Benjamin M. Jacobi's Profile Image

Benjamin M. Jacobi

Ben Jacobi is a partner at OKGC and has been with the firm since 2010, after completing a two year federal clerkship with Judge Mahoney in the Northern District of Illinois.

Ben's experience is wide-ranging, and includes successful outcomes in trial courts, appellate courts, arbitration, and administrative agencies. In 2020, Ben argued in the Illinois Supreme Court and achieved total victory for his client when the Illinois Supreme Court affirmed the dismissal of the case against Ben’s client. This result protected Ben’s client from millions of dollars of exposure.

Ben has also argued in state and federal appellate courts on topics like video gambling regulation, wrongful termination of an employee, First Amendment rights, class certification, defamation, and municipal liability, achieving great results each time. In fact, Ben is undefeated in the appellate courts.

At the trial court level, Ben also has a proven track record. Recently, he secured a defense verdict for his client who was accused of fraud and breach of fiduciary duty after the plaintiff asked the jury to award nearly $1 million. In 2018, the Jury Verdict Reporter awarded Ben a Trial Lawyer Excellence Award for his work defeating a $2.3 million dollar claim in an auto accident case after a two week jury trial in federal court.

While Ben enjoys the thrill of victory in court, he is also a practical counselor and appreciates the emotional toll and financial risk of litigation for his clients. He weighs the costs and benefits of each case individually, and applies a sensible approach to resolve each case according to his client's wishes, whether at trial or in settlement before trial. He is always entirely upfront about his evaluation of the case and the budget required to achieve different goals, and will spend time with the client determining the most cost effective way to achieve the best results possible.

Ben focuses his practice on municipal law, employment law, commercial litigation, copyright and trademark, and insurance coverage. If you would like a consultation with Ben, please email or call Ben to schedule a telephone call or video conference.

  • Municipal Law - Ben represents municipalities and public officials on a variety of issues, including the regulation of video gaming and gambling, zoning disputes, constitutional challenges to ordinances, liquor and business license disputes, claims of excessive force against police officers, claims of unequal treatment by public officials, and other claims of misconduct.

    Ben counsels counties on wind and solar energy development, and has provided guidance on the initial drafting of WECS and Solar Energy Ordinances, on zoning proceedings initiated by prospective wind developers, and on litigation generated by wind and solar development. In 2020, Ben served as counsel to Christian County’s ZBA through ten nights of contentious hearings and deliberations on text amendments to the County’s WECS Ordinance. That same year, he obtained dismissals of lawsuits against Douglas County and Knox County related to wind farms.

    Ben is also currently advising municipalities on issues arising from COVID-19, including powers to re-open businesses, the regulatory authority of the local County Health Departments, and the impact of Governor Pritzker’s Executive Orders on constitutional liberties. He recently defended the Stephenson County Health Department and Stephenson County Sheriff and won in the federal court of appeals. You can see that influential opinion here.

    Ben routinely handles publicized and high-risk cases, often where political careers hang in the balance. Ben’s representation of clients in high profile cases often lands him in the spotlight, and he has been quoted by Newsweek, the Chicago Tribune, the Chicago Law Bulletin, and various news outlets around the State of Illinois.

  • Employment Law - Ben has vast experience in employment disputes, most commonly representing employers. Ben defends claims of employment discrimination before the EEOC and in court, and was recently part of a trial team that secured a complete defense verdict on a sexual harassment claim after a two week jury trial in federal court.

    He also argued one of the most often-cited cases decided in the Seventh Circuit on the issue of at-will employment and employee handbooks, and achieved total victory on behalf of an employer after the Seventh Circuit agreed with Ben’s argument that the employee handbook did not rebut the presumption of at-will employment. You can hear Ben argue the case by clicking here (Ben goes second).

    Ben also counsels employers on compliance with various employment laws and regulations, including Title VII, the ADA, the ADEA, FMLA, and FLSA. Ben’s clients include both public and private sector employers from a variety of industries, including restaurants, technology, manufacturing, and law enforcement.

    Employment disputes are often emotionally challenging for the involved parties, and Ben's balanced approach resonates with clients, judges, and juries, aiding in successful outcomes.

  • Copyright and Trademark - Ben counsels clients regarding their copyrights and trademarks. He assists clients register copyrights with the US Copyright Office. He also assists clients register Trademarks with the US Patent and Trademark Office, and performs clearance checks for clients considering seeking registration of a trademark. He also represents clients in opposition proceedings in front of the USPTO.

    Ben regularly represents photographers and businesses in litigation protecting their copyrights and trademarks. He has filed dozens of claims in court against infringers, and has successfully resolved each and every claim to his clients’ satisfaction. Ben has recovered hundreds of thousands of dollars of licensing fees for his clients. In 2019, Ben even proved that an infringer acted willfully, and obtained a judgment for $100,000 plus attorney’s fees on a single infringed image.

    In 2020, Ben assisted a bankruptcy trustee liquidate a copyright portfolio with about 1,000 copyrighted images that had a track record of generating over $100,000 in licensing revenues per year.

    Ben understands that copyrights and trademarks are the foundation to an artist's livelihood and a business's reputation, and he excels.

  • Commercial Litigation - Ben represents clients in commercial disputes, including disagreements arising from contracts, licensing agreements, breaches of fiduciary duty, and restrictive covenants. His clients range from large and established to small start-ups. He has represented clients in a variety of industries, including insurance, technology, medical devices, art, restaurant, and hospitality. He has considerable experience representing franchisees of restaurants in disputes over management agreements, vendor contracts, real estate transactions, and franchise agreements. Recently, Ben resolved a contract dispute worth more than $20 million in a way that was favorable to his client. Ben has a talent for distilling the most complex commercial dispute into something a judge and jury can understand.

  • Insurance Coverage -Ben counsels insurance carriers on coverage disputes, renders coverage opinions, and represents insurers in coverage litigation. His clients include insurers, re-insurers, captive managers, third party administrators, and other leaders in the insurance industry. Ben counsels insurance carriers on coverage issues related to long-tail exposure, businessowners coverage, additional insureds, conflicting and contemporaneous policies from multiple insurers potentially covering the same claim, issues arising from construction accidents, and auto and UI/UIM coverage, among other things. Given his litigation background, Ben is particularly adept at analyzing coverage risk under unique circumstances and advising insurers on litigation risk.

Awards And Recognitions

  • Ben has been named an Illinois Rising Star and top-rated civil litigation attorney by Super Lawyers Magazine for 2016, 2017, 2018, 2019, 2020, and 2021, which is a recognition awarded to the top 2.5% of attorneys under 40 years old.

  • In 2018, Ben was awarded a Trial Lawyer Excellence Award by the Jury Verdict Reporter for his work securing a complete defense verdict after a two week jury trial, where the Plaintiff requested $2.3 million.

  • Ben has presented on a number of issues, including reservation of rights letters, freedom of speech, defamation, tort immunity, violence in the workplace, local records in the electronic age, and the State Officials and Employees Ethics Act.

Federal Clerkship

Honorable P. Michael Mahoney, Northern District of Illinois. 2008 to 2010.

Education

  • University of Iowa, J.D., 2008 (with Distinction; Managing Editor of Journal of Corporation Law; Outstanding Student Writer Award.)
  • University of Illinois, B.S., 2005 (Dean’s List)

Recent News

  • Partner Ben Jacobi wins in the Seventh Circuit on behalf of the Stephenson County Health Department and Sheriff.

  • Partner Ben Jacobi secures victory in the Illinois Supreme Court on behalf of Maine Township.

  • Partner Ben Jacobi was recently quoted in Newsweek after defeating a motion for preliminary injunction.

  • Recently won a defense verdict in the case, Hopey v. Spear et. al.

  • Partner Ben Jacobi quoted in the Chicago Tribune about settling $26M breach of contract case with the City of Chicago.

  • Partner Ben Jacobi quoted in the Chicago Tribune about settling multi-million dollar cases alleging that the City of Harvey did not investigate allegations of sexual assault.

Admissions

  • United States Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit
  • United States District Court for the Northern District of Illinois (Trial Bar and General Bar)
  • United States District Court for the Central District of Illinois
  • United States District Court for the Southern District of Illinois
  • State of Illinois

Memberships and Activities

  • Ben is an active volunteer at disability advocacy centers, and is a member of the Young Professionals Council at Access Living of Metropolitan Chicago, which is a Center for Independent Living advocating for people with disabilities.

  • Ben grew up in a small town just outside Champaign-Urbana. When not at work, Ben is a demolition derby enthusiast and chili cook-off winner. He resides in Chicago with his wife, son, and rescue pit bull.

Representative Cases

  • The Beloved Church v. Stephenson County Sheriff, 20-CV-50153 (Northern Dist. of Illinois)—Represented the Stephenson County Sheriff and County Health Department, and defeated a motion for temporary restraining order and preliminary injunction seeking to prohibit enforcement of Governor Pritzker’s Executive Orders against the Beloved Church. The Seventh Circuit affirmed the ruling after oral argument.

  • Downey Trust v. Downey + Rippe, LLC, 16-L-54 (DuPage County Cir. Ct.)¬—After two week jury trial, obtained jury verdict in favor of client on claims of fraud and breach of fiduciary duty.

  • Karant Photo, Inc. v. Art Licensing, Inc., 18-CV-3194 (Northern Dist. of Illinois)—Represented a photographer and obtained $100,000 judgment for willful copyright infringement against an infringer who copied the photographer’s photo to create “folk art” paintings, and settled with multiple other defendants.

  • Karant Photo, Inc. v. AptAmigo, LLC, 18-CV-3205 (Northern Dist. of Illinois)—Represented a photographer in claims that multiple parties had used photos of a condo development without authorization, and settled all claims.

  • Paul Morgan Photography, LLC v. CP/AJ Hotel Lincoln Park, 15-CV-11435 (Northern District of Illinois)—Represented photographer in claims that multiple parties had used photos of a hotel
    development without authorization, and settled all claims.

  • Accel Entertainment Gaming, LLC v. Village of Elmwood Park, 2015 IL App (1st) 143822 (Ill. App. Ct. 1st Dist.)—Represented Elmwood Park and obtained complete victory when appellate court affirmed the dismissal of plaintiff’s case against Elmwood Park challenging the video gaming regulations and fees implemented by Elmwood Park.

  • Cromwell v. Momence, 713 F.3d 361 (7th Cir. 2013)—Obtained complete victory in the appellate court for employer when the Seventh Circuit held that the employer’s handbook did not create a property interest or rebut the at-will presumption of employ

  • Hopson v. Macon County, 2012 IL App (4th) 110665-U (Ill. App. Ct. 4th Dist.)—Persuaded appellate court in class action to limit the class to only “nominal damages."

  • Epkins v. Lambie, 2012 IL App (4th) 110494-U (Ill. App. Ct. 4th Dist.)—Obtained complete victory for County Board Member when appellate court held that County Board Member was immune from liability in suit for defamation and emotional distress.

  • City of Chicago v. City of Harvey, 12 CH 44855 (Cook County Cir. Ct.)—Negotiated favorable settlement for City of Harvey where City of Chicago claimed that the City of Harvey owed over $26,000,000 for breaching a water contract.

  • Doe v. City of Harvey, 12-CV-1094¬ (Northern Dist. of Illinois)—Negotiated favorable settlement after defeating plaintiffs’ motion for class certification and obtaining summary judgment, where plaintiffs claimed the City of Harvey discriminated by failing to submit rape kits for testing.

  • Burdi v. Village of Bellwood, 10 L 8815 (Cook County Cir. Ct.)—Represented employer and achieved complete dismissal of plaintiffs’ claims, who sued after they were not hired (appeal pending).

  • DeGroot v. Matteson, 13 C 8530 (Northern Dist. of Illinois)—Represented employer and obtained complete dismissal of plaintiff’s claims alleging discrimination and violation of due process when he was not hired.

  • Harvey Park District v. City of Harvey, 14 CH 9357 (Cook County Cir. Ct.)—Represented the City of Harvey and defeated the Park District’s motion for temporary restraining order after the City of Harvey shut down the Park District’s gun range.

  • Club Assets v. City of Harvey, 14 CH 10530 (Cook County Cir. Ct.)—Represented the City of Harvey and defeated Club Asset’s motion for temporary restraining order after the City of Harvey shut down the business for being an illegal strip club.

  • Midwest Family Mutual Ins. Co. v. Campos, 19 CH 1825 (Cook County Cir. Ct.)—Obtained victory for insurance carrier by halving the total exposure in a UIM claim and then settling the dispute.

  • Midwest Family Mutual Ins. Co. v. Pekin Ins. Co., 14 CH 3427 (Cook County Cir. Ct.)—Obtained complete victory for insurance carrier by arguing that purported “target tender” to carrier was invalid.

  • Hopey v. Spear et al., 13-CV-2220-CSB-DGB (Central District of Illinois) - Obtained complete victory in a defense verdict where the plaintiff sought $2.3 million in damages for concussion, post-concussion syndrome and aggravation of pre-existing spinal disc conditions allegedly caused by a rear end motor vehicle accident. The trial included testimony from multiple physicians and biochemical engineers, including a neurosurgeon on behalf of the defense, who was recently depicted in the Hollywood movie "Concussion."