Articles Posted in Best Websites For Consumer Law and Class Action Law Issues


“From pretending to be police or attorneys to calling you at all hours of the night to trying to tack on interest you don’t owe” the Consumerist website presents “nearly two dozen things the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act (FDCPA) forbids collectors from doing.”

This is a great list to review to determine if a debt collector is violating the law so you can then contact us to pursue a lawsuit on your behalf. Remember the debt collector cannot be the lender but must be a different party such as a debt collection firm or a lawyer hired by the lender in order for you to have a claim under federal unfair debt collection laws. Click here to see the list of 23 violations of federal unfair debt collection laws.

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Lubin Austermuehle handles wage and hour class action litigation on a regular basis, and many of our clients’ claims are based upon violations of the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA). Our Schaumburg unpaid overtime attorneys were interested to see a recent class-action brought by restaurant workers alleging violations of the FLSA.

Cao v. Wu Liang Ye Lexington Rest., Inc. is a suit filed by twenty-four employees of two restaurants in New York City. The employees worked as waiters, delivery workers, and a food packer for Defendants and filed suit for unpaid minimum and overtime wages, illegal tip deductions, expense reimbursement for the purchase and maintenance of bicycles and uniforms. Plaintiffs also sought statutory liquidated damages, prejudgment interest, and attorneys’ fees. Plaintiffs filed for default, which was granted by the Court. Plaintiffs subsequently submitted their damages calculations and Defendants opposed Plaintiffs’ application for damages on the basis that Plaintiffs’ calculations were inflated and Defendants’ violations of the FLSA were not willful.

The Court addressed Defendants’ arguments by first discussing the applicable law. The limitations period for FLSA claims is generally two years, but is three years for defendants that willfully break the law. The Court then ruled that the three year statute of limitations was applicable because Defendants defaulted and therefore admitted Plaintiffs’ willfulness allegations. The Court also found the longer statute of limitations applied because Defendants admitted that they did not try to learn about the FLSA’s requirements until just prior to the commencement of the lawsuit. Plaintiffs argued that they should receive unpaid wages for the entirety of their employment under the doctrine of equitable tolling due to the fact that Defendants failed to post a notice explaining the FLSA in plain view of employees. The Court saw no reason to extend Plaintiffs’ claims beyond the statutory three year period because Defendants’ had not engaged in any sort of deception or other exceptional activity, and prior case law held that equitable tolling only applies in unusual circumstances. The Court finished by granting Plaintiffs damages for unpaid minimum wage, overtime wages, unlawful tip deductions, reimbursement for bicycle expenses, liquidated damages, prejudgment interest, and attorneys’ fees.

The Court denied reimbursement for uniform expenses because most of the clothing worn by employees could be “worn as a part of the employees’ ordinary wardrobe.” Plaintiffs did also wear a red vest that could be considered outside an ordinary wardrobe, but there was no evidence in the record that Plaintiffs’ incurred expenses obtaining or cleaning the red vests.

Cao v. Wu Liang Ye Lexington Rest., Inc. provides future wage and hour litigants with several lessons when it comes to preparing damages applications. First and foremost, courts are unlikely to apply equitable tolling to extend the FLSA’s statute of limitations in the absence of intentional deception or fraud by defendants. Additionally, this case serves as a reminder that employees should keep accurate records of work related expenses if they wish to recover damages under the FLSA.

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Courts have been flooded lately with claims by non-exempt employees who have not been compensated for time spent logging into computer systems and performing other start-up procedures. As experienced overtime lawyers, Lubin Austermuehle has been tracking many of these cases, and the Northern District of Illinois made a recent ruling on one such case.

In Kernats v. Comcast Corporation, Plaintiffs worked for Defendant as customer account representatives (CAE’s) who performed non-exempt work and were paid on an hourly basis. Plaintiffs worked in one of Defendant’s eight call centers in Illinois, and while all Plaintiffs did not perform exactly the same job, they did have the same job description and primary duty. Additionally, they all had similar training, were governed by the same employment policies, and were compensated in the same way. Also, all CAE’s were allegedly required to first log into a work computer, load all of the necessary computer applications, and log into Defendant’s phone system before the start of their shift. In addition to the customer service responsibilities, Defendant required CAE’s to learn about new products, services, marketing campaigns, and review company emails.

Plaintiffs filed suit alleging that Defendant failed to compensate Plaintiffs for the time after they first logged in, but prior to their scheduled start time, which violated the Illinois Wage Payment and Collection Act (IWPCA). Plaintiffs also claimed that working this uncompensated time caused them to work more than forty hours a week. This entitled them to overtime compensation pursuant to the Illinois Minimum Wage Law (IMWL). After some limited discovery, Plaintiffs moved to certify two classes, one for each state law claim, under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 23.

In making their ruling, the Court found that Plaintiffs met the threshold requirements of Rule 23(a) because the class members were subject to standardized conduct by Defendant. This conduct was the implementation of a company-wide practice allowing CAE’s to work after their login, but before the start of their shift without being paid. The class-members’ claims also were based upon the same legal theory, and thus met the minimal requirements of typicality and commonality. The Court then held that the requirements of Rule 23(b)(3) were met because the evidence required to prove liability that was common to the class significantly outweighed the evidence particular to the individual class members. The Court also found that a class-action was the preferable means for adjudicating the issues because the individual recovery for individuals would be relatively small, while the aggregate recovery would be quite large. As such, the Court ruled that the requirements of FRCP 23 were met and certified the class-action.

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Consumer Law and Policy Blog reports:

In a closely watched case, the California Supreme Court on Thursday issued a decision preserving the broad availability of the state’s principal consumer protection laws in cases involving mislabeled goods.The question at issue in Kwikset v. Superior Court (Benson) was whether a consumer who has bought a product that was mislabeled — a “union-made” shirt that was in fact manufactured in a sweatshop, “organic” produce that was grown with pesticides, or (as in this case) a “Made in the USA” lockset that had actually been partly manufactured in Taiwan and Mexico — may bring suit under the Unfair Competition Law (UCL) and the False Advertising Law (FAL). Proposition 64, passed by referendum in 2004, inserted in both laws a requirement that a private plaintiff have “lost money or property.” But what if the product the customer received was perfectly functional even if it wasn’t what the customer had ordered? Was there still a loss of money or property? The Court of Appeal thought not: since the item received was of equal value, plaintiffs had not “lost money” and therefore could not bring a claim under the UCL or FAL.

The California Supreme Court, however, disagreed. The Supreme Court held that neither the language nor the logic of Prop 64 precluded suits by consumers who did not get what they paid for. “Plaintiffs who can truthfully allege they were deceived by a product’s label into spending money to purchase the product, and would not have purchased it otherwise, have ‘lost money or property’ within the meaning of Proposition 64 and have standing to sue.” It doesn’t matter that to some other people, or by some objective measure, the mislabeled product is worth as much as the one the consumer expected. What matters is the consumer’s subjective valuation.


The blog classactionblawg provides an excellent summary of important class action decisions from the past year. You can read this blog post by clicking here.

Our Woodstock, Illinois consumer rights private law firm handles individual and class action predatory lending, unfair debt collection, lemon law and other consumer fraud cases that government agencies and public interest law firms such as the Illinois Attorney General may not pursue. Class action lawsuits our law firm has been involved in or spear-headed have led to substantial awards totalling over a million dollars to organizations including the National Association of Consumer Advocates, the National Consumer Law Center, and local law school consumer programs. The Chicago consumer rights attorneys at Lubin Austermuehle are proud of our achievements in assisting national and local consumer rights organizations obtain the funds needed to ensure that consumers are protected and informed of their rights. By standing up to consumer fraud and consumer rip-offs, and in the right case filing consumer protection lawsuits and class-actions you too can help ensure that other consumers’ rights are protected from consumer rip-offs and unscrupulous or dishonest practices.

Our Riverwoods and Winnetka consumer attorneys provide assistance in fair debt collection, consumer fraud and consumer rights cases including in Illinois and throughout the country. You can click here to see a description of the some of the many individual and class-action consumer cases our Chicago consumer lawyers have handled. A video of our lawsuit which helped ensure more fan friendly security at Wrigley Field can be found here. You can contact one of our Chicago consumer protection attorneys who can assist in consumer fraud, consumer rip-off, lemon law, unfair debt collection, predatory lending, wage claims, unpaid overtime and other consumer, or consumer class action cases by filling out the contact form at the side of this blog or by clicking here.


The website Can My Boss Do That sets down in plain english your rights as an employee. The website has a great section on It explains when you are entitled to get paid.

This website is a great resource for finding out your legal rights as a employee.

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Public Citizen’s blog is a great resource to learn about consumer rights issues. It regularly publishes insightful posts on many cutting edge consume rissues such as how large corporations and law firms abuse their power through misuse trademark law to silence criticism and infringe free speech rights.

You can view the blog by clicking here.

Click here and here to read two interesting posts about how a large law firm uses trademark law.

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Publich Justice reports on its website:

The consumer and civil rights communities are closely watching AT&T Mobility v. Concepcion, a case that will be argued in the Supreme Court this November. Depending on how broadly the Court reads the question presented in Concepcion, the case could decide the fate of consumer and employee class actions for years to come.

Public Justice’s Senior Attorney Paul Bland, Staff Attorney Claire Prestel and Brayton-Baron Fellow Melanie Hirsch explain what is at stake in ATT Mobility v. Concepcion, a case with profound consumer and civil rights implications. The U.S. Supreme Court is scheduled to hear the case this fall. Click here to see what is at stake.

The National Consumer Law Center has improved what already was one of the best websites on the internet for consumer law and class-action issues with a brand new website. NCLC encourages

you to take a look around the website and discover all it has to offer. In a time of historic changes in consumer financial regulation, it contains a treasure trove of cutting-edge information and resources for lawyers, consumer advocates, policymakers, and the public.

The website describes state consumer protection and fraud laws:

The Federal Government has set up a consumer action website that contains insightful and detailed information about how consumers can protect their rights in many different types of consumer transactions. The website also has a link to the new Consumer Action Handbook. It describes the Consumer Action Handbook as follows:

This everyday guide to being a smart shopper is hot off the press and chock-full of helpful tips about preventing identity theft, understanding credit, filing a consumer complaint, and much more. In the 2010 edition, you’ll find updated information about filing for bankruptcy, finding a lawyer, and planning a funeral, along with many other useful topics.

You can view a pdf copy of the 2010 Consumer Action Handbook here.

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