Areas Of Practice
- Commercial and Business Litigation
- Class Actions
- Federal Banking Regulation Disputes
- Manufacturing and Distributor/Subcontractor Disputes
- Trade Secret Litigation
- Non-Competition Litigation
Attorney James S. Harkness' practice areas include commercial and business litigation, class actions, federal banking regulation disputes, manufacturing and distributor/subcontractor disputes, trade secret litigation, non-competition litigation, Uniform Commercial Code litigation, military contractor disputes, telecommunications, construction litigation, and employment law, at both the state and federal levels. Jim has participated in jury trials and conducted numerous bench trials, arbitrations, and mediations in state and federal court to obtain favorable judgments and directed verdicts. His achievements include dismissal of claims against large corporate entities in the Illinois Supreme Court, dismissals and summary judgment rulings of all claims against large commercial clients in state and federal courts, enforcing copyright entitlements in federal court, obtaining $900,000.00 judgment at trial, on counterclaim, with dismissal of all claims against venture capital client in federal court, and dismissal of all claims in class action against a billion dollar business, and the successful defense of a manufacturer at trial. He is also a certified arbitrator in DuPage County, Illinois, as well as serving in numerous positions as Chairman of DuPage County Bar Association Committees, and as a Director on the Board, as Section Council on the state-wide Illinois Bar Association, and was an active, invited member of the American Inns of Courts, DuPage Chapter.
- Illinois Supreme Court, 1996
- U.S. District Court Northern District of Illinois, 1997
- U.S. District Court District of Colorado, 1999
- U.S. District Court Eastern District of Wisconsin, 2008
- U.S. Court of Appeals 7th Circuit, 1999
- Northern District of Illinois Federal Trial Bar
- Valparaiso University School of Law, Valparaiso, Indiana, 1996
- Valparaiso University, 1993
- B.A., Political Science and Philosophy
Professional Associations and Memberships
- DuPage County Bar Association
- Business Law Committee Chairman, 2013-present
- Director, 2014-present
- Planning Committee Board Member, 2013-present
- Professional Responsibility Committee Chairman, 2009-2011
- Civil Law Practice Committee Chairman, 2008-2009
- Alternative Dispute Resolution Committee Chairman, 2007-2008
- Downers Grove Township Republican Organization
- Elected Committeeman, Precinct 50, 2014-present
- Illinois State Bar Association (ISBA)
- Section Council for Commercial Banking, Collections & Bankruptcy Law, 2011-present
- ISBA Civil Practice Law Section Council, 2011-present
- Lisle Area Chamber of Commerce
- Little Friends of Naperville
Honors and Awards
- Leading Lawyers Peer Selected 2019
- Super Lawyers
Representative CasesManufacturer Dispute In Federal Court (2012): As lead counsel in a federal court dispute between a manufacturer and an alleged distributor, after being informed of an alleged contract and an alleged distributor’s intent to seek an injunction for cessation of competition in launch of custom hydraulics part and distribution, filed motion for temporary restraining order and complaint for declaration that defendant was not a dealer or distributor, and had no contract with client. At hearing on the temporary restraining order prior to a national convention where the custom part would be displayed, the temporary restraining order was denied, but defendant confirmed that it would not interfere with the sale or marketing of the product. Defendant also asserted counterclaims and third party claims alleging that it had a contract to be an exclusive distributor of the part. Initially, a complete dismissal of all counterclaims and third-party claims asserted in custom designed hydraulics parts distribution dispute was obtained, with leave for defendant to re-plead. After defendant then asserted new claims, a declaratory finding was made that defendant was not a distributor or dealer under the Wisconsin Fair Dealership Law, which by that time became uncontested by defendant. Dismissal of alleged anticipatory repudiation of an alleged exclusive contract or distributorship agreement was obtained with prejudice. Ultimately, the matter was resolved and the custom manufacturing agreement for the end user remained intact.
Artisan Design Build v. Bilstrom, 397 Ill.App.3d 317, 922 N.E.2d 361 (2nd Dist., 2009): As lead counsel obtained dismissal of all claims against clients, petition for leave to appeal accepted to Second District Appellate Court of Illinois where oral argument was taken, and then to the Illinois Supreme Court where the Act was ultimately rejected by the Court. Case involves claims by contractor against homeowners in trial court under, then, newly created Illinois Home Repair and Remodeling Act, including order striking contractor demand for arbitration, and prosecuted through appeal to Second District and Illinois Supreme Court.
Fox Moraine v. The United City of Yorkville, City Counsel, the Illinois Pollution Control Board, and Kendall County, 2011 IL.App (2d) 100017:
As Special Assistant State’s Attorney for the County of Kendall successfully handled landfill litigation for County from administrative trial through appellate and Illinois Supreme Court appeals.
Maytag Corporation v. Freedom Plastics, N.D. Ill. (2003):
As counsel for Freedom Plastics a controversy arose between the client, Freedom Plastics, and Maytag Corporation under an agreement for Freedom to supply Maytag with plastic parts. Under this agreement, Freedom would use molds, raw materials and other tools, to create the plastic parts. Maytag would then purchase the plastic parts. Ultimately, Maytag sought an end to the business relationship with Freedom and sought possession of the molds used to create the plastic parts. In order to protect its interests, and in response to a lawsuit against it for injunction and replevin, Freedom asserted a statutory lien over the molds, its inventory of finished product, and the raw materials used to create the plastic parts. As trial counsel before the federal court, obtained a $900,000.00 judgment at trial for Freedom and against Maytag, on counterclaim, with dismissal of all claims against venture capital client in federal court.
Control Solutions v. Elecsys, 18th Judicial Circuit, DuPage County, Ill. (2011-2012):
As counsel for Elecsys obtained jury verdict for manufacturer against sub-contractor, Plaintiff, Control Solutions, Inc., a subcontractor to manufacture controllers to be used in Humvee and MRAP vehicles by The Army. Control Solutions contracted with Elecsys, the government supplier, to produce 4,211 controllers to act as a door-assist in the vehicles in time of war. The Plaintiff, Control Solutions, sued the Defendant, Elecsys, for breach of contract in the amount of $3,916,200.30. The Plaintiff alleged at trial that, after expenses, they suffered damages in the amount of $2,800,000.00. For the Defense, in opening statement, the jury was informed that the damages were limited to $93,000.00, if any. For Elecsys, it was asserted that a purchase order was issued and accepted providing the terms and allowing cancellation. Plaintiff alleged the contract was non-cancellable/non-returnable under a quote and later “order acknowledgement”. The Department of the U.S. Army issued a “termination for convenience” order requesting that the Defendant and all sub-contractors cease all work after delivery of some product. Plaintiff alleged that their contract with the Defendant was breached by the termination and the Defendant owed, after reduction of expenses, the balance of the contract for $2.8 million dollars. Plaintiff also denied the purchase order and acceptance formed a contract and further stated that a latter “order acknowledgement”, which was signed by Elecsys, added the terms that were non-cancellable/non-returnable from the initial quote. At trial, Plaintiff, Control Solutions, requested that the jury enter a verdict in the amount of $2,800,000. I successfully argued in closing that the total damages were $93,000.00 for only the finished parts. At the close of the evidence, the jury deliberated for 3 1/2 hours, and limited the Plaintiff’s award to the requested $93,000.00 plus interest of 15% for a total of $106,950.00.