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Johnson & Bell, Ltd. Shareholder, John W. Bell, successfully defended his client, Commonwealth Edison, in an alleged retaliatory discharge case in the Circuit Court of Cook County. The trial was held between January 12, 2010 and January 27, 2010 which resulted in a verdict in favor of Commonwealth Edison.

The plaintiff was employed at a unit of Commonwealth Edison called IES that provided back up generators and related services to commercial customers. The business involved the use of outside contractors to do the actual installation work. There were allegations made against the plaintiff that he was pushing his employees to use an outside contractor who ran a company that was later discovered to be owned by the plaintiff’s brother. The plaintiff subsequently alleged that an IES engineer was being bribed in return for business by another outside contractor. The allegations were investigated and found to be without merit. At the close of 2002, the IES business was struggling and a corporate decision was made to lay off a manager and engineer. The plaintiff was the lowest performing manager and was laid off which he claimed was in retaliation for his good faith report of bribery.

After suit was filed by the plaintiff, it was discovered that he had misrepresented his employment background when he applied to Commonwealth Edison. He claimed to have been a Vice President of a large electrical contracting firm when, in fact, he had operated sixteen companies between 1984 and 2000 that had either failed or been dissolved in bankruptcy. This evidence was presented to the jury to establish an affirmative defense that had Commonwealth Edison known the material misrepresentations, they never would have hired him. The jury deliberated for four hours before returning a verdict in favor of Commonwealth Edison.