Melvin L. Brooks

Melvin L. Brooks

Chicago, Illinois

Melvin L. Brooks is a partner in the law firm of James D. Montgomery & Associates, Ltd. Prior to joining the firm in 2003, Mr. Brooks was associated with the personal injury firm of Costello, McMahon & Burke, Ltd., handling cases involving construction negligence, police misconduct, products liability, and medical negligence. He has extensive experience as a civil litigator having served with the City of Chicago Law Department as Deputy Corporation Counsel and Chief Assistant Corporation Counsel of the Torts Division handling complex, multi-million dollar exposure cases. As Deputy Corporation Counsel, Mr. Brooks supervised a team of 35 lawyers. His litigation skills have been recognized by legal publications such as the National Law Journal and the Chicago Daily Law Bulletin. After Mr. Brooks successfully defended the City of Chicago and one of its police officers in the high-profile case of Sanders v. City, the case was selected for inclusion among the top 15 national defense verdicts in 1997 by the National Law Journal. In 2008, he was selected by the American Trial Lawyers Association as one of the Top 100 Trial Lawyers. Since joining James D. Montgomery & Associates, Ltd., Mr. Brooks has been successful in obtaining verdicts and settlements for his clients in excess of $25 million dollars.

Mr. Brooks is a member of the Illinois Trial Lawyers Association and the Cook County Bar Association. He is admitted to practice before the United States Supreme Court, the United States District Court for the Northern District of Illinois and is a member of the federal trial bar. Mr. Brooks regularly lectures at seminars including for the Illinois Institute of Continuing Legal Education and the Chicago Bar Association. He also published in the 1997 Edition of the Legal Defense Manual.

On October 10, 2009, Mr. Brooks received the Distinguished Service Award from the Women of Wisdom for his years of dedication to providing excellent legal services to the African-American community, and serving as a mentor and role model for African American youths.

In September 2010, Mr. Brooks was named Board Chairman for Chicago-based Habilitative Systems, Inc. ("HSI"). The agency has 14 sites across the South side and West side and administers more than 50 programs that provide support and services to more than 7000 people annually, including senior citizens and individuals with mental, physical and developmental disabilities. Habilitative System is a visionary and proactive agency that recognizes that the key to solving many of our social ills and alleviating human suffering requires a delivery of services and resources dedicated toward early intervention and prevention. Prior to his appointment as Chairman, Mr. Brooks had served as a member of HSI’s Board of Directors since 2006.

Representative Cases:

  • E2 Nightclub tragedy: Serves as lead counsel for the consolidated litigation involving the death of 21 patrons and a host of injured patrons who were trapped and trampled in a narrow staircase after the disc jockey ordered security to use mace in the overcrowded club. Although the litigation remains active against several parties, Mr. Brooks’ efforts have resulted in settlements from the owners of the nightclub, and most recently settlements from Clear Channel Broadcasting and WGCI for virtually all of the personal injury claimants and a number of the wrongful death claimants.
  • Marshall v. Schwab Rehabilitation Hospital: Obtained a $7.5 million verdict for the family of a 77-year-old woman who had diabetes, congestive heart failure, hypertension, peripheral vascular disease, coronary artery disease, a past heart attack, and a past stroke. She broke her femur and was admitted to the Schwab Rehabilitation Hospital for recovery. Shortly before discharge from Schwab, a nurse placed her on a shower chair to bathe her and because the chair seat was not properly secured, the woman was impaled with the steel tubing of the chair requiring surgery. She developed sepsis and died 7 months later.
  • Johnson v. Ford Motor Company: Confidential settlement achieved in a products liability case involving a Ford Excursion roll-over accident in which unbelted clients were thrown from the vehicle and sustained permanent and disabling injuries.
  • Obtained a $4 million, confidential settlement where client’s decedent was struck by a large, municipal motor vehicle making a right turn through an intersection. Two witnesses who were interviewed by the police and news media indicated that the decedent was running in and across the street and through traffic when the accident occurred. The decedent was survived by three adult children.
  • Salters v. City of Chicago: Obtained a settlement of $3.5 million for the family of a 57-year-old woman who was killed when her vehicle was struck by a police car responding to an emergency call. Plaintiff faced the challenge of having to establish that the actions of the officer in operating the police car amounted to willful and wanton misconduct.
  • Williams v. City of Chicago: Achieved a $2.0 million verdict for the family of a young woman who was killed when the car she was riding in was struck by a driver fleeing the police during the course of a high speed, police pursuit. The decedent and the driver of her car were both intoxicated at the time of the crash.
  • Weatherspoon v. Martin: Achieved a settlement of $1.8 million in a wrongful-death case where insurance coverage was denied and declaratory-judgment actions were pending.
  • Ford-Ott v. Chicago Transit Authority: Achieved a settlement of $1.1 million in a bus/pedestrian accident involving a minor where defendants alleged that the child darted out in the roadway.
  • Syas v. Mietus: Settlement of $1.0 million obtained for the family of a 24-year-old man killed after the Yamaha motorcycle he was riding broadsided a tractor-trailer truck. A defense witness testified that the motorcycle was traveling in excess of 90 mph at the time and left over 100 feet of skid marks on the roadway.
  • Buckner v. Boy Scouts of America: Settlement of $850,000 achieved for the family of a 13-year-old child who was killed during a boys scout ski trip in Wisconsin. The defendants alleged that the youth separated from the group and started skiing on a hill he was told to stay off of. This resulted in him colliding into a tree and sustaining fatal injuries. The circuit court also ruled that Wisconsin law would govern on the question of damages which capped wrongful death awards at $500,000.
  • Goodall v. City of Dolton: Achieved a $600,000 settlement in a police-shooting case in which decedent was armed with a knife and charged at an officer at the time of the shooting.

Areas of Practice

  • 100% Plaintiffis' Personal Injury

Litigation Percentage

  • 100% of Practice Devoted to Litigation

Bar Admissions

  • Illinois, 1985
  • U.S. District Court Northern District of Illinois, 1992
  • U.S. Supreme Court, 2009


  • University of Iowa College of Law, Iowa City, Iowa
    • Juris Doctor - 1985
  • Iowa State University, Ames, Iowa
    • B.A. - 1982

Published Works

  • "Police Pursuit Liability: Violation of General Order Did Not Constitute Evidence of Negligence or Willful and Wanton Conduct", Legal Defense Manual, Summer, 1997


  • New Attorney's Intro to Effective Law Practice, Illinois Institute For CLE, 2008 - 2010
  • Success Skills to Launch Your Career, Illinois Institute For CLE, 2002 - 2008
  • Lectures, Illinois Institute of Continuing Legal Education
  • Lectures, Chicago Bar Association

Honors and Awards

  • Board Chairperson: Habilitative Systems, Inc.("HSI"), 2010 - 2012
  • Top 100 Trial Lawyers(Selected by the American Trial Lawyers Association), 2008 - 2011
  • Distinguished Service Award, October 10, 2009

Professional Associations and Memberships

  • American Trial Lawyers Association, Member
  • Illinois Trial Lawyers Association, Member, 2009 - 2012
  • Federal Trial Bar, Member
  • Cook County Bar Association, Member, 2008 - 2010

Past Employment Positions

  • Costello, McMahon & Burke, Attorney, 2001 - 2003
  • City of Chicago Department of Law, Civil Litigator
  • City of Chicago Department of Law, Supervisor
  • City of Chicago Department of Law, Chief Assistant Corporation Counsel
  • City of Chicago Department of Law, Deputy Corporation Counsel, 1997 - 2001
  • City of Chicago-Corporation Counsel, Deputy Corporation Counsel, 1997 - 2001