John B. Isbister

With more than four decades of experience, John has earned a national reputation as a knowledgeable, responsive attorney focused on achieving favorable results for his clients as evidenced by his inclusion since 2010 in Benchmark Litigation.  The publication recognized him 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: representing parties in commercial litigation, especially class actions in the financial and technology sectors and defending corporations against products liability claims.  He leads the products liability, toxic tort, and environmental litigation practice at the firm.

Because John 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 more than 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, 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

  • Represented E.I. du Pont de Nemours and Company in its defense of an alleged price fixing scheme.
  • In re Mutual Funds Investment Litigation (MDL - 1586): The U.S. District Court for the District of Maryland appointed John Plaintiffs’ Administrative Chair in this complex 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.
  • 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.


John has 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 and has served as a co-chair of the Section Book Publishing Board.  He recently completed his service as chair of the ABA's Standing Committee on Publications Oversight.  He is also the founder and was the program chair of the first fourteen American Bar Association’s National Institute on Class Actions, an annual event for leaders in the class action field.

John 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.  John 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.  John was named the Best Lawyers' 2012 Mass Tort Litigation/Class Actions - Defendants Lawyer of the Year in the Baltimore community.  Since 2010, he 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, he 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, John clerked for The Honorable David T. Mason, Maryland Court of Special Appeals (1977-78).


Attorney Profile
  • 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
  • State of Maryland
  • District of Columbia
Court Admissions
  • U.S. District Court, District of Maryland
  • U.S. District Court, District of Columbia
  • U.S. Court of Appeals, District of Columbia
  • U.S. Court of Appeals, Fourth Circuit
  • U.S. Court of Appeals, Third Circuit
  • American Bar Association, Section of Litigation; Publications and Content Officer, 2009-2013
  • Maryland State Bar Association
  • District of Columbia Bar
  • Bar Association of Baltimore City
  • University of Maryland School of Law, Board of Visitors
  • Horizon Foundation, Board of Trustees, 2006-2014; Chair, 2012-2013
  • American Bar Association's National Institute on Class Actions, founder and program chair, 1997-2009
  • Federal Bar Association, Maryland Chapter President, 2003-2004