Kathleen McDonough Of Counsel




Kathleen McDonough has more than 20 years of experience in state and federal courts across the country and regularly provides transactional and business consulting services to a variety of corporate entities. She also has worked extensively in the areas of mass tort, product liability, and employment litigation and consulting, and she has several years' experience with financial crime cases, including the implementation of risk management, insurance carrier and public relations processes. Kathleen’s clients come from major sectors, including retail, advertising, manufacturing and transportation, among others.

Kathleen is a regular speaker, including at the Women in Law Leadership Event & Reception in June 2017 and the Seventh Annual Symposium with the Judges in 2016, and is widely quoted in a variety of local and national publications.

Areas of Focus

Outside General Counsel
Kathleen’s approachability and broad knowledge of each client’s industry give her entrée to the boardroom where she provides targeted litigation strategies along with highly valued advice and guidance. Kathleen leverages Wilson Elser’s scope and national footprint as well as its dynamic operating model that draws on the collective experience and resources of the entire firm to provide clients with the highest-quality representation and help them realize desired legal outcomes.

Representing both insurers and insureds, Kathleen handles product liability, transportation, commercial litigation and employment issues. Given her expansive range of skills, she also takes on class actions, efficiently resolving claims that are straightforward and local or complex and multijurisdictional.

Employment & Labor
Kathleen assists clients with a broad range of employment transactional and contract matters, restrictive covenants and non-compete disputes, labor force reductions and grievances under collective bargaining agreements. To prevent lawsuits and administrative actions from arising in the first place, she works proactively with clients to create a culture that reduces legal exposure and avoids specific situations that can give rise to claims.

On behalf of shippers, carriers and their insurers, Kathleen is committed to staying abreast of legislative, regulatory, technological and other developments that will have an impact on the transportation industry. She also prepares transportation agreements and shipping terms and conditions, conducts evaluations of third-party administrators, conducts insurance/reinsurance reviews and audits, and prepares policy wording. Kathleen represents clients before federal and state regulatory agencies and taps into Wilson Elser’s network of established experts whose credibility in the required fields supplements her superior legal performance.

Pharmaceuticals & Medical Devices
Kathleen has extensive experience in pharmaceutical and medical device litigation, working in close collaboration with drug and device clients. Acting in various capacities, including national coordinating counsel, litigation and trial counsel, she defends suits against name-brand and generic drugs and approved or cleared medical devices. The firm’s national in-house infrastructure serves to facilitate her defense of large, cross-jurisdictional mass tort litigation. Over the years, Kathleen has served as national counsel for a large network of physicians sued in the fen-phen litigation, and served as national counsel for a corporation sued in connection with the MDL ephedra litigation, which was pending in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York.

Representative Matters

Currently handling a matter of first impression, which will be appealed to the Illinois Supreme Court, involving motions for substitution of judge. The issue involves whether a defendant is entitled to a substitution of judge as a matter of right following a plaintiff’s voluntary dismissal.  In the instant matter, the case was assigned to the same trial judge who had ruled on substantive issues in the original case, and the appellate court affirmed the lower court’s denial of defendants’ motion to substitute. The ruling created a split between appellate districts, which positioned the matter for appeal to the Illinois Supreme Court.

Won an appeal affirming the circuit court’s entry of summary judgment on behalf of a client in Cook County, Illinois. The appellate court affirmed the circuit court’s granting of defendant’s motion for summary judgment, concluding that the plaintiff could not prove both the “relationship” and “foreseeability” prongs to establish an exception to the general no-duty rule to preserve evidence for the plaintiff’s spoliation of evidence claims.

Obtained six-figure jury verdict for the plaintiff, a manufacturing company, in a breach of contract action against a supplier. Presented evidence to refute the defendant’s claims, earning them the full contract amount plus 9 percent interest. The jury deliberated for less than an hour.

Obtained summary judgment for the defendant, a hunting tree-stand manufacturer, in Winnebago County, Illinois, in a product liability case. The plaintiff purchased a floor model of a hunting tree-stand, which was not in original packaging and was missing parts and its instruction booklet.

Defeated the plaintiff’s motion to remand in transportation personal injury case in Indiana, which was removed to federal court because the amount of award damages sought exceeded the $75,000 statutory minimum, and was timely removed when the defendant discovered the damages sought exceeded the $75,000 threshold.

Obtained favorable ruling from the Second District Appellate Court, which affirmed the trial court’s decision to vacate a default judgment.

Won an appeal in which the court found that a prima facie showing of fraud was made against a plaintiffs' firm for its conduct during settlement negotiations, voiding the settlement.

Obtained defense verdict for transportation company in a serious personal injury case where alleged damages were in the seven figures.

Served as defense counsel for corporations and municipal entities sued in consumer class action matters.

National counsel for Ephedra defendant sued in matters pending in state court and the Federal Ephedra MDL in the Southern District of New York.