Adler Pollock & Sheehan

One Citizens Plaza
Suite 800
Providence, RI 02903
401-274-7200 (firm)
401-751-0604 (firm fax)

A noted and highly awarded litigator who has successfully argued high-stakes, precedent-setting cases across the country, John Tarantino represents international manufacturers, major chemical companies, railroads, e-commerce businesses, entrepreneurs, sports coaches and managers, and leading real estate developers in sophisticated litigation matters involving complex issues of constitutional law, antitrust, intellectual property, product liability, toxic tort, white-collar crime, and employment law.

Passionate about his work and his profession, John lectures frequently on trial techniques and is a leading author of legal books and articles on product liability, discovery, evidence, procedure, medical-legal issues, legal ethics and trial strategy.

He has won significant trial victories for Atlantic Richfield Company, the Governor of Rhode Island, the Rhode Island Senate, and other entities and individuals in cases ranging from toxic torts to constitutional law to bribery and wire fraud.

Significant Matters

  • John successfully defended Atlantic Richfield Company in the longest jury trial in Rhode Island history, the landmark litigation brought by the attorney general against the former manufacturers of lead pigment used in paint.  John’s client was the only defendant found not responsible by the jury.  On appeal, John successfully defended the verdict as well.
  • John represents the Governor, the Treasurer and the Employers' Retirement System in constitutional challenges brought by various labor unions to changes made to the state's general pension statute.
  • In one of the most high-profile and notorious criminal investigations in recent Rhode Island history, “Plunder Dome,” John successfully defended the former Mayor of Providence’s Chief of Staff on federal bribery, corruption and conspiracy charges, obtaining a not guilty verdict on all counts.
  • In a case of first impression, John successfully defended the former Rhode Island Senate President on ethics charges.  The Rhode Island Supreme Court ruled that the Rhode Island Constitution's speech in debate clause barred the Ethics Commission from charging a legislator for how he or she participated in the legislative process and voted on legislation.
  • In two federal court trials (one in Rhode Island and one in Massachusetts), John defended a gaming facility on charges of "honest services" mail and wire fraud and conspiracy.
  • John defended a national utility company on federal charges of violation of environmental laws relating to the storage of liquid mercury and mercury sealed regulators.
  • In a case of first impression, John convinced the Rhode Island Supreme Court that the so-called "pollution exclusion" does not bar coverage for policy holders unless the policy holder intended to cause pollution and environmental damage to its property.
  • John successfully defended a municipality on wrongful death claims brought against it by the widow and children of a police officer who was killed by a fellow police officer in a SWAT team hostage-taking exercise.  He was able to obtain summary judgment against the municipality’s insurance carrier, which had denied coverage for the claim, and also defended the municipality on the underlying merits case.
  • John has obtained several multi-million dollar judgments for an international finance company against various borrowers and guarantors in the areas of hotel and entertainment financing, resort financing, mobile home financing, manufactured home financing, and equipment financing, and has defended numerous claims alleging lender liability, breach of good faith and fair dealing, and breach of consumer protection laws.
  • John successfully defended the mayor of the Town of North Providence in an ethics investigation concerning the alleged awarding of no-bid town construction contracts to a business associate.  After investigation by the Ethics Commission, John filed a motion to dismiss, and following hearing, the Ethics Commission determined that there was no probable cause to conclude that a violation of the Code of Ethics occurred.
  • In a case of first impression, John defended a Chinese pharmaceutical company in a multi-jurisdictional criminal case, “Operation Raw Deal”, which focused on charges that the Chinese pharmaceutical company had engaged in a variety of criminal actions, including the illegal importation and distribution of human growth hormone.  The Chinese pharmaceutical company was named in the Major League Baseball investigative Mitchell Report as the alleged supplier of hGH products that had been used improperly by a variety of present and former Major League Baseball players.
  • John successfully defended a well-known plaintiffs’ personal injury lawyer and his firm, who advertise nationally, against charges of unauthorized practice of law and ethics violations and obtained a favorable ruling from the Rhode Island Supreme Court that the law firm could register to do business in the State of Rhode Island and provide services to clients there.
  • John defended a major chemical company at trial and on appeal on claims that an herbicide that it manufactured cause cancer.  In the course of the representation, the Rhode Island Supreme Court adopted the Daubert standard for the admission of expert and scientific evidence in Rhode Island courts.
  • John has defended a number of clients in class action and multi-district litigation, including claims of securities violations, ERISA violations, lender liability, defective products, defective pharmaceuticals, and medical devices.

Honors & Distinctions

  • Winner of two 2013 ACQ Global Awards: Leading Lawyer - Litigation US (RI) and Leading Lawyer - Tort Litigation / Product Liability US (RI).
  • Selected by his peers for inclusion in the 2006-2014 editions of The Best Lawyers in America® in the fields of Commercial Litigation, Personal Injury, Appellate Law, Mass Tort Litigation, Product Liability Litigation, Bet-the-Company Litigation and White Collar Criminal Defense.
  • Chambers USA America’s Leading Business Lawyers (Star Performer status).
  • Lawdragon 500 (recognized as one of 500 leading lawyers in America and one of top 500 trial lawyers in America).
  • Ralph P. Semonoff Award (Rhode Island Bar Association’s highest award for civility, professionalism and outstanding advocacy).
  • Recipient, 2003 Award of Merit for outstanding service to the legal profession and to the Rhode Island Bar Association.
  • Recipient, 2008 Equal Justice Award, Rhode Island Legal Services.
  • Exceptional Performance Citation received from Defense Research Institute, 2004.
  • Recipient, Boston College Law School 75th Anniversary Alumni Award, 2006.
  • Named, Rhode Island Super Lawyer, 2007 - 2013, an honor that recognizes him as a leader in the legal community.
  • Named “Commercial Litigation Lawyer of the Year – USA 2011” by Finance Monthly Magazine 
  •   Best Lawyers’ 2012 Lawyer of the Year, Appellate Law, Providence.
  • Best Lawyers’ 2013 Lawyer of the Year, Bet-the-Company Litigation, Providence.
  • Best Lawyers' 2014 Lawyer of the year, Criminal Defense - White-Collar, Providence.
  • Selected as a local litigation star in the 2013 edition of Benchmark Litigation andBenchmark Appellate

Professional Affiliations

  • President, Rhode Island Bar Association – July 1997 - June 1998.
  • President, New England Bar Association – October 2002 - October 2003.
  • President, Defense Counsel of Rhode Island – June 2003 – June 2004.
  • President, Rhode Island Bar Foundation – June 2005 – June 2011.
  • Fellow, Rhode Island Bar Foundation.
  • Fellow, American Bar Foundation.
  • Fellow, Litigation Counsel of America.
  • Fellow, American College of Trial Lawyers.
  • Fellow, International Academy of Trial Lawyers.
  • Fellow, International Society of Barristers (State Chair).
  • Fellow, National Conference of Bar Presidents.
  • Member, American Board of Trial Advocates.
  • Founding Member and Former Regent, National College for DUI Defense.
  • Member, Sports Lawyers Association.
  • Member, Justinian Society.
  • Member, St. Thomas More Society.
  • Member, Dartmouth College Lawyers’ Association.
  • Member, Defense Research Institute (DRI).
  • Member, National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers (NACDL).
  • Member, Federal Bar Association.

Community & Civic Activity

  • Poverello Center, Board of Directors.
  • Member of Executive Committee, Capital Campaign of Franciscans of the Holy Name Province.
  • Boston College Law School Board of Overseers.
  • National Judicial College, Board of Visitors.
  • United States Supreme Court Historical Society, State Chair (2007-2008).
  • Boston College Law School, Alumni Association.
  • Dartmouth College, Alumni Association.
  • American Inns of Court, Alumni Association
  • Providence Chamber of Commerce, Small Business Council

Practice Areas


  • Dartmouth College (A.B., magna cum laude, 1976)
  • Boston College (J.D., magna cum laude, 1981)
  • Kings College, University of London

Bar & Court Admissions

  • Rhode Island
  • Commonwealth of Massachusetts
  • U.S. District Court, District of Rhode Island
  • U.S. District Court, District of Massachusetts
  • U.S. District Court, District of Connecticut
  • U.S. Court of Appeals, First and Ninth Circuits
  • U.S. Supreme Court


Publications & Seminars

  • Author of 11 legal texts and more than 200 legal articles, columns and reviews.
  • Frequent lecturer on trial techniques.

Case Studies

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