Melissa A. Murphy-Petros Of Counsel




Melissa Murphy-Petros is chair of Wilson Elser’s Appellate practice. She has concentrated in post-trial and appellate litigation throughout her career, and has handled more than 300 appeals in state and federal reviewing courts across the country. The national scope of Melissa’s practice and her depth of experience benefit the firm’s existing engagements and are frequently leveraged in appeals of cases tried by other firms. Her work spans a variety of Wilson Elser’s practice areas, with particular emphasis on complex tort and casualty defense, liability and property insurance coverage, and commercial litigation.

Melissa also acts as trial monitoring counsel in high-exposure cases or those involving issues of recurring importance to the client. In this practice, she partners with Wilson Elser and outside trial counsel to prepare and argue dispositive pre-trial motions, motions in limine, motions for directed verdict, jury instructions, verdict forms and post-trial motions. She also monitors trials and assists in developing overall trial strategy to help ensure that error is preserved and that issues are properly postured for appeal.

Professional Activities
Melissa is a member of the Illinois Appellate Lawyers Association and DRI’s Appellate Advocacy Committee. She is a former member by appointment of the New York State Bar Association’s Committee on Courts of Appellate Jurisdiction and is a frequent author and CLE lecturer on appellate practice and other litigation topics.

Representative Matters

Complex Tort & Casualty Defense
Cothran, et al. v. Durham School Services, L.P., et al., ___ S.W.3d ___, 2022 Tenn. App. LEXIS 142 (Tenn. Ct. App. April 7, 2022) (as a matter of first impression in Tennessee, elementary school teachers and staff cannot state negligent or intentional infliction of emotional distress claims resulting from injury to school students because the teacher/staff-student relationship is not sufficiently close so as to be characterized as familial).

Archie v. Pop Warner Little Scholars, Inc., 2021 WL 4130082 (9th Cir. Sept. 10, 2021) (insufficient expert evidence of proximate cause linking concussions incurred playing youth tackle football with decedents’ CTE diagnoses; reported on by Law360, Sept. 13, 2021).

Kocher v. Durham School Services, L.P. (In re A.K.), 969 F.3d 625 (6th Cir. 2020) (school bus company liability to injured student who never boarded bus; reported on by Law360, Aug. 13, 2020).

Perez v. K&B Transportation, Inc., 967 F.3d 651 (7th Cir. 2020) (exclusion of plaintiffs’ experts on Daubert grounds; reported on by Law360, July 24, 2020).

Kramer v. Szczepaniak, et al., 123 N.E.3d 431, (Ill. App. 2018) (proximate cause; reported on by Law360, Dec. 20, 2018, and Chicago Daily Law Bulletin, Jan. 14, 2019).

M.S. by Covington v. Hamilton County Department of Education, et al., 756 Fed. Appx. 510 (6th Cir. 2018) (as a matter of first impression in the Sixth Circuit, a private school bus company that transports public school children is not a state actor for purposes of section 1983; reported on by Law360, Nov. 2, 2018, and Business Insurance, Nov. 2, 2018). 

Neuhengen v. Global Experience Specialists, Inc., et al., 109 N.E.3d 832 (Ill. App. 2018) (question of first impression re: effect of employer’s admission of respondeat superior liability on direct negligence claims against employer; reported on by Law360, June 28, 2018 and January 10, 2019, and Chicago Daily Law Bulletin, June 29, 2018 and Sept. 26, 2018).

Higgins v. United Center Joint Venture, unpublished, 2017 IL App (1st) 160828-U (Ill. App. 2017) (negligence exception to immunity granted by the Illinois Hockey Facility Liability Act). 

Lutkauskas v. Ricker, 28 N.E.3d 727 (Ill. 2015) (elements of civil claim re: violation of Illinois School Code).

Clark v. Children’s Memorial Hospital, 955 N.E.2d 1065 (Ill. 2011) (question of first impression re: damages available to parents alleging wrongful birth).

Doe v. University of Chicago, et al., 963 N.E.2d 327 (Ill. App. 2011) (question of first impression re: civil liability under the Illinois Gender Violence Act; reported on by Chicago Daily Law Bulletin, Dec. 23, 2011).

Martinez v. City of New York, et al., 935 N.Y.S.2d 45 (N.Y. App. 2011) (wrongful death).

Schlindwein v. Carlson Hotels Management, et al., unpublished, 2011 WL 10468058 (Ill. App. 2011) (statute of limitations re: construction claims).

Devecchis v. City of Chicago, unpublished, 2011 WL 9683734 (Ill. App. 2011), modified on rehearing, unpublished, 2013 IL App (1st) 083047-U (Ill. App. 2013) (premises liability). 

Johnson v. Health Port, et al., unpublished, 2011 WL 10069086 (Ill. App. 2011) (statute of limitations re: torts of intrusion upon seclusion and publication of private facts). 

Green v. Rogers, 895 N.E.2d 647 (Ill. App. 2008), reversed, 917 N.E.2d 450 (Ill. 2009) (question of first impression re: defamation per se; appellate decision reported on by Chicago Daily Law Bulletin, Nov. 10, 2008). 

Gibbs v. Port Authority of New York and Madison Square Garden, 794 N.Y.S.2d 320 (N.Y. App.  2005) (premises liability). 

Elliott v. Long Island Home, et al., 784 N.Y.S.2d 615 (N.Y. App. 2004) (wrongful death).

Seegars v. Brunswick Yonkers Bowl, unpublished, 2003 WL 355435 and 2002 WL 243305 (N.Y. App. 2003) (premises liability).

Theatre Mgmt. Group, Inc. v. Dalgliesh, 765 A.2d 986 (D.C. 2001) (question of first impression re: violation of Americans with Disabilities Act as evidence of negligence). 

Godino v. Madison Square Garden, 708 N.Y.S.2d 102 (N.Y. App. 2000) (premises liability).

Visconti v. 110 Huntington Associates, L.P., 707 N.Y.S.2d 884 (N.Y. App. 2000) (premises liability).

Moriello v. Stormville Airport Antique Show & Flea Market, Inc., 706 N.Y.S.2d 463 (N.Y. App. 2000) (premises liability).

Bezozo v. Town of Hempstead, 686 N.Y.S.2d 489 (N.Y. App. 1999) (premises liability).

Goldberg v. Moskowitz, 691 N.Y.S.2d 447 (N.Y. App. 1999) (fraud and breach of fiduciary duty).

Yager v. Adler, 686 N.Y.S.2d 33 (N.Y. App. 1999) (premises liability).  

Casualty Defense/Workplace Injury
David Saxe Productions, LLC, et al. v. National Labor Relations Board, 888 F.3d 1305 (D.C. Cir. 2018) (secured reversal of NLRB decision finding that theatrical production company unlawfully discharged dancer in retaliation for her participation in concerted protected activity; reported on by Law360, Mar. 21, 2017, Jan. 18, 2018, May 7, 2018, and Wolters Kluwer Employment Law Daily, May 4, 2018). 

Whylie v. ConEd, 911 N.Y.S. 2d 923 (N.Y. App. 2010) (proximate cause).

Wilfong v. L.J. Dodd Construction Co., 930 N.E.2d 511 (Ill. App. 2010) (question of first impression re: assumption of risk by talking on cell phone while walking).

Brooks v. Judlau Contracting, Inc., 869 N.Y.S. 2d 366 (N.Y. 2008) (question of first impression re: validity of  partial contractual indemnification provisions between general contractor and subcontractor; reported on by New York Law Journal, Jan. 8, 2009, and DRI For The Defense, June 2009).

Cameron v. Merisel Properties, Inc., 652 S.E.2d 660 (N.C. App. 2007) (question of first impression re: mold exposure).

Wilson v. City of New York, et al., 775 N.Y.S.2d 527 (N.Y. App. 2004) (negligent supervision).

Milne v. Loyal Order of Moose Lodge No. 168, 755 N.Y.S.2d 632 (N.Y. App. 2003) (premises liability).

Martishius v. Carolco Studios, Inc., 542 S.E.2d 303 (N.C. App. 2001) (contributory negligence).

Professional Liability Defense
Longhi v. Lewit, et al., 187 A.D.3d 873 (N.Y. App. 2020) (medical malpractice; reported on by Law360, Oct. 15, 2020).

Foster v. Cigna Healthspring, et al., unpublished, 2019 IL App (1st) 190627-U (Ill. App. 2019) (nursing home).

Saud v. Gardner, unpublished, 2019 IL App (1st) 180866-U (Ill. App. 2019) (absolute immunity of court-appointed experts). 

Feliciano v. St. Vincent de Paul Residence, 29 N.Y.S. 3d 795 (N.Y. App. 2016) (nursing home).

Lorraine v. FORBA Holdings, LLC, et al., 6 N.Y.S.3d 194 (N.Y. App. 2015) (dental malpractice-damages).

Angus v. FORBA Holdings, LLC, et al., 4 N.Y.S.3d 412 (N.Y. App. 2015) (dental malpractice-damages).

Varano v. FORBA Holdings, LLC, et al., 2 N.Y.S.3d 379 (N.Y. App. 2015) (dental malpractice-damages).

Salmanzadeh v. Bosley Medical Group, et al., unpublished, 2015 WL 1249671 (Cal. App. 2015) (medical malpractice).

Matter of Small Smiles Litigation, 971 N.Y.S.2d 784 (N.Y. App. 2013) (dental malpractice-fraud).

Kroner v. Deer & Stone, unpublished, 2011 WL 10068663 (Ill. App. 2011) (legal malpractice).  

Soscia v. Soscia, 829 N.Y.S.2d 543 (N.Y. App. 2006) (legal malpractice).

Vittetoe-Patrick v. Peterson, unpublished, 885 N.E.2d 581 (table) (Ill. App. 2005) (medical malpractice).

Shapo v. Terrizzi, unpublished, 836 N.E.2d 939 (table) (Ill. App. 2002) (medical malpractice).

Ke v. Hsu & Associates, 752 N.Y.S.2d 42 (N.Y. App. 2002)(engineering malpractice).

Kowalczyk v. Illinois Central Railroad Co., et al., 2021 IL App (1st) 210206-U (Ill. App. 2017) (petition for leave to appeal order denying motion to dismiss or transfer for forum non conveniens granted where trial court denied motion on the ground that use of remote technologies implemented to handle litigation during COVID-19 pandemic renders all forums convenient).

Estate of Maglioli v. Alliance HC Holdings, LLC, et al., 16 F.4th 393 (3d Cir. 2021) (amicus brief in support of nursing home defendants’ position that state law negligence claims seeking damages for decedents’ deaths from COVID-19 are preempted by the federal Public Readiness and Emergency Preparedness (PREP) Act; reported on by Law360, Oct. 20, 2021).

Washington v. Barr, 141 S. Ct. 555 (2020) (amicus brief in support of petition for writ of certiorari re: Drug Enforcement Administration medical cannabis scheduling; reported on by Law 360, Sept. 14, 2020 and Oct. 13, 2020). 

Medponics Illinois LLC v. Illinois Department of Agriculture, unpublished, 2019 IL App (2d) 170977-U (Ill. App. 2019) (administrative review of medical cannabis cultivation center permit award; reported on by Chicago Tribune, Oct. 26, 2019 and Oct. 14, 2019), aff’d, 2021 IL 125443 (Ill. 2021) (reported on by Law360, March 11, 2021 and May 21, 2021).

Product Liability
Genaw v. Garage Equipment Supply Co., 856 Fed. Appx. 23 (6th Cir. 2021) (product liability / sufficiency of the pleadings; reported on by Law360, April 15, 2021).

Estabrook v. Mazak Corp., 140 N.E.3d 830 (Ind. 2020) (statute of repose under Indiana Products Liability Act).  

Baugh v. Cuprum, S.A. de C.V., 845 F.3d 838 (7th Cir. 2017) (proximate cause; reported on by Chicago Daily Law Bulletin, Jan. 17, 2017).

Dickie v. Cannondale Corp., 905 N.E.2d 888 (Ill. App. 2009) (scope of stream of commerce test for asserting personal jurisdiction over a foreign corporation in a product liability action; reported on by Chicago Daily Law Bulletin, Mar. 13, 2009, and Illinois State Bar Ass’n. E-Clips, Mar. 18, 2009).

Sadigh v. Stoughton Trailers, LLC, et al., unpublished, 984 N.E.2d 210 (table) (Ill. App. 2009) (duty).

Saia v. Scripto-Tokai Corp., 851 N.E.2d 693 (Ill. App. 2006) (scope of stream of commerce test for asserting personal jurisdiction over a foreign corporation in a product liability action). 

Civil Procedure
Brinker of Baltimore v. Smith, unpublished, 2021 Md. App. LEXIS 15 (Md. App. 2021) (remittitur; reported on by Law360, Jan. 7, 2021).

Gillard v. Northwestern Memorial Hosp., 143 N.E.3d 213 (Ill. App. 2019) (secured frivolous appeal sanctions against serial pro se plaintiff prohibiting further litigation absent leave of court).

R.D. v. Shohola, Inc., 769 Fed. Appx 73 (3d Cir. 2019) (evidentiary standard which must be met to depose opposing counsel’s private investigator about potential witness intimidation over a work product objection).   

Johnson v. Nash, et al., 126 N.E.3d 584 (Ill. App. 2019) (forum non conveniens, seeking transfer from Cook County to Kane County; reported on by Chicago Daily Law Bulletin, April 3, 2019).

Williams by Williams v. Leonard, 96 N.E.3d 503 (Ill. App. 2017) (question of first impression re: Illinois substitution of judge statute; reported on by Chicago Daily Law Bulletin, Jan. 3, 2018).

Humbert v. Megabus USA, LLC, unpublished, 2017 IL App (1st) 153165-U (Ill. App. 2017) (forum non conveniens; reported on by Chicago Daily Law Bulletin, Jan. 17, 2017).

Owens v. VHS Acquisition Subsidiary Number 3, et al., 78 N.E.3d 470 (Ill. App. 2017) (statute of limitations).

Brinkman v. General Dynamics Corp., 671 Fed. Appx. 872 (4th Cir. 2016) (federal officer removal statute).

Varano v. FORBA Holdings, LLC, et al., 3 N.Y.S.2d 532 (N.Y. App. 2015) (secured reversal of order granting plaintiff a new trial following defense verdict where new trial was ordered on the basis of alleged jury stalking by a third-party trial spectator; reported on by Law360, Feb. 9, 2015, Above the Law, Feb. 9, 2015, and ABA Journal, Feb. 11, 2015).

ACE European Group, Ltd. v. Abercrombie & Fitch Co., 621 Fed. Appx. 338 (6th Cir. 2015) (question of first impression re: appealable injunctions under 28 U.S.C. §1292(a)(1)).

W Holding Co., Inc. v. AIG Insurance Company – Puerto Rico, 748 F. 3d 377 (1st Cir. 2014) (question of first impression re: appealable injunctions under 28 U.S.C. §1292(a)(1); reported on by Westlaw Journal Insurance Coverage, July 12, 2013; reported on by Law360, May 13, 2021). 

Carolina Casualty Ins. Co. v. Team Equipment, Inc., et al., 741 F. 3d 1082 (9th Cir. 2014) (question of first impression re: pleading diversity of citizenship). 

Matter of Small Smiles Litigation, 979 N.Y.S.2d 908 (N.Y. App. 2014) (discovery).

Hergan v. Pawlan Law, LLC, et al., unpublished, 2013 IL App (1st) 113812-U (Ill. App. 2013) (claim splitting).

Ghilarducci v. Forrest, unpublished, 2011 WL 10068872 (Ill. App. 2011), modified on rehearing, unpublished, 2013 IL App (1st) 100596-U (Ill. App. 2013) (res judicata).

McMillian v. Sheraton Chicago Hotel & Towers, 567 F. 3d 839 (7th Cir. 2009) (amount in controversy requirement of diversity jurisdiction).

Peniston v. Epstein, 780 N.Y.S.2d 916 (N.Y. App. 2004) (vacation of default judgment).

Commercial Litigation
Mountain Valley Property, Inc. v. Applied Risk Services, Inc., 863 F.3d 90 (1st Cir. 2017) (appealability and construction of arbitrator’s finding that dispute is not arbitrable).

Kadiyala v. Bank of America, 630 Fed. Appx. 633 (7th Cir. 2016) (breach of contract).  

Adgooroo, LLC v. Hechtman, unpublished, 2016 IL App (1st) 142531-U (Ill. App. 2016) (settlement consideration; reported on by Chicago Daily Law Bulletin, Jan. 29, 2016).  

Luv N’ Care, Ltd. v. Angel Juvenile Products, et al., 640 Fed. Appx. 389 (5th Cir. 2016) (breach of contract).

Liability Insurance Coverage
AKN Holdings, LLC v. Great American E&S Insurance Co., 2022 U.S. App. LEXIS 18903 (9th Cir. July 8, 2022) (coverage precluded for fraud action arising from real estate sale on the basis of the policy’s contract exclusion; reported on by Law360, Nov. 1, 2021, Jan. 12, 2022, June 17, 2022, and July 12, 2022).

Bartkowiak v. Underwriters at Lloyd’s London, 39 N.E.3d 176 (Ill. App. 2015) (collectability of primary policy as trigger of excess coverage; reported on by Law360, Aug. 17, 2015).

Carolina Casualty Ins. Co. v. Canal Ins. Co., 555 Fed. Appx. 474 (6th Cir. 2014) (policy definition of “covered auto you own”).

Admiral Insurance Co. v. PIF High Yield Fund II, 450 Fed. Appx. 682 (9th Cir. 2011) (rescission).

Preferred Mutual Ins. Co. v. New York Fire-Shield, 880 N.Y.S.2d 744 (N.Y. App. 2009) (late notice).

Hytko v. Hennessy, 879 N.Y.S.2d 595 (N.Y. App. 2009) (question of first impression re: application of doctrine of unclean hands to common law indemnification claims between carriers).

Norris v. National Union Fire Ins. Co. of Pittsburgh, Pa., 857 N.E.2d 859 (Ill. App. 2006) (question of first impression re: liability of employer’s commercial trucking insurer to employee’s estate for both uninsured motorist and workers compensation benefits).

Essex Ins. Co. v. Young, 796 N.Y.S.2d 204 (N.Y. App. 2005) (assault and battery exclusion). 

Venture Encoding Service, Inc. v. Atlantic Mutual Ins. Co., 107 S.W.3d 729 (Tex. App. 2003) (printers liability coverage). 

Atlantic Mutual Ins. Co. v. Terk Technologies Corp., 763 N.Y.S.2d 56 (N.Y. App. 2003) (advertising injury).

Centereach Realty, LLC v. Essex Ins. Co., 759 N.Y.S.2d 664 (N.Y. App. 2003) (timely disclaimer of coverage).

Directors & Officers Liability Insurance Coverage
Adelman v. United States Specialty Ins. Co., et al., 2022 WL 17883601 (9th Cir. Dec. 23, 2022) (D&O policy’s WARN Act exclusion barred coverage where the only breach of fiduciary duty alleged was that the directors and officers caused their company to violate the WARN Act; reported on by Law360, May 18, 2022 and Aug. 5, 2022).

Ascent Media Group, LLC v. Those Interested Underwriters at Lloyd’s
, unpublished, 2008 WL 2600728 (Cal. App. 2008) (“assured v. assured” exclusion; reported on by D&O Liability Litigation News, July 2008).

Property Insurance Coverage
Board of Educ. of Tp. High School Dist. No. 211 v. TIG Ins. Co., 881 N.E.2d 957 (Ill. App. 2007) (notice of loss; reported on by Chicago Daily Law Bulletin, Dec. 27, 2007).

Ocean Partners, LLC v. North River Ins. Co., 810 N.Y.S.2d 430 (N.Y. App. 2006) (notice of loss).

Canadian Imperial Bank of Commerce v. Commonwealth Ins. Co., 797 N.Y.S.2d 449 (N.Y. App. 2005) (business interruption, September 11 loss).

D.R. Watson Holdings, LLC v. Caliber One Indem. Co., 789 N.Y.S.2d 787 (N.Y. App. 2005) (wear-and-tear and faulty/defective maintenance exclusions).

AZ Land Trust v. Transcontinental Ins. Co., unpublished, 904 N.E.2d 1245 (table) (Ill. App. 2005) (effect of policy renewal on inflation guard provision).

LDLJ Associates, et al. v. Fireman’s Fund Ins. Co., unpublished, No. A-1649-03T1 (N.J. App. 2005) (sinkhole exclusion). 

Chatham Corp. v. Dann Ins., 812 N.E.2d 483 (Ill. App. 2004) (question of first impression re: extra expense coverage).

Wal-Mart Stores v. U.S.F. &G., 784 N.Y.S.2d 25 (N.Y. App. 2004) (suit limitation provision).

Armstrong v. Caliber One Ind. Co., 772 N.Y.S.2d 828 (N.Y. App. 2004) (rescission, standard mortgagee clause).

Tacoma Electric Supply, Inc. v. Atlantic Mutual Ins. Co., 40 Fed. Appx. 567 (9th Cir. 2002) (earth movement exclusion). 

Fairlawn Industries, Ltd. v. Gerling America Ins. Co., 775 A.2d 744 (N.J. App. 2001) (insured premises description; reported on by New Jersey Lawyer, July 16, 2001). 

National Union Fire Ins. Co. v. Country Wide Truck Svcs., Inc., 696 N.Y.S.2d 915 (N.Y. App. 1999) (employee theft exclusion). 

Life Insurance
American General Life Ins. Co. v. Shenkman, 455 Fed. Appx. 263 (3rd Cir. 2011) (suicide exclusion).

Pro Bono
People v. Daniels, 2021 IL App (2d) 190011-U (conviction of criminal trespass to a residence reversed and new trial ordered due to ineffective assistance of counsel).