Meet John Vail

John Vail

A native of New Jersey, Mr. Vail has practiced across the United States and in Europe.  Before founding John Vail Law PLLC Mr. Vail served as Vice President and Senior Litigation Counsel at the Center for Constitutional Litigation in Washington, DC, a law firm dedicated to preserving the right of access to courts and the right to trial by jury.

Subjects addressed in his work include mandatory arbitration, civil procedure, federal jurisdiction, state and federal constitutional law, complex civil litigation, and public interest law. He has appeared before Congress as an expert in federal procedural law.  Two cases in which he was lead appellate counsel were featured prominently in the award-winning documentary “Hot Coffee.” John regularly advocates before  the Civil Rules Advisory Committee, the body that makes rules of civil procedure for the federal courts.  He serves on an advisory committee on civil procedure for the NAACP Legal Defense Fund.

He has maintained an active life in public service and with the academy.  From 2005 to 2010, John was president of the American Civil Liberties Union of Virginia.  Previously he had led the North Carolina affiliate of the ACLU.  He has served as Professorial Lecturer in Law at The George Washington University Law School. He serves regularly as a moot court judge at the Georgetown University Law Center Supreme Court Project and at Public Citizen.

John has worked with legal aid organizations in Tennessee, New Mexico, and North Carolina and at the Centre for Defense of Human Rights in Budapest, Hungary.

John is a graduate of the College of the University of Chicago and Vanderbilt Law School.

Here is a list of his cases in the United States Supreme Court: 

  • Security Healthcare LLC v. Boler, 135 S.Ct. 2379 (Mem.) (cert. denied)(Counsel of Record for respondent)
  •  Peterson v. Islamic Republic of Iran, 135 S.Ct. 962 (Mem.) (cert. denied) (Counsel of Record for petitioners)
  •  Allstate v. Robert Jacobsen, No. 13-916 (Counsel for Respondent)(Cert. den. May 5, 2014)
  • Beverly Enterprises v. Ping, 133 S.Ct. 1996 (Mem)(2013) (Counsel of Record for Respondent)
  • American Express Company v. Italian Colors Restaurant, 133 S.Ct. 2304 (2013)(counsel for amicus AAJ)
  • Comcast v. Behrend, 133 S.Ct. 1426 (2013) (Counsel of Record for amicus AAJ)
  • CompuCredit v. Greenwood, 132 S.Ct. 665 (2012) (Counsel of Record for amicus AAJ)
  • J. McIntyre v. Nicastro, 131 S.Ct. 2780 (2011) (Counsel for Respondent)
  • Wal-Mart Stores, Inc. v. Dukes,131 S.Ct. 2541 (2011) (Counsel of Record for Amicus AAJ)
  • Witt ex rel. Estate of Witt v. U.S., 131 S.Ct. 3058 (Mem) (denying certiorari) (Counsel of Record for Amicus AAJ)
  • Zuress v. Donley, 131 S.Ct. 3056 (Mem) (2011) (denying certiorari) (Counsel of Record for Amicus AAJ)
  • AT&T Mobility LLC, v Concepcion, 131 S.Ct. 1740 (2011)(Counsel for Amicus AAJ)
  • John J. Kane Regional Centers v. Grammer, 130 S.Ct. 1524 (Mem)(2010) (Counsel of Record for Respondent), decision below, 570 F.3d 520 (3rd Cir. 2009)
  • Jones v. Halliburton, 130 S.Ct. 1756 (Mem) (2010), certiorari dismissed (Counsel of Record for Respondent), decision below, 583 F.3d 228 (5th Cir. 2009), rehearing denied October 19, 2009 (counsel for appellee), affirming Jones v. Halliburton Co., 625 F. Supp 2d 339 (S.D. Tx. 2008) (counsel for plaintiff)
  • D’Jamoos ex rel. Estate of Weingeroff v. Pilatus Aircraft Ltd., 130 S.Ct. 2340 (Mem)(Counsel of Record), denying certiorari, decision below 566 F.3d 94 (3d Cir.2009) (counsel for appellant)
  • Milon v. Duke University, 536 U.S. 979 (cert. dismissed), decision below 355 N.C. 263 (2002), (Counsel of Record for Respondent)
  • Lisanti v. Alamo Title Co., 537 U.S. 1193 (cert. denied) (Counsel of Record for Respondent), decision below  137 N.M 750 (2002)(counsel for amicus)

Here are some other matters in which he has been involved:

Warr .v. JMGM Group, LLC, NO. 27 (Maryland Court of Appeals, July 25, 2013) (Counsel for plaintiff) – Trial lawyers often say that if you never lost a case, you haven’t tried enough of them.  The same is true in appellate law.   In this case, a drunk left a bar, having been fed at least 21 drinks, and promptly plowed his car into the rear end of another one, killing a ten year old girl and injuring three other people.  He pleaded guilty to vehicular manslaughter.  We said the bar that served him, knowing he already was drunk, should bear responsibility. Maryland’s highest court disagreed, clinging to precedent and saying that the legislature, and not the court, should change the law. Read the case and the briefs and see if you agree:

Peters v. Columbus Steel Castings Co., 115 Ohio St.3d 134, 873 N.E.2d 1258 (2007) (counsel for plaintiff) – Sometimes how you frame an issue matters.  Courts had been slow to adopt arguments that arbitration infringed on the right to jury trial.  When Mr. Vail argued that it infringed on property rights, all nine members of the Ohio Supreme Court agreed.  The Peters case set the stage for positive decisions from other courts.  Here’s the Peters Merit Brief.

Pleading Standards – When Congress wanted to know what was wrong with decisions of the Supreme Court in Iqbal and Twombly it asked Mr. Vail.  Here’s his testimony on this key matter of access to justice (PDF).

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