John B. Isbister


John B. Isbister

With three decades of experience, John Isbister has earned a national reputation as a knowledgeable, responsive attorney focused on achieving favorable results for his clients as evidenced by his inclusion since the 2010 edition of Benchmark Litigation.  The publication recognized Mr. Isbister as a "local litigation star" in Maryland for his complex litigation practice in the areas of antitrust, commercial, D&O liability, real estate, and securities as well as his "representation of public and private entities in matters of products liability, toxic torts, and environmental litigation."  He concentrates in two primary areas: defending corporations against products liability claims-- leading the products liability, toxic tort, and environmental litigation practice at Tydings--and representing plaintiffs in commercial litigation, especially class actions in the financial and technology sectors.

Because Mr. Isbister is experienced in both defending and litigating on behalf of major corporations, he is well prepared to position his clients favorably at each stage in the development of a dispute. His appreciation of all the moving parts of complex cases allows him to overcome many obstacles efficiently.

Products Liability Defense: Representative Matters

  • Since 2001, he has defended a major manufacturer of cell phones in dozens of cases in state and Federal courts alleging warranty, consumer protection, and products liability claims.
  • Successfully represented IBM in its defense of over 180 products liability cases alleging repetitive stress injuries from computer keyboards and supermarket scanners.
  • Successfully defended products-liability cases in courts in Maryland and the other mid-Atlantic states involving multiple chemical-sensitivity claims, repetitive-stress injury claims, chemicals, lead paint, pharmaceuticals, toys, exercise equipment, consumer-electronics products, industrial machinery, automobiles, and building products.
  • Served as regional counsel for former manufacturers of asbestos-containing products, and oversaw their representation in 17 states.
  • Represented Atlantic Richfield Company in the defense of a series of products liability cases alleging injuries from lead pigment.

Commercial Litigation: Representative Matters

  • In re Mutual Funds Investment Litigation (MDL - 1586): The U.S. District Court for the District of Maryland appointed Mr. Isbister Plaintiffs’ Administrative Chair in this complex six-year-old consolidation of actions that concern allegations that mutual fund companies engaged in late trading and market timing that disfavored large numbers of investors.
  • Successfully represented plaintiffs in numerous class actions in state and federal courts on behalf of investors and minority shareholders; his past cases have become leading authorities in this jurisdiction on securities fraud and the rights of minority shareholders during an insider takeover.
  • Represented the State of Maryland as the receiver of an insolvent state-chartered savings and loan and successfully tried the institution’s officers’ and directors’ liability coverage action.
  • Served as liaison counsel for the competitor plaintiffs in the consolidated multidistrict antitrust actions against Microsoft Corp.
  • Represented Sun Microsystems, Inc., in its massive antitrust action against Microsoft Corp., in which Sun received an approximate $1.95 billion settlement.
  • Litigates significant business matters involving insurance coverage, securities, corporate governance, antitrust, and various commercial disputes.


Mr. Isbister is the Chair of the American Bar Association's Standing Committee on Publications Oversight.  In addition to this presidential appointment, he served in a number of leadership positions in the American Bar Association and its Section of Litigation.  In the Section of Litigation, he has served as co-chair of the Products Liability Committee, Division Director, and member of the Council. From 2009 to 2013, he served as the first Publications and Content Officer of the Section of Litigation. He currently serves as co-chair of the Section's Book Publishing Board.  He was also the founder and program chair of the American Bar Association’s National Institute on Class Actions, an annual event for leaders in the class action field.

Mr. Isbister is a former president of the Federal Bar Association’s Maryland chapter. In 2004, he was elected to membership in the Federation of Defense and Corporate Counsel.

Outside his professional practice, he has been an active volunteer and leader in community affairs. Mr. Isbister has served on the boards of the Howard County Police Foundation, Leadership Howard County, Johns Hopkins Medicine, Howard County General Hospital and the United Way. In 2013, he was elected chair of the Board of Trustees of the Horizon Foundation, which promotes and enhances the health and wellness of the Howard County community. He is also a member of the Board of Visitors of the University of Maryland Francis King Carey School of Law. In 2006, the Legal Aid Bureau’s Equal Justice Council presented him with a Champions of Justice Award.

He has been cited in Best Lawyers in America ® since 2008.  Mr. Isbister was named the Best Lawyers' 2012 Mass Tort Litigation/Class Actions - Defendants Lawyer of the Year in the Baltimore community.  Since 2010, Mr. Isbister has received recognition for his complex litigation practice in the areas of antitrust, commercial, D&O liability, product liability, real estate, and securities in Benchmark Litigation, a publication of Euromoney/Legal Media Group.  The guide focuses exclusively on leading U.S. litigation firms and attorneys. Also since 2010, Mr. Isbister was named by Maryland Super Lawyers magazine as one of the top attorneys in Maryland for his class action, mass torts, products-liability defense, and securities litigation practices.  Only five percent of the lawyers in the state are named by Super Lawyers.  The selections are made by the research team at Super Lawyers, which is a service of the Thomson Reuters, Legal Division.  He is AV® Peer Review Rated – the highest possible Peer Review Rating from Martindale-Hubbell. 

Prior to joining Tydings, Mr. Isbister clerked for The Honorable David T. Mason, Maryland Court of Special Appeals (1977-78).


Attorney Profile


Industries Served


  • University of Maryland Francis King Carey School of Law (J.D., with honors, 1977)
  • University of Maryland (B.S., with high honors, 1975)

Bar Admissions

  • District of Columbia
  • State of Maryland

Court Admissions

  • U.S. Court of Appeals, District of Columbia
  • U.S. Court of Appeals, Fourth Circuit
  • U.S. Court of Appeals, Third Circuit
  • U.S. District Court, District of Columbia
  • U.S. District Court, District of Maryland
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  • American Bar Association, Section of Litigation
  • Federal Bar Association
  • Federation of Defense and Corporate Counsel
  • Maryland Defense Counsel
  • Maryland State Bar Association
  • District of Columbia Bar
  • Bar Association of Baltimore City
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  • American Bar Association, Section of Litigation, Publications and Content Officer, 2016-2018
  • American Bar Association's National Institute on Class Actions, founder and program chair, 1997-2009
  • Federal Bar Association, Past President of Maryland Chapter
  • Horizon Foundation, Board of Trustees, 2006-2014, Chair, 2012-2013
  • University of Maryland School of Law, Board of Visitors
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