Articles Posted in Business Disputes

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While most people may not consider the risks associated with someone slipping and falling on their floor, it’s a legitimate concern that property owners have to anticipate. While sometimes an accident is just an accident, other times it may be the result of negligence, in which case the property owner is responsible for all medical damages that resulted from the fall, as well as any psychological distress, mental suffering, and/or lost income.

Eugenie Bouchard is demanding the United States Tennis Association (U.S.T.A.) pay her all of the above as a result of a head injury she suffered after slipping and falling in the locker room at the United States Open in 2015. According to Bouchard, the accident was allegedly caused by a cleaning fluid that was applied to the floor of the locker room, which she claims was dimly lit.

Before the accident, Bouchard was a top-five tennis player who had reached the singles final at Wimbledon in 2014 and the semifinals at both the French Open and the Australian Open. Although she didn’t do as well in 2015, she did take home three victories from Flushing Meadows, with an additional two victories in doubles, but all that was before her 2015 fall.

After sustaining the alleged head injury, Bouchard only played one more tennis game in 2015 and she ended up having to withdraw before completing the second set due to dizziness. Continue reading

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Although bitcoin’s meteoric rise in price and prominence has some people wondering if it’s a bubble, the Chicago Mercantile Exchange and CBOE Futures Exchange agreed to start trading in the digital currency in December. Just a few months later, the first criminal lawsuit over bitcoin was filed against a Chicago trader.

At 24 years old, Joseph Kim, who was working as an Assistant Trader for a Chicago firm called Consolidated Trading, was accused of stealing $2 million from his employer from September to November of 2017 – right before bitcoin became eligible for trading in the local exchanges. In fact, it may have been the preparation for trading on the exchanges that alerted the firm to Kim’s alleged illegal activity.

According to the complaint, Kim allegedly funneled millions of dollars in the form of bitcoin and Litecoin from the firm’s funds into his possession. He allegedly used the digital currency to cover his personal trading losses, then lied about the funds to cover up his illegal activities. The firm’s management discovered Kim’s alleged misappropriation of their funds and charged him with fraud.

A short hearing was recently held regarding the allegations of stolen digital funds. Kim was charged with wire fraud, but he has not yet entered a plea. His bond was set at $100,000, and if he gets released on bond, he is not allowed to travel outside of northern Illinois, except to Arizona, where he owns a home. The bond deal also prohibits him from communicating with his former co-workers. Kim agreed to all terms of the bond deal and readily surrendered his passport. Continue reading

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When the millionaire owner of a thriving business dies without a will, leaving only a wife and a child from a previous marriage to sort out his possessions, chances are things are going to get ugly.

That’s exactly what they did in a recent case before the Illinois First District Appellate Court, which held that a law firm hired to represent the deceased’s widow and the estate also allegedly owed a duty to the estate itself and can be liable to the estate for alleged legal malpractice if the allegations in the malpractice lawsuit pan out.

The estate case was hotly contested and was ultimately settled. Alma and her counsel denied all of the claims and the court made no finding of wrongdoing.

The appellate decision outlines the disputed facts at issue as follows. Scott H. died intestate in 2005, leaving millions of dollars in assets including the then successful Chicago Minibus Travel, Inc., which became the chief source of dispute between his only heirs, his widow Alma and son, Kyle, from a previous marriage. Alma was appointed the Administrator of Scott’s estate and hired the defendant law firm to represent her.

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Family disputes can turn nasty, as can business disputes, but there are few things worse than business disputes between family members.

Recently, Robert F. Tigani Jr. and his brother, Chris Tigani, filed a lawsuit against their father, Robert F. Tigani Sr., for allegedly abusing his position as trustee to divert funds and assets away from his children for his own benefit.

Tigani Sr. is a chairman of N.K.S. Distributors, a franchise of Anheuser-Busch for Delaware that was founded in 1960. The lawsuit alleges he took advantage of his position as chairman, and as trustee of an irrevocable trust that was created by his parents (who founded the company) to ensure the company remained in the family.

According to the complaint, when the trust was created in 1986, Tigani Sr. owned 42% of N.K.S. shares and 58% were set aside to benefit Robert Jr., Chris, and their children, with Tigani Sr. appointed trustee. But the lawsuit alleges Tigani Sr. abused his position to issue himself extra shares of the company, giving him a controlling interest in the distribution company. He allegedly concealed the improper issuance of these funds from his sons, and when they suspected him of misconduct, he allegedly refused to show them company records of the transactions. Continue reading

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Storms weather and can bring about the best and worst in people.  When damage occurs, the test of resilience, character, friendship and trust are all evaluated.  The process is not any easier when there is an Insurance company that one has to deal with and when there is the lurking possibility that they are handling thousands of claims at the same time.  All damages are subject to scrutiny, including the damage that takes place after storms.  Disputes arise in the context of property damage and to its extent. This firm is willing to assist as an All-American firm working for its citizens.  In the doing of so, we write and will consider assistance via phone if necessary.  Not all are easily able to navigate as emotions such as shock are still being overcome.

The competing interests that an insured and insurer have in the filing of a claim also makes it more painstakingly difficult.  Some perceive the insurance claims process as adversarial.  The insurance representative cannot guide to what is best in representation on the matter. This is since Insurance companies appear to be in a Business.  As such, the expectation to be fairly compensated is questionable.  While many pay on time and premiums it does not mean that what you give is what you will get back.  At times, adjusters may become overwhelmed in working on multiple cases that are catastrophic in nature and make mistakes or overlook damage.   That is why having an attorney best helps.   For those reasons, we have compiled a list of items that should be attended prior to discussing a case with an attorney or Insurance company.

Please ensure compliance with the following:

  1. By making a timely reporting of claim, as a failure to do so may result in its denial. This can normally be done via phone or online.  The claims process normally begins at this point: initial contact with the insurance company, an evaluation of your claim, negotiations, and a resolution/settlement.  At this point, an adjuster is normally assigned.
  2. Documentation of all video and photos of the damage, if possible.  It would even be better if those included prior and after.  Possible electronic receipts of any purchases made.
  1. The obtaining of independent quotes by contractor receipts in putting a price on the extent of the loss.  These may be challenged or questioned by the Insurance company, but are a good start and utilizing them may assist you in deciding whom you wish to use for the final repair.  Sometimes, supplements are required for damage that is hidden.  If disputed, the burden of proof can then move from the insurance company to the insured if the contractor estimate does not reflect the true damage sustained.

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Disputes are a normal part of any relationship: be it business, personal or professional.  When business mixes with family, disputes would seem an unavoidable part of the deal.  For such a reason, litigation would be a route that most would want to avoid due to cost, time and the tensions placed on parties involved.  In general, most suits settle prior to trial and a majority of these via mediation.  Judges also recommend that parties settle prior to trial.

As we have discussed on our previous blog posts, Mediation is a way to appoint a neutral third party, often a retired judge or attorney with a vast amount of experience, who will resolve the dispute between both parties utilizing a problem-solving approach.  These sessions are confidential and a way for parties to explore and resolve issues.

For privacy reasons, and for a quicker resolution method, it would appear that such measures are more viable if a dispute was to occur within a family owned business.  Such cases may involve the ownership or management of a family-owned business are at issue, settlement agreements also can include provisions requiring, for example, transfers of shares, changes to corporate governance processes, or changes to a family member’s employment or other involvement with the company. Even if the parties begin to litigate their disputes, but then proceed to mediation, a judge will typically enforce a settlement agreement reached by the parties through mediation. Continue reading

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Although most he said/she said cases can be difficult, if not impossible, to prove which side is in the right, when hearing a case against a person for allegedly acting inappropriately, consideration can be given to how strongly the accuser appears to believe what they’re saying, rather than what actually happened.

In the case of the charges David Mueller filed against Taylor Swift, her mother, and one of her managers, Judge William J. Martinez, of the United States District Court in Denver, dismissed the pop star from the complaint.

The allegations involve a meet and greet Swift gave before a concert at the Pepsi Center in Denver, Colorado. Mueller and his girlfriend at the time, Shannon Melcher, posed for a photo with the pop star, at which point Swift claims Mueller put his hand up her dress and onto her bare buttock.

Out of shock and surprise and an unwillingness not to ruin the whole evening for the rest of her fans, Swift did not immediately react. But after her meet and greet was over, she allegedly informed security she had been groped, at which point they escorted Mueller and Melcher out of the building. Continue reading

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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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The U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit recently put the kibosh on the proposed mega merger between health insurance giants Anthem, Inc. and Cigna Corporation, two of the nation’s four largest insurers. The court concluded that Anthem failed to show how proposed cost efficiencies would offset the harm to competition in affected markets. (United States, et al., v. Anthem, Inc. and Cigna Corp., No. 17-5024 (D.C. Cir. 2017)).

In 2015, Anthem, the second-largest health carrier, which operates the Blue Cross Blue Shield brand in 14 states, agreed to merge with third-largest Cigna, in what would be the biggest-ever merger of health insurers. It would leave Anthem as the surviving company with a controlling share of the merged company’s stock. Within Anthem states, existing Cigna customers could remain with Cigna, but the two insurers would otherwise no longer compete in those states.

The U.S. Department of Justice and several states successfully sued in district court to block the merger on the ground it would substantially lessen competition in affected markets, in violation of the Clayton Act. On appeal, Anthem argued the merger’s efficiencies would outweigh its antiicompetitive effects by reducing the costs of medical claims through lower provider rates, thus lowering Cigna’s rates. The government plaintiffs had argued these projected savings were unverified, not specific to the merger, and would not result in true efficiencies. Continue reading

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Getting taken to the cleaners by a dishonest employee or contractor is headache enough for any business, but having  no fraud coverage insurance coverage is a world of hurt.  Businesses are well advised to analyze their policies carefully to make sure they have proper coverage.

In the case of an Indiana telecom company called Telamon, its two different insurance policies provided no relief, according to the Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals (Telamon Corp. v. Charter Oak, No. 16-1205, 7th Cir. (2017)). Telamon engaged independent consultant Juanita B. to provide services, and her role eventually expanded well beyond the original agreement. She was named vice president of major accounts and became senior manager for the company’s business in New York and New Jersey. In that capacity, she oversaw the removal of old telecommunications equipment from AT&T sites to sell to salvagers. Juanita pocketed the profits, for a total of $5.2 million in losses for the company by the time it discovered her scheme.   Continue reading