Our Personal Injury Lawyers Proudly Serve Chicago and All of Illinois.
Bruce R. Pfaff
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 only a handful of Illinois lawyers who individual have had similar trial success. He has also achieved settlements for clients exceeding $10 million.
Lawyer Ratings & Honors
Bruce has been rated among the Top Ten of Illinois lawyers rated by Superlawyers continuously from 2018.
Bruce has twice received the President's Award from the Illinois Trial Lawyers' Association, once in 2000 and again in 2022. He also received the ABA Military Pro Bono Project Outstanding Services Award 2020, the ABA's "Access to Justice Award," July 2015, Chicago's Product Liability Litigator of the Year, 2011; and "Trial Lawyer Excellence" awards from Jury Verdict Reporter, Chicago Daily Law Bulletin, 2010, 2015.
Areas Of Practice
- Products Liability Law
- Medical Malpractice
- Litigation & Appeals
- Motor Vehicle Accidents
- Personal Injury
- Wrongful Death
- Illinois 1984-present
- U.S. District Court Northern District of Illinois
- U.S. Court of Appeals 7th Circuit
- U.S. Supreme Court
- California, 1979-1984
- University of California College of the Law, San Francisco, California
- J.D. - 1979
- Dartmouth College, Hanover, New Hampshire
- B.A. - 1976
Notable Jury Verdicts
M. v. Ford Motor Co. – $27,000,000 jury verdict for the estate of a 46 year-old man who died because the driver’s seat of his vehicle failed in a rear impact, causing him to suffer fatal head injuries. The jury’s award included $25,000,000 for loss of society suffered by his wife and two children, an Illinois record. This verdict was named one of the Top 100 Verdicts in America in 2005 by Verdict Search, a national publication. The case was ultimately settled.
L.C. v. Ford Motor Co. – $14,500,000 jury verdict for a woman paralyzed below the chest and her husband due to the unsafe design of the driver’s seat of a 1991 Ford Explorer, which broke when she was rear ended in Hammond, Ind. This is the highest verdict for paraplegia in the State of Illinois, according to the Jury Verdict Reporter. The First District Appellate Court affirmed the judgment, and the full amount of the judgment and interest was paid.
K.B. v. Kim – $30,000,000 jury verdict for a six year-old girl who suffered cerebral palsy due to a delayed emergency cesarean section delivery.
D.S. v. MiTek Industries, Inc. – $13,544,171 jury verdict for a 22-year-old worker who suffered a leg amputation using a roof truss press designed by MiTek. The case was tried in a county where there had never been a million dollar verdict before. The jury awarded every penny requested. The judgment was affirmed by the Third District Appellate Court and the Supreme Court denied defendant’s petition for leave to appeal. Defendant paid the full amount of the judgment and interest.
J.G. v. Advocate Christ Medical Center – $12,261,171 jury verdict for the estate of a 49 year-old man who died from a rare blood disease, thrombotic thrombocytopenia purpura (TTP). He was admitted to the hospital on a Sunday morning, the diagnosis was confirmed by 4:30 p.m., but the plasmapheresis nurse took 6 hours to come to the hospital to provide the essential emergency treatment. His wife and three adult children survive him. The judgment was affirmed by the First District Appellate Court and was paid in full with interest.
D.B. v. Advocate Medical Group S.C. – $10,500,000 jury verdict for a 72-year-old woman who suffered an above knee amputation of her leg due to a failure of the emergency room doctor to diagnose bacterial cellulitis. The jury award included $10,000,000 for non-economic losses.
R.H. v. Central Telephone Company of Illinois – $9,623,000 jury verdict for a 48-year-old roofing contractor who suffered an incomplete spinal cord injury and thermal injury to his skull as a result of contacting a bare 7200 volt electrical wire suspended above a roof where he was working. The jury awarded $16,000,000, but reduced the award by 40% contributory negligence, resulting in a total judgment of $9,623,000. The case was subsequently settled for $10.2 million, which included interest on the judgment and $500,000 awarded to his wife for loss of consortium.
J.G. v. TTI, Inc. – $9,362,580 jury verdict for the estate of a 48-year-old man who was killed when a truck’s trailer backed into him, pinching his legs and causing fatal hemorrhages. The jury’s verdict included $8,800,000 in non-economic losses.
A.O. v. Edgewater Medical Center – $9,346,663 jury verdict for the estate of a 42-year-old man who died because of an unnecessary cardiac catheterization performed negligently. The jury’s award included $8,350,000 for loss of society.
D.S. v. Chicago & Northwestern Transportation Company – Tried case and handled appeal with Philip H. Corboy on behalf of a young man who suffered a closed head injury when the front wheel of his bicycle came off the fork as he was traversing the Central Avenue Crossing in Highland Park. The verdict of $8,235,000 was affirmed both by the Illinois Appellate Court and the Illinois Supreme Court (1985-1989).
Estate of Corina Miller v. Cluver Milk Transport – $7,020,882 jury verdict for the wrongful death of a 41-year-old woman in Toulon, IL, caused by the admitted negligence of a trucking company and its driver. She is survived by her adult daughter and her spouse who remarried before trial. It is the high verdict in a wrongful death case in Peoria County and was paid in full shortly after trial.
Estate of K.S. v. Methodist Medical Center of Illinois et al. – $5,008,921.72 jury verdict for the estate of a 36-year-old woman who hemorrhaged to death in an operating room after a DaVinci robotic hysterectomy surgery. The jury found the gynecologist and the anesthesiologist negligently caused the death. She is survived by three children and her husband from whom she separated 10 months earlier. The previous high wrongful death verdict in Tazewell County where this case was tried was $970,000.
More than 90 speeches or articles presented, including
“Liability for Cerebral Palsy,” presentation to AIEG, October 2021.
“Liability for Hemorrhages,” AIEG Voice, Winter 2020.
“Civility Matters,” ABOTA/CBA Panel presentation, November 2018.
Mock Jury Selection and Moderator, Attorneys’ Information Exchange Group, Mock Trial of Product Liability Case, November 2018.
Moderator, Attorneys’ Information Exchange Group, Mock Trial of a Truck Accident Case, November 2017.
“The Gifts You Receive at Trial,” Illinois Trial Lawyers’ Ass’n, December 2014.
“Relief from the Waiver/Forfeiture Rule: Hux v. Raven and its Progeny,” 16 ITLA Trial Journal 46-49 (Winter 2014)
“Trying and Settling a Complex Multiple Defendant Medical Negligence Case,” Illinois Trial Lawyers’ Ass’n Medical Negligence Committee, March 2013.
“Presenting the Case to a Jury,” Illinois State Bar Ass’n., May 2012
“Implications of Health Care Technology for Trial Practice,” Chicago Bar Ass’n., April 2012.
“Multi Party Cases: Who Belongs on the Verdict Form?” accepted for publication in ITLA Journal, Winter 2011.
“Product Liability Update and Review,” Illinois Trial Lawyers’ Ass’n, 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” presentations at Chicago Bar Association program “Creative Insights for the Tort Trial Lawyer,” March 2009.
“Settlement Approaches,” Zurich Insurance Company presentation, January 2008.
Update for Medical Negligence Notebook, “Res Ipsa Loquitor,” for the 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 Advocate, Dallas, Texas, October 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,” Illinois Trial Lawyers’ Journal, Winter 2005.
“Medical Negligence,” ITLA’s Annual Update and Review Seminar, Chicago, October, 2004.
“Medical Malpractice-Have They No Shame,” Illinois Trial Lawyers’ Ass’n, 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 Plaintiff’s 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.,” Attorney’s Information Exchange Group program, Washington D.C., April 2002.
“Automobile Products Liability” in 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 in ITLA’s Medical Malpractice Notebook, published December 2000
Res Ipsa Loquitor, presented to Illinois Trial Lawyers’ Association’s Medical Malpractice seminar, December 2000
The Last 90 Days before Trial, Chicago Bar Association, December 2000
Starting Your Own Law Practice, Chicago Bar Association, June 1999
Pre-Suit Investigation- Ethical-Considerations, Illinois Trial Lawyers’ Association’s annual Product Liability Seminar, February 1999.
Testimony re Proposed Changes to the F.R.C.P. before Committee on Rules of Practice and Procedure of the Judicial Conference of the United States, January 1999.
Client Relations 101, Illinois State Bar Association’s Bridging the Gap Program, December 1998.
Relations Between Lawyers and Treating Doctors, Chicago Bar Association, Tort Litigation Committee, November 1998.
Client Relations 101, Illinois State Bar Association’s Bridging the Gap Program, December 1997.
Presenting the Plaintiff as a Witness in a Medical Negligence Case, Illinois Trial Lawyers’ Association, December 1997.
Recent Developments in Medical Negligence Law, Chicago Bar Association, Medico-Legal Relations Committee, December 1997.
Trial of a Premises Liability Case under House Bill 20, Northwest Suburban Bar Association, November 1997.
Motions in Limine and Motions for Mistrial, Illinois Trial Lawyers’ Association, October 1997.
Jury Selection in a Civil Case, Chicago Bar Association, September 1997.
Client Relations 101, Illinois State Bar Association’s Bridging the Gap Program, December 1996
Winning the Battle of the Experts at Trial, Chicago Bar Association, November 1996
Jury Selection, Chicago Bar Association’s Summer Boot Camp for Aspiring Litigators, August 1996
Product Liability Litigation, Illinois Trial Lawyer’s Association, January 1996
Pre-Suit Investigation of Medical Malpractice Cases, Illinois Trial Lawyers Association, December 1995
Rule 215 Medical Examinations, Illinois State Bar Association, November 1995
Civil Discovery Rule Changes, Chicago Bar Association, September, 1995 and November 1995
Obstetrical Nursing Negligence, Illinois Hospital Association, May 1995
Expert Witnesses and Medical Malpractice Cases, Illinois Trial Lawyers Association, May 1995
Effective Depositions, Chicago Bar Association, May 1995
Product Liability Trials: Plaintiff’s Perspective, Chicago Bar Association, February 1995
The Trial of Medical Negligence Cases, Chicago Bar Association, June 1994
The Masters in Trial – Mock Trial, Chair, American Board of Trial Advocates, March 1994
Medical Evidence, Chicago Bar Association, April 1993
Opening Statements, Mock Trial, American Board of Trial Advocates, Chicago, March 1993
Cross Examination of Defendant’s Medical Expert, Chicago Bar Association, March 1993
Mock Deposition: Litigation Hits Home, Legal Aspects of Nursing Practice, presented by American Healthcare Institute, November 1992
Legal Issues Associated with Traumatic Brain Injury, McHenry County Mental Health Board, in cooperation with the Rehabilitation Institute of Chicago, November 1992
Legal Malpractice – Update & Review, Illinois Trial Lawyers’ Association, Chicago September 1992
Closing Argument: Lead Exposure Mock Trial, Lead Poisoning Seminar, June 1992, sponsored by Oppenheimer, Wolff & Donnelly, June 1992
Human Factors & Reconstruction, Illinois Trial Lawyers’ Association, Annual Meeting, June 1992
Recent Trends in Product Liability Law, Chicago Bar Association Chicago, March 1992
Direct Examination of Plaintiff’s Expert at Trial, Illinois Trial Lawyers’ Association, Chicago, February 1992
Trial Considerations of the Plaintiff’s Lawyer in Premises Liability Cases, Chicago Bar Association, Chicago, February 1992
Trial Considerations in Premises Liability Cases: Plaintiff’s Perspective, Chicago Bar Association Chicago, November 1991
Direct Exam of the Injured Plaintiff: Intersection Collision – Disc Injury, Illinois Trial Lawyers Association Chicago, October 1991
Plaintiff’s Perspective on the Kotecki Decision: Contribution Against Employers, Illinois Trial Lawyers Association Chicago, September 1991
High Risk Cases in Emergency Medicine, American College of Emergency Physicians, Mock Trial, Trial Attorney Participant, 1991
Trial Considerations of a Plaintiff’s Lawyer in Premises Liability Cases, Chicago Bar Association, 1991
The Role of the Lawyer in Medical Advances: Protector or Obstructer, Conference, Chicago Neurosurgery Center, Keynote Address, 1990
High Risk Cases in Emergency Medicine, American College of Emergency Physicians, Mock Trial, Trial Attorney, Participant, 1990
Developing the Damage Case for the Plaintiff, American Law Institute-American Bar Association, Kansas City, MO, 1990
Use of Pleadings, Interrogatories and Depositions as Evidence, Chicago Bar Association, 1990
Explosion Cases: Preparation and Trial, Chicago Bar Association, 1990
Negotiating and Settling Personal Injury Cases, Illinois Institute of Continuing Legal Education, Settlement Conference Demonstration, 1990
Plaintiff’s Perspective on Medical Malpractice Cases, Illinois Founders Trust Annual Meeting, 1989
Proving Present Cash Value of Future Economic Damages, Illinois Institute of Continuing Legal Education, 1989
Successful Settlement Negotiations: Plaintiff’s Attorney’s Perspective, MMI Companies, Inc., Focused Training Workshop on Advanced Claims Management, 1989
Malpractice Protection, Academy of Ambulatory Foot Surgery, 1989
Plaintiff’s Perspective on Medical Malpractice, Institute for Health Law, Loyola University of Chicago School of Law, 1989
Preparation and Trial of Medical Negligence Cases, Medico-Legal Relations Committee of Chicago Bar Association, Moderator and Seminar Chair, 1989
Investigation, Pleading and Discovery in Strict Product Liability Cases, Chicago Bar Association, Author and Speaker (reprinted in CBA Record, March 1989), 1988
Product Liability Practice: How to Obtain the Successful Result, Chicago Bar Association, 1988
Consumer Fraud and Deceptive Practices Act, Illinois Trial Lawyers Annual Convention, 1988
Jury Instructions in a Product Liability Case: A Plaintiff’s Perspective, Illinois Institute of Continuing Legal Education, 1988
Preparation and Trial of a Medical Negligence Case, Chicago Bar Association, Co-Moderator, 1988
Product Liability, Illinois Institute of Continuing Legal Education, 1988
Crash Cases: A Hands-On Guide to Vehicle Collision Litigation, American Bar Association, 1988
Representing the Plaintiff: Soft Tissue Injuries and Closed-Head Trauma, Legal-Medical Seminars, Inc., 1987
Representative Appellate Cases
- Mikolajczyk v. Ford Motor Co., 231 Ill.2d 516, 2008
- Mikolajczyk v. Ford Motor Co., 374 Ill. App. 3d 646, 2007
- 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, 2001
- 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
- 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
- Top 10 of Illinois Lawyers as ranked by Superlawyers, 2011, 2018-2023
- President's Award, Illinois Trial Lawyers' Association, 2000, 2022
- One of the Top 10 Illinois Personal Injury Lawyers ranked in Leading Lawyers Network, 2012-present.
- One of the Top 10 Illinois Product Liability Plaintiff’s Lawyers by Leadings Lawyers Network, 2012-present.
- 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
- Chicago Product Liability Litigator of the Year, Best Lawyers, 2018
- 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
Pro Bono Activities
- Riley Spreadbury Scholarship, Moraine Valley C.C., Founder
- Pfaff Trial Lawyer Scholarship, UC Law S.F., Founder
- LaRabida Children's Hospital
- Chicago Coalition for the Homeless
- Greater Chicago Food Depository
- Public Justice
- Public Citizen
- Evans Scholars, Western Golf Association
- Daniel Murphy Scholarship Foundation
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, 2019-Present
- American Board of Trial Advocates (ABOTA), Editorial Board, 2003 to Present
- American Board of Trial Advocates (ABOTA), Amicus Curiae Committee, Chair, 1999 to 2007
- American Board of Trial Advocates (ABOTA), Illinois Chapter, President, 1999 to 2000
- American Board of Trial Advocates (ABOTA) Foundation, Senior Life Fellow
- Illinois Trial Lawyers Association (ITLA), Amicus Curiae Committee, 1989 to Present
- Illinois Trial Lawyers Association (ITLA), Amicus Curiae Committee, Chair, 1994 to Present
- Illinois Trial Lawyers Association (ITLA), Board of Managers, 1993 to 1995
- Illinois Trial Lawyers Association (ITLA), Medical Malpractice Committee, 1986 to Present
- Illinois Trial Lawyers Association (ITLA), Medical Malpractice Committee, Chair, 1989
- Illinois Trial Lawyers Association (ITLA), Ad Hoc Supreme Court Appeal Committee, 1995 to 1998
- Illinois Trial Lawyers Association (ITLA), Ad Hoc Supreme Court Appeal Committee, 2005 to 2010
- Illinois State Bar Association (ISBA), Legislation Committee, 2002 to Present
- Illinois State Bar Association (ISBA), Legislation Committee, Vice Chair, 2003 to Present
- Illinois State Bar Association (ISBA), Amicus Curiae Committee, 2003 to Present
- Illinois Supreme Court Committee, Instructions in Civil Cases, 1999 to 2010
- Illinois Supreme Court Special Committee on E-Business, Chair, 2011 to 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