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Synergy Forum
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Synergy Forum

We are thrilled to be partnering with the Illinois Manufacturers' Association for this special event. We hope to see you there!

When: Thursday, April 11, 2019
8:00 a.m. - 5:45 p.m.
Where: Itasca Country Club
400 E. Orchard
Itasca, Illinois  60143
United States
Contact: Sandra Wulf

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Synergy Forum

When two or more organizations come together they begin functioning at a new level. The partnership of the Illinois Association of Defense Trial Counsel (IDC) and the Illinois Manufacturers’ Association (IMA) at the 2019 Synergy Forum will boost the value and effectiveness of both groups and, more importantly, our members. Join us on this synergy adventure, as we seek new solutions to old problems and creatively address the challenges that lie ahead for manufacturers and their defense counsel.

The 2019 Synergy Forum, presented by the IDC and the IMA will be held April 11, 2019 at The Itasca Country Club in Itasca, IL. The Forum is the event at which you will learn about the hot topics facing the manufacturing community and their defense counsel.

Synergy doesn’t happen on its own. We must combine our efforts to advance our missions. We hope you will join us at the 2019 Synergy Forum – through your participation we will all find the synergy to move our associations ahead.


Thursday, April 11, 2019

8:00 - 9:00

Registration, Continental Breakfast & Visits with Exhibitors

9:00 - 9:10 
Welcome, Announcements and Introductions
9:10 - 10:10

Do You Work Here? - Hot Topics in Employment Law and Workers' Compensation

Featured Speakers: Aaron Gelb, Conn Maciel Carey LLPKimberly Ross, Ford Harrison, LLP and R. Mark CosiminiRusin & Maciorowski

 In this two-part presentation, we will first cover various state and local employment laws in Illinois that are: 1) frequently overlooked; 2) misunderstood; 3) new, newer, or coming in the near future; 5) unknown to many; and 6) different than federal law. In the second part of this discussion, we will cover recent changes to the Illinois Workers’ Compensation Act and potential changes to the Act. We will also be discussing the impact the changes will have on employers’ exposure, insurance coverage, and the overlap between the Workers’ Comp changes and other areas of law.

10:10 - 11:10 

It’s a Jungle Out There! – Evolving Illinois Environmental Regulatory Scheme
Featured Speakers: Sarah Langeliers, P.E., BBJ Group, LLCDanielle Luisi, Matushek Nilles LLC, and Alec Messina, HeplerBroom LLC

 With a change in the Governor’s Mansion and new leadership at the Illinois EPA, the regulated community and those that represent them should be prepared for a number of changes at the legislative, regulatory, and policy level. This presentation will focus on those changes that are currently underway, and what may be right around the corner.

11:10 - 12:25

Closing Pandora’s Box: Cybersecurity, Data Privacy Legislation and Litigation in 2019 and Beyond
Featured Speakers: Kristin Ahmadian, Lowis & Gellen, LLP, S. Richard Carden, McDonnell Boehnen Hulbert & Berghoff LLP, and Patrick Stufflebeam, Tressler LLP

 This session will discuss the importance of cybersecurity in light of the prevalence of data breaches, the duties to disclose the same, and the fines and penalties for failing to do so. It will discuss Illinois’ groundbreaking privacy legislation, including the Illinois Biometric Information Privacy Act and the Illinois Personal Information Protection Act, their interplay with federal law, and recent court decisions interpreting the same such as Rosenbach v. Six Flags Entertainment Co. Cybersecurity best practices and risk assessments will also be discussed.

12:25 - 1:25 Luncheon
1:25 - 2:25

Pay #MeToo – Understanding Equal Pay Requirements and Staying Violation-Free
Featured Speakers: Jessica Holliday, Brown & James, P.C. and Autumn Sharp, Lowis & Gellen, LLP, and Courtney Thompson, ROC Group

 The #MeToo movement is a hot topic which has not only prompted changes in how employers are handling claims of sexual harassment, but also how employers are handling demands for pay equality for those individuals who have historically not received the same pay for the same work. The push for equal pay is not only based on pay disparities related to gender, but also, in certain jurisdictions, related to race. Legislatures and courts are now looking at every aspect of what can cause pay disparity and what must be done to eradicate it.

This presentation will address:

  • Pay disparities across the nation and in Illinois—numbers and current headlining cases
  • Employer requirements under the Illinois Equal Pay Act of 2003 and the federal Equal Pay Act
  • Which employees are protected
  • When pay differentials are permitted, and employers’ affirmative defenses
  • How long employees have to file a complaint
  • Who is liable for violations and potential penalties
  • The possible banning of inquiries regarding past salary history—where things stand, what could change, and how that will impact salary determination and negotiations for employers
  • How employers can check to make sure they are not in violation—and create goodwill while doing so
  • Similar laws passed in other states
  • Removal of affirmative defenses for employers
2:25 - 3:25

Litigation Grab Bag – All the Ways to Go Wrong!
Featured Speakers: Sandy Morris, Valentine, Austriaco & Bueschel, P.C., Eric Moch, HeplerBroom, LLC, Steve Grossi, Bruce Farrel Dorn & Associates, and Bradley Smith, Keefe, Campbell, Biery & Associates, P.C.

In this rapid-fire session, experienced Illinois litigators explain recent developments in hot-button areas of employment law, from social media policies to concealed carry laws. We’ll have a high level discussion on best practices in litigation and do a deep dive into pending legislation that may affect the use of special interrogatories in a jury trial.

3:25 - 4:40 

Weed for All? - The Changing Landscape of Cannabis Law
Featured Speaker: David Ritter, Barnes & Thornburg LLP and Kyle Westbrook, HeplerBroom LLC

This presentation will focus on the changing laws regarding cannabis both federally and statewide. It will touch on areas such as how it will affect employment laws/policies, insurance coverage, and what the future holds in general for legal work. Finally, it will go over the licensing process and the inevitable change from medical to recreational cannabis laws in Illinois.

4:40 - 5:45 Cocktail Reception

Featured Speakers

Kristin A. Ahmadian, Esq. is a Partner with the law firm of Lowis & Gellen LLP in Chicago, Illinois. She practices in both the Medical Malpractice Defense Litigation Group, as well as the Corporate Governance & Compliance Group at the firm, combining her knowledge of the two to handle issues such as HIPAA Compliance, Data Privacy, and Cybersecurity. Lowis & Gellen is an international firm with offices in Illinois, Arizona, Florida, and London, providing both litigation and corporate consulting services for individuals and corporations on domestic and cross-border transactions.

S. Richard Carden is a partner with McDonnell Boehnen Hulbert & Berghoff LLP. Mr. Carden is a seasoned trial attorney, with experience in both jury and bench trials in the Federal Court System, as well as in private arbitration. His patent litigation experience spans diverse technologies, including trading software, pharmaceuticals, medical devices, diagnostic equipment, telecommunications products, injection-molding systems, and automotive refrigerants. He has also litigated trademark, trade dress, and unfair competition issues. Mr. Carden has previously served as managing partner of the firm, partner in charge of Information Technology and as chair of the Litigation Section Support Group. In these roles, Mr. Carden has developed expertise on cybersecurity and data privacy issues. He also maintains status through the International Association of Privacy Professionals as a Certified Information Privacy Professional / US (CIPP/US), Certified Information Privacy Professional / Europe (CIPP/E) and a Certified Information Privacy Manager (CIPM), and is actively involved in several organizations related to international data privacy issues, particularly as they relate to litigation.

R. Mark Cosimini is a partner with Rusin & Maciorowski. He has been with the firm since 1997 and is the managing partner in the firm’s Champaign and Carbondale offices. His practice is focused on representing employers in Workers’ Compensation cases, and he also defends liability cases throughout central Illinois. Mark previously served two terms on the IDC Board of Directors, and he is currently serving on the Legislative and Tort Law Committees for the IDC. He has also served on the Workers’ Compensation Section Council for the ISBA. Mark has lectured at legal seminars and he frequently speaks with employers on issues relating to Workers’ Compensation matters.

Aaron R. Gelb is a partner in Conn Maciel Carey LLP’s Chicago office. He specializes in labor and employment, and OSHA litigation. Mr. Gelb represents employers in all aspects of the employer-employee relationship. He has extensive experience litigating equal employment opportunity matters in federal and state courts having tried a number of cases to verdict and defending employers before the EEOC as well as fair employment agencies across the country; in the past 5 years alone, Aaron has successfully handled more than 250 discrimination charges. Aaron also has a particular emphasis on advising and representing clients in relation to inspections, investigations, and enforcement actions involving federal OSHA and state OSH programs, and managing a full range of litigation against OSHA.

Steve Grossi is an attorney with Bruce Farrel Dorn and Associates, the State Farm Mutual Automobile Insurance Company Claim Litigation Counsel office in Chicago. He is an experienced trial attorney with a practice focused on the defense of automobile negligence, premises liability, and other personal injury matters. Mr. Grossi graduated from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, where he earned both his J.D. and B.A with a double major in economics and psychology.
Jessica S. Holliday is a partner with Brown & James, P.C., practicing in the firm’s Belleville, Ill., office. She has been with the firm since 2011. Jessica focuses her practice on premises liability, transportation, and employment matters. In addition, she has argued before the Illinois Fifth Appellate District. Jessica graduated from the Saint Louis University School of Law. She serves as a judge for moot court competitions at Saint Louis University School of Law, as well as mock trial competitions at Washington University School of Law. She also participates as an arbitrator in the St. Clair County, Ill., mandatory arbitration program. As a college graduate of the University of Tennessee, Jessica is an avid supporter of Tennessee athletics.

Sarah Langeliers is a Senior Engineer with BBJ GROUP in Chicago. She is an experienced project manager who specializes in environmental permitting and compliance for facilities throughout the United States, with an emphasis on air quality permitting and reporting for industrial facilities, chemical plants, mining operations, power generation, fuel terminals, and wastewater treatment plants. Over the past 11 years, Ms. Langeliers has managed environmental projects including major (Title V) and minor source permit applications, regulatory analyses, emission inventories, air dispersion modeling, and control technology analyses. Projects include: Title V renewal applications; New Source Review applications; regulation applicability analyses; control technology analyses (BACT/MACT/LAER); complex dispersion modeling analyses; emission factor development; and emission inventory preparation. Ms. Langeliers has also served as a contract regional environmental manager for a chemical manufacturing company and the corporate environmental manager for a nationwide construction company. 

Danielle R. Luisi is an attorney with the law firm Matushek Nilles LLC, where she focuses her practice on the defense of toxic tort, environmental disputes, and other complex litigation matters. She has experience defending clients in various industries against claims alleging personal injury as a result of toxic exposures. Ms. Luisi also serves as part of the national coordinating counsel and trial teams for multiple corporations defending asbestos and talc claims locally and throughout the country. She is involved in all aspects of the litigation process and has successfully achieved favorable defense rulings for her clients through effective motion practice and trial preparation. Ms. Luisi has significant trial experience as a former prosecutor in the civil and criminal bureaus of the Cook County States’ Attorney’s Office. She is licensed in Illinois and Missouri and is a member of the Defense Research Institute, Illinois Association of Defense Trial Counsel, Women’s Bar Association of Illinois, and Chicago Bar Association.
Alec Messina of HeplerBroom LLC in Springfield has 20 years of experience in environmental law, policy development and implementation, and legislative advocacy. Prior to joining HeplerBroom, Messina served as the Director of the Illinois EPA, and before that as the Policy Adviser for Environment and Energy in the Office of the Governor, where he oversaw policy development and implementation for six state agencies, including the Environmental Protection Agency, Department of Agriculture, Department of Natural Resources, Illinois Commerce Commission, Illinois Pollution Control Board, and Illinois Power Agency. Before joining the Governor’s Office, Messina worked as Executive Director of the Illinois Environmental Regulatory Group, a company-based association with the primary mission of influencing the development of policy, regulatory, and legislative environmental matters in Illinois. He has also served as Chief Legal Counsel for the Illinois EPA and the Office of the State Fire Marshal, and has held various other positions inside and outside of state government.

Eric W. Moch of HeplerBroom LLC focuses his practice on the defense of injury claims involving insurance fraud, including medical fraud, organized activity and staged and caused losses, as well as first and third party coverage and bad faith defense. His insurance fraud practice entails the defense of insurers and their insureds against fraudulent claims at trial and the pursuit of civil recoveries for national insurance carriers which have resulted in financial recoveries against medical fraud perpetrators. Mr. Moch counsels and represents national insurers, businesses, not-for-profit organizations and individuals in a variety of matters and litigated disputes. He has extensive civil litigation experience in Illinois state and federal courts, including in excess of fifty jury verdicts, oral arguments before the Illinois Supreme Court and Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals and several published appeals.

Sandy L. Morris of Valentine Austriaco & Bueschel P.C. in Chicago advises employers in business and employment litigation. Sandy has broad experience representing employers in connection with discrimination and retaliation claims and purported wage and hour class actions. She advises current and potential employers about restrictive covenants and litigates the enforceability of non-competition, non-solicitation, and non-recruitment provisions. She also has particular expertise representing clients regarding contract disputes and claims of tortious interference and other business torts. Sandy is a member of the Northern District of Illinois Trial Bar and has an active pro bono practice.

David Ritter of Barnes & Thornburg LLP in Chicago represents management nationwide in virtually all areas of labor and employment law. David’s goal is to identify what each client seeks to achieve and then realize that end. With more than 30 years of experience representing public and private companies, as well as nonprofit entities, David has counseled clients in service and manufacturing industries, ranging from hospitality to healthcare to logistics, financial services and auto. David defends employers faced with state or federal claims under a wide range of employment laws, including discrimination, harassment, retaliation, restrictive covenants, breach of contract and employment torts. David routinely represents clients before governmental agencies, including the National Labor Relations Board, the Department of Labor, Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, the Office of Federal Contract Compliance Programs and similar state agencies. David has handled matters in most of the 50 United States. David counsels and advises high-level executives on issues related to employment agreements, separation agreements and restrictive covenants. In addition, he handles affirmative action plans and employment issues related to corporate transactions. He counsels employers on day-to-day employment issues, as well as assists in employee training related to employment issues. David is experienced at resolving complicated legal issues and disputes in a timely and efficient manner. 

Kimberly Ross is a partner in the Chicago office of Ford & Harrison LLP. She concentrates her legal practice on defending and counseling management in employment law matters. Kimberly's experience includes harassment and discrimination claims under Title VII and the Illinois Human Rights Act, the ADEA, ADA, FMLA, and FLSA, as well as non-compete agreements, whistleblower claims, negligent hiring, supervision and retention, and retaliatory discharge. Ms. Ross conducts seminars, provides training and on proper employment practices including hiring, effective discipline and discharge, performing investigations, maintaining personnel files and properly classifying employees under the FLSA, reviews and drafts employee handbooks, employment policies, employment contracts, and severance agreements. She received her undergraduate degree from the University of Michigan in 1992 and her J.D. from DePaul University College of Law in 1996. She is a past Editor of the IDC Quarterly.

Autumn Sharp is an attorney with Lowis & Gellen LLP focusing her practice on advising and representing employers in a variety of employment law matters, including compliance with federal, state and local employment laws, and issues relating to hiring and firing, compensation and benefits, non-compete/non-solicitation agreements, and employment and severance agreements. Ms. Sharp has presented on several topics, including sexual and discriminatory harassment compliance, and diversity and inclusion in the workplace. Ms. Sharp is licensed in Illinois and Ohio, and is a member of the American Bar Association, the Chicago Bar Association, and the Cook County Bar Association.

Bradley J. Smith is a partner at Keefe, Campbell, Biery & Associates, LLC where he manages the firm’s civil litigation and trial practice. He handles a variety of defense cases including, employment law, general liability, products liability, and other similar tort areas of the law. He also routinely advises his clients on general liability and employment law issues.

Patrick W. Stufflebeam is a partner in the St. Louis Metro Office of Tressler LLP. He concentrates his practice on the defense of civil litigation including toxic tort (asbestos, talc, and benzene), premises liability, product liability, commercial litigation, and insurance coverage issues. Patrick also maintains a practice in assisting individuals and businesses with cybersecurity and privacy issues, corporate formation, reorganization, acquisition, and contracts. Patrick obtained his law degree from Saint Louis University School of Law after graduating from the Western Illinois University. He is a member of the Illinois Association of Defense Trial Counsel (twice elected Director, 2011-2017), Madison County Bar Association, International Association of Privacy Professionals, and the Claims and Litigation Management Alliance. Patrick holds an AV Preeminent® rating with Martindale-Hubbell and was named a 2018 Leading Lawyer by Leading Lawyers, Products Liability Defense and Toxic Torts Defense.

Courtney Thompson is a Managing Consultant at ROC Group. She brings more than 20 years of communications experience which includes public relations, internal and executive, employee, and human resources communications. Courtney also brings expertise in public affairs, community engagement and government operations. Before joining ROC Group, Courtney was with The Boeing Company where she held several executive positions including senior director, government operations, leading the company's regional government and community outreach efforts, director of employee communications, and the communications leader for the company’s human resources and administration organizations. Prior to Boeing, Courtney led HR communications for RR Donnelley, and was a consultant at Coopers & Lybrand and Burson-Marsteller. She received her BA from Providence College and an MBA from Northwestern University's Kellogg School of Management.

Kyle Westbrook of HeplerBroom LLC in St. Louis counsels new and existing businesses who are looking to start and/or operate a legally compliant medical marijuana business such as dispensaries, cultivation operations, and manufacturing of infused products. Kyle has focused his efforts in Missouri as of late due to their passing of Amendment 2 and legalizing medical cannabis. He also provides legal assistance to an existing medical cannabis dispensary business in Southern Illinois. Finally, Kyle specifically focuses his efforts in this industry by assisting investment group start-ups or current businesses with the licensing application process, general business formation, state and local municipality lobbying efforts, legal transactions, and other general matters.

Continuing Legal Education Credit

The program has been approved by the Illinois MCLE Board for 6.5 hours of continuing legal education (CLE) credit. This course does not offer professionalism credit.

We will apply for the following CLE credit in other states:

  • Indiana 6.5 CLE; 0.0 Professionalism
  • Iowa 6.5 CLE; 0.0 Professionalism
  • Missouri 7.8 CLE; 0.0 Professionalism
  • Wisconsin 7.8 CLE; 0.0 Professionalism

Events Committee

Joshua SchumacherHeplerBroom LLC, Chair

Amanda L. ZinkLipe Lyons Murphy Nahrstadt & Pontikis Ltd.

Denise Baker-Seal, Brown & James, P.C.

Laura Beasley, Joley, Oliver & Beasley, P.C.

James P. DuChateauHeplerBroom LLC

Sheina R. Long, Foley & Mansfield PLLP

Bradley C. NahrstadtLipe Lyons Murphy Nahrstadt & Pontikis Ltd. 

Kelly A. PachisLowis & Gellen, LLP

Seminar Fees

Attorneys in Private Practice

  • IDC Members $195
  • Non-Members $295

Manufacturers, Insurance or Corporate Professionals COMPLIMENTARY

Industry Partners - Companies which provide services to the defense and/or manufacturing communities $395

Registration for this event includes Synergy Forum materials, Continuing Legal Education Credit, plated lunch, and great networking opportunities at the Cocktail Reception.

Justification Letter

Need approval from firm leadership to help pay/offset your expense for attending the Synergy Forum? If so, follow this link to view a Justification Letter template for you to use when making the request to your firm. 

Refund Policy

Refunds must be requested in writing and will be made according to the following schedule:

  • 100% Refund – Through March 13, 2019
  • 50% Refund – March 14 - 31, 2019
  • No Refund – April 1 - 11, 2019

Substitutions for your registration may be made. However, only one copy of seminar materials will be offered per registration. Please submit substitution information in advance of the event. 


Please contact the Illinois Association of Defense Trial Counsel at 800-232-0169 or if you have any questions.