Charles S. Bergen
For more than 30 years, Chuck Bergen has represented sophisticated clients in their most complex and financially significant cases, helping them achieve their objectives through litigation, arbitration and mediation.
Clients regularly turn to Chuck in emerging areas of the law, where there may be a novel or unique set of facts and little or no case law precedent. Time and again, he masters the issues, develops winning legal theories and takes matters to court on behalf of his clients. He has delivered precedent-setting successes in areas as disparate as database privacy law, securities law, sovereign immunity, antitrust, insurance law and defamation.
Chuck’s practice also includes complex contract actions, allegations of fraud and breach of fiduciary duties and intellectual property matters. Although he tends to represent defendants, as plaintiff or counter-plaintiff, he has won multiple judgments in excess of $50 million and tried to verdict cases ranked in the annual Top 100 verdicts list.
Clients represented include well-known companies such as American Express, Redbox, British Airways, First Chicago, Wells Fargo, Hanover Direct, Segway, Inc., Allianz Insurance, Republic Tobacco and the National Hockey League Players’ Association. He also represents a variety of private equity, financial, trading and other nonpublic entities in complex litigation.
As member of the Trial Bar of the Northern District of Illinois for over 30 years, Chuck has tried cases lasting over three months and others lasting only a day. He has briefed and argued dozens of appeals in federal and state courts, including the Sixth and Seventh Circuits and the state courts of California, Texas, Michigan and Illinois. He is admitted to the bar of the United States Supreme Court.
Over the past 20 years, Chuck has been selected by peers as a Fellow of the Litigation Counsel of America, a Member of the Leading Lawyers’ Network, an Illinois Super Lawyer® and as one of Chicago’s Best Lawyers® for commercial litigation. In 2015, he was appointed Visiting Professor at Vilnius University, Vilnius, Lithuania, where he taught international students a course on “American Business Litigation.” He taught the course again as Visiting Professor at Turiba University in Riga, Latvia in 2017. Currently, Chuck serves as president of the Harvard Club of Chicago, the oldest continuously operating Harvard Club in the United States.
Harvard Law School, J.D., 1981
Harvard College, A.B., 1977
Financial and Commercial Litigation
Intellectual Property Litigation
Class Action Litigation
Prior Law Firms
Grippo & Elden, 1988-2015, Original Partner
Reuben & Proctor (including, by merger, Isham Lincoln & Beale) 1983-88 Associate
State of Washington (1981); State of Illinois (1984)
United States Supreme Court (2003)
United States District Court for the Northern District of Illinois (1984), Trial Bar (1985)
United States Courts of Appeals for the Third, Sixth, Seventh, and Ninth Circuits
United States District Court for the Western District of Washington
United States District Court for the Eastern District of Michigan
Tribal Court, Lac du Flambeau Band of Lake Superior Chippewa Indians (2014)
Visiting Professor, “American Business Litigation,” Vilnius University, Vilnius, Lithuania (2015)
Honors and Awards
Fellow, Litigation Counsel of America
Selected, Best Lawyers®, Commercial Litigation
Member of the Leading Lawyer’s Network
• As lead counsel for bondholders of bonds issued by a Tribal Economic Development Corporation, won a preliminary injunction upholding waiver of sovereign immunity by the debtor, and barring further proceedings in Tribal Court, affirmed on appeal, despite earlier adverse ruling (against predecessor counsel) that federal courts lacked jurisdiction over the dispute. Stifel, Nicolaus & Co., Inc. v. Lac Du Flambeau Band of Lake Superior Chippewa Indians, 980 F.Supp.2d 1078 (W.D. Wis. 2014), aff’d, 807 F.3d 184, (No. 14-2150)(7th Cir. 2015)
• Trial counsel for partners in two different privately-held health care concerns, each of which dealt with partnership dissolution issues. In one instance, the case went to judgment, awarding control of the entity to our client; in the other, we negotiated a highly satisfactory resolution prior to the initiation of any legal proceedings.
• As lead counsel for DVD-kiosk-rental pioneer Redbox, filed antitrust actions against Universal/NBC, Twentieth Century Fox and Warner Brothers seeking to assure Redbox’s steady supply of new-release DVDs to rent to consumers. Successfully resolved all three actions during discovery phase. See Redbox Automated Retail LLC v. Universal City Studios LLP, et al., No. 08- 766 (RBK) (D.Del. Aug. 17, 2009).
• Lead counsel in arbitrations and litigation for several private equity funds in post-closing disputes involving allegations of fraud, misrepresentation, breach of warranties and breach of fiduciary duties.
• Trial and appellate counsel for privately held trading group in litigation and arbitration arising from breaches of trading agreements and mishandled orders. Emerald Investments L.P. v. The Equitable Life Assurance Soc., 2005 WL 3470296 (N.D. Ill. Dec. 19, 2005).
• Lead counsel in a case awarding our client the largest general damages verdict ever awarded on a defamation claim in Illinois. Republic Tobacco, L.P. v. North Atlantic Trading Co., Inc., 254 F. Supp. 985 (N.D.Ill.), aff’d 381 F.3d 717 (7th Cir.) (reducing damages award to equal the prior record amount). Also obtained summary judgment on the antitrust claims for the client, establishing before trial that the relevant geographic market was national in scope.
• Trial counsel to Fireman’s Fund Insurance Co. in one of the first injury-in-fact insurance coverage cases to go to trial, as well as follow-up litigation against our insurance client’s reinsurers. Dow Chemical v. Associated Indemnity Corp., 1991 WL 568033 (E.D. Mich.). Trial and appellate counsel to International Insurance Company in a four-month jury trial concerning insurance coverage for Dow Corning silicone breast implant claims.
• Trial and appellate counsel in three alleged class actions, one in California, one in New Jersey and one in Oklahoma, challenging our client’s practice of charging a fee for insurance as part of its mail-order product delivery practices. We successfully defended our client from allegations of fraud and/or unfair or deceptive trade practices, in all three cases. See Wilson v. Brawn of California, Inc., 132 Cal. App. 4th 549 (Cal. Ct. App. 2005) (decided on the merits); Martin v. Hanover Direct, Inc., No. IN-96715 (Okla. Ct. App. 2005) (reversing trial court’s certification of class); Morris v. Hanover Direct, Inc., No. 8830-02 (Bergen Cnty., N.J. Feb. 14, 2005) (denial of class certification).
• Successfully obtained multiple temporary restraining orders and preliminary injunctions protecting our clients from rip-off artists and counterfeiters in trademark protection actions relating to diverse areas including paper products, lighting products, tobacco and tobacco-related products.
• Successfully defended an action filed against the NHL Players Association in a California court stemming from the NHLPA’s trading card licensing program. CQL Original Products v. National Hockey League Players Ass’n, 39 Cal. App. 4th 1347 (Cal. Ct. App. 1995). On behalf of the Chicago Wolves professional hockey team in Rosemont Hockey Partners, L.P. v. Benoit and World Wrestling Enterprises, No. 04 C 0966 (N.D. Ill.), literally sued the pants off a former professional WWE wrestler who misappropriated a trademarked image belonging to the Wolves.
• As lead counsel for American Express, won the first reported cases dealing with privacy rights in the context of electronic databases. Dwyer v. American Express, 273 Ill. App. 3d 742 (1st Dist.), (described as the “leading” case in the database-privacy field.) Two other alleged privacy class actions were later dismissed.