David M. Holmes Partner




David Holmes is a member of Wilson Elser’s Executive Committee and chair of the London Practice. He is the firm’s Midwest Region Managing Partner, with responsibility for overseeing offices in Illinois, Indiana, Michigan, Missouri and Wisconsin. In addition, David serves as regional managing partner for the firm’s offices in Edwardsville, Illinois; Detroit, Michigan; and Merrillville, Illinois.

David maintains a diverse civil litigation practice that encompasses the defense of a variety of claims and lawsuits filed throughout the United States, including in the areas of product liability, general liability, property damage, insurance law and bad faith, employment law, professional liability, fair housing claims, toxic tort, construction and commercial litigation.

David has tried cases successfully in federal and state courts and has argued appeals successfully before the Illinois Appellate Court, Illinois Supreme Court and Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals. He has won summary judgment or dismissal in numerous cases filed in state and federal courts.

Areas of Focus

London Practice
David has more than 25 years’ experience working with the London market, defending claims for the various syndicates and insurers insuring risks in the United States. With his background handling a wide variety of civil matters, David is able to provide excellent results to the London market in cases involving general liability, products, construction, employment, property damage, professional liability and insurance law. He is a frequent speaker to the London market on a variety of topics involving U.S. law. 

Insurance Coverage
David has prosecuted and defended numerous coverage actions involving general liability, trucking, property damage and professional liability, as well as issues involving claims for bad faith. He has substantial experience with the insurance industry and has spoken and written on insurance coverage issues involving general liability policies and the duty to defend that are unique to Illinois law.

General Liability, Product Liability &Toxic Tort
David has defended numerous claims involving general liability, including premises claims, construction claims and others. He has vast experience in the area of product liability, providing defense of product liability matters for manufacturers in the United States, Japan, South Korea and Germany. David also has extensive experience defending industrial products and consumer and recreational products. 

In the toxic tort area, David has defended claims involving soil contamination, asbestos, and lead and carbon monoxide poisoning. He has been lead counsel in asbestos cases for manufacturers of automobiles, brakes and clutches, tractors, boilers and consumer appliances, including cases brought in Madison and Cook County, Illinois.

Employment & Fair Housing
David has defended large insurance companies, insurance brokers, government entities and numerous small to medium-sized businesses in cases involving employment discrimination, wrongful termination and breach of contract. He has won summary judgment in several employment cases. David also has defended multiple claims involving fair housing discrimination, representing landlords, owners, brokers and property preservation companies. 

Professional Liability
Throughout his career, David has successfully defended numerous professional liability cases involving agents, brokers, architects and engineers, and other professionals.

Commercial Litigation
David has litigated many contractual disputes, including contracts ranging from equipment leases, construction contracts, sales contracts and distributor agreements to employment contracts, real estate contracts, commercial management contracts and more. David frequently represents clients in Fair Credit Reporting Act claims.

Representative Matters


The U.S. District Court, Northern District of Illinois granted summary judgment  against a hotel employee who claimed that the hotel manager discriminated against her based on her national origin and disability. The court found that the plaintiff failed to establish discrimination because there was no evidence that the employer considered the plaintiff's national origin or disability when it made any employment-related decisions.

Federal district court granted summary judgment to defendant against plaintiff’s claims of race discrimination and retaliation. Court agreed that plaintiff failed to establish any basis to prove that he was passed over for a promotion because of race or that he was terminated in retaliation for protected activity.

Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals affirmed summary judgment granted against office manager who alleged she was terminated because of her age.

Summary judgment granted against office manager who alleged she was terminated because of her age.

Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals affirmed summary judgment in favor of defendant against plaintiff’s claims of race, national origin and gender discrimination.

Summary judgment granted against plaintiff on his claims of sex and ethnic origin discrimination.

Summary judgment in favor of defendant against plaintiff’s claims of race, national origin and gender discrimination.

Summary judgment in favor of defendant against plaintiff’s claim of age discrimination.

Summary judgment in favor of defendant against plaintiff’s claim of sex discrimination.

Summary judgment in favor of defendant against plaintiff’s claim of disability discrimination.

Product Liability and Toxic Tort

Summary judgment granted in favor of defendant in asbestos product case.

Summary judgment granted in favor of defendant in asbestos product case.

Summary judgment granted in favor of defendant in catastrophic crush injury case alleging defect of injection molding machine.

Arbitration defense verdict in a case where American Family contended that a microwave manufactured by defendant caused a fire in the kitchen of a residence. Arbitration panel was convinced that the fire was instead started by a pot that had boiled over, despite witnesses denying that a pot was in use and that fire was coming only from the microwave.

Jury trial defending range in product liability action involving significant burn injuries to infant. Case settled favorably after second day of trial.

Jury trial defending product liability printing press case involving significant degloving injury. Plaintiff verdict, but the jury assessed 35 percent of fault to the employer and 15 percent to the plaintiff.

Jury trial representing plaintiff in insurance subrogation product liability action involving a heat gun that caused a fire resulting in successful settlement after second day of trial.

Obtained nuisance value settlement in asbestos living mesothelioma case after first two days of trial motions. 

Summary judgment in head injury case involving welding machine in defense of robot manufacturer who supplied robot used with machine.

Summary judgment in favor of defendant in wrongful death asbestos case.

Arbitration defense verdict in case alleging that computer caused fire.

Jury trial. Defense of complex, product liability jury trial involving catastrophic injuries to young man who claimed that he was paralyzed as a result of a stuck throttle on a motorcycle. Case was tried for four weeks.

Plaintiff voluntarily dismissed child wrongful death product liability action after plaintiff’s expert conceded in deposition shortly before trial that his prior written opinion was speculation.

Jury trial defense verdict in a product liability action involving a personal watercraft. Plaintiff alleged life threatening orifice injury from jet thrust of the watercraft after she fell off the rear of the craft. First orifice injury case tried in the country by any personal watercraft manufacturer.

Professional Liability

Won dismissal of professional liability claim against architect on the ground that economic loss doctrine barred the claim.
Defense verdict in arbitration involving home purchaser’s professional liability claim against home inspector.

Illinois Supreme Court affirmed summary judgment on behalf of decedent, who died of AIDS, where plaintiff alleged fear of AIDS after she cut herself on unsterile scalpel used by decedent.

Summary judgment in favor of defendant in case where plaintiff was severely injured by an improperly designed guardrail that speared his automobile. 

Summary judgment in favor of defendant in wrongful death arising from drowning in Chicago Locks.

Summary judgment granted to architect where architect not in charge of the work under Structural Work Act. Defense fees successfully recovered from co-defendant’s insurer.

Insurance Coverage

Appellate court affirmed trial court ruling that insured violated cooperation clause of E&O policy in claim for $75 million limits of policy by refusing to turn over documents related to underlying claims because attorney client privilege did not apply to underlying claims that were relevant to issue of when insured had knowledge of claims.

Summary judgment in favor of defendant in action seeking coverage for wrongful death claim involving leased auto. Court held that policy issued to finance company was not applicable to cover permissive use of leased vehicle.

Trial verdict in favor of defendant with a finding of no coverage for copyright infringement based upon intentional acts exclusion.

Appellate court held that forum selection clause in insurance policy was enforceable, reversed lower court finding for insured for pollution coverage, and dismissed cause of action. 

Summary judgment in favor of defendant against plaintiff’s claim for breach of duty to defend and for coverage for Title VII action under comprehensive general liability policy.