Senior Lecturing Fellow
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210 Science Drive
Durham, NC 27708
Michael Dockterman is described by Chambers USA as a lawyer “who can see through the garbage and cut to the chase.” An accomplished trial lawyer whose extensive litigation experience ranges from private commercial matters through disputes with the federal government, he is focused on counseling boards of directors on compliance and corporate governance, as well as government investigations. Over the course of his career, Mr. Dockterman has been involved in a number of significant trials.
The National Law Journal named Mr. Dockterman as one of its “Top 10 Winning Litigators in the US,” and he is also recognized by Law360, which named him to its inaugural list of the 50 “Trial Aces” in the US, and The Best Lawyers in America, which has recognized him in the fields of Commercial Litigation, Antitrust Litigation, and Intellectual Property Litigation since 2010.
As principal trial counsel in state and federal courts in over half of the United States, Mr. Dockterman has tried securities, antitrust, intellectual property, environmental, contract, fraud and product liability cases, as well as a variety of amateur sports disputes, and both federal and state white-collar criminal cases. He has led multinational litigation over matters pending simultaneously in courts around the world, including The Hague, London, Stockholm, Paris, Madrid, Hong Kong, Beijing and Shanghai. Mr. Dockterman has tried more than 70 cases and litigated, mediated, arbitrated or resolved countless other matters.
Mr. Dockterman was the lead trial lawyer for Toys “R” Us in its successful litigation with Amazon.com over the Toysrus.com website, Toysrus.com, et al. v. Amazon.com et al. He repeated that success when the appellate court affirmed the trial court’s decision to return the website to Toys “R” Us two years later and remanded for a further finding of damages to be awarded for the breach, which Amazon then settled by paying Toys “R” Us $51 million.
This is only one of several “once in a lifetime” cases Mr. Dockterman has tried to verdict. On four days' notice, Mr. Dockterman defended the City of Chicago in a two month trial challenging the largest public works project in the country, construction of the People-Mover for O’Hare International Airport. The trial vindicated the city’s procurement process and disposed of all challenges to the city’s award of the contract.
Following a raid by the FBI on its headquarters, Mr. Dockterman was engaged by the directors of Archer Daniels Midland Corporation to serve as counsel to the company’s newly formed governance committee. In this role, Mr. Dockterman defended directors in federal and state court derivative and shareholder actions in Illinois and Delaware, counseled the independent directors through the criminal and civil cases showcased in the books and film about the investigation, negotiated a groundbreaking settlement affirmed by the US Supreme Court to resolve all civil litigation and ensure corporate governance reforms. The court authorized Mr. Dockterman to conduct a two-year worldwide legal compliance audit to implement the settlement.
Mr. Dockterman also tried the landmark “Clickety-Clack Track” trade secrets case to a successful jury verdict. At issue was whether two inventors operating under an oral non-disclosure agreement – who modified a piece of wooden toy train track so it made noise when a toy train ran over it – could claim ownership of the trade secret in the face of a patent obtained by the people for whom they had cut the sample. The jury sided with the inventors, awarding them a lifetime royalty in the track and all products developed to run on the track. The trial court entered judgment notwithstanding the verdict, but the US Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit reversed, entered judgment for the inventors and remanded for trebling of the damages and attorney’s fees. The appellate opinion set the standard by which trade secrets are proven under the Uniform Trade Secrets Act.
Mr. Dockterman is one of two advocates who tried a case before the International Olympic Committee, where the IOC overturned the USOC’s ban against Mr. Dockterman’s client’s participation in international competition. For more than 30 years, Mr. Dockterman has represented both amateur athletes and coaches in a wide range of contests over their eligibility to participate in international competition, as well as sports governing bodies defending their regulation of competition and competitors.
Mr. Dockterman is a 1978 graduate of Duke Law School and a member and former chair of its Board of Visitors.
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