Hon. Kay M. Hanlon, (Ret.) - ADR Systems

ADR Systems


Hon. Kay M. Hanlon, (Ret.)

Hon. Kay M. Hanlon, (Ret.)

IllinoisNeutral Availability

Judge Hanlon brings boundless enthusiasm, an impeccable reputation as a jurist and a compassionate drive to her practice as a senior mediator and arbitrator. She has expertise in resolving personal injury actions such as medical malpractice, mass torts, product liability, trucking accident and sexual abuse cases across multiple states, as well as commercial actions such as legal malpractice, eminent domain and subrogation. Counsel have praised Judge Hanlon as perpetually prepared and ready to listen attentively. Her open and friendly demeanor is known throughout the legal community, and her personality is tailor-made for her work as a mediator and arbitrator; she can quickly connect with parties and counsel to promote trust and effective communication throughout the dispute resolution process, enabling her to deftly facilitate a path to resolution.

Types of Cases Resolved

  • Asbestos/Mesothelioma
  • Auto Liability
  • Civil Rights
  • Construction Accidents
  • Contract
  • Eminent Domain
  • Employment
  • Federal Employers Liability Act (FELA)
  • Fee Dispute
  • Harassment
  • Legal Malpractice
  • Mass Torts
  • Medical Malpractice
  • Nursing Home
  • Personal Injury
  • Premises Liability
  • Product Liability
  • Professional Malpractice
  • Property Damage
  • Sexual Abuse
  • Sexual Harassment
  • Subrogation
  • Tax
  • Toxic Tort
  • Trucking Accident
  • Uninsured & Underinsured Motor Claims (UM&UIM)
  • Whistleblower
  • Workers' Compensation
  • Wrongful Death
  • Wrongful Termination

ADR Experience and Qualifications

  • Since joining ADR Systems in 2019, Judge Hanlon has served as a full-time mediator and arbitrator
  • 14-year judicial career in the Circuit Court of Cook County, serving in the First and Third Municipal Districts and later the Law Division, 2004-2018
  • 19-year legal career, including private practice at Law Office of Kay M. Hanlon, 1997-2004; Assistant Cook County State’s Attorney where she served in the Appellate Division, Felony Trial Division, Gang Crimes Unit, Narcotics Unit and was the Deputy Chief of the Juvenile Justice Bureau, 1985-1997
  • Mediation Certificate, Northwestern University

Representative Cases

  • Asbestos/Mesothelioma: settled various matters involving asbestos exposure and mesothelioma
  • Construction Accident: plaintiff suffered T12 burst fracture and complete paraplegia from 20-foot fall at construction site; dispute settled for $9.0 million
  • Construction: plaintiff sustained a life-changing injury while aboard an overloaded freight elevator and fell two stories; case settled for $3.5 million
  • Construction: plaintiff sustained injuries when he slipped on construction site’s oily decking, requiring multiple surgeries and expecting a full knee replacement in coming years; case complicated by insurance coverage issues; settled for $1.41 million
  • Contract: mediated a $1.9 million breach of contract dispute involving a defectively manufactured part that caused a machine to operate incorrectly; all parties acknowledged the part’s defectiveness; the case settled before expert depositions were taken
  • Eminent Domain: a county forest preserve district took plaintiff’s open land pursuant to an ordinance that turned out not to have been properly adopted; after twenty years of litigation the case settled, providing the landowner with compensation for the value of the ranch
  • Employment: deputy assigned to courtroom security was a union member and claimed to be “locked out” of her employment without due process; lock out occurred after employer received unsubstantiated reports that the deputy had made comments indicating deputy may have been a threat to fellow deputies; deputy placed on disability leave; case settled in just two hours despite highly recalcitrant parties
  • Medical Malpractice: 70-year-old plaintiff’s decedent suffered decubitus ulcers and infections following amputation procedures ultimately causing her death; case settled for $2 million
  • Medical Malpractice: 41-year-old developed permanent foot drop and regional pain syndrome from doctor’s failure to order computed tomography (CT) scan to investigate mass on plaintiff that enabled spread of necrotizing fasciitis; defendant argued plaintiff’s presentment did not indicate signs of infection and that a CT would not have revealed new information; settled for $1 million
  • Medical Malpractice: doctor’s delayed response to hospital’s phone calls led to delayed transfusion needed by newborn and subsequent brain damage
  • Medical Malpractice: delivery delay led to baby suffering hypoxic ischemic encephalopathy within 20 minutes of birth causing severe brain damage
  • Medical Malpractice: man experiencing coughing and hoarseness underwent a biopsy of his vocal cords; physician found keratosis—a benign condition—and not cancer; less than a year later, man underwent another biopsy with a finding of late-stage laryngeal cancer
  • Nursing Home: a 60-year-old man was recuperating in a nursing home following heart surgery; the man suffered several falls during physical therapy resulting in a broken ankle
  • Personal Injury and Product Liability: construction worker injured on the job when a lifting loop attached to a pre-cast concrete slab snapped, causing the chain to recoil and hit the worker in the head; worker suffered a traumatic brain injury; the designer, manufacturer and the construction company were all found liable
  • Products Liability: 16-year-old plaintiff suffered second-degree burns across 30% of his body because of gasoline spray from a faulty lawnmower’s gas tank; settled with multiple defendants for $2.32 million
  • Sexual Abuse: resolved numerous disputes across multiple states involving adults, minors, commercial organizations and religious institutions, as well as issues related to statute of limitations, repressed memory and damages
  • Sexual Abuse: settled a $2.15 million case involving devastating damages to plaintiff from clerical sexual exploitation when he was a minor
  • Trucking Accident: mother and daughter injured after being struck by defendant’s semi-tractor trailer; defendant argued contributory negligence in accident and questioned extent of damages; case settled for $725,000
  • Trucking Accident: claimant struck defendant’s tractor-trailer, which was stopped unsafely between a highway’s through lanes and the exit lane, resulting in numerous injuries and extensive recovery in physical therapy; defendant argued significant contributory negligence in the accident; case settled for $1.18 million
  • Wrongful Death: settled a $1.5 million case involving defendants’ negligent treatment, resulting in a decubitus ulcer; subsequent negligent treatment by hospital physicians ultimately led to death of plaintiff
  • Wrongful Death: driver of medical van transporting 102-year-old and other elderly passengers ran a red light and struck another vehicle; the 102-year-old passenger died; settled the case despite the medical van’s company declaring bankruptcy
  • Wrongful Death: police chased a fleeing suspect at high speed; suspect ran a stop sign and collided with a van driven by a 53-year-old woman resulting in the woman’s death; city and police officers were found liable for willful and wonton conduct

Professional Activities and Awards

  • Former Adjunct Professor, DePaul University College of Law
  • Former Instructor, Kaplan University Legal Education
  • Faculty, State of Illinois Judicial Education Conference
  • Member, Chicago Bar Association (CBA)
  • Member, Illinois State Bar Association
  • Member, Northwest Suburban Bar Association (NWSBA)
  • Member, Justinian Society of Lawyers
  • Member, Women’s Bar Association of Illinois
  • Former Member, Illinois Judges Association
  • Member, Illinois Judges Association Committee on Wellness
  • Member, CBA Committee on Wellness
  • Former Member, Board of Directors, Youth Services
  • Mentoring Judge, Circuit Court Mentoring Program
  • Judge for the Third District Award, NWSBA

Presentations and Publications

  • Presenter, “Trial Preparation and Presentation,” CBA
  • Panelist, “Helping You Help the Jury,” Annual Symposium with the Judges, Law Bulletin Seminars
  • Presenter, “Current Trends in Evidence,” American Institute for Justice
  • Presenter, “Eminent Domain,” NWSBA
  • Presenter, “Preliminary Issues in a Criminal Case,” NWSBA
  • Panelist, “Jury Trials in the Law Division,” Law Bulletin Symposium
  • Presenter, “Perspectives from the Bench,” Illinois Trial Lawyers Symposium


  • JD, DePaul University College of Law
  • BA, University of Illinois


  • Illinois State Bar


I was a sitting judge for over 15 years, have practiced law and have been a mediator and arbitrator since 2019. 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.

"Judge Axelrood worked magic for both sides and was able to achieve a settlement in our matter. I can’t say enough about his skills, demeanor and persistence in bringing the parties together."

Robert L. Fogel, Esq.Fogel Law Offices