint Liability and its Effect on the Right of Contribution," at 44, D.C.B.A, Brief, Journal of the DuPage County Bar Association, Volume 9, Issue 3 (October 1996).

"The Contributory Negligence Doctrine and Maintenance of Municipal Property," Illinois Bar Journal, Volume 82, Number 6 (July 1994).


  • Judicial externship with Justice Allen L. Donielson, Iowa Court of Appeals, 1982


Drake Law School, (1984)

  • Drake Law Review, 1981-1984

Drake University, B.A. (1981)


  • Illinois, 1984
  • U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Illinois, Trial Bar