The Business Litigators
The Business Litigators
The Business Litigators
The Business Litigators
Patrick Austermuehle and Andrew Murphy were selected by Super Lawyers as Rising Stars
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No one makes accusations of sexual assault lightly. Women who come forward with claims that men (especially famous men) sexually harassed and/or assaulted them face ridicule and threats to do so without serious consideration. And yet women who do come forward to accuse men of sexual assault are often harassed and accused of making up stories to get attention.

One woman recently sued President Trump for defamation and has faced such a back lash and now the President claims he is immune from her libel suit during the term of his Presidency.

Summer Zervos, a California restaurant-owner who was on “The Apprentice” in 2006, alleged Trump sexually assaulted her when she met with him in 2007 to discuss a potential job with the Trump Organization.

During his presidential campaign, numerous women came forward to say that Trump had sexually assaulted them, especially after a video was released in which Trump bragged about women letting him grab them because he was famous. Trump has asserted that all the women accusing him of sexual assault were making up stories and spreading lies about him.

Zevos filed a lawsuit in New York State Court alleging Trump’s very loud and very public dismissal of her accusations defamed her and she is seeking the appropriate compensation as a result. Continue reading

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Imagine going into a store to buy something. A few months later, without having returned to the store, you find out the store bought one of their products on your behalf, without bothering to tell you about it or get your permission. That’s essentially what a class of consumers are alleging Wells Fargo did for more than a decade while its aggressive sales team were encouraged to do everything in their power to meet their quotas.

According to a recent class action consumer lawsuit, Wells Fargo allegedly created more than 2 million credit cards, lines of credit, checking accounts and savings accounts, without first getting approval from the customers for whom they were opening the accounts. Not only were the customers made to pay the fees to open these accounts they never wanted, but some of them suffered damage to their credit history as a result of credit cards and lines of credit that were opened for them and then never used.

After a class of consumers filed a class action lawsuit seeking claims against the bank for the sham accounts, Wells Fargo offered to settle the lawsuit for $110 million, but later raised their offer to $142 million after an investigation found that the practice of opening these sham accounts went back as far as 2002. That revelation prompted the plaintiffs’ attorneys to up their estimate of sham accounts from 2.1 million to 3.5 million, although they may not see a similar increase in the number of plaintiffs, as some plaintiffs allegedly had multiple sham accounts opened in their name.

The settlement amount is in addition to the $185 million Wells Fargo has already been made to pay to regulators after their practice of opening sham accounts on behalf of unsuspecting (and unwilling) customers was revealed. The resignation of the bank’s CEO at the time, John Stumpf, was another result of the scandal. Continue reading

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The Federal Arbitration Act was created in 1925 to provide a faster, more efficient method for businesses of equal bargaining power to settle disputes between themselves without crowding the courts. The part about the parties needing to be of equal bargaining power is vital, especially since arbitration is private and was not designed to handle class-action lawsuits.

Unfortunately for consumers, arbitration clauses have started appearing in the fine print of their contracts with almost every provider: banks, websites, merchants, car dealers, credit card companies, even their employers. This means that every dispute someone has with a company has to be settled by arbitration, which is private, offers no written opinion on the matter (i.e. no explanation for the ruling), and is often biased in favor of the large companies that bring in lots of business for the arbitrator (although there are a few arbitration companies that are known for their fairness).

The reality is that individuals very rarely, if ever, have the same bargaining power as giant corporations with a team of attorneys at their disposal. In particular, arbitration agreements cripple individuals by preventing them from combining their claims into class actions. Since most individuals have small claims against corporations, class actions are the only method they have for justifying the costs of the lawsuit. If your bank charged you $100 dollars in illegal fees and filing a lawsuit costs $2,000 to hire an attorney and pay for court costs, no reasonable person is going to pursue the matter. They’d rather let it drop, which lets the bank continue to illegally collect thousands of dollars from hundreds of customers who don’t have any way to redress the wrong. Continue reading

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If someone leaves their employer to start their own company (which then gets bought by a competitor of their former employer), can it be a coincidence when that person just happens to end up working for a competitor a few months later on the same material he had been helping his former employer develop?

What if it wasn’t a coincidence? What if it was all an elaborate plot for the competitor to poach the employee, as well as internal documents containing invaluable trade secrets from his former employer?

Alphabet, Google’s parent company, is seeking a court order for documents it thinks will prove that’s exactly what happened when Anthony Levandowski left his job at Google to start his own company, Otto, which was quickly bought by Uber.

Levandowski was working on lidar technology (the technology that allows self-driving cars to navigate their environments) for Waymo, Google’s own ride-share company, before leaving to start Otto in early 2016. Otto was a company that made self-driving trucks, and just a few months after its creation, it was bought by Uber for a few million dollars and Levandowski became the head of Uber’s self-driving department. Continue reading

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Super Lawyers named Illinois commercial law trial attorneys Peter Lubin and Vincent DiTommaso Super Lawyers and Illinois business dispute attorneys Patrick Austermuehle and Andrew Murphy Rising Stars in the Categories of Class Action, Business Litigation and Consumer Rights Litigation. DiTommaso Lubin Austermuehle’s Illinois business trial lawyers have over a quarter of century of experience in litigating complex class action, copyright, non-compete agreement, trademark and libel suits, consumer rights and many different types of business and commercial litigation disputes.  Our Park Ridge and Schaumburg business dispute lawyers, civil litigation lawyers and copyright attorneys handle emergency business law suits involving copyrights, trademarks, injunctions, and TROS, covenant not to compete, franchise, distributor and dealer wrongful termination and trade secret lawsuits and many different kinds of business disputes involving shareholders, partnerships, closely held businesses and employee breaches of fiduciary duty. We also assist businesses and business owners who are victims of fraud. You can contact us by calling (630) 333-0000 or our toll free number (877) 990-4990.  You can also contact us online here.

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The internet contains so much content, and social media allows it all to be distributed so far and so fast, that the question of who owns exactly what content online, and the extent of that ownership, is constantly being debated.

Distractify and 22 Words are both sites that combine content from various sites and social media platforms and repurpose that content into articles that can be written up quickly and easily and disseminated throughout the internet. The result is what is commonly referred to as clickbait.

But now Distractify has sued 22 Words for allegedly violating its copyright at least 51 times. The examples provided in the complaint never involved a word-for-word copy of Distractify’s headlines or article content, but 22 Words did publish articles that contained the same ideas as previous Distractify articles, with similar headlines. Continue reading

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State and federal civil rights laws prohibit employment discrimination and discrimination in places of public accommodation for reasons of race, color, national origin/ancestry, sex/gender, religion/creed and disability (physical and mental). For such reasons, businesses have a responsibility to treat all customers equally under the law and are better served when they do so.

For instance, it was in a Nail Salon that a discrimination or miscommunication became a dispute which almost could have become a lawsuit had an apology not been issued.  A person with disability who uses a wheelchair felt as though she had been discriminated against. The Vietnamese-Americans who worked at the Nail Lounge say a language barrier contributed to the dispute.

When the disparate treatment was felt, the customer immediately proceeded to make a Facebook post indicating that a salon refused to provide a full pedicure service because she was in a wheelchair.  The customer told staff she would seek business elsewhere and voiced her opinion sensing that it was her wheelchair presence that was the problem and they did not want to deal with it.  The salon technician asserted that accommodation for wheelchairs had been made in the past and the Business was an ‘open space’ for such reasons.  The service was not intended to disrespect but arose out of a lack of proper communication.  Not having perfect English was part of the reason and is said to have contributed to the incident. No ill intention was in place, as such.  Nonetheless, the lady in the wheelchair said she was ignored by the technician and brought along a friend to help with lifting her out of her wheelchair.   The technician instead asked if the pedicure could be given while she sat in her wheelchair. In doing so, the business wanted to avoid any potential liability that could result from moving from her wheelchair into a pedicure chair and make the situation comfortable.  See this article. Better use of tact could have avoided this situation and not every business is perfect or prepared. Raising awareness such as this is what happened as a result,no ill was intended.  Continue reading

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Super Lawyers named Illinois commercial law trial attorneys Peter Lubin and Vincent DiTommaso Super Lawyers and Illinois business dispute attorneys Patrick Austermuehle and Andrew Murphy Rising Stars in the Categories of Class Action, Business Litigation and Consumer Rights Litigation. DiTommaso Lubin Austermuehle’s Illinois business trial lawyers have over a quarter of century of experience in litigating complex class action, copyright, non-compete agreement, trademark and libel suits, consumer rights and many different types of business and commercial litigation disputes.  Our Naperville and Schaumburg business dispute lawyers, civil litigation lawyers and copyright attorneys handle emergency business law suits involving copyrights, trademarks, injunctions, and TROS, covenant not to compete, franchise, distributor and dealer wrongful termination and trade secret lawsuits and many different kinds of business disputes involving shareholders, partnerships, closely held businesses and employee breaches of fiduciary duty. We also assist businesses and business owners who are victims of fraud. You can contact us by calling (630) 333-0000 or our toll free number (877) 990-4990.  You can also contact us online here.

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If a new musical was a hit in places like Vienna, but can’t get the funding to start on Broadway, is it fair to assume it’s the fault of the producers or the publicist? Or is it just another case of bad luck in a notoriously difficult industry?

Producers Ben Sprecher and Louise Forlenza poured millions into getting their new musical, “Rebecca,” on the Broadway stage, but it looks now as if that will never happen.

The ill-fated musical, based on the gothic novel of the same name by Daphne du Maurier, first started experiencing problems when the producers put their faith in Mark C. Hutton, a stockbroker who promised Sprecher and Forlenza he would deliver investors. After Hutton claimed to have investors who would put $4.5 million into the project, the producers moved forward with their planning of the show without ever meeting any of the investors Hutton said he had lined up. Hutton then sent them a message saying one of the investors had died and all the money had been lost. It later came to light that none of the investors had ever actually existed and Hutton was arrested for committing fraud. Continue reading

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Super Lawyers named Illinois commercial law trial attorneys Peter Lubin and Vincent DiTommaso Super Lawyers and Illinois business dispute attorneys Patrick Austermuehle and Andrew Murphy Rising Stars in the Categories of Class Action, Business Litigation and Consumer Rights Litigation. DiTommaso Lubin Austermuehle’s Illinois business trial lawyers have over a quarter of century of experience in litigating complex class action, copyright, non-compete agreement, trademark and libel suits, consumer rights and many different types of business and commercial litigation disputes.  Our Schaumburg and Des Plaines business dispute lawyers, civil litigation lawyers and copyright attorneys handle emergency business law suits involving copyrights, trademarks, injunctions, and TROS, covenant not to compete, franchise, distributor and dealer wrongful termination and trade secret lawsuits and many different kinds of business disputes involving shareholders, partnerships, closely held businesses and employee breaches of fiduciary duty. We also assist businesses and business owners who are victims of fraud. You can contact us by calling (630) 333-0000 or our toll free number (877) 990-4990.  You can also contact us online here.