John F. Cooney


John Cooney is a partner in the Madison County office of Lewis Brisbois and a member of the General Liability Practice. He concentrates his practice on the defense and trial of civil damage lawsuits. Over the last 35 years he has tried more than 100 jury trials to verdict and personally handled more than 30 appeals in state and federal courts. He is a skilled negotiator who is particularly adept at Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR) both as a participant and as a neutral.

John’s experience is broad. This experience includes handling matters for trucking companies, airlines, rental car companies, retail and hospitality sectors (hotels, department stores and restaurants) as well as professional liability defense for legal and medical practitioners and coverage and bad faith issues for several insurance carriers.

John has represented and defended design professionals, contractors and landowners in matters involving building design, construction defects, boundary disputes, and subsurface and surface water and soil issues.

Over his career, Mr. Cooney has defended hospitals, physicians, nurses and other health care professionals in professional and general liability matters. He has also represented and assisted physicians and nurses in administrative proceedings before the boards which regulate and govern their professional licenses and conduct.

John represents individuals and corporations, often through their insurers and risk management organizations, though he finds he is increasingly engaged directly by the entities he represents. Significant matters include:

  • Receiving a directed verdict in the defense of an individual involved in an intra-family wrongful death case. This judgment was upheld by the Missouri Court of Appeals.
  • Obtaining a defense verdict for a major airline in a federal trial claiming serious injuries resulting from in-flight turbulence.
  • Acquiring a trial-morning dismissal of an action seeking a multi-million dollar recovery from a major rental car company due to the death of a motorcyclist. This judgment was upheld by the Missouri Court of Appeals.
  • Achieving summary judgment in a coverage dispute between two major insurance companies regarding duty to defend and the allocation of risk on a series of large property damage and personal injury settlements.
  • Obtaining a defense verdict for a scoutmaster accused of sexual contact with a minor.
  • Obtaining a global settlement for the alleged source farm in a series of cases pending in several states in state and federal court over an alleged E. coli outbreak.
  • Negotiating numerous pre-suit and early settlements involving cases brought for nursing home injuries and deaths.

John’s personal interest in his clients’ well-being is sincere and deep-rooted. He works hard to resolve problems quickly so they need not lose another night’s sleep. His goal is to “fashion clever solutions” for problems, but, more importantly, he enjoys being a daily resource when no litigation is pending to help keep it that way.


Contributing editor: “Duty to Defend Compendium” DRI.

Professional Presentations

  • Featured speaker: “Mold Summit” for Federation of Defense and Corporate Counsel
  • Speaker on Missouri tort reform at various local and national seminars—including “Handling the Auto Injury claim,” National Business Institute: “Emerging Trends in Hospitality Litigation,” Federation of Defense and Corporate Counsel’s annual meeting
  • Faculty – FDCC Leadership Institute
  • Adjunct professor, Saint Louis University School of Law


  • State Bar Admissions
    • Illinois
    • Missouri
  • United States District Courts
    • United States District Court for the Northern District of Illinois
    • United States District Court for the Southern District of Illinois
    • United States District Court for the Eastern District of Missouri
    • United States District Court for the Western District of Missouri
  • United States Courts of Appeals
    • United States Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit
    • United States Court of Appeals for the Eighth Circuit
  • United States Supreme Court




United States Supreme Court

U.S. Courts of Appeals, Seventh Circuit and Eighth Circuit

U.S. District Courts, Northern and Southern Districts of Illinois, Eastern and Western Districts of Missouri

U.S. District Court, Southern District of Indiana (Pro Hac Vice)

U.S. District Court of Kansas (Pro Hac Vice)

U.S. District Court, Middle District of Florida (Pro Hac Vice)


  • American Board of Trial Advocates, (ABOTA)
  • Federation of Defense and Corporate Counsel
  • Defense Research Institute
  • The Missouri Bar
  • Illinois State Bar
  • Missouri Organization of Defense Counsel


Saint Louis University School of Law

Juris Doctor, 1982

University of Notre Dame

Bachelor of Arts, History, 1979

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