ADR Systems


Hon. Donald J. O’Brien, Jr., (Ret.)


Hon. Donald J. O’Brien, Jr., (Ret.) is a skilled mediator and arbitrator with extensive experience in the resolution of personal injury and contract disputes. He has presided over approximately 320 cases that went to verdict before a jury.

Types of Cases Resolved

  • Auto Liability
  • Contract
  • Federal Employers Liability Act (FELA)
  • Legal Malpractice
  • Medical Malpractice
  • Personal Injury
  • Premises Liability
  • Product Liability
  • Professional Malpractice

ADR Experience and Qualifications

  • 20-year judicial career including serving as Cook County Circuit Court Judge in the Law Division, 2004-2010, 1991-2002 and the Chancery Division, 2002-2004
  • 27-year legal career as principal of O’Brien, Redding & Hyde, arguing and trying cases in both the state and federal courts and at the appellate level in both state and federal courts

Representative Cases

  • Thomas v. Page:  Special assignment to Kane County for trial of defamation case brought by Chief Justice of the Illinois Supreme Court against a local newspaper; resulted in the largest verdict in the history of Kane County at the time
  • In Re Chicago Flood Litigation: Handled all aspects of nine cases, involving approximately 400 claimants; cases involved flooding of underground tunnel due to alleged negligence in driving a piling in the Chicago River, flooding shut down the Central Loop for approximately ten days; cases eventually settled for an amount exceeding $250 million
  • Jean Frigo v. Silver Cross Hospital and Medical Center: Illinois case of first impression involving hospital’s negligent credentialing of doctors; resulted in a multi-million dollar verdict for the plaintiff that was affirmed on appeal
  • Michael Burgus et al. v. Rush Presbyterian St. Lukes: Medical malpractice case involving a psychiatrist negligently treating a patient with multiple personality disorder for six years and was hospitalized for more than two years in Rush’s ten-bed dissociative disorders unit, believing she was in a “satanic cult”; her young children were also hospitalized for three years; plaintiff claimed the unorthodox treatment caused her false beliefs; resulted in a settlement of $10.6 million; the case was featured in national news magazines and an episode of the PBS Documentary series, Frontline, was devoted to the case
  • Levenberg v. McDonnell-Douglas et al.: Consolidated cases brought by family and survivors of United Airlines Flight 232 plane crash against United Airlines, Inc., McDonnell-Douglas Corp., plane manufacturer and General Electric Co., engine maker; tried to a jury, which returned a verdict in the amount of $23 million
  • Clarendon v. Standard Co. et al: Involved the largest fire in the City of Chicago since McCormick Place; alleged that Standard’s fire suppression system was defective, which allowed the fire to spread to adjoining buildings; resulted in a multi-million dollar verdict for the plaintiff

Professional Activities and Awards

  • Fellow, International Academy of Trial Lawyers
  • Fellow, American College of Trial Lawyers
  • Fellow, International Society of Barristers
  • Member, Chicago Bar Association
  • Member, Illinois State Bar Association
  • Member, American Bar Association
  • Member, National Association of Railroad Trial Counsel (former member Board of Governors)
  • Member, Society of Trial Lawyers
  • Member, Illinois Defense Counsel
  • Member, Railroad Trial Lawyers Association
  • Member, Defense Research Institute
  • Lecturer, Northwestern University School of Law
  • Lecturer, University of Chicago School of Law
  • Lecturer,  Evidence Issues, Chicago Bar Association, Illinois State Bar Association and Cook County Bar Association
  • Author, numerous articles concerning Supreme Court Rule 213 (Two), final arguments; the Contribution Act, motions in limine; hearsay and its exceptions; Wilson v. Clark and its ramifications; and the Structural Work Act (subsequently repealed)


  • J.D., Northwestern University School of Law
  • B.S., B.A., Xavier University


  • Illinois State Bar

I was extremely pleased with a recent mediation at ADR Systems. The mediators constitute a veritable "who's who" of top-notch practitioners and former jurists with a wealth of experience across the legal spectrum.  I strongly recommend ADR Systems for even the most complex and contentious of cases.

Hillard M. Sterling, Esq.Sterling Tech Law | Waveland Law Group, LLC