ADR Systems



Hon. Donald J. Suriano, (Ret.)


Judge Suriano joins ADR Systems with great depth of legal experience, presiding over nearly 1,000 jury trials and a multitude of settlement conferences as a Judge in the Circuit Court of Cook County. Those who practiced before him lauded his court management skills and professional demeanor.  He is known for being a solid jurist with a unique ability to settle cases, always with an eye on fairness.  Judge Suriano has extensive experience in personal injury cases including auto, aviation, and construction accidents, medical malpractice, wrongful death, premises liability and FELA cases.  Mediation with Judge Suriano is efficient because he reads submissions carefully and pays close attention to the needs and interests of the parties at every step in the settlement process.

Types of Cases Resolved

  • Auto Liability
  • Aviation
  • Construction
  • Construction Accidents
  • Contract
  • Federal Employers Liability Act (FELA)
  • Fee Dispute
  • Fiduciary Duty
  • Fraud
  • Landlord-Tenant
  • Legal Malpractice
  • Mass Torts
  • Medical Malpractice
  • Nursing Home
  • Personal Injury
  • Premises Liability
  • Product Liability
  • Professional Malpractice
  • Property Damage
  • Subrogation
  • Uninsured & Underinsured Motorist Claims (UM&UIM)
  • Wrongful Death

ADR Experience and Qualifications

  • Since joining ADR Systems in 2016, Judge Suriano has served as a full-time mediator and arbitrator
  • 20-year judicial career including Law Division, Jury Trial 2006-2016; Motion Call 2005-2006; First Municipal District, 1996-2005
  • 12-year legal career including senior counsel at the Chicago Park District, litigation division, and private practice
  • 40-hour mediation training course, Circuit Court of Cook County

Representative Cases

  • Contract: multi-million dollar lease of retired navy vessels; affirmed on appeal
  • Eminent Domain: settled case after numerous meetings with parks department of municipality and a private land owner
  • FELA: train conductor’s heel was amputated; $22.5 million jury verdict
  • Legal Malpractice: validity of a settlement agreement that counsel had made in a pre-trial with another jurist
  • Medical Malpractice and Wrongful Death: physicians failed to diagnose heart attack
  • Medical Malpractice: trial involved death of a newborn and resulted in a hung jury; achieved creative settlement with the parties agreeing to settle for $90,000 for each juror voting in favor of the plaintiff
  • Medical Malpractice: man died two days after knee replacement surgery which caused a fatal myocardial infarction
  • Nursing Home: resident woman found to have broken hip and bed sores
  • Personal Injury: Illinois Supreme Court assignment of all of the hundreds of cases filed in the State of Illinois against the manufacturer of a hormone replacement drug; coordination of extensive discovery and pre-trial motions
  • Premises Liability: settled case during the second week of trial where window washer stepped off roof and fell to the ground while washing hospital windows
  • Premises Liability: settled case during jury deliberations of a two week trial regarding retail store employee who slipped on cleaning solution left by cleaning contractors and suffered from complex regional pain syndrome (CRPS)
  • Professional Malpractice: issue regarding whether there was coverage or fraud in the insurance application for claim of $1 million in water damage
  • Property Damage: settled numerous cases involving damage to property from fires and floods
  • Property Damage: significant damage caused faulty relief valve on a residential boiler; successfully mediated
  • Wrongful Death: ten consolidated lawsuits involving the deaths of the crew of a cargo plane which crashed in Afghanistan and left no survivors
  • Wrongful Death: highway worker killed by driver of a double tractor-trailer with $22.6 million jury verdict; plaintiff consented to $14.2 million remittitur
  • Wrongful Death: blind man killed by train; affirmed on appeal and published opinion is an authoritative case regarding social media and blogging jurors

Professional Activities and Awards

  • Member, Illinois Judges Association
  • Member, Chicago Bar Association (CBA)
  • Member, Justinian Society of Lawyers
  • Member, American Bar Association (ABA)
  • Professional Activities and Awards
  • Judicial Recognition Award, Italian American Political Coalition

Presentations and Publications

  • Guest Lecturer, “Anatomy of a Motor Vehicle Crash,” Illinois Institute for Continuing Legal Education (IICLE)
  • Presenter, “Do’s and Don’ts of a Jury Trial,” CBA Tort Litigation Committee
  • Presenter, “Annual Symposium with the Judges,” Law Bulletin Seminars
  • Presenter, “Case Examination: Fatality at Railroad Station,” Law Bulletin Seminars
  • Guest Lecturer, “Career Day,” Lane Technical High School


  • JD, John Marshall Law School
  • BA, University of Illinois at Chicago


  • Illinois State Bar
  • US District Court for the Northern District of Illinois
  • Federal Trial Bar


I was a sitting Cook County Judge for over 20 years and a majority of that time was in the Jury Trial Section in the Law Division. Since 2016, I have practiced law and have been a mediator and arbitrator. Many attorneys have tried cases in my courtrooms or mediated or arbitrated cases with me.

The disclosures above will not affect my neutrality in this dispute.

Judge Nudelman was excellent.  Many times, attorneys on the case wanted to terminate the mediation, but Judge Nudelman kept us going until it was resolved.  Great job!!

Thomas J. Lyman, Esq.Partner, SmithAmundsen