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John R. Climaco


John R. Climaco, a 1967 graduate of Case Western Reserve University Law School, began his career as a sole practitioner which eventually evolved into Climaco, Wilcox, Peca, Tarantino & Garofoli Co., L.P.A., currently a 14-member law firm with offices in Cleveland and Columbus, Ohio.

John is licensed to practice in the State of Ohio, as well as United States District Courts for the Northern and Southern Districts of Ohio; Central and Southern Districts of California; Eastern District of New York; Eastern and Western District of Louisiana; Eastern District of Michigan; District of Minneapolis; Eastern District of Texas; U.S. Courts of Appeals, Second, Fifth, Seventh and Ninth Circuits; U.S. Tax Court; U.S. Supreme Court.

Martindale Hubbell’s highest rating, AV-pre-eminent, for legal ability and ethical standards.

National Law Journal named John one of the 100 most powerful lawyers in the United States.

Ohio Super Lawyer 2000 through 2011.

John devotes his comprehensive practice to General and Complex Litigation, including Class Actions, Securities ERISA, Mass Torts, Environmental, Toxic Tort, White Collar, Criminal Civil RICO, and Public Law matters.

John, throughout his career, has provided individuals, labor unions, private corporations and government excellent, diligent, efficient counsel including:

  • The State of Ohio; City of Cleveland; Cleveland Board of Education
  • Special Counsel to the Ohio Attorney General’s Office
  • Special Counsel, Kent State University
  • Special Counsel to the Cuyahoga County Prosecutor’s Office
  • General Counsel, International Brotherhood of Teamsters, 1984 to July 1988
  • Sammy Davis, Jr., 1974 until his untimely death in May, 1990.
  • Police Officers. Assisted in organizing, drafted the Constitution and By-Laws and served as Counsel to the Cleveland Police Patrolmen’s Association (CPPA) and the Ohio Patrolmen’s Benevolent Association (OPBA) comprised of 6000 police officers throughout the State of Ohio for over forty (40) years. Currently serves as Civil Counsel to the Cleveland Fraternal Order of Police, Lodge No. 8.

PRECEDENT DECISIONS

Herm, et al. v. Stafford, et al., 461 F. Supp. 515 (1978), 601 F.2d 588 (6th Cir. 1979) established two year statute of limitations in S.E.C. Rule 10b-5 security fraud litigation.

Dennis J. Kucinich, et al. v. Mercedes Cotner, et al., 1978 WL219367 (Ohio App. 8th Dist.) Cleveland City Charter reserves to the electors of the City the power to remove from office the Mayor and Members of Council.

Inland Refuse Transfer Co., et al. v. Browning-Ferris Industries of Ohio, Inc., et al., 15 Ohio St.3d 321 (1984) parole evidence is admissible in a contract dispute where the contract is not clear and unambiguous.

William E. Brock, Secretary of Labor v. Loran W. Robbins, et al., 830 F.2d 640 (7th Cir. 1987)

Albrecht v. Treon, 118 Ohio St. 3d 348 (2008). Recently, John served as Special Counsel to the Cuyahoga County Prosecutor’s Office in a putative plaintiff and defendant class action suit filed in the United States District Court for the Southern District of Ohio against 87 Ohio county coroners and/or medical examiners in the state of Ohio who had removed, retained and disposed of body parts (brain) without prior notice to the next of kin. This was a long-standing practice involving thousands of potential claims and $100 Million dollars in damages. During meetings with attorney representatives of Ohio’s 87 counties, John advocated an aggressive litigation strategy including seeking certification of a question of state law to the Ohio Supreme Court. While other attorneys objected, John’s certified question of state law strategy was pursued. John’s strategy prevailed and the Ohio Supreme Court established the precedent that the next of kin of a decedent upon whom an autopsy had been performed do not have a protected right under Ohio law to the decedent’s tissues, organs, blood, or other body parts that have been removed and retained for forensic examination and testing. Based on the Ohio Supreme Court’s answer to the certified question of state law John proposed; the United States District Court for the Southern District of Ohio dismissed Plaintiffs’ putative class action lawsuit saving eighty-seven Ohio counties hundreds of millions of dollars in potential damages. Albrecht v. Treon, et al., 889 N.E. 2d 120.

BILLION/MILLION DOLLAR SETTLEMENTS AND JURY VERDICTS

$1.250 Billion Dollar Class Action Settlement Against the Tobacco Industry

From 1994 to date, John has been a member of the Castano Plaintiff’s Legal Committee serving as acting Chairman of the PLC and Co-Chairman of various committees, including the Discovery, Trial and Fee Committees. In 1994, the Castano class action was the first class action filed against the tobacco industry alleging the nicotine addiction theory.

Castano, along with Mississippi, Texas and Florida are recognized as Tobacco Pioneers. The Pioneers’ efforts resulted in the historic $1.250 Billion settlement with the tobacco industry.

In 2000, CLPW&G and the other 50 Castano law firms received the “Breath of Life Award” from the American Lung Association for their work.

John continues as a member of the Castano Discovery Team in Scott, et al. vs. The American Tobacco Company, Inc., et al., Class Action Claim No. 96-8461 in the Civil District Court of Louisiana, Parish of Orleans where a jury awarded and the Supreme Court of Louisiana affirmed all Louisiana smokers right to participate in a Tobacco Industry paid $278,720,790.55 Smoking Cessation Programs.

John is co-counsel in the Coordination Proceeding Special Title (Rule 1550(b)) In Re: Tobacco Cases II in the Superior Court of the State of California for the County of San Diego, Case No. 711400. This matter alleges that the cigarette manufacturers violated section 17200 of California’s Unfair Competition Laws (“UCL”). On May 18, 2009, the California Supreme Court reversed the court of appeals decertification of a class of California residents who smoked one or more cigarettes and were exposed to the cigarette manufacturers’ fraudulent marketing and advertising activities. On March 11, 2010, Judge Prager reinstated claims involving light cigarettes. These recent precedent setting decisions have been widely reported as preserving the California UCL. Pending trial date.

July 6, 2001, Judge Kathleen O'Malley appointed John as Co-Lead and Class Counsel in In Re: Inter-Op Hip Prosthesis Liability Litigation, MDL No. 1401, U.S. District Court, Northern District of Ohio, Eastern Division ($3.2 Billion Settlement).

July, 2010 Fleet Oral Sodium Phosphate $100+ Million Dollar Mass Tort (443 cases) Confidential Settlement, John was appointed National Liaison Counsel by The Honorable Ann Aldrich and subsequently by the Honorable Dan Aaron Polster, In re: Oral Sodium Phosphate Solution-Based Products Liability Action, Case No. 1:09-sp-80000, (MDL Docket No. 2066), United States District Court, Northern District Of Ohio, Eastern Division.

January 27, 2010 Dannon Activia - $45 Million national class settlement including injunctive relief removing “scientifically proven” “clinically proven” and “immunity” language from all packaging, labeling and advertising. John was Co-Lead Counsel and one of five Class Counsel. Gemelas v. The Dannon Co., Inc., et al., U.S.D.C. N.D. Ohio, Case No. 1:08-cv-236 alleging violations of the consumer protection laws on behalf of a national class of consumers arising from Dannon’s contention that its DanActive yogurt is “scientifically and clinically proven” to aid digestion.

June 10, 2011 - Robert Schmidt, et al. v. AT&T, Cuyahoga County Court of Common Pleas, Case No. CV-09-688788, Confidential Settlement including cy pres – Preliminary Approval granted.

August 3, 2011 - Cathy Pfaff, et al. v. Whole Foods Market Group, Inc., et al., United States District Court for the Northern District of Ohio, Eastern Division, Case No. 1:10CV02954. Lead Class Counsel. Settlement included monetary, equitable relief and cy pres.

September 3, 2008 ($37.5 Million global settlement) Ohio Attorney General Marc Dann appointed John Co-counsel with Bernstein Litowitz Berger & Grossmann LLP for the Lead Plaintiff the State Teachers Retirement System of Ohio in the matter In re Scottish Re Group Securities Litigation, U.S.D.C. S.D. NY, Case No. 06-cv-5853 SAS.

December 5, 2007 - $20.5 Million Dollar Jury Verdict, John was Lead Trial Counsel in Tamraz v. Lincoln Elec. Co., United States District Court, Northern District of Ohio, Eastern Division Case No. 1:04-CV-18948, In re: Welding Fume Products Liability Litigation, Case No. 1:03-CV-17000 (MDL Docket No. 1535). The largest of only five Welding Fume Plaintiff verdicts to date. Reversed on Appeal. Pending new trial date.

2006, appointed Co-Lead Counsel in the matter Opperman, et al. v. Cellco Partnership d/b/a Verizon Wireless, Case No. BC 326764, Superior Court of the State of California for the County of Los Angeles which was a matter alleging consumer fraud claims on behalf of a national class. The Court approved a national class action settlement on behalf of consumers who activated Verizon wireless cellular service for a Motorola V710 telephone on or before January 31, 2005.

March 28, 2003, Honorable Donald C. Nugent appointed John as Co-Lead Counsel In re: OM Group Securities Litigation, Case No. 02CV-2163, U.S. District Court, Northern District of Ohio, Eastern Division ($92.4 Million Settlement – at the time the 42nd largest Security Fraud settlement in history).

February 1, 2001, Appointed a member of the Plaintiffs' Steering Committee and Co-Chairman of the Discovery and Trial Committees In Re: Baycol Litigation Products, MDL 1431, U.S. District Court of Minnesota. ($1.3 Billion in Settlements).

1999 Class Counsel in Brack, et al. vs. General Motors Corporation, Case No. CV 98 04046, Superior Court of New Mexico, County of Bernalillo (National Product Liability Multi-Million Dollar Settlement).

March 22, 1992, John was appointed by Thomas J. Lambros, former Chief Judge of the United States District Court, Northern District of Ohio as a member of the Plaintiffs’ Steering Committee and Lead Trial Counsel in a case against USAir arising out of the crash of Flight 405 at LaGuardia Airport in March, 1992, In Re: Air Disaster at New York LaGuardia Airport on March 22, 1992, MDL Docket No. 936 (Multi-Million Dollar Individual Plaintiff verdicts).

John was Co-Lead and Liaison Counsel in the matter In Re: Inphonic, Inc. Wireless Phone Rebate Litigation, MDL Docket No. 1792 (D.D.C.), District of Columbia, Case No. 06-528. Following Inphonic filing for bankruptcy, a settlement was negotiated.

PENDING CLASS ACTIONS

September 16, 2003 – The Honorable Kathleen M. O'Malley appointed John nationwide Liaison Counsel in In Re: Welding Rod Products Liability Litigation, MDL No. 1535, U.S. District Court, Northern District of Ohio, Eastern Division. John also serves on the Class Action Certification, Discovery & Trial Committees.

The Honorable Donald C. Nugent appointed John Co-Lead and Liaison Counsel In Re: Kaba Simplex Locks Marketing and Sales Practices Litigation, MDL No. 2220, United States District Court, Northern District of Ohio, Eastern Division.

March 4, 2010 – The Honorable Carl J. Barbier, USDC, Eastern District of Louisiana appointed John one of the eight members of the Plaintiff’s Steering Committee In re: Apple iPhone 3G and 3GS, Marketing Sales Practices litigation MDL No. 2116.

In re: Countrywide Financial Corp. Customer Data Security Breach Litigation, MDL 1998.

In Re: Julie Fitzpatrick, et al. v. General Mills, Inc., et al., United States District Court Southern District of Florida, Case No. 09-Civ-60412, consumer fraud involving false advertising of Yoplait Yogurt.

Melissa Brock, et al. v. General Mills, Inc., et al., United States District Court Northern District of Ohio, Case No. 1:10CV00060, consumer fraud involving false advertising for Yoplait Yogurt.

In Re: Navistar Diesel Engine Products Liabiity Litigation, MDL 2223, United States District Court for the Northern District of Illinois, Eastern Division. Member - Plaintiffs’ Steering Committee.

In Re: POM Wonderful LLC Marketing and Sales Practices Litigation, MDL 2199 in the United States District Court for the Central District of California. Member - Plaintiffs' Steering Committee.

CONTINUING LEGAL EDUCATION

John has lectured extensively on trial preparation and practice, RICO, ERISA, Mass Torts, Class Actions, MDL Proceedings, white collar criminal defense, labor and employment law throughout the country including the Stetson University College of Law's Annual Conference; New York City Bar Association; Aspen, Colorado Advanced Criminal Law Institute; Case Western Reserve College of Law-CLE Program; Health Care Section Conference of the Cleveland Bar Association; the Columbus Bar Association's Annual Litigation Institute; Institute of Business Law of California State University, Los Angeles and the Ohio CLE Institute. In January and May 2001, he was a panel member at the Mealey's Baycol Seminar in San Diego, California. On October 24, 2003 John was a Keynote Speaker at the Fourth Annual Class Action/Mass Tort Symposium in New Orleans sponsored by the Louisiana State Bar Association. On November 16, 2004, he was a panel member at the American Conference Institute’s Welding Rod Litigation Conference in New Orleans. On March 24, 2010 and May 12, 2010, John was a Keynote Speaker at the HarrisMartin Toyota Recall Litigation Conferences on The Tread Act: Criminal Liability for “Lying” to NHTSA About Safety-Related Defects. On December 10, 2010 John spoke on Civil RICO at the 10th Annual Louisiana Mass Torts Symposium. On January 14, 2011 John spoke on Manufacturers Civil RICO Liability at the HarrisMartin Darvon and Darvocet Recall Litigation Conference.

John has appeared numerous times on local and national radio and television, including Good Morning America, The Today Show, Larry King Live, Night Line, The Greta Van Susteren Show, The Phil Donahue Show, and is regularly quoted in local and national newspapers discussing various legal issues.

MEMBERSHIPS AND HONORARIUMS

Life Member - Judicial Conference of the United States Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit. Charter and Life Member - Judicial Conference of the Eighth Judicial District of Ohio. United States District Court Judge Donald C. Nugent appointed John as a Member of the Advisory Group to the United States District Court for the Northern District of Ohio. In 2009, Steven Dettlebach, United States Attorney for the Northern District of Ohio, appointed John to the U. S. Attorney Advisory Committee.

On May 6, 2000 John received the Ellis Island Medal of Honor.

Life Member - Justinian Forum, a professional organization for attorneys and judges of Italian heritage in Northern Ohio and also the Northern Ohio Italian-American Association (“NOIA”).

In 1992 and 1997, the Center for Mental Retardation selected John to receive the Service to the Center Award. In 2003 he received an award for outstanding commitment to individuals with MR/DD. In 2006 he received the Above and Beyond Award from North Coast Community Homes. He currently serves as a member of the Board of Directors.

In 2008 Our Lady of the Wayside honored John with the Starlight Guardian Humanitarian Award – celebrating those who embrace the spirit of giving.

PERSONAL

John is married to Carolyn. John and Carolyn have two children, John and Nicole. John M. is married to Laura. They have two children, seven year old John Nicholas and two year old Athena Conlyn. John M. is an attorney. He is one of the founders, President and CEO of Axial Biotech, a genetic research company in Salt Lake City, Utah. Axial Biotech discovered the gene which causes scoliosis and developed a DNA test to diagnose it. John’s daughter, Nicole, is 36. Nicole is intellectually challenged, lives independently in a home John and Carolyn built for her and three other challenged adults and works four (4) days per week in John’s office.

Contact Info:
(216) 522-0265
jrclim@climacolaw.com