Hon. Elizabeth M. Budzinski, (Ret.) - ADR Systems

ADR Systems


Hon. Elizabeth M. Budzinski, (Ret.)

Hon. Elizabeth M. Budzinski, (Ret.)

IllinoisNeutral Availability

Hon. Elizabeth M. Budzinski, (Ret.) was a hard-working and highly sought-after trial judge in the Circuit Court of Cook County for 20 years before joining ADR Systems as a senior mediator and arbitrator. She tried jury cases in the Law Division for 16 years where she heard almost every type of case, including personal injury cases such as products liability, premises liability, construction accident and medical malpractice. She also heard commercial cases such as breach of fiduciary duty, wrongful termination, fraud and employment discrimination. Judge Budzinski was a meticulous lawyer and judge, paying close attention to details. As a mediator and arbitrator, she is skilled at bringing even the most recalcitrant parties to a resolution of their dispute. Attorneys who have settled cases with Judge Budzinski describe her as diligent, fair and someone who can keep the parties talking. A frequent legal lecturer and educator, she continues to volunteer in the legal community while also contributing her time and talent to organizations benefiting the wider Chicago-land community.

Types of Cases Resolved

  • Asbestos/Mesothelioma
  • Auto Liability
  • Aviation
  • Bad Faith
  • Biometric Information Privacy Act (BIPA)
  • Cannabis
  • Civil Rights
  • Class Action
  • Construction
  • Construction Accidents
  • Construction Defect
  • Contract
  • Data Privacy
  • Defamation
  • Discrimination
  • E-Discovery
  • Employment
  • Federal Employers Liability Act (FELA)
  • Fee Dispute
  • Fiduciary Duty
  • Fraud
  • Government
  • Harassment
  • Legal Malpractice
  • Mass Torts
  • Medical Malpractice
  • Multidistrict Litigation (MDL)
  • Non-Compete
  • Nursing Home
  • Product Liability
  • Professional Malpractice
  • Property Damage
  • Restrictive Covenants
  • Retaliatory Discharge
  • Sexual Abuse
  • Sexual Harassment
  • Toxic Tort
  • Uninsured & Underinsured Motorist Claims (UM&UIM)
  • Wrongful Death
  • Wrongful Termination

ADR Experience and Qualifications

  • Since joining ADR Systems in 2023, Judge Budzinski has served as a full-time mediator and arbitrator
  • 20-year judicial career serving as Law Division Judge in the Circuit Court of Cook County, Jury Trial, 2009-2023; Law Division Motion Call, 2006-2009; Domestic Relations Division, 2003-2006; First Municipal District Traffic Division, 2003
  • 14-year legal career as a partner at Wilson Elser, 1989-2003
  • Mediation Certificate, Northwestern University

Representative Cases

  • Auto Liability: settled over 300 cases involving automobiles and trucks, resulting in spinal injuries, traumatic brain injuries, fractures, soft tissue injuries and property damage
  • Civil Rights: settled numerous police misconduct cases, involving policies, training and behavioral issues, causing physical and emotional injuries
  • Civil Rights: settled police shooting claim by decedent’s estate arising from attack of police officer, involving duty and department policy issues
  • Civil Rights: presided over a police car chase case, resulting in the crash of plaintiffs’ vehicle, causing the death of a 22-year-old male and a traumatic brain injury to a 21-year-old male; jury verdict of $33.5 million
  • Contract: settled breach of contract, fiduciary duty and fraud claims among former business partners; $2.7 million settlement
  • Construction: settled cases involving personal injury, contract and construction claims with general contractors, subcontractors, architects, owners and insurers
  • Construction Accident: worker accident caused by garage vehicle, resulting in amputation of finger; settled $8.65 million
  • Construction Accident: plaintiff sustained a severe spinal injury when a boom lift slid off a flatbed truck; jury verdict of $19 million, settled post-trial
  • Federal Employers Liability Act (FELA): presided over and/or settled numerous personal injury cases by railroad workers injured by faulty equipment, policies or procedures
  • Legal Malpractice: settled numerous claims against tort or commercial lawyers involving underlying claims of personal injuries, divorce, contract and business law
  • Medical Malpractice: settled and presided over 200 cases with doctors, nurses and hospitals involving issues related to the emergency room, cardiac, cancer, vascular, internal medicine, pediatricians, radiology, infectious disease, orthopedics, psychiatry, ob-gyn, pain medicine, MRSA and surgeries
  • Medical Malpractice: orthopedic surgeon’s spinal surgery resulted in senior citizen’s drop foot, incontinence and decreased use of right arm; $700,000 settlement
  • Medical Malpractice: failure to diagnose a newborn’s urethral valve obstruction, causing infection and resulting in a catastrophic brain injury; settled $8 million
  • Medical Malpractice: failure to advise patient of risks of coronary atherectomy to remove blockage utilizing a laser, resulting in severe heart damage; $3.5 million settlement
  • Medical Malpractice: provider failed to perform proper cardiac evaluation for a 33-year-old male admitted to the emergency room complaining of chest pain, arm pain, shortness of breath and nausea; diagnosed with acute alcohol intoxication, possible pancreatitis and discharged with instructions to follow-up with physician; one week later, patient died of a massive heart attack; settled $3.5 million
  • Nursing Home: settled numerous cases involving claims of abuse, falls, decubitus ulcers, infections and wrongful death
  • Personal Injury: settled a case against a municipality, involving a bicyclist struck by a car, due to street marking design, causing rotator cuff injury requiring surgery; $1.3 million settlement
  • Premises Liability: Settled hundreds of cases involving sidewalk defects, snow removal, design defects, natural accumulations and defects in public property involving the Tort Immunity Act
  • Products Liability: plaintiff claimed a truck tractor design defect; driver door vertical grab handle attachment design was defective, causing the handle to detach, resulting in the plaintiff falling and suffering a traumatic brain injury
  • Sexual Abuse: negotiated over 50 settlements involving the claims of adults and minors against religious and educational institutions
  • Sexual Abuse: student groomed by teacher, then forcibly battered student, causing post-traumatic stress syndrome, eating disorder and anxiety; $800,000 settlement
  • Sexual Abuse: presided over case against a high school security guard who groomed and abused three female cheerleaders, resulting in judgment for plaintiffs
  • Toxic Tort: mediated, for over a year, the settlements of 2,600 consolidated personal injury cases involving the release of toxic chemicals from a landfill, resulting in the largest landfill settlement in Illinois for $28.5 million; to effectuate the settlement, the 2,600 cases were converted to a class action
  • Wrongful Death: cardiologist failed to take a proper history and perform a complete physical exam prior to ordering use of a treadmill by decedent, resulting in cardiac arrest; settled $1.5 million

Professional Activities and Awards

  • Member, Illinois Supreme Court Committee on Illinois Pattern Jury Instructions
  • Member, Tort Committee, Illinois State Bar Association (ISBA)
  • Former Member, Illinois Supreme Court COVID Task Force
  • Former Member, Illinois Supreme Court Judicial Conference and Judicial Education Committee
  • Former President, Women’s Bar Association of Illinois (WBAI)
  • Former Board Member, IIT/Chicago-Kent Alumni Association
  • Member, Chicago Bar Association (CBA)
  • Member, ISBA
  • Judge of the Year Award, Illinois Chapter of the American Board of Trial Advocates
  • 40 Under 40 Attorney, Chicago Lawyer Magazine
  • Alumni Award, IIT/Chicago-Kent College of Law
  • Mary Heftel Hooton Award, WBAI

Presentations and Publications

  • Moderator, “Mental Health & Addiction Issues,” Advanced Judicial Academy
  • Presenter, “Recent Trends in Employment Cases,” WBAI
  • Presenter, Sexual Harassment in the Workplace,” International Business Communications Employment Practices Seminar
  • Presenter, “Settlement is an Art,” Annual Symposium with the Judges
  • Presenter, “Anatomy of a Medical Malpractice Trial,” ISBA
  • Presenter, “Civil Court Judicial Forum: Advanced Discovery and Trial Practice,” National Business Institute, Judicial Forum
  • Presenter, “Complex Litigation & Civil Liability for Non-Traditional Torts,” Illinois Trial Lawyers Association
  • Presenter, “Damages: Observations from the Bench,” Illinois Trial Lawyers Association
  • Presenter, “Evidence: Before, During and After Trial,” ISBA
  • Presenter, “Pretrial Settlement Conferences,” WBAI
  • Presenter, “What Civil Court Judges Want You to Know,” National Business Institute Trial Practice
  • Presenter and Judge, “Anatomy of a Trial: The Rosenberg Spy Case,” CBA
  • Presenter and Judge, “Trial Advocacy Training Program,” Wilson Elser


  • JD, IIT/Chicago-Kent College of Law
  • BA, University of Wisconsin-Madison


  • Illinois State Bar
  • Federal Trial Bar for the Northern District of Illinois
  • US Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit
  • US Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit


I was a sitting judge for 20 years, have practiced law and have been a mediator and arbitrator since 2023. Many attorneys have tried cases in my courtrooms or mediated or arbitrated a case with me.

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

ADR Systems is a perfect fit for commercial disputes that would otherwise find themselves in state court. Though they may no longer have the ability to formally wield the gavel, the former judges at ADR Systems still demand the respect necessary to get parties to the table.

Sang-yul Lee, Esq.Partner, Locke Lord Edwards, LLP