Northwestern University School of Law, J.D.
Hope College, A.B.
With decades of experience representing contractors, industrial companies, financial organizations and corporate fiduciaries, Raymond Fylstra is a proven litigator and trusted advisor to businesses and individuals in matters before private administrative bodies and state and federal courts.
In his 40-plus years of law practice, he’s successfully argued many complex construction cases, insurance disputes, real estate lawsuits, oil and gas litigation, Uniform Commercial Code matters, intellectual property claims and will contests, and defended executors and trustees. Many of these cases involved lengthy, multi-party jury and bench trials or private arbitrations involving complex transactional disputes.
Raymond is the member of Miller Canfield's Professional Ethics Committee.
Represented a general contractor in defending a $5 million mechanics lien claim filed by a demolition subcontractor for the re-development of the historic Palmolive Building in Chicago, Ill. The subcontractor claimed that interference with its work by the owner, contractor and other events beyond the subcontractor’s control caused significant delay damages. Following a 10-day trial, the court entered judgment against the subcontractor on its complaint, and a further judgment in favor of the contractor on a counterclaim. The judgments were affirmed on appeal. The published appellate court opinion has been widely cited with respect to the meaning and enforceability of a contractual “merger” clause and the admission of extrinsic evidence.
Represented a design/build road and bridge contractor in a case involving the redesign and rebuilding of the interchange of two major interstate highways in Indiana. The design engineer, functioning as a subcontractor, miscalculated the excavation quantities, adding millions of dollars of unforeseen costs to the fixed-price project. A strategy was orchestrated that successfully brought together the engineer and all relevant insurance companies and brokers from five different jurisdictions into one case. The case was settled before trial for approximately 95 percent of the claimed damages.
Represented a general contractor for the construction of an East Coast water purification plant. A few days before the plant was scheduled to be turned over to the owner, a large diameter finished water pipe burst and flooded the plant. The owner suspended payments and began assessing daily liquidated damages. Litigation followed involving the owner, engineer and numerous subcontractors and suppliers. Ancillary litigation was filed in multiple states by or against insurance companies and insurance brokers. In the end, both the cost of defense and the cost of settlement were funded by the brokers, insurers and subcontractors, ultimately costing the client nothing.
Represented a general contractor against an owner’s allegations of defective construction of a 640,000-square-foot warehouse near Chicago. Complaints included significant roof leaks, automatic fire protection system malfunctions, inventory damage and defective concrete and asphalt. The owner, a major international corporation, sued the general contractor, three subcontractors and the architect. Sixty-five depositions, including 17 expert witnesses on a compressed schedule ordered by the court, were taken or defended and dismissal of significant portions of the case on summary judgment was obtained. The remaining claims were settled for substantially less than the owner had spent on attorney fees and expert consultants. All of the client’s settlement costs and all litigation expenses, including attorney fees from subcontractors and insurers, were recovered.
Represented a contractor in a builder’s risk insurance claim involving several large diameter reinforced concrete undersea pipelines near Virginia Beach, Va. The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers ordered significant rework after the pipelines began to crack due to movement of the sand in which they were laid. The matter was favorably resolved by mediation at no net cost to the client.
Represented a contractor in an arbitration claim against a major New England wastewater collection and treatment agency to recover extra costs incurred when the excavation of an interceptor access shaft hit an unforeseen aquifer that flooded the shaft, the cofferdam and surrounding properties. Simultaneously, a builder’s risk claim against an insurer that had already denied coverage was pursued. Both claims were settled for amounts that aggregated to 100 percent of the unpaid contract balance plus more than 90 percent of the claimed extra costs and water damage.
Represented a general contractor that was twice sued by major insurance companies seeking to collect millions of dollars of additional workers compensation insurance premiums. The policies in question were (allegedly) retrospective rated, i.e. the final premium would be a function of paid losses, not exposures. One case was tried to a jury, which returned a “not guilty” verdict in favor of the client. The other case was settled after a jury had been empaneled. The insurance company not only waived any claims for additional premiums, it instead agreed to refund excess premiums charged.
Represented the general contractor of an architectural award-winning suburban Chicago village hall, civic center and amphitheater. The village filed suit alleging that the masonry materials were defective. A motion for summary judgment under the statute of limitations prevailed and the ruling was sustained in the Illinois Appellate Court.
Engaged as special insurance counsel to assist in the representation of a general contractor for a 50-story Chicago apartment building that experienced significant spalling of its exposed concrete facade. Summary judgment was obtained against three insurance companies to cover the client’s attorney fees, expert witness fees and other defense costs in the lawsuit filed by the building owner. An additional $225,000 was recovered from one insurance company for insurer bad faith.
Represented joint interest owners of offshore federal and state oil and gas leases in the Gulf of Mexico. The owners were sued by another joint interest owner-operator to enforce oil and gas lien rights. The litigation expanded into a complex audit of fraudulent operator expenditures for the joint account, non-consent penalties for newly proposed gas wells, gas balancing, physical assault and seizure of an operating offshore gas production platform, an avoidable hurricane loss to an offshore semi-submersible drilling rig, insurance coverage for the blow-out of a gas well during drilling and multi-jurisdictional enforcement of oil and gas liens. The litigation was settled when the operator-owner bought out the client’s interests for a premium price.
Represented a suburban Chicago bank serving as a trustee of a deceased customer’s trust established for the benefit of his widow and children. The beneficiaries sued the bank for imprudently selling the trust’s significant common stock holdings in a “Fortune 500” public company without the consent of the widow, who was a co-trustee. By the time of trial, the stock had more than quintupled in value, and the case threatened to undo a pending sale of the bank. After a two-week bench trial, the court ruled in the client’s favor on all counts.
Represented a bank executor seeking to recover certificates of deposit that were registered in the joint names of the decedent and her nephew. At trial, proved the decedent’s purported signatures on the bank documents were forgeries. The court rejected the nephew’s late argument that the joint registration was a gift, done at the decedent’s direction.
Illinois Leading Lawyers, Commercial Litigation, Construction Law and Insurance Coverage Law
Northwestern University School of Law, Julius H. Miner Moot Court Competition winner; Adlai E. Stevenson Award for Excellence in Brief Writing; William Jennings Bryan Award for Excellence in Oral Advocacy
American Bar Association
Illinois State Bar Association
DuPage County Bar Association
Chicago Bar Association, Civil Practice Executive Committee, former Chair
Civic, Cultural & Social Activities
United Way of Suburban Chicago, former Director and Vice Chair
United Way of Hinsdale Area, former President
Christ Church of Oak Brook, former Vice Chair of the Trustee Board, Trustee, Policy Committee Chair, Media Committee Chair, and Facilities Committee Chair
“Estate Litigation,” Chicago Bar Association Probate Practice Committee, February 1986
“Construction Contracts: Part III,” Modern Contractor Solutions, July 2013
“Construction Contracts: Part II,” Modern Contractor Solutions, June 2013
“Construction Contracts: Part I,” Modern Contractor Solutions, May 2013
“Case Study, Minimizing Risk in Contracts and Change Management” Construction Business Owner, April 2013
“Negotiating Construction Contracts,” Construction Business Owner, February 2013
“Illinois Employee Classification Act,” www.kftrlaw.com, February 2013
“Contractual Indemnification in Design-Build Contracts,” The Primerus Paradigm, Fall 2012
“Pitfalls of Arbitration,” www.kftrlaw.com, February 2011
“Arbitration Trap,” www.kftrlaw.com, October 2011
“Extra Work is Extra Work,” The Corporate Lawyer, Illinois State Bar Association, September 2009
“Illinois Case Law Update: Imperial Design v. Cosmo’s Designer Direct,” The Corporate Lawyer, Illinois State Bar Association March 2008
“Illinois Contractor Prompt Payment Act,” www.kftrlaw.com, October 2007
“Builder’s Association Prevails in Illinois Supreme Court,” The Builder, March 2005
“Settlement of Class Action Cases Prior to Class Certification,” Illinois Bar Journal, September 1980