Brian C. Haussmann is a trial lawyer and business litigator who focuses on disputes between owners and other stakeholders in privately held businesses. Haussmann often litigates and resolves disputes involving the dissolution of private companies (sometimes referred to as “business divorces”), partner, owner, and shareholder rights, fiduciary duty claims, corporate governance, fraud and other business torts, and contracts.
Haussmann also has extensive experience litigating disputes involving commercial real estate for developers, investors, landlords, and tenants.
In addition, he regularly handles business and employment cases concerning executive compensation, trade secrets, restrictive covenants, and defamation.
Haussmann also advises clients on matters not in litigation and has helped to resolve important disputes without filing suit. Haussmann regularly counsels corporate clients with repeat litigation matters. For example, he helped a national food chain develop a protocol for resolving common disputes over leased properties throughout the country. He also helped an automobile manufacturer employ early case evaluation to resolve product liability actions.
Haussmann is active in pro bono work and in professional activities outside of the office. For example, he recently served as lead counsel to the United States Conference of Mayors in litigation challenging the Attorney General’s nationwide imposition of immigration-related conditions on the receipt by cities across the country of federal law enforcement grants.
Haussmann joined Tabet DiVito & Rothstein LLC in 2008. Before joining the firm, he was a litigation associate at Jenner & Block LLP.
In his 20-year career, Haussmann has played a critical role in many significant cases. These include the following:
- Lead trial counsel in commercial real estate dispute regarding a corporate guaranty of a commercial shopping center lease. Prevailed at trial and obtained a $14 million judgment against the guarantor.
- Lead trial counsel in the successful arbitration of an ownership dispute among former law firm partners. Defeated opposing party’s claim to over $2 million in shared attorneys’ fees and obtained an injunction and sanctions for a departing lawyer’s theft of client files.
- Defended Fortune 500 company in federal lawsuit alleging breach of a sales contract for the sale of five corporate properties. Following a bench trial, the court denied plaintiff’s request for a preliminary injunction enjoining the properties’ sale to another bidder.
- Trial counsel for a pharmaceutical manufacturer and supplier in the private arbitration of a contract dispute involving alleged breaches of an exclusive, six-year supply agreement. Prevailed at trial on all claims, securing an award for the firm’s client of over $8 million plus attorneys’ fees. Also defeated a counterclaim seeking approximately $24 million in damages as the result of the supplier’s alleged failure to manufacture the drug in accordance with technical specifications, applicable law, and current Good Manufacturing Practices (cGMP).
- Obtained a complete defense verdict for automobile manufacturer and distributor in a week-long product liability jury trial resulting from a nationwide recall.
- Helped minority members of a limited liability company avoid an unfair sale and potential squeeze-out related to the company’s investment in a commercial office building; achieved successful outcome without filing suit.
- Secured the early dismissal of a federal lawsuit against a prominent supplier of technology services. The suit, brought by a competitor, alleged that the supplier had fraudulently misrepresented its capabilities in a successful bid for a government contract for credit card processing services, and plaintiff sought injunctive relief and damages for false advertising, tortious interference, deceptive trade practices and other business torts. After extensive briefing on a number of defense motions, the federal district court dismissed the action in its entirety.
- Part of trial and appellate team that defended a federal class action lawsuit alleging employment discrimination in violation of ERISA. After a 9-day bench trial, the district court found in favor of the defendants on all counts. On appeal, the Seventh Circuit affirmed the district court.
- Helped secure a temporary restraining order for a hospital products company requiring its exclusive supplier of an important product to continue supplying product during the parties’ arbitration of a contract dispute.
- Successfully briefed an appeal in the Illinois Supreme Court on a matter of first impression concerning subject matter waiver of the attorney-client privilege in business transactions. In a unanimous opinion, the Court ruled in the firm’s clients’ favor, held that no waiver had taken place and reversed an appellate court decision that would have required production of thousands of privileged communications. The case is Center Partners, Ltd. v. Growth Head GP, LLC, 2012 IL 113107. A copy of the opinion is available here.
- Served as lead appellate lawyer for an indigent criminal defendant upon appointment by the 7th Circuit Court of Appeals. Following briefing and argument, the court reversed the client’s conviction and vacated his 20-year sentence.
- Lead counsel for the United States Conference of Mayors in litigation successfully challenging the constitutionality of the United States Attorney General’s unilateral imposition of immigration-related conditions on the receipt by cities across the country of over $300 million in funds allocated to them by Congress under the Edward J. Byrne Memorial Justice Assistance Grant Program. Obtained an emergency injunction and, later, summary judgment in favor of the Conference. The case is City of Evanston v. Barr, and the court’s significant rulings are available here and here
Haussmann is AV Peer Review Rated, Martindale-Hubbell’s highest peer recognition for ethical standards and legal ability. From 2014 to 2019, he was named an Illinois “Rising Star” by his peers in SuperLawyers® Magazine, a distinction reserved for the top 2.5% of Illinois lawyers who are under 40 or in practice for 10 years or fewer. In 2022 and 2023, he was selected by his peers as a “Super Lawyer,” a distinction reserved for the top 5% of Illinois lawyers overall.
Through his work Haussmann has earned the respect and admiration of many esteemed business people and attorneys.
Here is what some of Mr. Haussmann’s clients and other attorneys have said about him:
“Brian was a godsend. In mere weeks he remade the entire case from top to bottom. Brian vastly improved my firm’s trial prospects by creating an entirely new theory of the case. He then executed on that theory. . . . Throughout the process, Brian kept a laser focus on the goals and issues that mattered the most for me and my firm.” –Client and 30-year owner of a Chicago-based law firm.
“Brian’s devotion, hard work and skill as an advocate place him in that rare class of attorneys who are truly among the best of our profession.” –Former partner at AmLaw 100 firm and Chief Executive Officer of Chicago-based non-profit
“Brian has a pragmatism and understanding of the nuanced interests in complex litigation that is astounding. . . . Brian is also an impressively effective advocate. His written work product is impeccable.” –Client and General Counsel of national non-profit organization.
“Brian immersed himself in the technical aspects of the case. His deposition of the opposing side’s expert was a textbook example of how to dismantle an expert, and it formed the roadmap for showing the jury that the expert’s testimony should not be credited. At trial, Brian presented our side’s expert testimony in a way that was so simple and compelling that jurors later thanked us for the presentation.” –Partner at AmLaw 200 firm and later General Counsel of a major private university.
“Mr. Haussmann is a person of high integrity, character, and professionalism. While our lawsuit was hard fought, I always found him to be honest and candid – I could rely on his agreements and word. He never overreached.” –Partner at AmLaw 200 firm and opposing counsel in a high-profile action.
“[Brian’s] enthusiastic approach coupled with his diplomatic and professional demeanor yielded an incredible result for the client in short order.” –Assistant General Counsel at a national accounting, consulting, and technology firm.
Memberships & Affiliations
- Chicago Bar Association (CBA), Member of the Board of Managers
- CBA, Founding Member and current Vice-Chair of the Business Divorce and Complex Ownership Disputes Committee
- Legal Aid Chicago (formerly LAF), current Member of the Governing Board, Previous Co-Chair of the Ambassadors Board (2017-2018)
- Adjunct Professor at John Marshall Law School, most recently teaching a course in deposition practice
- ProVisors business networking organization, Group Leader
- American Diabetes Association, Member of the Young Professional Leadership Council (2017-2018)
- Illinois State Bar Association (ISBA), Appointed to the Civil Practice & Procedure Section Council (2014-15)
- American Bar Association (ABA), Member
- ABA Section of Litigation, Member of its Committees on Business Torts & Unfair Competition and Real Estate Litigation
- Cornell Law School, J.D., cum laude, 2004
- Note Editor, Cornell Law Review
- Student Practitioner, Cornell Legal Aid Clinic
- Note, The ABA Ethical Guidelines for Settlement Negotiations: Exceeding the Limits of the Adversarial Ethic, 89 CORNELL L. REV. 1218 (2004).
- Indiana University, Bloomington, B.A. in Philosophy and Germanic Studies, with High Distinction, 2001
News & Publications
- Seventh Circuit: “Follow Form” Insurance Policy Does Not Allow Excess Insurer to Take Advantage of Arbitration Provision in Underlying Policy, The Chicago Litigation Blog, November 2, 2016
- Appellate Court Holds that Trial is Needed to Determine Whether Commercial Dispute Must be Arbitrated, The Chicago Litigation Blog, February 25, 2016
- Can Former Minority Owners of an LLC Bring a Legal Malpractice Claim Against Company’s Law Firm?, The Chicago Litigation Blog, February 9, 2016
- New Limits on Subject Matter Waiver of Attorney-Client Privilege, Illinois Bar Journal (July 2013, Vol. 101, pgs. 1-3), co-authored with Hon. Gino L. DiVito and John M. Fitzgerald