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Clark Johnson

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Ranked In Chambers | USA 2021 | Clark C Johnson

Clark Johnson’s practice focuses on complex business disputes and class action litigation. Mr. Johnson represents business entities, directors, officers and shareholders in a wide range of litigation. He has litigated and tried corporate governance and control matters, lender liability claims, shareholder disputes and derivative actions, restrictive covenant suits, securities and consumer fraud cases, construction matters and franchise disputes, among others. He has litigated cases in twenty-three states.

Examples of Mr. Johnson’s class action work include defending life insurance companies in cost of insurance increase and failure to decrease cases, vanishing premium cases, modal premium cases, DAC tax cases, effective-date cases and interest crediting cases. He has extensive experience in class litigation concerning fixed index annuities and universal life insurance. In addition, Mr. Johnson has litigated FLSA collective actions involving several difference industries, ERISA class actions, and state consumer protection act and California UCL and elder abuse matters. Mr. Johnson also has defended class actions against mortgage companies involving payoff statement fees and predatory lending, and TILA claims against credit card issues.

Examples of Mr. Johnson’s experience in securities-related litigation include the defense of a number of securities fraud class actions and shareholder suits, and prosecution and defense of FINRA arbitrations. In addition, Mr. Johnson has significant experience in representing issuers, officers and others in SEC investigations and enforcement actions, and in internal corporate investigations.

Mr. Johnson represents clients across a variety of industries including financial services and banking, construction, transportation, real estate development, food and beverage, hospitality, and manufacturing.

Prior to joining the firm, Mr. Johnson was a partner at a large regional firm for thirteen years. He also was an associate (1996-2001) and then an equity partner (2002-2004) at Jenner & Block LLP in Chicago. Mr. Johnson began his legal career as a law clerk to the Honorable S. Hugh Dillin, United States District Court for the Southern District of Indiana, Indianapolis Division.

Areas Of Practice

  • Appellate & Constitutional Law
  • Complex Commercial & Business Litigation
  • Arbitration & Alternative Dispute Resolution

Representative Matters

  • Abbit v. ING USA Annuity and Life Ins. Co. – Putative nationwide class action filed in federal court in San Diego in 2013 challenging the pricing and embedded derivatives in fixed indexed annuities (FIAs). Represented by Mr. Johnson as lead counsel, Defendant successfully moved for summary judgment on the class claims, 2016 WL 4542204 (S.D. Cal. Aug. 30, 2016), and on the individual claims, 252 F. Supp. 3d 999 (S.D. Cal. 2017). Those rulings were affirmed in their entirety by the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals. 774 F. App’x 351 (9th Cir. 2019). Other issuers facing similar FIA claims in California suffered adverse litigation rulings and entered into eight- and nine-figure settlements.
  • Avritt v. ReliaStar Life Ins. Co. – Putative nationwide class action filed in federal court in Seattle in 2007 and transferred to Minneapolis. Plaintiffs challenged Defendant’s practices concerning the crediting of excess interest on fixed annuities, largely issued in the 403(b) market. The trial court denied Plaintiff’s motion for class certification and dismissed the case. The Eighth Circuit Court of Appeals affirmed, 615 F.3d 1023 (8th Cir. 2010), in a decision that has been cited almost 900 times and remains a leading precedent in opposing class certification in life insurance and annuity litigation. Mr. Johnson argued all of the motions at the trial court in addition to the oral argument on appeal.
  • Edwards Moving & Rigging, Inc. v. Sims Crane, Inc. – Mr. Johnson served as lead trial counsel for Plaintiff in this contract and business tort action in federal court in Tampa. The court entered a partial preliminary injunction, and then Plaintiff established that Defendants were in contempt of the injunction. After a three-day bench trial in Summer 2020, the Court entered a permanent injunction in favor of Plaintiff. See 2020 WL 7707025 (M.D. Fla. Dec. 29, 2020).
  • Nautilus Ins. Co. v. SOCAYR SFH, LLC – Mr. Johnson served as lead counsel for a defendant insured in an action seeking a declaratory judgment that the defendant was not entitled to insurance coverage in an underlying litigation. The trial court granted Defendant’s motion to dismiss the suit. 2020 WL 3260995 (W.D. Ky. June 16, 2020).
  • Ohio River Valley Associates, LLC v. PST Servs., Inc. – Mr. Johnson served as lead counsel for plaintiff ORVA in this matter seeking to enjoin an arbitration commenced against ORVA. The trial court granted ORVA’s motion to enjoin the arbitration. 2018 WL 773424 (W.D. Ky. Feb. 7, 2018)
  • Private Arbitration – Mr. Johnson served as lead counsel for respondent in a three-day evidentiary hearing under the AAA Complex Commercial Rules in which the claimant asserted a variety of claims seeking to impose liability on the respondent for its subsidiary’s debts incurred in intralogistics field. The Panel issued a reasoned award in March 2021 rejecting all of those claims, and a federal judge in Atlanta thereafter entered judgment on the award in favor of Mr. Johnson’s client.
  • Tompkins v. ReliaStar Life Ins. Co.— Mr. Johnson served as lead counsel in Defendant in this matter removed to federal court in Seattle. Plaintiff claimed that Defendant substantialluy under-credited interest on certain annuities dating to the early 1980s. In December 2019, at oral argument, the trial court granted Defendant’s motion for summary judgment, and Plaintiff abandoned her appeal of that judgment.

Admissions

  • Illinois
  • Kentucky
  • United States Supreme Court
  • United States Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit
  • United States Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit
  • United States Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit
  • United States Court of Appeals for the Eighth Circuit
  • United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit
  • United States District Court for the District of Colorado
  • United States District Court for the Central District of Illinois
  • United States District Court for the Northern District of Illinois (trial bar)
  • United States District Court for the Southern District of Illinois
  • United States District Court for the Southern District of Indiana
  • United States District Court for the Eastern District of Kentucky
  • United States District Court for the Western District of Kentucky
  • United States District Court for the Eastern District of Michigan

Education

  • Indiana University Maurer School of Law, Bloomington, Indiana
    • J.D. - 1994
    • Honors: magna cum laude
  • Northwestern University, Evanston, Illinois
    • B.A. - 1989
    • Major: Slavic Languages & Literature

Clerkship

  • Law Clerk, Hon. S. Hugh Dillin, United States District Court for the Southern District of Indiana

Honors and Awards

  • Martindale-Hubbell AV-Preeminent Peer Review Rated
  • Chambers USA, “America’s Leading Lawyers for Business,” Litigation: General Commercial, 2017-2021
  • Best Lawyers in America, Mass Tort Litigation/Class Actions-Defendants
  • Benchmark Litigation magazine, Future Star, 2017
  • Kentucky Super Lawyers, 2013-2021

Professional Memberships

  • Fellow, American Bar Foundation
  • American Bar Association, Litigation Section
  • Louisville Bar Association
  • Member, Joint Local Rules Commission for the U.S. District Court for the Eastern and Western Districts of Kentucky, 2016-present
  • Member, Jefferson County (Kentucky) Business Court Docket – Pilot Project Committee, 2019-present