Our People

John R. Climaco

Cleveland
216-522-0770
Jclimaco@ckrlaw.com
vCard

BAR ADMISSIONS

New York City Bar Association
Cleveland Bar Association
Columbus Bar Association’s Annual Litigation Institute


AREAS OF PRACTICE

Commercial Litigation
Class Actions
Investigation
White Collar and Fraud
Environmental
Securities and Enforcement
Bribery
Corruption and FCPA


ACCREDITATIONS

Life Member – Judicial Conference of the United States Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit. Received the Ellis Island Medal of Honor. Life Member – Justinian Forum, a professional organization for attorneys and judges of Italian heritage in Northern Ohio and also the Northern Ohio Italian-American Association (“NOIA”).
In 1992 and 1997, the Center for Mental Retardation selected John to receive the Service to the Center Award. In 2003 he received an award for outstanding commitment to individuals with MR/DD. In 2006 he received the Above and Beyond Award from North Coast Community Homes. He currently serves as a member of the Board of Directors of Our Lady of the Wayside.

In 2008, Our Lady of the Wayside honored John with the Starlight Guardian Humanitarian Award – celebrating those who embrace the spirit of giving.

In 2012, The Association for Retarded Citizens presented John the Lifetime Achievement Award.

January 2015, featured article- Ohio Super Lawyer.

EDUCATION

J.D. from Case Western Reserve University Law School


LANGUAGES

English

John R. Climaco, a 1967 graduate of Case Western Reserve University Law School, began his career as a sole practitioner which eventually evolved into Climaco, Wilcox, Peca, Tarantino & Garofoli Co., L.P.A., currently a 9-member law firm with offices in Cleveland and Columbus, Ohio, where he is a partner.

John is licensed to practice in the State of Ohio, as well as United States District Courts for the Northern and Southern Districts of Ohio; Central and Southern Districts of California; Eastern District of New York; Eastern and Western District of Louisiana; Eastern District of Michigan; District of Minneapolis; Eastern District of Texas; Southern District of Illinois; U.S. Courts of Appeals, Second, Fifth, Sixth, Seventh and Ninth Circuits; U.S. Tax Court; U.S. Supreme Court.

Martindale Hubbell’s highest rating, AV-pre-eminent, for legal ability and ethical standards.

National Law Journal named John one of the 100 most powerful lawyers in the United States.

Ohio Super Lawyer 2000 to present.

2013-2014 Executive Committee: The National Trial Lawyers Top 100 Trial Lawyers.

John devotes his comprehensive practice to General and Complex Litigation, including Class Actions, Securities ERISA, Mass Torts, Toxic Tort, Environmental, White Collar, Criminal Civil RICO, and Public Law matters.

Throughout his career, John has provided individuals, labor unions, private corporations and government excellent, diligent, efficient counsel including:

In 1976, Congress revised the U. S. Bankruptcy Code and created the position of Bankruptcy Examiner. In September 1980, Federal Bankruptcy Judge, Mark Schlachet, appointed John the Examiner in the White Motors Chapter 11 Bankruptcy proceedings, which at that time was the largest industrial Chapter 11 Bankruptcy case ever filed under the recently enacted Bankruptcy Code. John’s appointment as Examiner was the first appointment of an Examiner following the creation of the position.

U.S. Bankruptcy Judge O’Neil complimented John’s role as Examiner:

“The Examiner’s performance was broad in scope, highly productive and most beneficial to results achieved. The Examiner brought to the case a representation of those interests that, in my judgment, would not have existed without that role and a representation that was critical to maintain that balance. Obviously, I believe that the Examiner made significant and substantial contributions to the White Motor reorganization.” [Testimony of Wallace B. Askins, Chairman of White Motors] The Court concurs and lauds the Examiner’s effort which conferred considerable benefit to the estates. He provided an independent, investigative role at the Court’s request. Duties commendably performed included valued analyses and decisions on vital issues which proved significantly beneficial.”

Beginning in the mid-1970’s, John represented Teamster Union official, Jackie Presser, in union-related as well as personal white collar criminal matters. He served as General Counsel of the International Brotherhood of Teamsters (“IBT”) from 1984 until 1988 while still developing his Cleveland, Columbus and Washington, D.C. private practice.

As General Counsel to the IBT, among other significant matters, John:

John served as General Counsel to a newly chartered statewide Ohio Teamster Public Employee Union. As a result, at the personal request of then Ohio Governor John G. Gilligan, he quelled a statewide “wildcat strike” by an Ohio Prison Guards’ Union, which led to the enactment of Ohio’s Public Employment Collective Bargaining Laws.

SIGNIFICANT PRECEDENT DECISIONS 

Herm, et al. v. Stafford, et al., 461 F. Supp. 515 (1978), 601 F.2d 588 (6th Cir. 1979) established two-year statute of limitations in S.E.C. Rule 10b-5 security fraud litigation.

Dennis J. Kucinich, et al. v. Mercedes Cotner, et al., 1978 WL219367 (Ohio App. 8th Dist.) Cleveland City Charter reserves to the electors of the City the power to remove from office the Mayor and Members of Council.

Inland Refuse Transfer Co., et al. v. Browning-Ferris Industries of Ohio, Inc., et al., 15 Ohio St.3d 321 (1984) parole evidence is admissible in a contract dispute where the contract is not clear and unambiguous.

William E. Brock, Secretary of Labor v. Loran W. Robbins, et al., 830 F.2d 640 (7th Cir. 1987).

Albrecht v. Treon, 118 Ohio St. 3d 348 (2008). Recently, John served as Special Counsel to the Cuyahoga County, Ohio Prosecutor’s Office in a putative plaintiff and defendant class action suit filed in the United States District Court for the Southern District of Ohio against 87 Ohio county coroners and/or medical examiners in the state of Ohio who had removed, retained and disposed of body parts (brain) without prior notice to the next of kin. This was a long-standing practice involving thousands of potential claims and $100 Million dollars in damages. During meetings with attorney representatives of Ohio’s 87 counties, John advocated an aggressive litigation strategy including seeking certification of a question of state law to the Ohio Supreme Court. While other attorneys objected, John’s certified question of state law strategy was pursued. John’s strategy prevailed and the Ohio Supreme Court established the precedent that the next of kin of a decedent upon whom an autopsy had been performed do not have a protected right under Ohio law to the decedent’s tissues, organs, blood, or other body parts that have been removed and retained for forensic examination and testing. Based on the Ohio Supreme Court’s answer to the certified question of state law John proposed; the United States District Court for the Southern District of Ohio dismissed Plaintiffs’ putative class action lawsuit saving eighty-seven Ohio counties hundreds of millions of dollars in potential damages. Albrecht v. Treon, et al., 889 N.E. 2d 120.

BILLION/MILLION DOLLAR SETTLEMENTS AND JURY VERDICTS 

$246 Billion Dollar Class Action Settlement Against the Tobacco Industry

From 1994, John has been a member of the Castano Plaintiff’s Legal Committee serving as acting Chairman of the PLC and Co-Chairman of various committees, including the Discovery, Trial and Fee Committees. In 1994, the Castano class action was the first class action filed against the tobacco industry alleging the nicotine addiction theory.

Castano, along with Mississippi, Texas and Florida are recognized as Tobacco Pioneers. The Pioneers’ efforts resulted in the historic $246 Billion settlement with the tobacco industry. 

In 2000, CWPT&G and the other 50 Castano law firms received the “Breath of Life Award” from the American Lung Association for their work.

John was a member of the Castano Discovery Team in Scott, et al. vs. The American Tobacco Company, Inc., et al., Class Action Claim No. 96-8461 in the Civil District Court of Louisiana, Parish of Orleans where a jury awarded and the Supreme Court of Louisiana affirmed all Louisiana smokers right to participate in a Tobacco Industry paid $278,720,790.55 Smoking Cessation Programs.

John is co-counsel in the Coordination Proceeding Special Title (Rule 1550(b)) In Re: Tobacco Cases II in the Superior Court of the State of California for the County of San Diego, Case No. 711400. This matter alleges that the cigarette manufacturers violated section 17200 of California’s Unfair Competition Laws (“UCL”). On May 18, 2009, the California Supreme Court reversed the court of appeals decertification of a class of California residents who smoked one or more cigarettes and were exposed to the cigarette manufacturers’ fraudulent marketing and advertising activities. On March 11, 2010, Judge Prager reinstated claims involving light cigarettes. These recent precedent-setting decisions have been widely reported as preserving the California UCL.

March 22, 1992John was appointed by Thomas J. Lambros, former Chief Judge of the United States District Court, Northern District of Ohio as a member of the Plaintiffs’ Steering Committee and Lead Trial Counsel in a case against USAir arising out of the crash of Flight 405 at LaGuardia Airport in March, 1992, In Re: Air Disaster at New York LaGuardia Airport on March 22, 1992, MDL Docket No. 936 (Multi-Million Dollar Individual Plaintiff verdicts).

1999 Class Counsel in Brack, et al. vs. General Motors Corporation, Case No. CV 98 04046, Superior Court of New Mexico, County of Bernalillo (National Product Liability Multi-Million Dollar Settlement).

February 1, 2001Member of the Plaintiffs’ Steering Committee and Co-Chairman of the Discovery and Trial Committees In Re: Baycol Litigation Products, MDL 1431, U.S. District Court of Minnesota. ($1.3 Billion in Settlements).

July 6, 2001The Honorable Judge Kathleen O’Malley appointed John as Co-Lead and Class Counsel in In Re: Inter-Op Hip Prosthesis Liability LitigationMDL No. 1401, U.S. District Court, Northern District of Ohio, Eastern Division ($3.2 Billion Settlement).

March 28, 2003The Honorable Judge Donald C. Nugent appointed John as Co-Lead Counsel In re: OM Group Securities Litigation, Case No. 02CV-2163, U.S. District Court, Northern District of Ohio, Eastern Division ($92.4 Million Settlement)

September 16, 2003 – The Honorable Kathleen M. O’Malley appointed John nationwide Liaison Counsel in In Re: Welding Rod Products Liability Litigation, MDL No. 1535, U.S. District Court, Northern District of Ohio, Eastern Division. John also serves on the Class Action Certification, Discovery & Trial Committees. (June 1, 2012 – Confidential Settlement).

2006appointed Co-Lead Counsel in the matter Opperman, et al. v. Cellco Partnership d/b/a Verizon Wireless, Case No. BC 326764, Superior Court of the State of California for the County of Los Angeles which was a matter alleging consumer fraud claims on behalf of a national class. The Court approved a national class action settlement on behalf of consumers who activated Verizon wireless cellular service for a Motorola V710 telephone on or before January 31, 2005.

December 5, 2007 – $20.5 Million Dollar Jury Verdict, John was Lead Trial Counsel in Tamraz v. Lincoln Elec. Co., United States District Court, Northern District of Ohio, Eastern Division Case No. 1:04-CV-18948, In re: Welding Fume Products Liability Litigation, Case No. 1:03-CV-17000 (MDL Docket No. 1535).  The largest of only five Welding Fume Plaintiff verdicts to date. Reversed on Appeal. (June 1, 2012 Confidential Global Settlement).

September 3, 2008 ($37.5 Million global settlement) Ohio Attorney General Marc Dann appointed John Co-counsel with Bernstein Litowitz Berger & Grossmann LLP for the Lead Plaintiff the State Teachers Retirement System of Ohio in the matter In re Scottish Re Group Securities Litigation, U.S.D.C. S.D. NY, Case No. 06-cv-5853 SAS. ($37.5 Million Settlement)

January 27, 2010 Dannon Activia – $45 Million national class settlement including injunctive relief removing “scientifically proven” “clinically proven” and “immunity” language from all packaging, labeling, and advertising. John was Co-Lead Counsel and one of five Class CounselGemelas v. The Dannon Co., Inc., et al., U.S.D.C. N.D. Ohio, Case No. 1:08-cv-236 alleging violations of the consumer protection laws on behalf of a national class of consumers arising from Dannon’s contention that its DanActive yogurt is “scientifically and clinically proven” to aid digestion.

July, 2010 Fleet Oral Sodium Phosphate $100+ Million Dollar Mass Tort (443 cases) Confidential Settlement, John was appointed National Liaison Counsel by The Honorable Ann Aldrich and subsequently by the Honorable Dan Aaron Polster, In re: Oral Sodium Phosphate Solution-Based Products Liability Action, Case No. 1:09-sp-80000, (MDL Docket No. 2066), United States District Court, Northern District Of Ohio, Eastern Division.

August 3, 2011 – Cathy Pfaff, et al. v. Whole Foods Market Group, Inc., et al.United States District Court for the Northern District of Ohio, Eastern Division, Case No. 1:10CV02954. Lead Class Counsel. The settlement included monetary, equitable relief and cy pres.

December 28, 2011 – Robert Schmidt, et al. v. AT&T, Cuyahoga County Court of Common Pleas, Case No. CV-09-688788, $258,477,200.00 Claims Made Settlement including cy pres relating to AT&T’s DSL speed.

March, 2013 – In Re: Imprelis Herbicide Marketing, Sales Practices And Products Liability Litigation, MDL No. 2284 before the Honorable Judge Gene E.K. Pratter, United States District Court Eastern District of Pennsylvania. This class action settlement provided money and other compensation for damage to trees and other vegetation that was caused by an herbicide (weed-killer) called Imprelis®.

In Re: Navistar Diesel Engine Products Liability Litigation, MDL 2223, United States District Court for the Northern District of Illinois, Eastern Division. Member – Plaintiffs’ Steering Committee. The settlement covered those who purchased or leased the model year 2003-2007 Ford vehicle equipped with a 6.0-liter Powerstroke diesel engine, who may be a member of a Settlement Class and entitled to reimbursement of certain engine-related repair expenses.

March, 2013 – Donald Eliason, et al. v. Gentek Building Products, Inc., Associated Materials, LLC, et al., Case No.:  1:10CV2093 PAG, before the Honorable Judge Benita Y. Pearson, United States District Court for the Northern District of Ohio. $3 Million Settlement and warranty enhancement.

March, 2013 – School Employees Retirement System of Ohio v. Wachovia Bank, N.A., et al., Case No. 2:10-cv-1160 before the Honorable Algenon L. Marbley, United States District Court for the Southern District of Ohio. $6 Million Settlement.

In Re: Scottish Re Group Securities Litigation, Master File No. 06-CV-05853 before the Honorable Shira A. Scheindlin, United States District Court for the Southern District of New York, $37.5 Million Settlement

John was Co-Lead and Liaison Counsel in the matter In Re: Inphonic, Inc. Wireless Phone Rebate Litigation, MDL Docket No. 1792 (D.D.C.), District of Columbia, Case No. 06-528. Following Inphonic filing for bankruptcy, a settlement was negotiated.

Melissa Brock, et al. v. General Mills, Inc., et al.United States District Court Northern District of Ohio, Case No. 1:10-cv-00060, consumer fraud involving false advertising for Yoplait Yogurt. The plaintiffs alleged that Yoplait Yo-Plus made false claims about its yogurt having digestive health benefits. Yoplait and its corporate owner (General Mills) deny the claims, but the case was settled before any findings were made by the court. $8,500,000. Member – Plaintiffs’ Steering Committee.

Jemeliah Sade Smith, et al. v. Volkswagen Group of America, Inc., United States District Court Southern District of Illinois, Case No. 3:13-cv-00370. Settled Final Approval Order dated December 23, 1014. Member- Class Counsel.

PENDING CLASS ACTIONS AND MASS TORTS

The Honorable Donald C. Nugent appointed John Co-Lead and Liaison Counsel In Re: Kaba Simplex Locks Marketing and Sales Practices Litigation, MDL No. 2220, United States District Court, Northern District of Ohio, Eastern Division. Liaison and Co-Lead Counsel. Settlement in progress.

January 9, 2012 – The Honorable Ed Kinkeade, USDC for the Northern District of Texas appointed John one of the members of Plaintiff’s Steering Committee. In Re: DePuy Orthopaedics, Inc., Pinnacle Hip Implant Liability Litigation, MDL No. 2244.

In Re: POM Wonderful LLC Marketing and Sales Practices Litigation, MDL 2199 in the United States District Court for the Central District of California. Member – Plaintiffs’ Steering Committee.

In Re: Dial Complete Marketing and Sales Practices LitigationUSDC for the District of New Hampshire, MDL 2263 before the Honorable Judge Steven J. McAuliffe, Member – Executive Subcommittee.

In Re: ACTOS (Pioglitazone) Products Liability Litigation, MDL No. 2299; Judge Rebecca Doherty, United States District Court, Western District of Louisiana.

In Re: Colgate-Palmolive Softsoap Antibacterial Hand Soap Marketing and Sales Practices Litigation, MDL No. 2320, Before the Honorable Judge Paul J. Barbadoro, United States District Court, District of New Hampshire. Member – Plaintiffs’ Executive Committee.

In re: MI Windows and Doors, Inc. Products Liability LitigationMDL No. 2333, before the Honorable Judge David C. Norton, United States District Court for the District of South Carolina.

In Re: Emerson Electric Co. Wet/Dry Vac Marketing and Sales Practices Litigation, MDL No. 2382, before the Honorable Judge Henry E. Autrey in the United States District Court Eastern District Of Missouri. Member – Plaintiffs’ Executive Committee.

In Re: Shop-Vac Marketing and Sales Practices Litigation, MDL 2380, before the Honorable Chief Judge Yvette Kane in the United States District Court Middle District of Pennsylvania.

In re: Mirena IUD Products Liability Litigation, MDL 2434, before the Honorable Judge Cathy Seibel, in the United States District Court Southern District of Illinois.

CONTINUING LEGAL EDUCATION

John has lectured extensively on trial preparation and practice, RICO, ERISA, Mass Torts, Class Actions, MDL Proceedings, white collar criminal defense, labor and employment law throughout the country including the Stetson University College of Law’s Annual Conference; New York City Bar Association; Aspen, Colorado Advanced Criminal Law Institute; Case Western Reserve College of Law-CLE Program; Health Care Section Conference of the Cleveland Bar Association; the Columbus Bar Association’s Annual Litigation Institute; Institute of Business Law of California State University, Los Angeles and the Ohio CLE Institute. In January and May 2001, he was a panel member at the Mealey’s Baycol Seminar in San Diego, California. On October 24, 2003 John was a Keynote Speaker at the Fourth Annual Class Action/Mass Tort Symposium in New Orleans sponsored by the Louisiana State Bar Association.   On November 16, 2004, he was a panel member at the American Conference Institute’s Welding Rod Litigation Conference in New Orleans. On March 24, 2010 and May 12, 2010, John was a Keynote Speaker at the HarrisMartin Toyota Recall Litigation Conferences on The Tread Act: Criminal Liability for “Lying” to NHTSA About Safety-Related Defects. On December 10, 2010 John spoke on Civil RICO at the 10th Annual Louisiana Mass Torts Symposium. On January 14, 2011 John spoke on Manufacturers Civil RICO Liability at the HarrisMartin Darvon and Darvocet Recall Litigation Conference. In January 2012 and 2013, John spoke on Civil RICO Liability at the Harris Martin Transvaginal Mesh and ACTOS Litigation Conference.

John has appeared numerous times on local and national radio and television, including Good Morning America, The Today Show, Larry King Live, Night LineThe Greta Van Susteren Show, The Phil Donahue Show, CNN – Anderson Cooper and is regularly quoted in local and national newspapers discussing various legal issues.

MEMBERSHIPS AND HONORARIUMS

Life Member – Judicial Conference of the United States Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit. Charter and Life Member – Judicial Conference of the Eighth Judicial District of Ohio. United States District Court Judge Donald C. Nugent appointed John as a Member of the Advisory Group to the United States District Court for the Northern District of Ohio.   In 2009, Steven Dettlebach, United States Attorney for the Northern District of Ohio, appointed John to the U. S. Attorney Advisory Committee.

On May 6, 2000 John received the Ellis Island Medal of Honor.

Life Member – Justinian Forum, a professional organization for attorneys and judges of Italian heritage in Northern Ohio and also the Northern Ohio Italian-American Association (“NOIA”).

In 1992 and 1997, the Center for Mental Retardation selected John to receive the Service to the Center Award. In 2003 he received an award for outstanding commitment to individuals with MR/DD. In 2006 he received the Above and Beyond Award from North Coast Community Homes. He currently serves as a member of the Board of Directors of Our Lady of the Wayside.

In 2008, Our Lady of the Wayside honored John with the Starlight Guardian Humanitarian Award – celebrating those who embrace the spirit of giving.

In 2012, The Association for Retarded Citizens presented John with the Lifetime Achievement Award.

January 2015, featured article- Ohio Super Lawyer.

PERSONAL 

John is married to Carolyn. John and Carolyn have two children, John M. and Nicole and two grandchildren, ten year old John Nicholas and five year old Athena Conlyn. John M. is an attorney. He was one of the founders, President and CEO of Axial Biotech, a genetic research company in Salt Lake City, Utah. Axial Biotech discovered the gene which causes scoliosis and developed a DNA test to diagnose it. John’s daughter, Nicole, is 39. Nicole is intellectually challenged, lives independently in a home John and Carolyn built for her and three other challenged adults and works four days per week in John’s office.