Photo of Dawn M. Johnson

Dawn M. Johnson

Officer

“Franchisors face traditional business and legal issues, but there are also very specific laws that govern those relationships in most states. Our team’s practical experience with those laws helps us to represent clients aggressively and efficiently.” 

Admissions

  • Missouri
  • Illinois
  • U.S. District Court, Eastern District of Missouri
  • U.S. District Court, Northern District of Illinois
  • U.S. District Court, Central District of Illinois
  • U.S. District Court, Southern District of Illinois
  • U.S. District Court, Eastern District of Wisconsin
  • U.S. District Court, Northern District of Georgia
  • U.S. District Court, Eastern District of Tennessee
  • U.S. District Court, District of Colorado
  • U.S. Court of Appeals, Seventh Circuit
  • U.S. Court of Appeals, Eighth Circuit

Education

J.D., Washington University School of Law, 1993

B.A., Eastern Illinois University, magna cum laude, 1983

Profile

As head of the firm’s Franchising & Distribution industry group, Dawn Johnson leads a team of transactional and litigation attorneys who represent clients nationally and internationally, from start-ups to some of the largest and most recognized brands.

Dawn’s practice focuses on all aspects of the dealer, distributor and franchise relationship, including termination and non-renewal, claims under state and federal relationship laws and claims such as breach of contract, fraud, tortious interference, antitrust pricing and trademark infringement. She has represented oil refiners for more than 18 years, in numerous state and federal courts. In her work on behalf of major oil companies, she has been lead counsel on cases filed under the Petroleum Marketing Practices Act, often successfully obtaining summary judgment or defeating preliminary injunction motions filed by dealers. She also has handled litigation regarding debranding, misbranding and commingling issues by petroleum marketers.

In addition to her work on behalf of franchisors and distributors, Dawn handles a range of general business disputes. She was an early leader at the firm in issues related to electronic discovery, and she continues to prioritize the importance of understanding e-discovery protocols and making sure clients follow the appropriate steps to avoid sanctions. Another important aspect of that work is recognizing when an opponent is not fulfilling obligations, and Dawn was able to get an entire case against an energy client dismissed after recognizing discovery abuses on the opposing side. She has presented to local and national groups about the issues facing litigants and their attorneys with respect to discovery of electronic information. In 2005, she argued what was believed to be the first case regarding electronic discovery before the Missouri Supreme Court.

With significant appellate experience, Dawn is co-leader of the appellate practice. She handles appeals and works closely with other trial lawyers in the firm to ensure that issues are properly preserved for appeal. She has argued before the Missouri Supreme Court and the Missouri Court of Appeals, Eastern and Western Districts, the Illinois Court of Appeals and the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Eighth Circuit. Her appellate practice allows her to use her lengthy professional writing background.

Before attending law school, Dawn was an award-winning reporter for the Herald & Review daily newspaper in Decatur, Illinois. After law school, she continued her writing experience as law clerk to U.S. Magistrate Judge David D. Noce in the U.S. District Court, Eastern District of Missouri, from 1993 to 1997.

Professional Affiliations

  • American Bar Association, Section of Litigation; Forum on Franchising
  • International Franchise Association
  • International Distribution Institute
  • The Missouri Bar
  • Illinois State Bar Association
  • The Bar Association of Metropolitan St. Louis, St. Louis Lawyer, Board of Editors, 1997-2015

Community/Civic Activities

  • Safe Connections, Board of Directors, 2015-present
  • City Arch River 2015, Citizens Advisory Committee
  • College Summit, St. Louis, volunteer writing coach, 2012-2013
  • College Summit Missouri Site Advisory Board, 2012-present, chair, 2015-present
  • Gateway Legal Services, Inc., Board of Directors, 2008-present
  • FOCUS St. Louis, Leadership St. Louis, Class of 2011-2012
  • FOCUS St. Louis, Leadership/Alumni Program Committee
  • Bar Association of Metropolitan St. Louis, Board of Governors, 2002-2004
  • The Compassionate Friends, Inc., Sibling Representative, Board of Directors, 1993-1996

Honors & Awards

Honors & Awards

  • Martindale-Hubbell AV Preeminent
  • Decatur Public Schools Foundation, Alumna of the Year, 2014

Experience

Representative Matters

  • Part of lead counsel team for a major oil company in connection with dealers’ claims of unfair gas pricing. In a five-week bellwether trial, a jury found in favor of the energy company on the pricing claims from four plaintiffs.
  • Part of a team defending a major oil company in litigation related to a right of first option for a jet fuel pipeline at a major international airport after the client’s sale of a key West Coast refinery.
  • Part of a team defending a major oil company with state franchise, fraud and fuel pricing claims filed by multi-site operators in Illinois.
  • Part of a team defending a major oil company and its model multi-site operator contract with state franchise, fraud and breach of contract claims filed in California and Missouri.
  • Lead counsel for major oil companies in cases filed under the Petroleum Marketing Practices Act, often successfully obtaining summary judgment or defeating preliminary injunction motions filed by dealers      .
  • Lead counsel for a major motor oil company in putative class action litigation regarding alleged commingling and misbranding by jobber (vicarious liability claims).
  • Lead counsel for major oil companies in litigation with jobbers regarding debranding issues, including trademark infringement and breach of contract.
  •  Represented a major oil company with respect to zoning claims related to new gas station development.

News & Insights

Seminars & Speaking Engagements

  • "Big Data: Opportunities and Challenges in Litigation"
    ABA Petroleum Marketing Attorneys' Meeting, April 2014
  • “Frequently Arising issues in Franchise Litigation (including Electronic Discovery)”
    International Franchise Association Legal Symposium, 2012
  • “Advanced Trial Skills”
    Issues in Electronic Evidence for Missouri State Court Trial Judges, 2012
  • "Brady v. National Football League: Scoring Points and Recovering Fumbles at Oral Argument"
    Bar Association of Metropolitan St. Louis Bench, Bar & Professional Development Conference, 2012
  • “E-Discovery in Franchise Disputes"
    Business Solutions Roundtable, International Franchise Association Legal Symposium, January 1, 2011
  • "Effective Oral Advocacy in Trial and Appellate Courts: Showstoppers or Case-Stoppers"
    Bar Association of Metropolitan St. Louis Bench, Bar & Professional Development Conference, 2011
  • “Major Case Developments”
    Petroleum Marketing Attorneys Conference, March 2009
  • “E-Discovery: The New Rules”
    Healthcare Roundtable for Corporate Counsel, 2007
  • “Electronic Discovery: Litigation in a Computer-Dominated Society”
    St. Louis Association of Legal Assistants, 2007
  • "Avoiding Electronic Document Retention Pitfalls"
    The Missouri Bar/Judicial Conference Annual Meeting, 2006
  • "Electronic Information in the Workplace: Problems and Solutions"
    Client Seminar, 2006
  • “Electronic Discovery: Views from the Bench and Bar”
    Missouri Society of Health Care Lawyers, Missouri Hospital Association Annual Conference, 2006
  • “Essentials for Class Action and Commercial Litigators”
    Women Lawyers’ Association of Greater St. Louis, Midwest Regional Conference for Women in the Law, 2006
  • "Electronic Discovery: Litigation in a Computer-Dominated Society"
    The Missouri Bar/Judicial Conference Annual Meeting, 2005

Publications

Articles

  • "Frequently Arising Issues in Franchise Litigation (including Electronic Discovery)"
    International Franchise Association Legal Symposium, 2012
  • "What Can the Court Do? Evaluating Your Appeal"
    St. Louis Business Journal, Summer 2009
  • Miscellaneous Laws With Consumer Implications, Missouri Consumer Law and Practice (Missouri Bar Desk Book)
    1995 Supplement

Newsletters