John B. Williams is a member in Cozen O’Connor’s Litigation Department, resident in the Washington, D.C., office. He joined the firm in 2012 and has more than 30 years of trial experience. John has tried cases in 15 states, and has appeared in over 30 federal courts and seven courts of appeal. He is a Fellow of the American College of Trial Lawyers.
John maintains a diverse litigation practice, handling high-profile commercial, advertising, antitrust, intellectual property, tort, and First Amendment disputes:
Commercial Litigation — John has tried a large number of cases alleging violations of the Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act (RICO) and other federal statutes and regulations as well as state law claims involving breach of contract, fraud, breach of fiduciary duty, and breach of warranty. He has obtained five multi-million dollar verdicts, including the largest verdict ever returned under the federal Mandatory Petroleum Allocation Regulations. In 2001, John successfully represented R.J. Reynolds in the three-month Blue Cross/Blue Shield RICO trial before Judge Jack B. Weinstein. More recently, he represented the noted philanthropist, Gerard L. Cafesjian, in his long-running battle to recover title to a number of real estate properties in Washington, D.C.
Advertising Litigation — John has significant experience in all types of advertising litigation, including cases brought by the Federal Trade Commission, cases brought by the state attorneys general, consumer class actions, and private Lanham Act litigation. He successfully defended R.J. Reynolds in the commercial speech case filed by the Federal Trade Commission challenging the cartoon character, Joe Camel. He successfully defended Mobil Oil Corporation when seven state attorneys general, as well as the FTC, challenged Mobil's Hefty degradable bag claim. In related class action litigation, John was responsible for obtaining a seminal decision in the area of advertising law when the 3rd Circuit held that the RICO statute could not be used to pursue false advertising claims. In Lanham Act litigation, John has obtained a number of preliminary injunctions on behalf of his clients.
Antitrust Litigation — John represented Lukens Steel, Bethlehem Steel, and Mobil Oil Corporation in a series of bid rigging cases in the electrical construction industry. He also represented one of the defendants in the Florida Power & Light oil trading conspiracy. More recently, he was asked to advise the Alaska Legislature in the BP-Arco merger and obtained a multimillion dollar award against the Professional Golfers Association of America, in which the jury found the PGA to have violated Sections 1 and 2 of the Sherman Act. The jury also found the defendants liable for breach of contract and entered a substantial award of punitive damages.
Intellectual Property Litigation — John has handled patent and trade secret cases on behalf of Allegheny-Ludlum, Mobil Oil, Energy Conversion Devices, and Trex Corporation. In one case in which Mobil Oil was accused of patent infringement, the jury returned the trifecta: a verdict of noninfringement, invalidity, and unenforceability. At the time it was the first case in decades in which a jury in the U.S. District Court for the District of Delaware had invalidated a patent.
Tort Litigation — John has recently been trying cases on behalf of R.J. Reynolds in the series of “Engle progeny” (smoking and health) cases currently pending in the Florida courts. Previously, he tried cases on behalf of Merrell-Dow Pharmaceutical Corporation in connection with the Bendectin birth defect litigation.
First Amendment Litigation — John has represented both plaintiffs and defendants in libel and slander cases. He represented G. Gordon Liddy in his 10-year lawsuit against John W. Dean and Ida Maxie Wells arising from Liddy’s endorsement of a revisionist theory of Watergate. During this litigation, John conducted the deposition of virtually every living Watergate figure, including John Ehrlichman, Charles Colson, Howard Hunt, Jeb Stuart Magruder, and John Dean. The case was successfully tried to a defense verdict in 2002. On the plaintiffs' side, John represented Dr. Steven Levin in the "Dirty Doctor" case, in which Levin was unjustly accused by WJLA of sexually abusing his patients. The jury returned the largest defamation verdict ever affirmed on appeal in the Commonwealth of Virginia. In other First Amendment litigation, John represented Lt. Colonel Martha McSally in her successful challenge of the Department of Defense regulation that required American servicewomen stationed in Saudi Arabia to wear the Islamic abaya. He is presently representing the noted climatologist, Michael Mann, in a high-profile defamation case.
In addition to his trial practice, John is active in other professional and community endeavors. He is an adjunct professor at the Columbus School of Law of the Catholic University of America and is on the faculty of the National Institute for Trial Advocacy. He is the former chair of the District of Columbia State Committee of the American College of Trial Lawyers. John is a founder and chairman of the District of Columbia Breakthrough Collaborative, a nonprofit summer and after-school program for disadvantaged middle school students, and he formerly served on the board of trustees of St. Andrews Episcopal School, where he was general counsel until 2002. John also coaches Little League baseball and youth league basketball, occasionally with success.
John earned his bachelor’s degree from Hamilton College in 1974 and his J.D. from Columbus School of Law of Catholic University of America in 1978.