Vedder Price

Anthony J. Ashley


Chair, Corporate Liability Group

Anthony J. Ashley is a Shareholder in the Litigation practice area based in Chicago.

Mr. Ashley has been serving clients for over 30 years with a global, complex commercial litigation and employment law practice, which includes counseling and litigating in geographically diverse U.S. federal and state courts, international courts and tribunals, and arbitration forums. He has also served for the past 15 years as outside general counsel to multiple organizations that range in size and industry. 

Complex Commercial Litigation and Employment Law   

Mr. Ashley routinely advises clients ranging in size from start-up enterprises to Fortune 100 companies. He also regularly counsels C-suite executives, company founders and high net worth individuals in high-profile negotiations and disputes. 

With a national reputation for successfully resolving complex commercial litigation matters, Mr. Ashley has filed or defended lawsuits involving nearly all types of causes of action, including but not limited to breach of contract, fraud, tortious interference, civil conspiracy, defamation and minority shareholder oppression, among other commercial and employment claims.  He also has extensive experience defending product liability claims, and has previously served as national coordinating counsel for the defense of a wide spectrum of product liability claims and multidistrict litigation.  

As a founding member of the Litigation practice area’s subgroup on Restrictive Covenants and Trade Secrets, Mr. Ashley has litigated and tried many cases both domestically and internationally involving post-employment or sale of business restrictive covenants, trade secrets, unfair competition, and intellectual property rights infringement, and has extensive experience prosecuting and defending motions for temporary restraining order and preliminary injunction, among other emergency proceedings. Additionally, he regularly defends employment claims alleging discrimination, wrongful termination and retaliation.    

Trial and Appellate Work 

While he prides himself on his ability to achieve strategic business resolutions to most commercial and employment disputes, Mr. Ashley is equally skilled at trial work.  He has tried numerous cases to verdict in courtrooms and arbitration forums across the country and internationally, and has consistently obtained favorable trial outcomes for his clients.  He has appeared or argued before the Illinois Appellate and Illinois Supreme Court, the Fifth, Seventh and Tenth Circuit Courts of Appeals, and is licensed to practice before the United States Supreme Court.  

Outside General Counsel and Strategic Legal Advisory Services

Mr. Ashley has represented several companies from inception, and served as outside general counsel for these entities and organizations throughout their growth and development in a mix of industries, including logistics, transportation, software and cannabis.  In this role, he has served as a strategic legal advisor on a wide variety of matters including strategic and private equity investment, acquisition and divestiture, corporate structure and formation, employment, intellectual property, contract negotiation, litigation and many other legal issues facing today’s fast-growing companies.  Several of these entities have achieved valuations or ultimately been sold for over a billion dollars.  As a result of these representations, he has developed a wealth of knowledge of best practices for emerging companies and knows how to eliminate pitfalls that prevent early stage companies from thriving. 

Mr. Ashley also has extensive experience advising companies and senior executives on how to effectively transition between competitors, and developing creative best practices, hiring protocols and strategies to navigate or escape from post-employment or sale of business restrictive covenants. He additionally has extensive experience negotiating executive employment contracts, and he frequently represents companies and senior executives in connection with employment arrangements and separation. Mr. Ashley regularly counsels corporations and individuals on how to safeguard corporate assets, including key employee retention and protecting integral customer relationships, trade secrets and other confidential information, and other legitimate business interests.

Firm Leadership/Peer Recognition

Mr. Ashley serves as Chair of the Litigation practice area’s subgroup on Corporate Liability and as Co-Chair of the Restrictive Covenants and Trade Secrets subgroup. 

Mr. Ashley serves on the Associate Management Committee.  He is a past member of the firm’s Compensation Committee, Diversity Committee and Hiring Committee and served as Co Chair of the firm’s Summer Associate Program.

Mr. Ashley was elected and serves as a Barrister with the Chicago American Inn of Court. 

Mr. Ashley was selected for inclusion from 2009 to 2024 in Illinois Super Lawyers. In 2011, 2014 and 2015, Mr. Ashley was recognized by his peers as one of the Top 100 Illinois Super Lawyers.

He has been selected by his peers as a Leading Lawyer in Commercial Litigation from 2011 to 2024, and in Trade Secrets/Unfair Competition Law from 2014 to 2024.

Mr. Ashley has also received and maintained an “AV Preeminent” Peer and Judicial Rating in Martindale-Hubbell.  


Anthony J. Ashley


Chair, Corporate Liability Group


  • DePaul University College of Law, J.D., 1992
  • Miami University, B.S., 1988

Anthony J. Ashley


Chair, Corporate Liability Group

Bar Admissions

  • Illinois, 1992

Court Admissions

  • U.S. District Court, Northern District of Illinois, 1992
  • U.S. District Court, Central District of Illinois, 1996
  • U.S. Court of Appeals, Seventh Circuit, 2000
  • U.S. Court of Appeals, Tenth Circuit, 2007
  • U.S. Court of Appeals, Fifth Circuit, 2007
  • U.S. Supreme Court, 2003


  • Master of the Bench, Chicago Inn of Court
  • Member, American Bar Association
  • Member, Chicago Bar Association
  • Member, Seventh Circuit Bar Association

Anthony J. Ashley


Chair, Corporate Liability Group


Restrictive Covenants, Trade Secrets and Intellectual Property Infringement

  • Mr. Ashley served as lead trial counsel on behalf of a high-ranking executive of Canadian National Railway in a declaratory judgment action to invalidate certain post employment restrictive covenants that were preventing him from accepting the role of Senior Vice President of Operations for Canadian Pacific Railway.  After a bench trial, the court ruled in favor of Mr. Ashley’s client.  Tracy Miller v. Canadian National Railway Corporation, et al., 19-CH-3259 (Circuit Court of Cook County, IL 2021).
  • Mr. Ashley served as lead U.S. trial counsel prosecuting a declaratory judgment action in the Royal Courts of Justice in London, England.  Mr. Ashley sought a declaratory judgment in the British high court to invalidate certain restrictive covenants that would otherwise have prevented a former senior executive of Black & Decker Corporation based in Europe from accepting the position as President of Ryobi Technologies (UK) Ltd. After a three-week trial, the court invalidated the restrictive covenants in all respects, and awarded attorneys’ fees and costs. Duarte v. Black & Decker Corporation, 2007 EHWC 2720 (QB)(J. Field).
  • Mr. Ashley successfully represented the former Chief Technology Officer of American Backhaulers in the defense of claims that he violated certain post-acquisition restrictive covenants following the sale to C.H. Robinson, Inc. Jeffrey Silver v. C.H. Robinson, Inc., 06-cv-2070 (N.D. IL 2007). 
  • Mr. Ashley served as lead trial counsel and obtained a seven-year injunction against a former senior executive of firm client GLJ, LLC, a leading consumer products manufacturer, arising from a misappropriation of trade secrets and violation of post-employment restrictive covenants. He additionally secured a five-year worldwide injunction to prevent the co defendant Chinese manufacturing company from competing with GLJ. GLJ,. LLC v. Yung Chen et al., 08-CH-29453 (Circuit Court of Cook County, IL 2007).
  •  Mr. Ashley represented a plumbing products manufacturer in a lawsuit against former executives for breach of restrictive covenants and fiduciary duties. Mueller Ind., Inc. v. Berkman et al., 927 N.E.2d 794 (Ill. App. Ct. 2010).
  • Mr. Ashley represented the former Worldwide Chairman of Johnson & Johnson, Inc.’s Medical Devices & Diagnostics in his immediate transition to the role of Chief Executive Officer of Boston Scientific Corporation notwithstanding sweeping post employment restrictive covenants.
  • Mr. Ashley served as trial counsel to the former Chairman of Foley’s Department Stores.  Along with counsel for Victoria’s Secret Stores, Mr. Ashley successfully prosecuted a declaratory judgment action in Missouri state court to allow Foley’s former Chairman to accept the position of Chief Operating Officer at Victoria’s Secret Stores.  Victoria’s Secret Stores, Inc. and Mark Weikel v. May Department Stores Company, 157 S.W.2d 256 (2004)(Circuit Court of St. Louis County, MO). 
  • Mr. Ashley represented a Danish pharmaceutical company pursuing claims against departing employees for breach of fiduciary duty, misappropriation of trade secrets and civil conspiracy.  Nycomed Amersham v. Source Tech et al., 98-cv-4854 (N.D. IL 2006).  
Employment, Privacy and Business Torts Claims

Mr. Ashley obtained the dismissal of a $110 million defamation suit brought by a former Illinois Appellate Court judge and candidate for the Illinois Supreme Court against a political action committee and one of its members. The trial court decision was affirmed by the Illinois Appellate Court and the Illinois Supreme Court.  Maag v. Illinois Coalition for Jobs, Prosperity, and Growth et al., 368 Ill. App. 3d 844 (5th Dist. 2006), appeal denied, 223 Ill. 2d 637 (Ill. 2007). 
Mr. Ashley obtained a voluntary dismissal of a putative class action under the Illinois Genetic Information Privacy Act brought against Canadian Pacific Railway.  Meeks v. Soo Line Railroad Company d/b/a Canadian Pacific Railway, 23-CH-08763 (Circuit Court of Cook County IL 2023).
Mr. Ashley obtained voluntary dismissal of a putative class action under the Illinois Biometric Privacy Act brought against Romaine Empire, LLC d/b/a Farmer’s Fridge.  Rick Holmon v. Romaine Empire, Inc. d/b/a Farmer’s Fridge, 19-CH-12398 (Circuit Court of Cook County, IL 2019). 
Mr. Ashley successfully defended employment and breach of contract claims against firm client, Leor Energy, L.P., brought by its former President seeking $75 million in damages. The Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals affirmed the trial court’s dismissal of the plaintiff’s claims with prejudice and awarded costs associated with the appeal. Sullivan v. Leor Energy LLC, 600 F.3d 542 (5th Cir. 2010).
Mr. Ashley served as lead counsel for the American College of Obstetricians & Gynecologists and obtained the dismissal of 440 individual lawsuits pending before the U.S. federal Multidistrict Litigation Panel alleging damages resulting from exposure to hormone replacement therapy medications. Doefler v. Wyeth, Inc. et al., MDL No. 4:03-cv-1507 (E.D. Ark. 2008).

Mr. Ashley successfully prosecuted claims for breach of fiduciary duty, misappropriation of trade secrets and civil conspiracy against three departing employees of a large U.S.-based corporation arising from the theft of technology under development. After obtaining a preliminary injunction in Ohio federal court, the matter was favorably settled shortly thereafter.  Clarcor, Inc. v. Muennich et al., 07-cv-189 (S.D. Ohio 2007). 
Mr. Ashley also served as lead counsel for the former President, Chief Operating Officer and Executive Vice President of an $80 million hair care conglomerate following their sudden termination. After pursuing claims for breach of contract, breach of fiduciary duty, fraud and negligent misrepresentation, Mr. Ashley succeeded in obtaining a seven figure settlement on behalf of this senior management team.  Fox et al. v. Hair Club for Men, Ltd., Inc. and Kae-Tech Inc. (AAA Arbitration - 2002).  

Minority Shareholder Oppression

Mr. Ashley served as lead counsel prosecuting shareholder oppression claims on behalf of a minority shareholder of a privately held food company that resulted in a favorable confidential settlement.  Kevin J. Van Eekeren v. Land O’Frost, Inc., 19 CH 06507 (Circuit Court of Cook County, IL 2019).

Mr. Ashley served as lead counsel asserting claims for minority shareholder oppression on behalf of a group of shareholders of a privately held bread company that resulted in a favorable pre-suit settlement in excess of $5 million.