John B. Kearney
John B. Kearney

John B. Kearney

Partner

kearneyj@ballardspahr.com
Tel 856.761.3482
Fax 856.761.1020
New Jersey

John B. Kearney is Managing Partner of the New Jersey office. He is known for his skill in representing clients at trial and in litigation in an array of complex civil cases. He routinely collaborates with other attorneys across the firm's various practice areas to ensure that clients have the most comprehensive resources at their disposal in preparing and trying cases. He also has extensive experience serving as co-counsel with national law firms in complex litigation matters.

Mr. Kearney has represented a wide range of individuals and businesses, including Fortune 500 companies, in various cases. His experience includes:

  • Toxic torts 
  • Environmental litigation 
  • Class actions 
  • Commercial litigation 
  • Product liability 
  • Personal injury, including wrongful death

In addition to his trial experience, Mr. Kearney has extensive experience in alternative dispute resolution, including arbitration and mediation.

Representative Matters  

    • Represented a major oil refiner in a New Jersey state court wrongful death case involving a 24 year old former marine who allegedly died of AML from exposure to benzene found in various products during the course of his military service at Camp Pendleton, California. Mr. Kearney successfully obtained summary judgment on the issues of product identification and proximate cause by showing that the decedent's estate had not carried its burden of proving that jet fuel sold by his client was ever used by the military at Camp Pendleton during the time the decedent was stationed there.
    • Represented a major oil refiner in a federal case involving the deaths of two contractors, who allegedly died of asphyxiation as a result of exposure to nitrogen during the course of their work. The case settled after several days of trial. Sanctions awarded against plaintiffs' counsel for willful misconduct in causing a mistrial were upheld by the Third Circuit.
    • Represented this same client in a state court wrongful death action. The decedent allegedly contracted a form of leukemia known as CLL as a result of exposure to benzene and other toxic substances at various refineries. Mr. Kearney successfully sought the client's removal from the case on summary judgment by showing no link between the onset of the disease and any alleged exposure at the client's refinery. 
    • Obtained summary judgment against a plaintiff who claimed it had an oral contract to buy commercial properties. Plaintiff had been negotiating with the seller over terms of a proposed option, but the seller entered into a written agreement with our client first. On motion, Mr. Kearney convinced the court that there was no enforceable oral contract.
    • Prevailed after a seven-day bench trial in federal court in a shareholder dispute on behalf of a franchisor corporation. The court found that the corporation's oral agreement to repurchase another shareholder's stock for the price he originally paid years ago was enforceable. The court also found in favor of the corporation on all breach of fiduciary duty and financial impropriety counterclaims, and that the defendant's stock had been fully repurchased due to his failure to pay franchise fees.
    • Obtained a seven-figure settlement for a major national bank through the use of a two-day mediation conducted prior to filing suit against the directors and officers of a closely held corporation for breach of fiduciary duty. In so doing, the client was saved both time and money, as expensive litigation was averted and the client recovered funds several years earlier than it could have in litigation.

Pro Bono Experience

Mr. Kearney has represented individuals and groups in various pro bono cases over the course of his career in the state and federal courts.

Professional Activities

American Bar Association

New Jersey Fellow, the American Bar Foundation

New Jersey State Bar Association, past Chair, Product Liability and Toxic Tort Section

Association of the Federal Bar of New Jersey, Trustee, 2011-present

Camden County Bar Association, past Co-Chair, Environmental Law Committee (now the Environmental, Real Estate and Land Use Committee) (1989-2006); past Chair, CCBA's The Barrister Editorial Board; past Trustee of CCBA (1989-1992)

U.S. District Court for the District of New Jersey, court appointed arbitrator, 2017-2020

Rutgers University School of Law, past Adjunct Law Professor; taught pre-trial advocacy to second- and third-year law students, 2008

Recognition & Accomplishments

William A. Dreier Award, presented by the New Jersey State Bar Association in recognition of excellence in and advancement of product liability and mass tort law in New Jersey, 2017

Chambers USA: America's Leading Lawyers for Business, litigation: general commercial law, 2007-2017

The Best Lawyers in America, commercial litigation, product liability litigation - defendants, 2013-2018

AV Peer Review Rating, Martindale-Hubbell 

Publications

Co-author, "Getting Digital Dirt into Evidence: Authentication and Hearsay Issues," New Jersey State Bar Association, Product Liability and Mass Tort Section Newsletter, September 2017 

Interviewed in "Ballard Spahr's John B. Kearney on Social Media and Litigation," Philadelphia's Best Lawyers, March 2015

Chapter author, "Current Trends in Litigation Involving the Use of Social Media," Understanding the Use of Social Media in Litigation: Leading Lawyers on New Evidence Collection Methods and Necessary Precautions for Clients, published by Thomson Reuters Aspatore Books for the Inside the Minds™ series, 2014

Co-author, "Smartphones Can Make for Dumb Juries," New Jersey Law Journal, February 11, 2013

"Fighting Over Facebook: Different Approaches by Different Judges," New Jersey State Bar Association's Product Liability and Toxic Tort Section Newsletter, Volume 13, No. 1, May 2012

Co-author, "A Survey of Products Liability Cases From the Past Year," New Jersey State Bar Association's Product Liability and Toxic Tort Law Section Newsletter, Volume 12, No. 2, January 2011

"A Trial Lawyer Looks at ADR," Alternative Dispute Resolution Settlements and Negotiations, Aspatore Books, 2006

Co-author, "Consumers Have Changed, So Why Not the Law? Defending Claims under the New Jersey Consumer Fraud Act," 182 New Jersey Law Journal, 933, December 5, 2005

"Post-Trial ADR — The Appellate Mediation Option," Defense Research Institute's ADR Choices Newsletter, Chicago, Summer 1999

Speaking Engagements

Frequent lecturer on eDiscovery, social media in litigation, products liability law and ethics.

"Game of Drones, Autonomous Vehicles, and Other Connected Devices," Delaware State Bar Association, Wilmington, April 12, 2017

"Social Media For Litigators:  Make It Your Tool, Not Your Trap," ALAS Video Webcast, February 24, 2016

Moderator, "Data Breaches & Cyber Threats: What Law Firms & Their Clients Need to Know About 21st Century Threats to Their Business," Ballard Spahr CLE for Free, February 10, 2016

"Cutting Edge Technology for Sole Practitioners & Small Firms-Social Media in Litigation," NJAJ Educational Foundation, Inc., February 6, 2016 

"Social Media in Litigation and the Workplace: Legal and Ethical Issues," Ballard Spahr CLE for Free, May 19, 2015

"Social Media in Litigation: Legal and Ethical Issues," Camden County Superior Court Professionalism Day Seminar, October 14, 2014

"Social Media in Litigation," New Jersey Association for Justice Annual Fall Seminar, The Meadowlands, November 14, 2013 

Moderator, "Cybersecurity and the Law: Are You and Your Clients Safe?" Camden County Bar Association CLE program, November 12, 2013

"Social Media in Litigation," New Jersey State Bar Association Annual Meeting and Convention, Atlantic City, May 16, 2013

Moderator, "Cyber Security: Keeping Data Safe and Fighting Back When It Is Stolen," Camden County Bar Association CLE seminar, Cherry Hill, N.J., May 8, 2013

"Product Liability/Toxic Tort Toolbox – Five Topics To Make Your Products Litigation Practice Better," New Jersey State Bar Association's Annual Meeting and Convention 2012, Atlantic City, May 17, 2012

Moderator, "eDiscovery & Social Media in Litigation: Practical, Legal & Ethical Issues," Camden County Bar Association, May 9, 2012

Panel moderator, "Social Media and Litigation: Issues Affecting Lawyers, Litigants, Judges and Jurors," Association of the Federal Bar of New Jersey, 36th Annual U.S. District Court Judicial Conference, March 22, 2012

"The Uses of Social Media in Litigation: Emerging Ethical Issues," New Jersey State Bar Association's Products Liability and Toxic Torts Section Winter Meeting, February 15, 2012




University of Pennsylvania Law School (J.D. 1976)
Arthur Littleton Legal Writing Fellow, 1975-76

The College of the Holy Cross (B.A. 1973, magna cum laude)

New Jersey

Pennsylvania

U.S. District Court for the District of New Jersey

U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania

U.S. Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit

U.S. Supreme Court