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Jay began his legal career at Rasmussen Dickey Moore as a law clerk after graduating college in 2018. After proving himself adept at legal research and summarizing depositions in his first summer with the firm, Jay gradually moved onto trial teams and worked directly with RDM partners, associates, and paralegals on asbestos, nuisance, and products liability cases during his second and third summers. After passing the bar exam in 2021, Jay joined RDM as an associate and continues to work in these fields and plans to expand his practice into commercial litigation and healthcare law, among others.

During his time as a law student at Indiana University’s Maurer School of Law, Jay got hands-on legal experience at Maurer’s Community Legal Clinic, where he worked directly with clients on numerous pro bono matters with an emphasis on Social Security and Disability cases. Jay graduated in the top 20% of the 2021 class and was an articles editor for the Indiana Journal of Global Legal Studies. Prior to law school, Jay attended Emory University in Atlanta, where he was a member of the Phi Alpha Theta History Honors Society and Phi Eta Sigma Freshman Honors Society.

Outside of the office, Jay is an avid sport shooter, participating in handgun, steel challenge, and three-gun matches. In addition, Jay collects and shoots vintage military rifles, furthering his interest and understanding of history, particularly of the First World War, which he studied extensively during his time at Emory. He also enjoys improv comedy, having performed for seven years through undergrad and law school.

The future of litigation.

Jay and the associates at RDM are eager to bring the best possible outcome to your case. Through the mentorship of RDM’s nationally recognized litigators, our talented young associates are poised to be the best in the field.

Education

  • Indiana University Maurer School of Law

    Juris Doctor 2021

  • Emory University

    Bachelor of Arts, with Highest Honors 2018

Admissions

  • State of Missouri
  • State of Indiana
  • U.S. District Court Eastern District of Missouri
  • U.S. District Court Western District of Missouri

Memberships

RDM's Knowledge Blog Posts by John A. "Jay" Gillen III

The Illinois First District Court of Appeals in Downtown Chicago. Photo by Vincent Desjardins.

The Appellate Court of Illinois, First Judicial District recently found that the COVID-19 pandemic was a factor that weighed against forum transfer in Bearden v. Conagra Foods, Inc. In this case, 45 plaintiffs brought a total of 39 product liability actions in the circuit court of Cook County against Conagra Foods, Inc., Conagra Brands, Inc., DS Containers, Inc., and Full-Fill Industries, LLC. Conagra Foods and the other defendants involved filed a combined motion to dismiss for forum non conveniens as to the out-of-state plaintiffs and a motion to transfer out of Cook County for the in-state plaintiffs. The circuit court issued a ruling without hearing argument dismissing the defendants’ motions and issued its findings.

Interestingly, in addition to weighing the standard private and public interest legal factors, the court also weighed another factor that has had both private and public implications for all of us over the past two and a half years: COVID-19.

While wrangling up all the necessary witnesses that could testify in a case involving numerous out-of-state plaintiffs and corporations with offices and employees across the country might be a factor against a forum in certain cases, here, the circuit court found that because of the COVID-19 pandemic, it was likely that most or all of the witnesses would testify by video and that remote depositions and testimony would likely be used. The court found that the arguments that court dockets would be backlogged and that jury trials might be postponed or delayed were not persuasive because COVID-19 had rendered that the case in every jurisdiction.

The circuit court did find, however, that jury visits to the sites weighed in favor of dismissal or transfer, not specifically because of COVID-19, but one could easily assume that if the court considered COVID-19 in other factors, perhaps having a jury travel to multiple states during a pandemic influenced its decision on that point as well.

COVID-19 as a Factor

On appeal, the defendants argued that the circuit court improperly found that COVID-19 weighed against dismissal or transfer. They argued that including COVID-19 as a factor was an abuse of the circuit court’s discretion. Upon review, the appellate court upheld the circuit court’s ruling in total, including its inclusion of COVID-19 in its list of factors.

The appellate court stated that “a circuit court’s decision is an abuse of discretion when it is arbitrary, fanciful, or unreasonable, or when no reasonable person would take the same view.” Bearden v. Conagra Foods, Inc., 2021 IL App (1st) 210234-U, ¶ 71 (quoting Palacios v. Mlot, 2013 IL App (1st) 121416, ¶ 18. The appellate court found that the circuit court’s consideration of such issues as testifying virtually or by video, packed dockets, and delayed jury trials, were not fanciful, arbitrary, or so unreasonable that no person would ever take the view of the circuit court. In affirming the circuit court’s decision, the appellate court has determined that COVID-19, and more specifically the impacts and related measures taken on and by the legal system can be a factor considered by Illinois circuit courts in deciding a forum non conveniens issue.

The New Normal During COVID-19

The factors considered by the circuit court in this case are familiar to anyone in the legal profession that has continued to work throughout the COVID-19 pandemic. Zoom and telephonic depositions have become the norm, trial dates have been pushed back multiple times, and pajama pants have become standard dress code while in webcam meetings (well, the court didn’t explicitly consider that last one, but we all know how important that’s become).

Concerns for Defendants

Forum non conveniens motions are a viable tool for defendants seeking to have cases dismissed, avail themselves of friendlier state or local laws, or a more favorable jury pool. Some of the standard factors weighing in favor of a transfer have been effectively negated by the measures taken by the legal profession to address the challenges of the COVID-19 pandemic. Now that courts and law firms have knowledge of these measures, they are not likely to go away anytime soon and could be damaging to a defendant’s motion for forum non conveniens efforts.

With many state legal systems continuing to utilize these COVID-19 measures and now precedent on the books in one of the busiest legal arenas in the country, it is possible that other courts and other states could follow the Illinois circuit court’s lead and explicitly consider COVID-19 in their analysis of forum non conveniens motions. For defendants, this could prove to be a bigger headache than trying to get that one co-counsel to mute their phone during your cross-examination. But hey, at least you don’t have to show the plaintiff how to work the Zoom camera.

RDM associate attorney Jay Gillen.

Meet John A. “Jay” Gillen III, Rasmussen Dickey Moore’s newest associate attorney based in our Kansas City office. Although Jay only recently passed the Missouri bar exam, he is more than prepared to take on our clients’ cases and deliver the dedication, flexibility, and value for which RDM is known.

Why is Jay such a suitable fit for the RDM Team? He’s already spent three years with the firm as a law clerk, getting to know our attorneys, clients, and business.

The Summer Law Clerk Job

After graduating from Emory University in Atlanta in 2018, Jay was preparing to enter Indiana University’s Maurer School of Law. Initially, he planned to study Constitutional law. But by chance, Jay was introduced to RDM founding member Clayton Dickey. Clay invited Jay to interview for a law clerk position with RDM. Before long, Jay found himself immersed in the litigation world.

During his first summer on the job, Jay worked closely with Clay to prepare deposition summaries and do background research on plaintiffs. “Reading through depo summaries gave a better insight into what happens and helped me to develop specialized knowledge,” says Jay of his first summer at RDM.

The following summer, Jay was part of a Trial Team, working closely with RDM’s seasoned trial attorneys to provide research assistance on cases. Jay suggests going beyond just what the attorneys tell you to look for. Take initiative and focus on the details. “It’s always fun to come up something and see the attorneys get excited. If I were doing this, what would I look for to win this case?”

Working summers with RDM was exceptionally valuable. Clay recalls, “As a summer clerk Jay got well-versed in a fun and interesting array of topics such as marijuana, genetics, and cattle farms.”

“A lot of law students looking to go into big law firms get thrown into a back room doing document discovery for years. At RDM, I was able to work closely with attorneys and start drafting memos and motions,” Jay says. “It was a big advantage.” Heading into his pre-trial litigation course in the fall of 2020, Jay was able to take the lead on group projects with his previous experience preparing deposition summaries and motions.

During his final school year, Jay was able to stay on the job remotely while finishing his final year at law school and studying for the bar exam through the summer. Jay had been working closely with Clay and associate attorney Farhan Zahid on a case and was able to continue contributing as he wrapped up his studies.

Member attorney Nathan Lindsey recalls similar valuable experiences. Starting as a law clerk with RDM as a 2L student, Nate worked on dispositive motions and international choice of law issues for cases headed to trial. “Those type of early opportunities sold me on the firm,” says Nate. The following year, Nate had a very unique opportunity when he was able to cross Missouri to assist in opening RDM’s St. Louis office.

From summer clerk to partner, Nate’s experience demonstrates the career possibilities made available at RDM. “We are truly a career-oriented firm. The firm values every one of our employees and provides opportunities to grow and fulfill their potential.”

Becoming an Associate Attorney

After having demonstrated exceptional skills and dedication to his work over three summers, RDM of course extended an offer to Jay to become an associate attorney once he passed the bar exam. Jay transitioned into the job quite smoothly, as he was already wrapped up with the cases and clients that would soon become his.

The expectations are elevated, however, and as an attorney, the work becomes more intense and more time sensitive. “It surprised me to find out just how much our attorneys handle,” Jay says. But having already developed a deep familiarity with the work done at RDM, he has been able to take it all in stride.

Member attorney Joseph Dioszeghy began his long career with RDM straight out of law school in 2001. “One of RDM’s strengths is treating our employees and young attorneys as adults,” says Joe. “They immediately assigned me a trial set case and put me to work.”

“We train you, we help you, and we prepare you in every way we know how to be successful. But at the end of the day, we trust you to do your job. We let young associates take very important depositions. We let young associates argue important motions.”

Young associates receive opportunities to take on challenging work from the moment they start. First-year RDM associate Dillon Williams recently wrote about some of his newly acquired experience in drafting summary judgment motions as a new attorney who was able to take on challenges from the start.

Looking Forward to a Career with RDM

“Part of the fun is being able to work with the attorneys and trusted to handle the work,” says Jay. Now that he’s a full-fledged attorney, Jay wants to diversify the types of work he’ll be involved with. Beyond products liability and toxic torts, he hopes to delve into the fields of commercial litigation and healthcare law soon as well.

“Everyone at RDM has been great even since I started as a law clerk,” says Jay, “and now I can do more to help them out.” RDM founding member Steve Moore has brought Jay in to help with a number of asbestos cases. And he still works closely with Farhan, currently assisting with pro bono family law cases. “It’s emotional but exciting,” Jay says of the family law work. He hopes to continue to do pro bono work, also in the fields of Social Security and disability, as he did while working at Indiana University’s Community Legal Clinic.

“Jay is inquisitive, insightful, a quick study, enthusiastic and knows how to apply the law to the facts at hand,” says Clay Dickey. “He’s mature beyond his years. We are lucky to have him.” The attorneys and staff at Rasmussen Dickey Moore are excited to support this promising young attorney as he continues on his career path at our firm.

Career Opportunities

As RDM continues to grow, we’ll have more excellent career opportunities for new and experienced associates. Visit our Careers page or follow Rasmussen Dickey Moore on LinkedIn to stay up to date on available opportunities.