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John E. Sebastian

About the Authors

John Sebastian is the managing partner of Watt, Tieder, Hoffar & Fitzgerald, L.L.P. Chicago office. John received his B.S. in Construction Engineering Technology from Purdue University in 1990 and his J.D. from Northern Illinois University College of Law in 1995. He is admitted to practice in Illinois, Michigan, Ohio and Wisconsin, multiple federal district courts and pro hac vice admissions in other states.

John is a member of the American Bar Association, Vice-Chair of the Fidelity and Surety Law Committee of the Tort Trial and Insurance Practice Section (TIPS), Associated General Contractors of America Ė Chicago Chapter, Construction Financial Management Association (CFMA), National Bond Claims Association (NBCA), Northern Illinois Home Builders Association (NIHBA) and Society of Illinois Construction Attorneys (SOICA). John is also recognized by Illinois Super Lawyers (2012Ė2015), Martindale-Hubbell rated in ethics and legal ability, Leading Lawyers Network in Construction Law (2013Ė2015).

He focuses his practice primarily in the areas of surety bond, construction and commercial litigation. With an undergraduate degree in Construction Engineering Technology, and a wealth of practice experience in-house and in private practice, he is well equipped to both counsel and protect his construction industry clients in their challenging legal matters.

John has represented sureties, contractors, architects, engineers, design/builders, and trade contractors in payment disputes, design defect claims, delay claims, defective work claims, and contractor, subcontractor and owner bankruptcies. His construction law matters include defective design, delay and disruption, labor productivity analyses, contract interpretation, differing site conditions, and surety bond and mechanics lien claims. John has also handled complex commercial litigation, including fidelity bond claims, common law fraud, breach of contract matters and preserving and prosecuting creditorsí claims in bankruptcy.

John counsels and advises clients on contract preparation, administration and termination, mechanics liens, and surety claims and defenses, as well as contractor, subcontractor and owner bankruptcies. He has extensive experience in claim preparation, prosecution and dispute resolution on federal, state, municipal and private contracts. John has significant litigation experience before both federal and state courts as well as the American Arbitration Association on a wide variety of suretyship, construction law, commercial litigation and bankruptcy issues.

Johnís background and experience in the construction industry is a unique asset he brings to his practice. His knowledge and understanding of his clientsí business needs and challenges in the construction arena enable him to handle complex matters efficiently from a business perspective.

Frank Marsico

Frank Marsico joined Watt, Tieder, Hoffar & Fitzgerald in 2013 in the firmís newly-opened Chicago office. He concentrates his practice in construction and surety law, providing a full range of transactional and litigation services to his clients. Frank received his B.A. from Marquette University in 1992 and his J.D. from DePaul University College of Law in 1995 where he was a member of the Moot Court Society National Appellate Team and obtained a Supreme Court of Illinois Rule 711 License, which allowed him to try over a dozen felony bench trials on behalf of the Cook County Stateís Attorneyís Office of Felony Trial Division as a third-year law student. He is admitted to practice in Illinois, multiple federal district courts and pro hac vice admissions in other states.

Frank is a member of the American Bar Association, the Fidelity and Surety Law Committee of the Tort Trial and Insurance Practice Section (TIPS) and Northern Illinois Home Builders Association (NIHBA). He is also recognized as a Leading Lawyers Network (2011Ė2015).

In the areas of construction, surety and mechanics lien law, Frank represents owners, general contractors, subcontractors, design professionals, insurance companies and other corporate entities in litigation and transactional matters. His representation of these clients includes a wide variety of actions, including those involving breach of contract, indemnity, performance/payment bond claims, lien foreclosures, fidelity bond claims, interpleader actions, conversion/imposition of constructive trust, banking law and bankruptcy. He also has extensive experience in FELA defense litigation, complex class action litigation, civil rights defense, insurance coverage, commercial and tort litigation.

Frank actively participates in state and federal court. His litigation experience in criminal and civil cases includes bench and jury trials, hundreds of depositions, multiple successful dispositive motions avoiding the necessity for trial and all other aspects of litigation from the initial pleadings stage through post-judgment proceedings.

Bert Chollet

Bert Chollet joined Watt Tieder in 2013 in the firmís Chicago office. He focuses his national practice in the areas of construction and surety law, providing a full range of transactional and litigation services. Bert received his B.A. in Political Science from Carson-Newman College, B.A., Political Science in 2001 where he also was also recognized for the Algernon Sydney Sullivan Award and received his J.D. from University of Memphis Cecil C. Humphreys School of Law in 2005 where he was also the Notes and Comments Editor, University of Memphis Law Review and recognized for the Deanís Award for Distinguished Service, Deanís Award for Academic Excellence for Best Appellate Brief, Cecil C. Humphrey Law Fellowship and CALI Awards for Securities Regulation and Cyberlaw. He is admitted to practice in Illinois and Tennessee, multiple federal district courts and pro hac vice admissions in other states.

Bert is a member of the American Bar Association, the Tort Trial and Insurance Practice Section, former co-chair of FSLC Young Professionals Subcommittee Forum on Construction Industry and Tennessee Association of Construction Counsel.

Bert's clients include owners, contractors, design professionals, sureties, land developers, and other corporate entities. His practice includes contract negotiations and formation, contract litigation and alternative dispute resolution specifically for clients in the construction industry. His experience enables him to represent clients in all phases of complex litigation in both federal and state courts in addition to arbitration and mediation proceedings.

Bert is able to address a variety of matters for his construction clients, including, but not limited to:
  • Bond claims and mechanics liens
  • Contract negotiation for public and private projects
  • Indemnity
  • Delay and cumulative impact claims
  • Bankruptcy claims and litigation
  • Wrongful termination claims
  • MBE and DBE matters with the City of Chicago, various state governments and the federal government
  • Subdivision development projects
Bert also has extensive experience representing sureties in multi-project defaults, including the investigation and defense of performance and payment bond claims on private and public projects, negotiation of takeover and completion agreements, and performance of completion work. He has also supervised site inspections for experts and attorneys in construction, product liability and negligence litigation.

Before joining Watt Tieder, Bert practiced at a construction and commercial litigation boutique in Memphis, Tennessee and at a national Chicago-based law firm. Bert began his legal career as an appellate clerk for The Honorable Holly M. Kirby, Judge of the Tennessee Court of Appeals.

During law school, Bert was a judicial extern to The Honorable Diane Vescovo, Magistrate Judge of the U.S. District Court, Western District of Tennessee. As part of his law fellowship, Bert was a research assistant to Professor David S. Romantz.

Eric Kjellander

Eric Kjellander joined Watt, Tieder, Hoffar & Fitzgerald in 2013 in the firmís Chicago office. He focuses his practice in commercial litigation and construction and surety matters, providing a full range of transactional and litigation services to his clients. Eric received his B.A. in History and Political Science from The Ohio State University in 2004 and his J.D., cum laude, from John Marshall Law School in 2010 where he was a Staff Editor, The John Marshall Law Review and recognized for the Deanís List, CALI Award for Real Estate Transactions and Trial Advocacy and Dispute Resolution Honors Council. He is admitted to practice in Illinois, multiple federal district courts and pro hac vice admissions in other states.

Eric is a member of the American Bar Association, the Illinois State Bar Association and the Chicago Bar Association.

Throughout his career, Eric has assisted a wide variety of clients, including contractors, sureties, and other corporate entities. His practice includes contract negotiations and formation, contract litigation and alternative dispute resolution (ADR), Eric also represents businesses and individuals in complex litigation in both federal and state courts.

To address the specific and multifaceted needs of his clients, Eric handles common law fraud claims; breach of contract claims, and preserving and prosecuting creditorsí claims in bankruptcy; payment/performance bond claims; lien foreclosures; indemnity actions; payment disputes; and design defect, differing site conditions, bid protests, delay and defective work claims and other construction related claims. Additionally, Eric has extensive experience representing sureties in multi-project defaults, including the investigation and defense of performance and payment bond claims on private and public projects, negotiation of takeover, tender and completion agreements, and performance of completion work.

Eric began his legal career at a national Chicago-based law firm in 2010. During law school, he worked as a research assistant to Professor Debra Pogrund Stark focusing on real estate transactions. Additionally, Eric served as a legal intern with the Illinois Department of Revenue (2010); as a legal intern in the office of the Associate Chief Counsel of the U.S. Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (2009); and as a judicial intern to the Honorable Michael H. Watson of the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Ohio (2008).

Lauren E. Rankins

Lauren E. Rankins is an associate in Watt Tiederís Chicago office. She first joined the firm in 2013 as a law clerk. She then received her J.D., cum laude, from The John Marshall Law School in 2014. During law school, she was a Staff Editor for The John Marshall Law Review and Presiding Barrister for the Trial Advocacy & Dispute Resolution Honors Council. She was also recognized as part of the Deanís List, a winner of the Dean Fred F. Herzog Moot Court Competition and a frequent competitor on a number of Mock Trial and Alternative Dispute Resolution competition teams. Prior to law school, Lauren received her B.A. in Sociology with an emphasis in Criminal Justice and a minor in Forensic Science and Business Management from The University of Wisconsin-Whitewater in 2011. At The University of Wisconsin-Whitewater, Lauren was a four-year varsity intercollegiate athlete, received many awards for her participation in intercollegiate athletics and was the recipient of the Marty VanSteenderen Sportswoman of the Year Award.

Lauren is admitted to practice in Illinois, multiple federal district courts and pro hac vice admissions in other states. She focuses her national practice in the areas of construction and surety law, providing a full range of transactional and litigation services. Laurenís clients are owners, contractors, design professionals, sureties, and other corporate entities. Her practice includes contract negotiation, contract litigation and alternative dispute resolution. Lauren is able to address issues surrounding payment and performance bond claims on private and public projects, mechanics liens, indemnity demands, design defect, delay and defective work claims, subdivision development disputes, bid protests and the negotiation and completion of takeover and tender agreements.