Tom Pender is a trial lawyer. He has spent his entire professional career as a courtroom attorney and has tried many cases to verdict. Tom began his career at a Chicago commercial and banking litigation firm where he also worked on an assortment of plaintiff personal injury cases. At age 27, in one of his first jury trials, Tom won a then-record verdict of $4.5 million on behalf of a Ford Motor Company welder who suffered a traumatic brain injury while driving through road construction in the City of Chicago Heights . It would be the first of several notable results to garner significant press attention.
In 1995, Tom became a founding member of what today is Cremer Law, LLC, and has developed subject matter expertise in a number of different substantive areas of trial practice, including the defense of international machinery and product manufacturers, commercial disputes, class action litigation in the nation’s most notorious “Judicial Hellholes,” transportation cases, subrogation and recovery actions, and dealings with governmental regulatory agencies. His practice is truly national in its scope, and he has appeared in courtrooms in state, federal, and appellate courts around the country. Tom has also worked on investigations of incidents that came under regulatory scrutiny by the Consumer Product Safety Commission, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration, and the Mining Safety and Health Administration.
In 1999, Tom successfully defended a non-profit industry trade organization, the Truss Plate Institute, which had promulgated installation instructions relied upon by construction workers at a building where a roof collapse injured three carpenters. The trial court granted Tom’s motion for summary judgment on the basis that the organization owed no duty of care. Tom then argued the successful appeal, a case of first impression in Illinois, which has been reported in law review articles and textbooks around the country.
In one of the most tragic and significant cases in Illinois legal history, Tom was called upon to defend a vehicle inspector - the only party to go to trial - in the case of Willis v. Transamerica. The case involved the deaths of six children resulting from a taillight assembly that fell off a truck driven by a man that allegedly obtained his commercial driver’s license illegally. Discovery taken during the case ultimately led to the uncovering of the “License for Bribe” scandal in Illinois, which resulted in the conviction of more than 30 public officials and landed the former Illinois Secretary of State and Governor, George Ryan, in federal prison.
Over the course of many years, Tom defended insurance industry defendants threatened with millions of dollars of damages in “Silent PPO” class actions filed in Madison County, Illinois. Of the dozens of insurance defendants who faced Silent PPO claims, Tom’s client and one other carrier refused to settle, secured a de-certification of the class, and successfully fought the claims all the way to the Illinois Supreme Court. Tom has represented defendants in several junk fax and football concussion class action cases as well.
Tom has been a frequent contributor to professional journals and publications, with his research having been published by the Defense Research Institute and the Illinois Association of Defense Trial Counsel. He has also authored and updated a book chapter for the past thirty years on the Illinois Survival Act for the Illinois Institute of Continuing Legal Education’s Wrongful Death and Survival Actions Handbook. In 2021, The Judges of the United States District Court for the Northern District of Illinois and the Federal Bar Association bestowed Tom with their Award for Excellence in Pro Bono Service. Today, he serves as national trial counsel for several product manufacturers and continues to help guide the success and growth of our firm.