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Bruce R. Pfaff



Chicago, IL



Super Lawyers Badge  | Top Ten
American College of Trial Lawyers
American Board of Trial Advocates
Leading || Lawyers || Bruce R. Pfaff|| Advisory Board member || selected 2017 || The nations top Lawyers|| Based upon a survey of their peers

Bruce Pfaff has been a trial lawyer since 1979, representing people injured or killed by wrongful conduct. He received excellent training from two premier law firms before starting his own practice in 1991. Bruce has succeeded for clients in cases including those hurt by unsafe or defective products, medical malpractice by obstetricians, anesthesiologists, cardiologists, neurosurgeons, other doctors and hospital personnel, careless driving, poor maintenance of property, sexual assault, legal malpractice, and other forms of personal injury cases in Chicago.

In six cases, his clients have each received more than $10 million in jury verdicts. He is one of a handful of Illinois lawyers who have had similar trial success.  In addition to representing clients and managing the law firm, Bruce writes Friend of the Court briefs for the Illinois Trial Lawyers' Association and for the American Board of Trial Advocates. He has been inducted as a Fellow of the International Academy of Trial Lawyers, the International Society of Barristers, and the American Board of Trial Advocates.

Lawyer Ratings
Bruce holds the highest possible ratings from Martindale-Hubbell ("AV") and AVVO.com ("10.0 superb"). He is among the top 10 of Illinois Super Lawyers issued by Chicago Magazine and has been elected to The Best Lawyers in America for personal injury and medical negligence law.

Professional Associations and Memberships

  • American College of Trial Lawyers, inducted 2017
  • International Academy of Trial Lawyers, inducted 2013
  • International Society of Barristers, inducted 2008
  • American Board of Trial Advocates (ABOTA), National Board of Directors, 2001 - 2007
  • American Board of Trial Advocates (ABOTA), Editorial Board, 2003 - Present
  • American Board of Trial Advocates (ABOTA), Chair, Amicus Curiae Committee, 1999 - 2007
  • American Board of Trial Advocates (ABOTA), Illinois Chapter, President, 1999 - 2000
  • American Board of Trial Advocates (ABOTA) Foundation, Senior Life Fellow
  • Illinois Trial Lawyers Association (ITLA), Amicus Curiae Committee, 1989-present; Chair, 1994-present
  • Illinois Trial Lawyers Association (ITLA), Board of Managers, 1993 - 1995
  • Illinois Trial Lawyers Association (ITLA), Medical Malpractice Committee, 1986-present; Chair, 1989
  • Illinois Trial Lawyers Association (ITLA), Ad Hoc Supreme Court Appeal Committee, 1995-1998; 2005-2010
  • Illinois State Bar Association (ISBA), Legislation Committee, 2002 - Present
  • Illinois State Bar Association (ISBA), Legislation Committee Vice Chair, 2003 - Present
  • Illinois State Bar Association (ISBA), Amicus Curiae Committee, 2003 - Present
  • Illinois Supreme Court Committee, Instructions in Civil Cases, 1999 - 2010
  • Illinois Supreme Court Special Committee on E-Business, Chair, 2011 - present
  • Trial Lawyers for Public Justice (TLPJ), Finalist - 198 Trial Lawyer of the Year Award, Sustaining Member
  • Leading Lawyers Network Advisor Board, Chosen top 5% of Illinois Lawyers, Medical Malpractice and Personal Injury Law

Areas Of Practice

  • Products Liability Law
  • Medical Malpractice
  • Litigation & Appeals
  • Motor Vehicle Accidents
  • Personal Injury
  • Wrongful Death

Bar Admissions

  • Illinois
  • U.S. District Court Northern District of Illinois
  • U.S. Court of Appeals 7th Circuit
  • U.S. Supreme Court
  • California, 1979


  • University of California, Hastings College of the Law, San Francisco, California
    • J.D. - 1979
  • Dartmouth College, Hanover, New Hampshire
    • B.A. - 1976

Published Works

  • More than 90 speeches or articles presented, including:
  • "Trying and Settling a Complex Multiple Defendant Medical Negligence Case", Illinois Trial Lawyers' Association, Medical Negligence Committee, March, 2013
  • "Presenting the Case to Jury", Illinois State Bar Association, May, 2012
  • "Implications of Health Care Technology for Trial Practice", Chicago Bar Association, April, 2012
  • "Multi Party Cases: Who Belongs on the Verdict Form?", accepted for publication in ITLA Journal, Winter, 2011
  • "Product Liability Update & Review", Illinois Trial Lawyers Association, October, 2010
  • "Consumer Expectations and Risk Utility in Products Liability", American Association for Justice Annual Convention, July, 2009
  • "The Right to Submit Questions to Witnesses", CBA Record, May, 2009
  • "Direct Examination" and "Closing Argument", presented at the Chicago Bar Association's program, Creative Insights for the Tort Trial Lawyer, March, 2009
  • Settlement Approaches, Zurich Insurance Company, January, 2008
  • Update for Medical Negligence Notebook, "Res Ipsa Loquitor", Illinois Trial Lawyers' Association, November, 2007
  • "Crashworthiness Cases, Illinois Institute for Continuing Legal Education, Chicago, November, 2007
  • Masters in Trial presenter, American Board of Trial Advocates, Dallas, Texas, October 2007
  • Masters in Trial presenter, American Board of Trial Advocates, Oxford, Ms., April 2007
  • "Automotive Seat Design Liability," Attorney's Information Exchange Group program, Chicago, April 2007
  • "Product Liability: Evidence and Jury Instructions," Illinois Trial Lawyers' Association, February 2007
  • "Opening Statements," Chicago Bar Association, February 2007
  • "Use of Literature," Illinois Trial Lawyers' Association, January 2007
  • "Products Liability: Update and Review", Illinois Trial Lawyers' Association, October 2006
  • "Investigating and Proving Crashworthiness Cases", Association of Trial Lawyers of America, Midwinter Convention, February, 2006
  • Masters in Trial presenter, American Board of Trial Advocates, Seattle, November, 2005
  • "Preserving the Jury Trial", Defense Research Institute, October, 2005
  • "Enforcing Darling Liabilities", ITLA's Annual Update and Review Seminar, Chicago, October, 2004
  • "Medical Malpractice - Have They No Shame?", Illinois Trial Lawyers' Association, September, 2004
  • "The Wall of Shame", presented at Bryce Downey, Chicago, August, 2004
  • "Jury Trials in Complex Cases Survive Iowa Fight", Voir Dire, Spring, 2004
  • Masters in Trial presenter, ABOTA, New Orleans, December, 2003
  • Trial presenter of Plaintiffs Opening Statement at Advocacy Showcase, Illinois Trial Lawyers' Association, May, 2003
  • "Too Complex for a Jury?", Voir Dire, Spring, 2003
  • "Common Defenses in Cerebral Palsy Cases", Association of Trial Lawyers of America, Atlanta, February, 2003
  • "Automotive Seat Design Liability: Discussion of Carrillo v. Ford Motor Co.", Attorneys Information Exchange Group program, Washington D.C., April, 2002
  • "Automobile Products Liability", Winning Techniques from Voir Dire to Closing, ITLA, February, 2002
  • Masters in Trial presenter, ABOTA, Detroit, November, 2001
  • "Texts Should Have Vital Role in Litigation", Chicago Daily Law Bulletin, October 19, 2001
  • Res Ipsa Loquitor chapter, ITLA's Medical Malpractice Notebook, December, 2000
  • Res Ipsa Loquitor, Illinois Trial Lawyers' Association's Medical Malpractice seminar, December, 2000
  • The Last 90 Days before Trial, Chicago Bar Association, December, 2000

Representative Cases

  • Mikolajczyk v. Ford Motor Co., 231 Ill.2d 516, 2008
  • Mikolajczyk v. Ford Motor Co., 374 Ill. App. 3d 646, 2007, Ill.App.
  • Mikolajczyk v. Ford Motor Co., 369 Ill.App.3d 78, 2006
  • Gann v. TTI, Inc., 491 F.Supp.2d 771, 2007
  • Gann v. TTI, Inc., 522 F.Supp.2d 1021, 2007
  • In re U.S., 398 F.3d 615, 2005, 7th Cir.
  • Rennert v. Great Dane L.P., 543 F.3d 914, 2008, 7th cir.
  • Carrillo v. Ford Motor Co., 325 Ill.App.3d 955, 2001, Ill. App.
  • Burger v. Lutheran General Hospital, 198 Ill.2d 21, 2001, Ill. 2nd.
  • Gracia v. Volvo N.V., 1112 F.3d 291, 1997, 7th Cir.
  • Gracia v. Volvo N.V., cert. den. 522 U.S. 1050, 1998
  • DeYoung v. Alpha Construction Co., 186 Ill.App.3d 758, 1989, Ill. App. 3rd.
  • Schaffner v. C & NW Transp. Co., 129 Ill.2d 1, 1989
  • Schultz v. Gotlund, No. 69010
  • Wakeford v. Rodehouse, No. 73352
  • Kotecki v. Cyclops, No. 68568
  • Boatman's v. Martin, No. 73328
  • Jones v. O'Young, No. 73463
  • Thompson v. County of Cook, No. 73133
  • Roach v. Springfield Clinic, No. 73394
  • Gill v. Foster, No. 74350
  • Dominguez v. St. Johns, No. 77062
  • Herzog v. Lexington Township, No. 77037
  • Beavers v. Consolidated, No. 78178
  • Bucheleres v. Chicago Park, No. 78760
  • People v. City of Chicago, No. 84452
  • Movitz v. First National Bank, No. 97-3761 * 98-864
  • Lafever v. Kemlite Company, No. 84761
  • Hills v. Bridgeview et al, No. 1-98-620
  • People v. Philip Morris et al, No. 90185 & 90186
  • Hagen v. LeDuc, No. 94920
  • Rieff v. Evans, No. 02-727 (Iowa)
  • Clayton v. County of Cook, No. 98127
  • Mele v. Howmedica Inc., Nos. 1-01-4228 & 4229
  • Melena v. Anheuser-Busch, No. 99421
  • York v. Rush, No. 99507
  • Blue v. Environmental, No. 98034
  • Calles v. Scripto-Tokai, No. 101089
  • Ready v. United/Gorecki, No. 103474
  • Mount v. HCA Corp., No. 06-1859
  • Studt v. Sherman Hosp., No. 2-07-0945
  • LeBron v. Gottleib, Nos. 105741 & 105745
  • Jablonski v. Ford Motors, No. 110096

Honors and Awards

  • Chicago Product Liability Litigator of the Year, Best Lawyers, 2018
  • Top 10 of Illinois Lawyers, Illinois Super Lawyers Award, Chicago Magazine, 2011, 2018
  • The Best Lawyers in America for Personal Injury, Products Liability and Medical Malpractice Law
  • Elected one of Top 100 Trial Lawyers, American Trial Lawyers Association
  • Trial Lawyer Excellence Award, Chicago Daily Law Bulletin, 2010, 2015
  • AV Preeminent, Martindale Hubbell, highest possible peer review rating for legal ability and ethical standards
  • Top 100 Leading Consumer Lawyers, Leading Lawyers Network
  • 10.0 Superb rating by www.avvo.com, Highest Possible Rating
  • President's Award, Illinois Trial Lawyers' Association, 2000

Pro Bono Activities

  • Pfaff Trial Lawyer Scholarship
  • LaRabida Children's Hospital
  • Misericordia
  • Chicago Coalition for the Homeless
  • Greater Chicago Food Depository
  • Public Justice
  • Public Citizen
  • Evans Scholars, Western Golf Association
  • Daniel Murphy Scholarship Foundation