Dillon J. Ambrose

Shareholder

Dillon J. Ambrose

Location: Milwaukee

T: 414.225.1410

F: 414.278.3610

dambrose@dkattorneys.com

Connect with Dillon Online

Assistant: Ann Halase

T: 414.225.1442

Recognitions

  • Wisconsin Super Lawyer, Super Lawyers Magazine Magazine - Business Litigation (2017-2020)
  • Wisconsin Super Lawyer, Super Lawyers Magazine, Rising Star (2014-2016)
  • Military Justice Officer of the Year for the entire Navy JAG Corps (2008)
  • Navy Commendation Medal (x4)
  • Navy Achievement Medal (x3)

Education

  • J.D., cum laude, Marquette University Law School
  • B.A., Marquette University
  • University College Galway, Spring Semester 1997 (Semester Abroad)

Biography

Dillon has been recalled to active duty by the United States Navy for one year as of October 2019.  He will return to Davis|Kuelthau as a commercial litigation attorney upon finishing those recall orders.  Dillon was promoted to the rank of Commander in the United States Navy Reserve as of June 1, 2017. Commander Ambrose is a recalled Reservist in the U.S. Navy Reserve JAG Corps, currently serving as the Assistant Staff Judge Advocate of the Reserve Component Command Great Lakes.

Dillon represents clients at every level of litigation over contract and warranty disputes, construction disagreements, employment issues, property claims, bankruptcy disputes, municipal issues, and any other issue that requires advice of counsel in advance of or in conjunction with litigation.

Dillon works with foreign and domestic corporations, construction companies, municipalities, homeowners’ associations, homeowners, and banks to prosecute their claims against other entities, defend against similar claims from other entities, and, perhaps most importantly, work with opposing parties to resolve disputes outside of litigation. He seeks to resolve cases quickly and economically, but has a skill-set to take cases all the way to trial through appeal.

Prior to joining Davis|Kuelthau, Dillon served for eight years as a Navy JAG Officer, where he both prosecuted and defended Sailors, Marines, and Coastguardsmen in Courts-Martial, Administrative Separation Boards, and in various other administrative tribunals. He also served as appellate defense counsel for over 100 convicted Sailors and Marines in appeals before the Navy and Marine Corps Court of Criminal Appeals, the Court of Appeals for the Armed Forces, and the United States Supreme Court. Dillon continues to proudly serve in the United States Navy as a Reserve officer, currently serving as the Deputy Staff Judge Advocate for Navy Region Mid-Atlantic Reserve Component Command Great Lakes. He was promoted to the rank of Commander in June 2017.

After leaving active duty, Dillon clerked for a federal district court judge in the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia, where he helped manage a substantial caseload of extremely complex, high-visibility cases.

From that position, Dillon joined Davis|Kuelthau, where he continues to provide legal counsel to his clients in administrative matters, arbitrations, mediations, courtroom litigation, and appeals.

Dillon’s extensive legal experience on each side of the courtroom, in both state and federal courts, as both prosecutor and defense attorney, as both criminal and civil attorney, as both clerk and advocate, and at every conceivable legal stage, from Supreme Court, to appellate court, to trial court, to administrative hearing, provide him with a unique insight into the gestalt that is litigation, and how that litigation can be handled most effectively and efficiently.

Published Cases

  • United States v. Denedo, 129 S.Ct. 2213 (2009)
  • Townsend v. Cooper, 759 F.3d 678, 687 (7th Cir. 2014)
  • United States v. Ashby, 68 M.J. 108 (C.A.A.F. 2009)
  • United States v. Campbell, 68 M.J. 217 (C.A.A.F. 2009)
  • United States v. Neal, M.J. 289 (C.A.A.F. 2010)

Notable Representations

Appellate Experience

U.S. Navy Dillon has represented over 100 Sailors and Marines in front of various appellate tribunals, including the United States Supreme Court. Select appellate cases include being a member of team of attorneys that successfully argued to the United States Supreme Court that military courts have power to entertain writs of error coram nobis (United States v. Denedo, 129 S.Ct. 2213 (2009)), defending the pilot of the EA-6B Prowler that clipped a ski gondola cable in the Italian Alps, an international incident that unfortunately resulted in the death of twenty foreign nationals (United States v. Ashby, 68 M.J. 108 (C.A.A.F. 2009)), and leading the constitutional attack on a revised criminal statute under the Uniform Code of Military Justice (United States v. Neal, 68 M.J. 289 (C.A.A.F. 2010); United States v. Neal, 67 M.J. 675 (N-M Ct. Crim. App. 2009)).

Embedded Appellate Counsel An insurance company hired Dillon to act as the merits appellate counsel for a $20 million case that was headed for trial. In that role, Dillon supported trial counsel preparing for pretrial motions in limine, provided valuable input about potential appellate issues and how to support and strengthen those appellate issues, and devised strategies that could lead to other appellate issues throughout trial. This investment of time led to an early settlement prior to trial.

Appellate Advocacy Dillon drafted an amicus brief to the United States Supreme Court in Nebraska v. Parker, advocating for an alternative de facto test for diminishment of reservation status based upon common law theories of laches and waiver, as supported by prior Supreme Court precedent. The subject and precedent cited within that brief served as the main subject of debate and discussion during the oral argument. The ultimate decision by the Supreme Court was crafted to avoid addressing that novel issue, thereby preserving the amici’s argument for future cases.

Pro Bono – Prisoner Rights Dillon and several other members of the firm accepted a district court’s request to represent a prisoner in a § 1983 prisoner civil rights case. After losing summary judgment, the team appealed that decision. Dillon argued that case in front of the Seventh Circuit (Townsend v. Cooper, 759 F.3d 678, 687 (7th Cir. 2014), and the Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals overturned the lower court’s decision. The team was then able to achieve a favorable settlement for their client, who used that money to publish a book of erotic poetry. World, you are welcome.

Banking/Property Rights Dillon successfully represented a bank in an appeal before the Wisconsin Court of Appeals, District II, relating to whether his client or a different bank had a priority claim over certain property, via equitable subrogation, in order to exercise an option to purchase that property.

Trial Litigation Experience

Commercial Litigation Dillon represented a crane manufacturer being sued for breach of contract related to a nonpayment due to defective materials. Dillon counterclaimed for breach of contract, and won partial summary judgment against plaintiff regarding plaintiff’s liability for breach of contract. Plaintiff also sought to limit the crane manufacturer’s damages by arguing a large portion of the damages were incidental and consequential damages, which were specifically excluded under the contract. The court found in Dillon’s client’s favor, determining that the damages sought were properly direct damages, deflating the plaintiff’s attempt to limit damages.

Commercial Litigation Dillon represented an industrial tank manufacturer being sued for breach of contract, negligence, intentional misrepresentation, and breach of release in the Eastern District of Wisconsin. Dillon counterclaimed against the plaintiff for breach of contract, having already settled the very same issue once before and having agreed to a release. After successfully winnowing plaintiff’s claim to a single count of breach of contract, Dillon convinced the plaintiff to simply walk away from its lone claim and its lawsuit.

Construction Litigation Dillon was one of a team of attorneys representing a general contractor after pieces of terra cotta fell from the newly renovated terra cotta façade at the historic Milwaukee City Hall. Design defects and faulty construction were alleged and the City sought over $18 million in damages. The litigation team helped negotiate an early settlement, which avoided expensive litigation and helped the general contractor remain as the general contractor to fix the defects. Dillon drafted a winning motion to dismiss in a construction contract case in the District Court of Kansas brought by a general contractor. The issue involved the enforceability of a forum selection clause and Kansas public policy, where the contract not only called for suit to be brought before the Court of the Grand Duchy of Luxembourg, but also where the client had already obtained a default judgment. The Court concluded Luxembourg was the proper forum and dismissed the case.

Environmental Litigation Dillon was part of a team of attorneys that helped their client, a municipal entity considered a Potentially Responsible Party due to its wastewater treatment in the Fox River, resolve a twenty-year, billion-dollar CERCLA case involving the clean-up of PCBs in the Fox River. Shortly after filing summary judgment, the team was able to settle the municipal entity’s involvement.Dillon also represents a company currently considered a Potentially Responsible Party in another CERCLA case involving the clean-up of PCBs in the Sheboygan River in Wisconsin.

Real Estate Litigation Dillon secured summary judgment in the State of Illinois against several banks seeking to place their lien rights ahead of his client, a company that purchases loans from FDIC-closed banks. The banks argued that an unwritten agreement purportedly paid off the loan purchased by Dillon’s client. Dillon successfully argued that federal law precludes side agreements not expressly documented in the official records of a failed institution. Because these side agreements are legally inadmissible to diminish or defeat the interests of the FDIC in the loan, the court agreed that those rights extended to Dillon’s client.

Real Estate Litigation - Condominium Arbitration Dillon successfully represented a homeowners association (HOA) against the neighboring condo association over a dispute about the terms of an easement for the shared expenses of a common area. The arbitrator awarded the HOA costs for past overpayments, rendered the terms of easement in favor of HOA, and awarded the HOA its attorneys’ fees.

Real Estate Litigation - Homeowner’s Association Litigation Dillon successfully represented a homeowner against a homeowner’s association (HOA) over covenants and restrictions limiting the roofing materials required for a house within the HOA’s purview. Dillon’s client had not been informed of this C & R by the real estate broker, and put a new roof onto the home before he moved in. The HOA thereafter insisted that the homeowner tear off the new roof that unwittingly was the wrong roofing material and reinstall a new roof with the proper roofing material. After moving to dismiss the lawsuit, Dillon convinced the HOA to instead place a deed restriction that would require any additional roofs be made with the proper material. Dillon then made a claim against the realty company that failed to notify his client of this restriction, which agreed to pay a certain sum toward the client’s attorneys’ fees.

Employment Litigation Dillon successfully represented a company being sued for discrimination and retaliation in the Eastern District of Wisconsin. Dillon won a partial motion to dismiss a certain claim, and subsequently won a motion for summary judgment, eliminating the remaining claims. Upon appeal to the Seventh Circuit, Dillon then successfully moved the Seventh Circuit to dismiss plaintiff’s case on procedural grounds.

Estate Litigation Dillon recently represented a bank seeking a large portion of a decedent’s estate in a probate case. The bank had been awarded damages in a previous default judgment against the decedent. Dillon objected to the personal representative’s inventory based upon fraudulent conveyances made by decedent prior his death, which resulted in a reduction in the amount of assets available for his client. These objections and additional negotiations resulted in close to a quarter of a million dollars being placed back into the estate, most of which went to the bank.

Bankruptcy Litigation Dillon successfully represented a corporation seeking to have its civil judgment against a debtor be deemed non-dischargeable in bankruptcy. The Bankruptcy Court for Middle District of Illinois agreed and found debtor’s punitive damages, as defined by Wisconsin law, are not dischargeable in bankruptcy.

Leadership

Professional Activities

Member, State Bar of Wisconsin

Member, State Bar of Wisconsin Bench and Bar Committee

Member, U.S. Supreme Court

Member, 7th Circuit Court

Member, Eastern District Wisconsin Bar Association

Co-Chair, Eastern District of Wisconsin Bar Association Civil Committee

Member, Western District Wisconsin Bar Association

Member, M.D., Illinois

Member, Court of Appeals for the Armed Forces

Member, Navy and Marine Corps Court of Criminal Appeals

Member, D.C. District Court

Clerkship, Hon. Rosemary M. Collyer, United States District Court Judge for the District of Columbia

Community Involvement

St. Sebastian Catholic Parish Pastoral Council, Vice-Chair

Wauwatosa Fast Pitch Softball, Former Assistant Coach

Milwaukee Blaze Youth Hockey Organization, Former Coaching and Disciplinary Committee

Former Assistant Coach, North Central Little League

North Central Little League, Coach

Marquette University Law School Class of 1994, 1998, and 2002 Reunion, Committee Member

Washington Heights Neighborhood Association, Member

Wauwatosa Rec. Basketball, Coach 4th Grade Girls

St. Thomas More Lawyers Society of Wisconsin, Member