Jennifer L. Ilkka



Jennifer L. Ilkka counsels and defends clients in complex product liability and commercial litigation disputes throughout the country. She has litigated and tried numerous products, premises, personal injury and other commercial cases in both state and federal venues, including multidistrict litigation. She also has significant appellate experience, authoring numerous appellate briefs, and arguing in front of the United States Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit. For over a decade, Jennifer served as national product liability counsel for a Fortune 100 manufacturing, technology and service company. Her practice also encompasses pharmaceutical and medical device defense, toxic tort litigation, class action defense, consumer fraud and deceptive business practices claims, supplier disputes under the Uniform Commercial Code (UCC), and other commercial, licensing and regulatory matters.

Jennifer has authored numerous articles and has spoken on topics related to women in the courtroom and the path to partnership. She devotes significant time as a trial skills and brief writing instructor to help younger litigation associates cultivate their professional skills. Jennifer is also dedicated to pro bono matters.


  • Obtained an unanimous defense verdict as first chair in $18+ million wrongful jury death trial for manufacturer of industrial cutoff saw after less than one hour of deliberation following three-week trial in Illinois state court (Cook County, IL).
  • Obtained summary judgment for a tube mill component manufacturer in a product liability and wrongful death lawsuit.
  • Forced the transfer of complex class action claims to preferred forum on personal jurisdiction grounds on behalf of international automotive manufacturer.
  • Obtained dismissal of class action claims for consumer fraud on behalf of an international automotive manufacturer predicated on lack of constitutional standing.
  • Won summary judgment for a multi-national pharmaceutical manufacturer in a multimillion-dollar licensing and contract dispute and successfully defended award of summary judgment on appeal.
  • Successfully tried a three-week commercial breach of contract case involving restoration work for vintage locomotives for national railroad company.
  • Successfully executed and defended the removal of an environmental class action under CAFA from an unfavorable state court venue to the more preferable federal venue that was predicated on a battle of the experts in the fields of statistics and environmental regulatory compliance.
  • Won a high stakes "bet the company" government contractor debarment action arising out of crash of airport tram, saving the client from the loss of millions of dollars in current and future public contract work, and favorably settled multi-million-dollar breach of contract suit in Florida federal court.
  • Defended and successfully settled a wrongful death action in Wisconsin state court involving the death of an infant for nuisance value on behalf of a data furnisher that provided background reporting on the caregiver alleged to be responsible for the infant’s death.
  • Successfully settled action for wrongful death and traumatic brain injury on behalf of automated people mover (APM) maintenance provider for a small percentage of the initial multimillion-dollar demand in Texas state court.
  • Won summary judgment and dismissal for client and subsidiary in multimillion-dollar premises liability personal injury suit in federal court after rejecting mediator's suggestion to pay a near seven-figure settlement.
  • Successfully settled premises liability personal injury case for a fraction of the total demand during jury deliberations following three-week jury trial in federal court in Kansas.
  • Obtained zero-pay dismissal of a multimillion-dollar product liability subrogation action arising from a rooftop fire at national fast food chain the day after deposing plaintiff’s mechanical engineering and cause and origin experts in Kentucky federal court.
  • Successfully defended against efforts by plaintiff’s counsel to pierce the corporate veil in defense of a parent manufacturing company in toxic tort case in a plaintiff-oriented, Illinois state court venue.
  • Obtained numerous pivotal rulings on hotly contested evidentiary trial issues regarding the placement of nonparties on the verdict form in high risk crashworthiness jury trials.
  • Achieved six-figure settlement (significantly in excess of counterclaim amount) on the eve of trial for defendant hospital from plaintiff in multimillion-dollar breach of contract suit through leveraging of contractual fee-shifting provision.
  • Approached by co-defendant on the day of trial regarding the possibility of substituting in as trial counsel (second chair) following low dollar settlement for product manufacturer client in high risk product liability suit involving a CPSC recalled product and the death of two children.
  • Defeated motions for injunctive relief brought against client alleged to have violated consumer fraud and deceptive trade statutes through internet marketing and related search engine optimization after expedited discovery process and briefing.
  • Obtained summary judgment in numerous product liability and toxic tort lawsuits on a variety of grounds, including lack of evidence, lack of standing, lack of duty, component part liability defense, civil procedure deficiencies, exclusive remedy defense, statute of limitation and statute of repose.
  • Represented (pro bono) and obtained full political asylum for a young Tibetan man detained in a Wisconsin jail who had fled religious persecution in China, at a contested U.S. immigration hearing.
  • Provided counseling and training to in-house counsel of international pharmaceutical company on good contract negotiating and drafting practices.


Edward T. Lee Scholar, John Marshall Law School (2006)
Arba N. Waterman Scholar, John Marshall Law School (2005)
Fred F. Herzog Scholar, John Marshall Law School (2004)

Awards Methodology (


Bar Admissions

  • Illinois


  • John Marshall Law School, J.D., 2006, summa cum laude, Editor, John Marshall Law Review (2004−2005)
  • Lake Forest College, B.A., 2002, magna cum laude

Court Admissions

  • Illinois Supreme Court
  • U.S. Court of Appeals, Seventh Circuit
  • U.S. District Court, Northern District of Illinois, Trial Bar
  • U.S. District Court, Southern District of Illinois
  • U.S. District Court, Northern District of Indiana


  • American Bar Association
  • Chicago Bar Association

Jennifer's Areas of Focus