John M. Hands


John is skilled in complex business and commercial litigation, governance disputes and D&O litigation, and construction litigation.  John has extensive knowledge and experience representing systems integrators in Enterprise Research Planning software disputes and litigation. Publicly owned and privately held clients benefit from his 30 years of trial and appellate experience in these areas. John successfully litigates and arbitrates cases across the nation to meet his client’s objectives. He is equally adept at serving as a risk advisor to clients and in bringing about informal resolution of disputes out of court when desirable.  John also has extensive experience with all types of ADR proceedings including serving as a private mediator and arbitrator. Additionally, aided by his litigation background, John drafts and negotiates commercial, and construction contracts and related documents.

John has been repeatedly selected by his peers for inclusion in The Best Lawyers in America© (2015-2019) in the field of Commercial Litigation. John has also been consistently named to the Ohio Super Lawyers list (2007-2019) and has achieved the highest rating, AV Preeminent®, from Martindale-Hubbell®. John is also the Past President of the Ohio Association of Civil Trial Attorneys, and is President of ProKids, a community non-profit that serves at-risk children in the child protective and juvenile court systems.

Education & Admissions


  • Miami University

    (B.A., 1983)

  • University of Cincinnati College of Law

    (J.D., 1988)


  • State of Ohio
  • Commonwealth of Kentucky
  • U.S. Supreme Court
  • U.S. Court of Appeals, Sixth Circuit
  • U.S. District Court, Northern District of Ohio
  • U.S. District Court, Southern District of Ohio
  • U.S. District Court, Eastern District of Kentucky
  • U.S. District Court, Southern District of Texas



  • Represented one of the country’s leading providers of SAP implementation services in litigation with the largest privately held toy manufacturer in the world. Toy manufacturer brought claims for breach of contract, negligence and fraud, and counter-claims were asserted for breach of contract and unjust enrichment on behalf of client. The case was resolved after a two-day mediation resulting in a significant payment to the client.
  • Served as defense counsel for global financial institutions in a variety of litigations related to residential mortgages, including disputes involving alleged securities act violations, breach of contract, fraud, and alleged “robo-signing” of affidavits in connection with foreclosure practices.
  • Successfully defended an IT client and one of its officers in a multi-million dollar breach of contract, negligence, and fraud case, obtaining judgment on the pleadings in favor of the clients on seven of eight counts.
  • Obtained defense verdict on all claims asserted by the owner/developer of a multi-phase commercial construction project against the general contractor after a three-week jury trial. Client was awarded a significant six-figure verdict on general contractor’s delay damages counter-claim.
  • Represented a bar and restaurant in a DRAM Shop action involving a motorcycle accident in which a patron was killed and a non-patron was catastrophically injured. Substituted as appellate counsel for the bar and restaurant after the grant of summary judgment was affirmed on appeal to the Twelfth District. Prevailed on motion for reconsideration in the Twelfth District, and in the Ohio Supreme Court at the jurisdictional level and on motion for reconsideration.
  • Obtained a high six-figure judgment on behalf of a subcontractor against commercial developers on contract claims relating to non-payment for construction services and improvements on a large public project.
  • Served as counsel in state and federal courts in Ohio and Kentucky representing the manufacturer and distributor of post-surgical “pain pumps” in approximately 20 separate “mass tort” medical device product liability lawsuits.
  • Obtained a dismissal with prejudice on all claims against a banking client and several of its officers in a multi-million dollar lender liability case, and obtained affirmance in the First District Court of Appeals.
  • Represented a commercial sub-dealer client in a private binding arbitration and obtained a six-figure arbitration award for the full amount requested on behalf of sub-dealer client based upon claims for breach of contract and unjust enrichment against the dealer for failing to pay commissions.
  • Obtained a voluntary dismissal of all claims against a luxury yacht manufacturer in a lawsuit brought by the supplier of hundreds of thousands of dollars of wood veneers to the yacht manufacturer’s New Zealand-based subcontractor responsible for completing the interior finishes to the yacht.
  • Obtained a judgment in favor of an institutional trustee of a testamentary trust in a declaratory judgment action brought in defense of claims asserted by the trust beneficiary, which had demanded a multi-million dollar lump sum distribution from the trust.
  • Disposed of fiduciary claims against global supplier of paper goods and its individual members arising from dissolution of third party business venture through extensive motion practice.
  • Defended regional construction company and its members against claims by competitor sounding in breach of fiduciary duties, breach of contract, tortious interference with prospective business advantage, conspiracy, and unjust enrichment.
  • Defended corporate CFO of national convenience stores against breach of fiduciary, fraud, and conversion claims by credit card processing company and other state regulators.
  • Defended international affiliates of the Catholic Church against claims by technology vendor sounding in breach of contract, fraud, unjust enrichment, and conversion.
  • Represented a former CFO of a bankrupt company who was being pursued personally by the State of Ohio for millions of dollars of unpaid motor fuels taxes. Obtained a favorable decision nullifying the default taken against the client and permitting the client to defend the tax claims on their merits.
  • Obtained summary judgment on behalf of a utility marking company for allegedly negligently marking utilities prior to construction under the Ohio Utility Protection Statute in connection with a large commercial construction project.
  • Obtained summary judgment and affirmance on appeal on behalf of an architectural firm in a multi-million dollar negligent design/architectural malpractice case relating to the design and conversion of downtown parking garages into upscale condominiums.
  • Obtained a directed verdict at the close of plaintiff’s case during trial on behalf of an excavation subcontractor in a negligence/defective construction case involving the alleged wrongful death of a 14-year old boy who drowned on a construction site.
  • Served as trial counsel in jury trials following automobile accident, securing defense verdicts in cases involving claims of wrongful death and personal injuries.


  • Privett v. QSL-Milford, LLC, 139 Ohio St.3d 1408, 2014-Ohio-2245
  • Privett v. QSL-Milford, LLC, 138 Ohio St.3d 1450, 2014-Ohio-1182, 5 N.E.3d 668
  • Five Star Fin. Corp. v. Merchants Bank and Trust Co., 2013-Ohio-3097
  • Five Star Fin. Corp. v. Merchants Bank & Trust, 192 Ohio App. 3d 544, 2011-Ohio-314
  • Columbia Gas of Ohio, Inc. v. Columbus Asphalt Paving, Inc. (2005), 142 Ohio Misc. 2d 88, 2005 Ohio-7163
  • Jurgens Real Estate Co. v. R.E.D. Const. Corp. (1995), 103 Ohio App. 3d 292
  • Stanton v. Miller(1990), 66 Ohio App. 3d 201

Publications & Presentations


  • “Update Concerning Cincinnati’s Bidding Requirements For MSD Construction Project,” Ulmer & Berne LLP, Client Alert (January 2014)
  • “Cincinnati Changes Bidding Requirements Concerning Sewer District, Storm Water, and Water Works Construction Projects,” Ulmer & Berne LLP, Client Alert (May 2013)
  • “Five Points to Consider When Leasing Construction Equipment,” ACC Lexology (June 2012)
  • “Ohio Authorizes Construction Manager At Risk Standard Requirements For Public Facility Construction,” The Update, by the Ohio Association of Civil Trial Attorneys (Spring 2012)
  • “Defending Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder Claims,” Deliberations, Vol. V., Issue 1
  • “Reform Act Clarifies Product Liability Actions,” The Greater Cincinnati Business Record, Vol. II, No. 41


  • “Legal and Ethical Issues in the Construction Industry – Managing and Receiving Top Value for Legal Services,” Construction Leaders of Tomorrow 2012 (May 2012)
  • “The Challenge of Leadership,” DRI Central Region Meeting (April 2010)
  • “IRS Governance Policies for Nonprofits,” DRI Central and Mid-Atlantic Region Meeting (May 2009)
  • “What Can DRI Do For Your SLDOs?,” DRI Central Region Meeting (April 2008)
  • “Minimizing Engineering Liability Exposure: Understanding Ohio Liability Law,” HalfMoon Seminars (December 2007)
  • “Trying the Negligence Case Under Tort Reform,” Ohio Association of Civil Trial Attorneys Meeting (1998)
  • “OHIO TORT REFORM: A Summary of House Bill 350,” (1997)
  • “Update on Status of Those Injured Upon Premises,” Ohio Association of Civil Trial Attorneys Meeting (1996)
  • “Construction Defect Litigation,” (1995)



  • Ohio Association of Civil Trial Attorneys (Member, Co-Chair – Diversity Committee, Past President and Past Member of the Board of Trustees)
  • Ohio State Bar Association
  • Kentucky Bar Association
  • Cincinnati Bar Association (Member and Past Chair of Construction Law Committee; Member of Tort and Insurance Law Committee)
  • Northern Kentucky Bar Association
  • ProKids of Hamilton County (President, Board of Trustees)
  • Defense Research Institute
  • Claims & Litigation Management Alliance
  • Diversity Law Institute (Member)
  • The Trial Law Institute (Member)
  • Cincinnati Academy of Leadership for Lawyers Fellow
  • National Institute of Trial Advocacy Graduate
  • Hamilton County Court of Common Pleas (Mediator)



  • AV Preeminent Peer Review Rated – Martindale-Hubbell
  • Named to The Best Lawyers in America®, Commercial Litigation (2015-2019)
  • Named to the Ohio Super Lawyers list (2007-2019)
  • Exceptional Performance Citation – Defense Research Institute (2010)
  • President’s Award – Ohio Association of Civil Trial Attorneys (2010)
  • Fellow, Litigation Counsel of America



photo-(1)John has served on the Board of Trustees of ProKids since 2009 and currently serves as the President of the Board. ProKids is Hamilton County’s CASA volunteer program, one of more than 900 CASA volunteer programs nationwide, and part of the National CASA Association. ProKids was founded in 1981 by Hamilton County Juvenile Court, the Cincinnati Bar Association, and the Junior League of Cincinnati. ProKids trains volunteers to become Court Appointed Special Advocates (CASAs). Each CASA volunteer is assigned to a foster child, making sure the child’s needs are met, that the child is safe, and helping each child move into a safe, permanent, and nurturing home.