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John O. Sheller

Member, Louisville

John is a Member in Stoll Keenon Ogden's Louisville office and has been with the firm since 2007. He is a member of the Labor, Employment & Employee Benefits and Appellate practices. He has set various legal precedents and has been practicing labor and employment law for nearly 35 years.

John is AV Preeminent® Peer Review Rated™ by Martindale-Hubbell®, is listed as a Best Lawyer in America, honored as a Chambers USA leading lawyer, Kentucky Super Lawyer and "Top Lawyer" by Louisville Magazine for his many legal accomplishments. He is responsible for creating binding legal precedent entitling employers to secure indemnity from other parties in harassment or retaliation cases. He has also established legal precedent holding that claim for intentional infliction of emotional distress or outrage is preempted by statute. He has prevailed in a class discrimination case brought by the federal government seeking to establish that women were categorically excluded from coal mining jobs.

John is a member of the Louisville, Kentucky, Texas and Indiana Bar associations. He gives back to the community by serving as a board member for the National Multiple Sclerosis Society, member of the Louisville Metro Animal Services Spot Board, supporting Disabled American Veterans, contributing to Sunrise Children's Services and supporting the Christian Legal Society and president of his neighborhood homeowners' association. He is also a member of the Federalist Society. Married with three grown children, John enjoys boating, tennis and chess in his spare time.

Education
Indiana University
1984, J.D., cum laude
Ball State University
1981, B.A., summa cum laude
Admissions
Indiana
Kentucky
Texas
Pro Hac Vice: Approximately 25 courts in 12 states
U.S. Court of Appeals, Third Circuit
U.S. Court of Appeals, Fifth Circuit
U.S. Court of Appeals, Seventh Circuit
U.S. Court of Appeals, Sixth Circuit
U.S. District Court, Eastern District of Kentucky
U.S. District Court, Northern District of Indiana
U.S. District Court, Northern District of Texas
U.S. District Court, Southern District of Indiana
U.S. District Court, Western District of Kentucky
United States Supreme Court

Recognition

  • Louisville Magazine Top Lawyer, Labor & Employment Law, 2012; Labor & Employment Law - Defense, 2013 and 2014
  • Chambers USA, Leading Lawyer for Business, Labor & Employment, 2014-2016
  • AV® Preeminent™ Peer Review Rated by Martindale-Hubbell®
  • Listed in Best Lawyers in America®, Employment Law-Management, Labor and Employment Litigation, Labor Law-Management
  • Kentucky Super Lawyer, Employment and Labor
  • Responsible for creating binding legal precedent entitling employers to secure indemnity from other parties in discrimination, harassment, or retaliation cases.
  • Successful in preserving constitutional and statutory right of private membership clubs to select their own members without adverse tax consequences.
  • Established legal precedent holding that claim for intentional infliction of emotional distress or outrage is preempted by statute.
  • Prevailed in class discrimination case brought by federal government seeking to establish that women were categorically excluded from coal mining jobs.
  • Succeeded in preventing ACLU and similar organizations from using courts to create judicial amendment expanding Civil Rights Acts beyond their terms.
  • Established legal precedent recognizing civil rights act exemption for national veterans organization.
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Affiliations

  • Louisville Bar Association
  • Kentucky Bar Association
  • Indiana Bar Association
  • Texas Bar Association
  • Federalist Society
  • National Multiple Sclerosis Society, board member
  • Louisville Metro Animal Services Spot Board, board member
  • Disabled American Veterans, supporter
  • Sunrise Children's Services, contributor
  • Federalist Society, member
  • Christian Legal Society, contributor/supporter
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Work Highlights

Breach of Contract

SKO represented an insurance company that was being sued in the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Kentucky by a paper products manufacturer for breach of an insurance contract. The manufacturer alleged that it had proven a covered loss under an employee theft policy and the insurer disagreed and denied many elements of the claim. At the trial court level, the manufacturer willfully violated multiple discovery orders and the court dismissed the manufacturer’s claims as a sanction. After the dismissal, the trial court denied the insurer’s motion for fees incurred litigating the dispute. The manufacturer appealed the trial court’s denial to the Sixth Circuit and the insurer cross-appealed the denial of fees. After briefing on the first appeal had concluded, the parties resolved all matters amicably. While the case did not result in an appellate decision, SKO was successful in preserving an important district court opinion levying a rare dismissal sanction for discovery misconduct.
Related Practices: Business Litigation, Appellate

Workers’ Compensation Retaliation

SKO represented a manufacturer and distributor of auto supplies that was sued for workers’ compensation retaliation under the Kentucky Workers’ Compensation Act, KRS Chapter 342. The United States District Court for the Western District of Kentucky entered summary judgment in favor of the manufacturer, from which the plaintiff did not appeal.

Breach of Contract, Fiduciary Duty & Trade Secrets Law

SKO represented four employees of an asset management firm employees who sought new employment at a bank and were sued by the asset firm to enjoin them from working for the bank. These employees were also sued for alleged breaches of contract, fiduciary duty, trade secrets law and for other torts. The four managers countersued the asset firm, contending that their 12-month resignation notice period was, in effect, an implied and improper non-compete provision because the employer would not let them perform their regular job duties during the notice period. The Federal District Court, following trial-like evidentiary hearings after expedited discovery, permitted the four employees to work for the bank without requiring them to serve their 12-month notice period. This successful injunction phase then precipitated almost five years of litigation concerning the alleged damages sustained by the asset firm due to the alleged “raid” of the four investment managers and some of their colleagues. After SKO had the case dismissed from Federal District Court on jurisdictional grounds, the asset firm re-filed the suit in New York state court. After years of additional discovery and other motion practice, including battles over experts and their testimony, cross-motions for summary judgment were filed, and the case was poised for trial. Less than 10 days before trial, the case as dismissed with no payment by SKO clients.

Sexual Orientation Discrimination Claim

SKO represented a nonprofit in a suit brought by two women who claimed that they were victims of discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation. The individuals sued under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and the Kentucky Civil Rights Act. The nonprofit moved to dismiss the case for failure to state a claim upon which relief could be granted. The gravamen of the motion to dismiss was that the plaintiffs could not state a claim for religious discrimination without at least contending that their own religious views or practices were adversely effected in some way. The motion was vigorously opposed by plaintiffs and their advocates. The United States District Court granted the nonprofit’s motion to dismiss in a published opinion that adopted SKO’s argument. A panel of the United States Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit unanimously affirmed the dismissal on the same rationale in another published opinion. Petitions for en banc review by the full Sixth Circuit and for writ of certiorari in the United States Supreme Court were later denied.
News Publications Seminars
“Advanced Employment Law: Confidently Tackle Advanced Employment Disputes,” National Business Institute Aug. 16, 2016
"Human Resource Management: How a Successful Workplace Can Lead to a Successful Business," 2011 Nonprofit Conference sponsored by the Kentucky Society of CPAs and the Center for Nonprofit Excellence. Aug. 19, 2011
"Dealing with the Sexual Harassment Claim in Kentucky," National Education Network  
"Legal Issues Arising from Workforce Reductions," Lorman Education Services  
"Covenants Not To Compete," Lorman Education Services  
"Update on Employment Law and Litigation Strategies," Louisville Bar Association  
"Arbitration and Alternative Dispute Resolution," University of Louisville  
"Litigating a Sexual Harassment Case," Louisville Bar Association  
"Employee Discharge and Documentation," Lorman Business Center