People: Mark L. Johnson, Partner

Photo of Mark L. Johnson, Partner

Mark L. Johnson

Partner

Chicago
Direct: (312) 460-5627
Fax: (312) 460-7627
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Mr. Johnson is a partner in the Chicago office of Seyfarth Shaw LLP. He is an accomplished construction attorney, having represented owners, general contractors, and subcontractors in a variety of disputes. He has both lectured and authored articles on construction-related issues, and previously served as the Chair of the Construction and Mechanics Lien Committee of the Chicago Bar Association. Mr. Johnson has been designated a Leading Lawyer in Construction Law and a Super Lawyer in Construction Litigation, and a recommended attorney for Construction Law by The Legal 500.

Mr. Johnson is also an accomplished commercial litigator, with particular experience in real estate litigation, having represented institutional investors, commercial landlords and owners, as well as commercial tenants in a variety of disputes.  He presently serves as Co-Chair of the firm's Real Estate Litigation sub-practice group.

Mr. Johnson has handled a variety of other commercial litigation disputes involving business torts, complex contract disputes as well as intellectual property related claims.  Mr. Johnson similarly has been designated a Leading Lawyer in Commercial Litigation. Mr. Johnson has tried and participated in cases on appeal in state and federal courts throughout the country. For example, Mr. Johnson previously secured a multi-million jury verdict in connection with the sale of the assets of a finance company. He also recovered a significant judgment at trial on behalf of an investment banking and financial services company.

Among his specific accomplishments in construction related claims, Mr. Johnson has:

  • Participated in preparing, reviewing, and negotiating a variety of types of construction contracts, subcontracts, and EPC agreements across many industries, representing all sides of a construction project, including owners, developers, contractors, construction managers, and subcontractors.
  • Obtained a directed verdict at trial on behalf of a general contractor and against an owner of a convalescent home, who had sought to rescind a portion of the parties’ $7.5 million construction contract, resulting in a savings in excess of $1.5 million for the contractor.
  • Successfully defended a general contractor in a lawsuit brought by a subcontractor who sought to recover in excess of $5 million for breach of a contract of exclusivity.
  • Successfully represented a general contractor against the owner of a nursing home in a lawsuit arising out of the parties’ $2.4 million guaranteed maximum price contract for the construction of a 200-bed addition.  The owner ultimately withdrew its claims for defective construction and delay.
  • Obtained recovery for a subcontractor in a lawsuit to recover the outstanding balance due from its installation of a steel curtain wall, in excess of $18 million, on a commercial office building.
  • Successfully represented a contractor in recovering in excess of $1 million for restoration work performed on behalf of a commercial property owner in the wake of a hurricane.
  • Successfully defended a contractor against claims in excess of $1 million for construction and restoration work at a naval base.
  • Obtained recovery for a floor subcontractor in a lawsuit against the manufacturer of ceramic tile installed by the subcontractor at a racetrack, but which was ultimately rejected by the owner.
  • Obtained summary judgment in favor of a general contractor against the owner’s scheme to defraud claim arising out of the construction of a health care facility.
  • Successfully defended a paper manufacturer against a general contractor arising out of the parties’ $26 million fixed-sum contract, securing the withdrawal of the contractor's claim upon the filing of a strategic counterclaim against it for claims of defective construction and delay.
  • Successfully represented a variety of subcontractors, such as those involved in the steel, flooring, roofing and finishing trades, in obtaining final amounts due under subcontracts.
  • Participated in the reviewing and revising of form contracts and general conditions for agreements between owners and general contractors as well as agreements between general contractors and subcontractors.

Among his specific accomplishments in real estate related claims, Mr. Johnson has:

  • Successfully defended the management company of a golf course against an injunction lawsuit brought by the food and beverage contractor for wrongful termination of the food and beverage supply contract.
  • Obtained an injunction on behalf of a commercial landlord prohibiting a tenant’s interference with the landlord’s build-out of other tenants’ space, which involved construction activities performed in the tenant’s space, and successfully defended against the tenant’s counterclaim for fraudulent inducement of the lease and for constructive eviction.
  • Successfully defended an institutional investor against a claim for breach of an $8 million sale-leaseback agreement, as well as claims for promissory estoppel and breach of a duty of good faith and fair dealing, when investor exercised termination rights under a letter of intent.
  • Successfully represented movie theater tenant against shopping center owner for fraudulently inducing movie theater to sign lease termination agreement obligating it to pay a substantial lease termination fee, where owner had already decided to alter use of shopping center such that owner  would have breached the parties’ lease. 
  • Successfully mediated a lawsuit on behalf of an owner of various shopping centers located throughout the country that was filed against lessees of retail space to recover unpaid common area maintenance charges and real estate taxes and to resolve disputes over notice provisions contained in the leases.
  • Successfully defended owner of retail complex against claim by a built-to-suit big box retailer alleging that excess vapor moisture in the concrete slab affected carpet flooring materials and retailer’s use and enjoyment of the leased space, where design and construction were in accordance with retailer’s plans and specifications.  
  • Successfully represented shopping center owner against commercial tenant in a dispute regarding unpaid common area maintenance charges, real estate tax allocations, administrative expense allocations, and administrative salaries allocations under the parties’ lease. 
  • Successfully defended movie theater tenant against eviction proceedings initiated by shopping center owner, as well as a variety of other eviction proceedings.

Among his specific accomplishments in additional commercial litigation and intellectual property related claims, Mr. Johnson has:

  • Successfully represented a bankruptcy trustee in recovering on claims asserted against a bank arising out of the misappropriation of $15 million of health savings account funds that were held in an Omnibus account at the bank.
  • Obtained judgment on behalf of a designer and manufacturer of consumer video games in defense of a claim brought against the company for copyright infringement.
  • Obtained a preliminary injunction in a trademark infringement case on behalf of a manufacturer of ground support test equipment for aircraft, enjoining a former distributor from using the manufacturer’s identical part–numbering system in the sale of competing products. The former distributor was also enjoined under the Cyberpiracy Act from using domain names that were based on the manufacturer’s trade name and was ordered to transfer those domain names to the manufacturer.
  • Successfully represented a manufacturer of women’s clothing in a lawsuit filed against a competing clothing manufacturer for trademark infringement and unfair competition.
  • Successfully represented a foreign brewery and its U.S. importer in a lawsuit filed against a competing brewery for trademark infringement and unfair competition.
  • Successfully represented a manufacturer of cast-vinyl film in a lawsuit filed against a former distributor of its products involving claims for trademark infringement and unfair competition.
  • Successfully represented a manufacturer of metal in a lawsuit filed against former key employees for trade secret misappropriation and breaches of restrictive covenants.
  • Participated in defending a copyright infringement action brought against a professional basketball team, avoiding the entry of a temporary restraining order against the team arising out of the design of its mascot.
  • Successfully represented a clothing manufacturer in an opposition to a trademark application filed by one of its competitor’s before the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office, which included defending against a claim of trademark abandonment raised by the competitor.

Mr. Johnson is a partner in the Chicago office of Seyfarth Shaw LLP. He is an accomplished construction attorney, having represented owners, general contractors, and subcontractors in a variety of disputes. He has both lectured and authored articles on construction-related issues, and previously served as the Chair of the Construction and Mechanics Lien Committee of the Chicago Bar Association. Mr. Johnson has been designated a Leading Lawyer in Construction Law and a Super Lawyer in Construction Litigation, and a recommended attorney for Construction Law by The Legal 500.

Mr. Johnson is also an accomplished commercial litigator, with particular experience in real estate litigation, having represented institutional investors, commercial landlords and owners, as well as commercial tenants in a variety of disputes.  He presently serves as Co-Chair of the firm's Real Estate Litigation sub-practice group.

Mr. Johnson has handled a variety of other commercial litigation disputes involving business torts, complex contract disputes as well as intellectual property related claims.  Mr. Johnson similarly has been designated a Leading Lawyer in Commercial Litigation. Mr. Johnson has tried and participated in cases on appeal in state and federal courts throughout the country. For example, Mr. Johnson previously secured a multi-million jury verdict in connection with the sale of the assets of a finance company. He also recovered a significant judgment at trial on behalf of an investment banking and financial services company.

Among his specific accomplishments in construction related claims, Mr. Johnson has:

  • Participated in preparing, reviewing, and negotiating a variety of types of construction contracts, subcontracts, and EPC agreements across many industries, representing all sides of a construction project, including owners, developers, contractors, construction managers, and subcontractors.
  • Obtained a directed verdict at trial on behalf of a general contractor and against an owner of a convalescent home, who had sought to rescind a portion of the parties’ $7.5 million construction contract, resulting in a savings in excess of $1.5 million for the contractor.
  • Successfully defended a general contractor in a lawsuit brought by a subcontractor who sought to recover in excess of $5 million for breach of a contract of exclusivity.
  • Successfully represented a general contractor against the owner of a nursing home in a lawsuit arising out of the parties’ $2.4 million guaranteed maximum price contract for the construction of a 200-bed addition.  The owner ultimately withdrew its claims for defective construction and delay.
  • Obtained recovery for a subcontractor in a lawsuit to recover the outstanding balance due from its installation of a steel curtain wall, in excess of $18 million, on a commercial office building.
  • Successfully represented a contractor in recovering in excess of $1 million for restoration work performed on behalf of a commercial property owner in the wake of a hurricane.
  • Successfully defended a contractor against claims in excess of $1 million for construction and restoration work at a naval base.
  • Obtained recovery for a floor subcontractor in a lawsuit against the manufacturer of ceramic tile installed by the subcontractor at a racetrack, but which was ultimately rejected by the owner.
  • Obtained summary judgment in favor of a general contractor against the owner’s scheme to defraud claim arising out of the construction of a health care facility.
  • Successfully defended a paper manufacturer against a general contractor arising out of the parties’ $26 million fixed-sum contract, securing the withdrawal of the contractor's claim upon the filing of a strategic counterclaim against it for claims of defective construction and delay.
  • Successfully represented a variety of subcontractors, such as those involved in the steel, flooring, roofing and finishing trades, in obtaining final amounts due under subcontracts.
  • Participated in the reviewing and revising of form contracts and general conditions for agreements between owners and general contractors as well as agreements between general contractors and subcontractors.

Among his specific accomplishments in real estate related claims, Mr. Johnson has:

  • Successfully defended the management company of a golf course against an injunction lawsuit brought by the food and beverage contractor for wrongful termination of the food and beverage supply contract.
  • Obtained an injunction on behalf of a commercial landlord prohibiting a tenant’s interference with the landlord’s build-out of other tenants’ space, which involved construction activities performed in the tenant’s space, and successfully defended against the tenant’s counterclaim for fraudulent inducement of the lease and for constructive eviction.
  • Successfully defended an institutional investor against a claim for breach of an $8 million sale-leaseback agreement, as well as claims for promissory estoppel and breach of a duty of good faith and fair dealing, when investor exercised termination rights under a letter of intent.
  • Successfully represented movie theater tenant against shopping center owner for fraudulently inducing movie theater to sign lease termination agreement obligating it to pay a substantial lease termination fee, where owner had already decided to alter use of shopping center such that owner  would have breached the parties’ lease. 
  • Successfully mediated a lawsuit on behalf of an owner of various shopping centers located throughout the country that was filed against lessees of retail space to recover unpaid common area maintenance charges and real estate taxes and to resolve disputes over notice provisions contained in the leases.
  • Successfully defended owner of retail complex against claim by a built-to-suit big box retailer alleging that excess vapor moisture in the concrete slab affected carpet flooring materials and retailer’s use and enjoyment of the leased space, where design and construction were in accordance with retailer’s plans and specifications.  
  • Successfully represented shopping center owner against commercial tenant in a dispute regarding unpaid common area maintenance charges, real estate tax allocations, administrative expense allocations, and administrative salaries allocations under the parties’ lease. 
  • Successfully defended movie theater tenant against eviction proceedings initiated by shopping center owner, as well as a variety of other eviction proceedings.

Among his specific accomplishments in additional commercial litigation and intellectual property related claims, Mr. Johnson has:

  • Successfully represented a bankruptcy trustee in recovering on claims asserted against a bank arising out of the misappropriation of $15 million of health savings account funds that were held in an Omnibus account at the bank.
  • Obtained judgment on behalf of a designer and manufacturer of consumer video games in defense of a claim brought against the company for copyright infringement.
  • Obtained a preliminary injunction in a trademark infringement case on behalf of a manufacturer of ground support test equipment for aircraft, enjoining a former distributor from using the manufacturer’s identical part–numbering system in the sale of competing products. The former distributor was also enjoined under the Cyberpiracy Act from using domain names that were based on the manufacturer’s trade name and was ordered to transfer those domain names to the manufacturer.
  • Successfully represented a manufacturer of women’s clothing in a lawsuit filed against a competing clothing manufacturer for trademark infringement and unfair competition.
  • Successfully represented a foreign brewery and its U.S. importer in a lawsuit filed against a competing brewery for trademark infringement and unfair competition.
  • Successfully represented a manufacturer of cast-vinyl film in a lawsuit filed against a former distributor of its products involving claims for trademark infringement and unfair competition.
  • Successfully represented a manufacturer of metal in a lawsuit filed against former key employees for trade secret misappropriation and breaches of restrictive covenants.
  • Participated in defending a copyright infringement action brought against a professional basketball team, avoiding the entry of a temporary restraining order against the team arising out of the design of its mascot.
  • Successfully represented a clothing manufacturer in an opposition to a trademark application filed by one of its competitor’s before the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office, which included defending against a claim of trademark abandonment raised by the competitor.

Education

  • J.D., University of Illinois College of Law (1990)
    University of Illinois Law Review, Member
  • B.A., University of Illinois (1987)
    Phi Sigma Alpha Honor Society

Admissions

  • Illinois

Courts

The Supreme Court of Illinois does not recognize certifications of specialties in the practice of law and no certificate, award or recognition is a requirement to practice law in Illinois.

  • U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit
  • U.S. Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit
  • U.S. District Court for the District of Colorado
  • U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Florida
  • U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Illinois
  • U.S. District Court for the Western District of Michigan
  • U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Wisconsin

Affiliations

  • Builders Association
  • Chicago Bar Association (Former Chair of the Construction and Mechanics Lien Committee)
  • American Bar Association (Forum on the Construction Industry)
  • Federal Bar Association
  • The Lawyer's Club
  • University of Illinois Law Review

Presentations

  • “The Contract Review Process,” Seminar presented to the Electrical Contractors Association (2016)
  • “The Power of Strategic Alliances and Teaming Relationships,” Seminar sponsored by Nielsen and Seyfarth Shaw (2014)
  • Featured Speaker at "Key Debarment Issues in Government Contracts" presented to the Government Contractors Business Forum (2014)
  • "AIA Contracts: The Owner-General Contractor Agreement," Seminar sponsored by Lorman Education Services (2008-2014)
  • Featured Speaker at "Teaming Relationships" panel discussion sponsored by the Government Contracts Business Forum (2013)
  • Featured Speaker, “Teaming for Contracts,” Seminar sponsored by the National Association of Women Business Owners (2012)
  • “Collaborative Agreements on Construction Projects -- The Teaming Agreement,” presented to the Government Contractors Business Forum (2012)
  • Featured Speaker at “What’s Next For O’Hare? The O’Hare Modernization Project Seminar,” sponsored by the Government Contractors Business Forum (2011)
  • Moderator of the "Mechanics Lien & Construction Claims," Seminar sponsored by the Chicago Bar Association, Mechanics Lien and Construction Subcommittee (2007)
  • “Extras and Changes Under Illinois Law,” at the Construction Claims Seminar sponsored by the Chicago Bar Association, Mechanics Lien and Construction Subcommittee (2006)
  • Featured Speaker at “Document Retention and Destruction in the Post-Enron Electronic Age,” Seminar sponsored by Lorman Education Services (2006)
  • Featured Speaker at “Understanding the Common Issues in document Retention Policies and eDiscovery,” Seminar sponsored by Lorman Education Services (2006)
  • "Contract Clauses:  Key Provisions For Estimators," presented to the American Society of Professional Estimators (2005)
  • Featured Speaker at “Document Retention And Destruction In Illinois,” Seminar sponsored by Lorman Education Services (2005)
  • Featured Speaker at “Construction Issues In Illinois,” Seminar sponsored by Lorman Education Services (2002)
  • Featured Speaker at “Forgotten but Not Gone: Litigation Risks in the Electronic Age,” Seminar sponsored and presented by PriceWaterhouseCoopers, Advocate Solutions, and D’Ancona & Pflaum (2001)

Publications

Awards

  • Designated as a Recommended Attorney by The Legal 500
  • Designated a Leading Lawyer in Construction Law, by the Leading Lawyers Network
  • Designated a Super Lawyer in Construction Litigation, by Super Lawyers, a Thomson Reuters Service
  • Designated a Leading Lawyer in Commerical Litigation, by the Leading Lawyers Network
  • Recipient of the Law Bulletin Publishing Company’s prestigious "40 Illinois Attorneys Under Forty to Watch" award (2003)

Community Service

  • Involvement with (and former Chair of the Board of Directors of) Rainbows (A not-for-profit organization that fosters emotional healing among children grieving a loss from a life-altering crisis, www.rainbows.org)

The Supreme Court of Illinois does not recognize certifications of specialties in the practice of law and no certificate, award or recognition is a requirement to practice law in Illinois.