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The Best junk text and TCPA lawyers near Chicago and River ForestFor decades, calling customers, or potential customers, about a promotion was standard practice for most companies. Of course, many consumers found this to be annoying, but it was never overtly harmful. That changed with the advent of cell phones and prepaid plans. When landlines were the norm, the caller paid for the call. Now, cell phone users pay for the calls and text messages that they receive. As a result, legislators came up with the Telephone Consumer Protection Act (TCPA) to prevent companies from taking advantage of consumers by making them pay for promotional calls and texts. Under the act, companies are forbidden from making calls or texts to consumer phone numbers without the consumers’ express consent, except in the case of an emergency.

The Los Angeles basketball team, the Clippers, have recently settled a class action lawsuit for allegedly violating the TCPA. According to the lawsuit, fans of the California-based basketball team allegedly received promotional texts via autodialers from the Clippers without the required authorization. Rather than facing a long, drawn-out battle in court, which could be very costly and time-consuming, the Clippers and the class of plaintiffs have agreed to settle the case. Continue reading

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Chicago best defamation libel and slander lawyers near Oak BrookAlthough there are laws in place to prevent entities and citizens from harmful comments, such laws have to tread carefully to avoid stepping on the toes of the First Amendment to our constitution. The line got even thinner when the Internet was developed. Now people are free to broadcast their opinions all over the world with a relative amount of anonymity. The combination tends to make people freer about stating their thoughts, but if they’re not careful, those people might find themselves facing a lawsuit for defamation.

Sarah Jones, a former cheerleader for the Cincinnati Bengals, has also worked as a teacher at Dixie Heights High School in Edgewood, Kentucky. At the end of 2009, a user of TheDirty.com posted a photo on the website of Jones with a man and made offensive comments about Jones’s sex life, and the sex life of her partner. Jones repeatedly asked for the posts be removed, and Nik Richie, the owner of the website, refused. Jones responded by filing a lawsuit for defamation against the company that operates the gossip site, Dirty World, LLC, and Richie. The lawsuit alleged that the posts humiliated Jones, undermined her position as an educator, her membership in the Cincinnati Bengals cheerleader squad, and her personal life.

The content posted on TheDirty.com is never created by Richie, but submitted by third parties. Richie then reviews and publishes the submissions with his own comments. Richie and his attorney cited this as a basis for Richie’s immunity under the federal Communications Decency Act of 1996 (CDA). Continue reading

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Chicago non-compete agreement lawyers near Evanston

Non-compete clauses have been included in employee contracts for decades now. These provisions ensure that employees do not walk off with valuable trade secrets or client lists and take them to a competitor. Putting such a clause in employee contracts makes sense, but only up to a point. A standards noncompete contract will prohibit an employee from working for a competitor within a certain geographical radius for a specified period of time. Six months to a year is pretty standard, but that time limit has been growing lately.

Non-compete agreements were first used largely by technology companies who need to guard their developments very closely. If an employee left to work for a competitor and took everything they knew about their former employer with them, the new employer would have an unfair competitive advantage. It therefore makes sense that companies would try to protect their business interests by preventing employees from going directly to work for a competitor.

The problem that employees have been facing lately is that non-compete agreements have spread beyond just those working in tech and sales. Now, everyone from camp counselors to hair stylists are being required to sign non-compete clauses. Hourly workers in these kinds of positions cannot afford to give up a year or two of work to wait for their non-compete agreement to expire and they have started to speak out against the restrictions that their employers are placing on them.

California and North Dakota already ban non-compete agreements. Now it looks like Massachusetts may be joining their ranks. Governor Deval Patrick has proposed legislation banning noncompete agreements except in a few situations. A committee in the Massachusetts House has already passed a bill incorporating the governor’s proposals, but the new law isn’t in the clear yet and supports and opponents of the bill are fighting furiously over the new measures it would impose. Continue reading

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TCPA lawyers and attorneys near Chicago and WaukeganWith American legislature changing on a daily basis, it is not surprising to find that many of the laws out there contradict each other and courts are often called upon to determine which statute takes precedence. Such was the case in a recent lawsuit involving auto-calls made on behalf of State Farm.

In May 2007, Clara Betancourt applied for a car insurance policy with State Farm Mutual Automobile Insurance Company. While she was applying for the car insurance policy, a State Farm agent asked her if she would like to pay using a State Farm credit card. Betancourt agreed and the agent used the information provided by Betancourt for the car insurance application to apply for the credit card on Betancourt’s behalf. Betancourt provided the agent with her home phone number, her cell phone number, and her work phone number.

Betancourt testified that she provided these phone numbers to State Farm as emergency contact information to be used only “for an emergency or something serious.”

The three phone numbers that Betancourt provided all belonged to Fredy Osorio, with whom she has lived for many years and with whom she has a son.

When Betancourt failed to make a timely payment of the minimum balance on her credit card in November 2010, State Farm authorized FMS Inc., a collection agency, to attempt to collect the debt. State Farm provided FMS with Betancourt’s phone numbers and FMS proceeded to make 327 auto-dialed calls to these phone numbers in a six-month period. State Farm alleges that at no time did anyone answering the phone say that the number did not belong to Betancourt. By contrast, Osorio testified that he told State Farm agents to “Please stop calling” on two occasions. Continue reading

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Chicago class action defense attorneys near Oak Brook and Oak ParkCompanies need investors to fund the company’s progress. As a result, in the same way that companies try to play up the positive attributes of a product they are trying to sell, while leaving out the negative, so companies often paint themselves in a better light to try to attract shareholders. However, because shareholders are investing their money (rather than giving it away), companies maintain certain obligations to their shareholders.

When a company fails to hold up their end of the deal in treating fairly with their shareholders, investors have the option of suing the company for damages. When multiple shareholders are wronged, they can file as a class action, giving them greater leverage in the courts. Companies have long looked for ways to put a stop to class actions before they can attain class certification. Now it looks like they have finally gotten a foothold, but how significant that foothold is, remains to be seen.

A group of shareholders of Halliburton Co. filed a class action securities lawsuit against the company, alleging that Halliburton misled investors about cost overruns, its exposure to asbestos liabilities, and the benefits of its 1998 merger with Dresser Industries Inc. According to the lawsuit, by providing false information (or failing to reveal crucial information), Halliburton allegedly caused prices of its shares to increase artificially. Continue reading

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Chicago Defamation, libel and slander lawyers near Wheaton and Glendale Hts.

The U.S. Constitution’s first amendment, protecting the right to free speech, is one of the country’s most beloved statutes. This is particularly true with the rising prevalence of the Internet, which has provided a forum for people to broadcast their opinions (both good and bad) to the world. It is possible for the rights provided by this law to be waived, but only in certain circumstances, and any such waiver must meet with specific requirements. In most cases, any contract or term of service which requires a civilian to forfeit their free speech cannot be too restrictive.

A couple of different retailers have been faced with legal action in matters pertaining to non-disparagement clauses contained in their Terms of Service contracts. The first was a lawsuit involving KlearGear, an online retailer, and a couple living in Utah. When Jen Palmer posted a negative review of the company online, KlearGear demanded that the couple pay $3,500, alleging that the online review violated a “non-disparagement clause” in the site’s Terms of Sale and Use. When the couple refused, the company reported the $3,500 as “debt” to the credit reporting agencies. The result was that the couple’s credit history was destroyed, providing them with difficulties such as a delayed car loan, a denied application for a credit card, and weeks without heat because their furnace broke and they could not acquire a loan to buy a new one.

However, the $3,500 fine did not exist in KlearGear’s Terms of Sale and Use when the couple was dealing with the company in 2008. Rather, the contract had been updated, but any such updates made after the Palmers’ transaction with the retailer did not pertain to them. Continue reading

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FLSA and overtime attorneys near Chicago and Cicero with an office near NapevilleThe federal Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) applies to all employees working in the United States and regulates things like minimum wage and overtime. For example, under the federal law, all hourly employees must be paid at least $7.25 per hour. Any time that an employee works more than eight hours in a day or forty hours a week, the employer is required to compensate the employee the proper overtime compensation of one and one-half times her normal hourly rate for all overtime worked.

In addition to the FLSA, every state has their own laws to protect employees working within that state. Large corporations who do business in multiple states need to be sure that they are acting in accordance with all of the relevant labor laws in order to avoid a lawsuit.

Recently, Kindred Healthcare (which is based in Kentucky) and its subsidiaries, Professional Healthcare at Home and NP Plus, have been hit with a class action wage and hour lawsuit brought by two employees of the company working in California. The lead plaintiffs, Emma Hawkins and Ginger Rogers, are both caregivers who provide non-medical care to the elderly, ill, and disabled on behalf of Kindred Healthcare.

Kindred contracts out workers like Hawkins and Rogers to assisted living and rehabilitation facilities. According to the lawsuit, these caregivers are made to work 12-hour shifts, seven days a week, without any of the meal and rest breaks that they are entitled to under California labor law. Continue reading

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Class Action Against NFL

Class Action Against NFL

When considering filing a lawsuit against a company or individual, it is advisable to first make sure that you have a strong case. The first things to check are that you are covered under the relevant law and that you have a valid claim for loss of a certain monetary value. It is important to note that deciding not to buy something because the price was too high does not constitute a loss.

Ben Hoch-Parker disagrees. He and Josh Finkelman filed a class action lawsuit against the National Football League for allegedly violating the New Jersey Consumer Fraud Act (NJCFA). The lawsuit alleges that the NFL withholds 99% of its Super Bowl tickets from the general public. According to the lawsuit, the NFL gives 75% of the big game tickets to the 32 NFL teams. Five percent goes to the host team, 17.5% to each team that is represented in the Super Bowl, and the remaining 29 teams each get 1.2% of the tickets. Another 25% of the game tickets are then allegedly given to broadcast networks, media sponsors, the host committee, and other insiders.

Once the NFL’s member clubs have their tickets, the NFL allegedly places no restrictions on the sale of those tickets, allowing the NFL franchises to auction off their ticket allotments to the highest bidding ticket broker. The lawsuit alleges that, “The broker then sells the tickets for exorbitant amounts on the secondary market.”

The lawsuit is filing a claim for this allegedly illegal practice because the NJCFA states that at least 95% of tickets must be sold to the general public. Instead, the lawsuit alleges, every year, the NFL prints “tens of thousands of Super Bowl tickets, yet it only allocates a meager one percent of these tickets for release to the general public through a lottery system, forcing all other fans into a secondary market for the tickets where they must pay substantially more than the ticket’s face value to attend one of the most popular and iconic sports events of the year.” Continue reading

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Best overtime and class action lawyers near Chicago and Oak Brook

The federal Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) mandates that all employees working in the United States must be paid at least the federal minimum wage of $7.25 per hour. This is true regardless of how the employee is paid. While some workers are paid per piece or on commission, the wages paid to these employees, calculated against the amount of time they spent working, must average out to at least $7.25 per hour.

The FLSA also requires that all non-exempt employees who work in excess of eight hours a day or forty hours a week must be paid the proper overtime compensation of one and one-half times the employee’s normal hourly rate. This also remains true for workers who are paid on commission or on a piece-rate basis. The employer must calculate the employee’s normal hourly rate based on the wages earned and the time spent working, in order to come up with an overtime rate for the employee.

There are many advantages to a company classifying an employee as an independent contractor. The company gets to avoid paying taxes and benefits such as health insurance. However, the law has very specific requirements for the kinds of workers that can be classified as independent contractors. For example, an independent contractor must have more freedom than an employee, such as the ability to choose when and where they perform their work and the type of clothing that they wear while working. Independent contractors also get to choose how many and which clients they work for. Continue reading

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New Toyota Auris Xs - Front view at the dealership

Many people are intimidated by the idea of making large purchases, such as a new home or car. This is because these kinds of purchases often come with all sorts of extra fees, which can be confusing for consumers. Not everyone is aware of what constitutes a fair deal and auto dealerships sometimes take advantage of this by adding fees to a customer’s purchase without a clear explanation of what those fees are for.

Such was allegedly the case with Panhandle Automotive Inc., which does business as Bay Lincoln Hyundai Mitsubishi. Jesse Page, who represented the class of plaintiffs, filed the lawsuit against the car sales company after having bought two cars from the dealership. For each purchase, Page was allegedly charged $49 for an electronic filing fee and $489 for a delivery fee.

Of the electronic filing fee, Panhandle allegedly gave $12 to a third party that performed the electronic filing and kept the rest. Panhandle’s electronic filing fee was later raised to $147. Panhandle allegedly got to keep all of the delivery fees.

Bill Bielecky, the attorney who represented the class of plaintiffs, said that fees like this are common among car dealerships in Florida, but that they add little or no value to the consumer.

Under Florida’s Deceptive and Unfair Practices Act, the fees would have been legal if the documents used by Panhandle had expressly stated that the fees would be profit for the dealership. According to Bay County Commissioner George Gainer, who owns Panhandle, the failure to include the language in the documents was due to an error.

Such seemingly small omissions can have large consequences, as in this lawsuit, which resulted in thousands of dollars in settlement costs. “It’s just a no-brainer,” said Bielecky. “They didn’t have the language: they were going to lose.”

Gainer feels differently about his case, though. He said in a statement that if they had continued to fight the lawsuit in the courts, “we’d have won the thing.” This attitude is reflected in the fact that, as part of the settlement agreement, Panhandle refused to admit to having done anything illegal. Instead of an admission of guilt, Gainer maintains that the settlement was merely a way to avoid the expenses of a litigation, which could drag on in the courts for months.

Circuit Court Judge Timothy McFarland, on the other hand, felt that both sides had an equally strong case. When he approved the settlement, McFarland noted that “this factor weighs in favor of settlement because it is unclear which party will prevail at trial.” By agreeing to a settlement, the class of plaintiffs receives some relief, while Panhandle gets to save face. Continue reading