Shawn J. Gebhardt

Counsel

Shawn is an experienced business litigator who works primarily with sophisticated clients in the Consumer Packaged Goods (CPG) manufacturing sector, particularly in the food, beverage, supplement, and pharmaceuticals industries. He has developed winning legal strategies in numerous false advertising and consumer protection matters for clients across the country, including matters involving the Organic Foods Production Act, the Infant Formula Act, and the Lanham Act, as well as federal and state consumer protection laws.

Shawn has represented clients in state and federal courts across the country, as well as in federal multidistrict litigation, class action matters, and private arbitrations. He has managed complex litigation involving both domestic and foreign entities, conducted effective internal investigations, and strongly advocated for his clients’ interests in negotiations with regulators and business competitors.

Education & Admissions

Education

  • University of Missouri, Kansas City

    (B.A., with distinction, 2003; M.A., 2005)

  • University of California Berkeley School of Law

    (J.D., 2008)
    Senior Publishing Editor, California Law Review

Admissions

  • State of Illinois
  • U.S. Court of Appeals, Second Circuit
  • U.S. Court of Appeals, Seventh Circuit
  • U.S. District Court, Northern District of Illinois
  • U.S. District Court, Southern District of Illinois
  • U.S. District Court, Central District of Illinois

Experience

  • Defended a Fortune 100 health care and nutritional product company against nationwide and state-specific, putative, class action claims that the company’s organic infant formula product was falsely labeled “organic” under federal law.
  • Consulted food and other CPG manufacturers on slack fill compliance and risk minimization issues.
  • Advised food and beverage manufacturers on glyphosate risk management and supply chain best practices.
  • Defended an auditing firm in securities fraud class actions filed by the stockholders and bondholders of a former audit client following the disclosure of a multibillion dollar financial statement fraud orchestrated by the audit client’s senior officers. After extensive discovery and a favorable ruling at the class certification stage, the parties settled on terms favorable to the auditor.
  • Defended two Fortune 500 pharmaceutical companies in connection with mass tort litigation involving testosterone replacement therapy.
  • Represented a Fortune 100 manufacturer of cable television set-top boxes in litigation against a supplier. The manufacturer alleged that the supplier’s U.S. and Italian entities committed negligence, misrepresentation, interference with contractual relations, and conspiracy in the course of supplying defective electronic components to the manufacturer for inclusion in set-top boxes sold in India. After Shawn briefed, argued, and won a motion to compel production and demonstrated the strength of the manufacturer’s case, the parties settled on terms favorable to the manufacturer.
  • Defended and obtained a favorable settlement for an auditing firm in state court litigation against the firm’s former audit client, in which it was alleged that the auditing firm’s accounting advice and audit work were inconsistent with GAAP, GAAS, and the Sarbanes-Oxley Act.
  • Defended an auditing firm in an AAA arbitration proceeding against a former audit client, a Fortune 500 health care company. Following the disclosure of a multibillion-dollar, financial statement fraud at the company orchestrated by its own senior officers, the company alleged that the auditor failed to conduct several audits in accordance with professional standards. After 103 days of arbitration trial proceedings over the course of two years, the panel of three arbitrators unanimously granted judgment in favor of the auditing firm.
  • Represented a private golf club in litigation seeking damages for destruction of property and trespass. In the litigation, Shawn second-chaired a mandatory, nonbinding arbitration proceeding and successfully obtained an award from the panel in favor of the client. When the opposing party rejected the award and opted to go to trial, Shawn second-chaired the bench trial and successfully obtained a significant judgment from the judge.
  • Represented a real estate investment manager in a breach of contract dispute with a business partner following that partner’s failure to separate pursuant to the terms of a buy/sell agreement between the parties.

Publications & Presentations

Client Alerts

Publications

  • “Class Certification Insights From McCormick Slack-Fill Suit,” Law360 (August 2019)
  • “Organic Labeling Litigation: What to Watch for in 2019,” Food Manufacturing (January 2019)
  • Continuing Legal Education for Attorneys Performing Pro Bono Service (White Paper prepared for the Appleseed Foundation), Feb. 2014.
  • Attorney’s Declaration of Hours Worked by Paralegal Insufficient to Support Award (News & Developments piece prepared for ABA Section of Litigation Trial Evidence Committee), Jan. 2014.
  • Illinois Appellate Court Rules in People v. Richardson (News & Developments piece prepared for ABA Section of Litigation Trial Evidence Committee), Jan. 2014.
  • “Full Faith and Credit for Status Records: A Reconsideration of Gardiner,” California Law Review, 97 Calif. L. Rev. 1419 (2009).

Presentations

  • “SEC Enforcement: Priorities, Initiatives & Trends: Enhanced Blockchain/Cryptocurrency Regulation and Enforcement,” CLE Lecture (November 2018)
  • “SEC Enforcement: Priorities, Initiatives & Trends: The Perils of Using Social Media in Securities Sales/Disclosures,” CLE Lecture (November 2018)
  • “ESI Preservation and Collection,” CLE Lecture (June 2017)

Involvement

COMMUNITY INVOLVEMENT

  • Institute of Food Technologists (Member)
  • Institute of Food Technologists, Chicago Section (Professional Development Committee)
  • Loyola University Chicago School of Law, Adjunct Professor, Advocacy
  • National Immigrant Justice Center (Co-Chair of the Junior Leadership Board)
  • Village of Skokie Fine Arts Commission (Commissioner, 2017-2019)

Honors

  • Named a “Rising Star” by the National Immigrant Justice Center (2017)