Michael A. McCaskey
Swanson, Martin & Bell, LLP
▶Product Liability, Catastrophic Injury, and Commercial Litigation
40 Under Class – 2017
Michael McCaskey’s peers say they aren’t surprised that this litigation specialist has built such a thriving national practice before even hitting his 40th birthday. McCaskey knows the secret to success in this field, they say: He works tirelessly to serve his clients.
“Mike always puts the client first,” said Matthew Schulner, Claim Director with Chubb Insurance. “Mike has a great deal of knowledge regarding defending product manufacturers, and always sees where the case is headed early on. He is an excellent strategist. He also upholds the nobility of the profession by treating opposing counsel with respect. His integrity is a great model for the profession.”
Chicago plaintiff’s attorney Lyndsay Markley has worked closely with McCaskey, the two litigating a product liability case in Cook County several years ago. Markley said that not only was McCaskey a pleasure to work with, he also possessed a style of lawyering that Markley said was “exemplary.”
“Although Mike was aggressive in his defense, he was courteous to me as an opposing counsel,” Markley said. “Mike’s knowledge of the law was impressive, and we still regularly communicate on legal questions and issues.” McCaskey enjoyed significant success in the case, too, obtaining a summary judgment against Markley’s client. “It was fun to argue against Mike, as he was sharp on his toes and anticipated many of the issues,” Markley said.
McCaskey’s opponents say that facing him in a courtroom is no easy task. McCaskey spends the time upfront on a case to boost his odds of success once a trial begins. Gina Whitson-Owen, trial counsel for Zurich, tried a two-week product liability case with McCaskey where they represented separate defendants. Following a $12 million demand, the jury returned a defense verdict. Whitson-Owen recalled a juror who, after the verdict and while leaving the courtroom, turned to McCaskey and said, “you have swag.” The case was recognized as the "Unique Verdict of 2014” as published by the Chicago Lawyer and Chicago Daily Law Bulletin.
Jason Whiteside with the Chicago firm of Whiteside & Goldberg points to a recent case in which he was suing an auto manufacturer that McCaskey was defending. McCaskey shone during this case, too, Whiteside said. “Mike was able to find extensive negative information on my expert, and his knowledge of the automotive airbag and its components was definitely an advantage for him in dealing with this case,” Whiteside said. “He was very comfortably able to defend his position and ultimately resolve the case for a fraction of our demand.”
Schulner pointed to another case that highlights McCaskey’s legal skills. In this case, McCaskey defended a saw manufacturer. Schulner said McCaskey established that the plaintiff was on a powerful pain patch at the time of the saw accident, and used creative discovery tactics to show the same. The strategy worked. Schulner said that the case resolved on very favorable terms for McCaskey’s client.
McCaskey’s work also includes a thriving commercial practice where he represents banking institutions, construction companies, and a variety of business owners. He also uses his creative skillset to defend class actions, including alleged TCPA violations and defending clients in the NCAA concussion litigation. As part of his creative strategy in defending a TCPA case, McCaskey traveled to Washington, D.C. and met with the Federal Communications Commission to plead his client’s case. The unorthodox approach was successful; McCaskey obtained a waiver from the Commission, which ultimately resulted in the dismissal of a bet-the-company case.
McCaskey doesn’t shy away, either, from volunteering for his firm and profession. He has served as co-chair of the firm’s Summer Associate Committee for the last two years, and has been on the firm’s Recruiting Committee since 2007. He also serves on the firm’s Community Service and Pro Bono Committee, and is a frequent mentor to young lawyers in his firm.