Michael Dockterman is a partner at Edwards Wildman. Named by The National Law Journal as one of the Top 10 Winning Litigators in the United States, and described by Chambers & Partners as a lawyer who “can see through the garbage and cut to the chase,” Mr. Dockterman specializes in complex civil and criminal business litigation, securities and derivative litigation, and in advising clients on matters of corporate governance and compliance.
Mr. Dockterman’s extensive litigation and trial experience ranges from private commercial matters through disputes with the federal government. He has appeared as principal trial counsel in state and federal courts in over half of the United States, and has tried securities, antitrust, intellectual property, environmental, contract, fraud and product liability cases, as well as a variety of amateur sports disputes, and both federal and state white collar criminal cases. Mr. Dockterman also has represented both corporate and individual interests in grand jury and other government investigations across the country involving government contracting, securities, corporate fraud, antitrust, environmental, and other regulatory matters.
In addition, drawing in part from his experience defending board actions in securities and derivative litigation, Mr. Dockterman has counseled corporations and boards of directors on matters of corporate governance and compliance, including advising board committees on fulfilling their obligations under corporate and securities laws. Working with audit committees, corporate governance committees, and special committees of independent directors in such high-profile matters as Archer Daniels Midland Company and Exide Corporation, Mr. Dockterman has hands-on experience in CEO evaluation, board self-assessment, committee function and structure, and facilitating strategic planning within the roles appropriate to management and board members. He has dealt with institutional investors in both cooperative and adversarial contexts, and has litigated issues of corporate governance in derivative litigation. Mr. Dockterman has represented management, special litigation committees, board members, outside auditors, and others in a broad variety of related securities and governance litigation, including contests for corporate control, the defense of alleged director wrongdoing, alleged misrepresentations in public offerings, alleged accounting malpractice, and other securities claims. He is currently representing boards and executives in matters arising from the new securities requirements concerning executive compensation.
Mr. Dockterman also has extensive experience handling investigations by federal, state, and local authorities. He has led corporate responses to investigations by the Department of Justice (Main Justice), the Antitrust Division, the SEC, the Department of Defense, the Department of Commerce, the Postal Service, several U.S. Attorneys offices, the Attorneys General of various states, and numerous municipal authorities. He also has conducted internal investigations for corporate clients involving subjects as diverse as defense contracting, antitrust, accounting, health care, executive misconduct, corporate theft and environmental, and other regulatory matters, and has acted as special counsel to the Bankruptcy Court investigating and then pursuing assets wasted by those responsible for their administration. Much of Mr. Dockterman’s grand jury and internal investigative work remains confidential, but some matters have become public. He also has represented lawyers before the Attorney Registration and Disciplinary Commission and other professionals before the Department of Professional Regulation.
Mr. Dockterman was the lead trial lawyer for Toys “R” Us in its successful litigation with Amazon.com over the Toysrus.com website, Toysrus.com, et al. v. Amazon.com et al., filed in 2004. He repeated that success when the appellate court affirmed the trial court’s decision to return the website to Toys “R” Us in 2006 and remanded for a further finding of damages to be awarded for the breach, which Amazon then settled by paying Toys “R” Us $51 million in 2009.
This is only one of several “once in a lifetime” cases Mr. Dockterman has tried to verdict. On four days notice, Mr. Dockterman defended the City of Chicago in an eight week trial in state court challenging the largest public works project in the country, construction of the People-Mover for O’Hare International Airport. The trial vindicated the city’s procurement process and disposed of all challenges to the City’s award of the contract.
Mr. Dockterman was engaged by directors of Archer-Daniels-Midland Corporation following a raid by the FBI on the company’s headquarters. Mr. Dockterman became counsel to the company’s newly formed governance committee, defended directors in federal and state court derivative and shareholder actions in Illinois and Delaware. The litigation was resolved by a groundbreaking settlement that ensured governance reforms in the company, affirmed by the United States Supreme Court, and ultimately led Mr. Dockterman to conduct a two-year worldwide audit of the company’s legal compliance with the agreement of plaintiffs’ counsel, the board, and the courts which approved the settlement of the shareholder claims.
Mr. Dockterman also tried the landmark “Clickety-Clack Track” trade secrets case to a successful jury verdict. At issue was whether two inventors who modified a piece of wooden toy train track under an oral non-disclosure agreement could claim ownership of the trade secret in the face of a patent obtained by the people for whom they had cut the sample so it made noise when a toy train ran over it. The jury sided with the inventors, awarding them a lifetime royalty in the track and all products developed to run on the track. The trial court entered judgment notwithstanding the verdict, but the court of appeals reversed, entered judgment for the inventors and remanded for a finding of further damages and attorney’s fees. The court of appeals opinion sets the standard by which trade secrets may be proven under the Uniform Trade Secrets Act.
Since 2010, Mr. Dockterman has been named in the Best Lawyers in America publication in the fields of Commercial Litigation, Antitrust Litigation and Intellectual Property Litigation.