Articles Posted in Best Business And Class Action Lawyers Near Chicago

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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

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Stock options exercised by railroad employees are a form of monetary compensation taxable to the employer and employee under the Railroad Retirement Tax Act, according to the Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals (Wisconsin Central Ltd., et al. v. United States, No. 16‐3300 (7th Cir. 2017)).

In 1996, three Midwestern railroad subsidiaries of the Canadian National Railway Company began including stock options in their employees’ compensation plans. In its appeal from a district court ruling, the railway argued that income from the exercise of stock options that a railroad gives its employees is not a form of “money remuneration” to them and is therefore not taxable to the railway under the Act, which defines “compensation” as “any form of money remuneration paid to an individual for services rendered as an employee… .”

The Railroad Retirement Tax Act of 1937 is the railroad industry’s version of the Social Security Act; it imposes a payroll tax on both employer and employee to pay for pensions and other benefits.

The question before the Seventh Circuit was whether the tax should be levied on the value of stock options exercised by employees when the market price reaches a certain level. The Internal Revenue Service argued that it should, and in a 2-1 decision, the court agreed.

Writing for the majority, Judge Richard Posner stated: “Stock has so well‐defined a monetary value in our society that there is no significant economic difference between receiving a $1,000 salary bonus and a share or shares of stock having a market value of $1,000.” Continue reading

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Super Lawyers named Illinois commercial law trial attorneys Peter Lubin and Vincent DiTommaso Super Lawyers 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 Elmhurst and Naperville 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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Under a federal law that requires employers to inform job applicants that they may obtain their credit reports as part of the application process, an employer cannot make applicants sign a release from liability before procuring the report. (Sarmad Syed v. M-I, LLC, No. 14-17186 (9th Cir. 2017).  In a case of first impression in the federal circuit, the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals held that a prospective employer violates the Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA) when it procures a job applicant’s consumer report after including a liability waiver in the same document as the disclosure to the applicant.

In amending FCRA in 1996 to require employer disclosure, “Congress was specifically concerned that … employers were obtaining and using consumer reports in a manner that violated job applicants’ privacy rights,” the panel wrote, especially in light of inaccurate information often contained in reports.  The law requires an employer to disclose that it may obtain an applicant’s credit report and enables the applicant to withhold authorization, or to warn the employer that the report might contain errors. Continue reading

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Our Chicago non-compete agreement attorneys have defended high level executives in covenant not to compete and trade secret lawsuits. A case in which our firm defended a former Motorola executive was covered in Crain’s Chicago business. You can view that article by clicking here.

DiTommaso Lubin Austermuehle a firm of Chicago business dispute lawyers handles litigation over non-compete clauses for individuals and businesses of all sizes, including small or closely held businesses for whom competition from an ex-employee can be a serious threat. Our Chicago business lawyers with offices near Oak Lawn, Arlington Heights, Oak Brook and Chicago have substantial experience in restrictive covenant and breach of contract cases, and we are proud of our record of strong results. We have successfully represented a number of doctors in non-compete, partnership and other business disputes.  We understand the complexities of physician partnership and non-compete agreements.

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Trump won his campaign on a platform that promoted him as a hard-hitting businessman who doesn’t back down until he gets what he wants. That worked for about half the plaintiffs in a lawsuit filed against Trump National Jupiter Golf Club, but the other half still want their money back.

When Trump bought the struggling golf club from Marriott Vacations Worldwide in 2012, he paid the relatively low price of $5 million, but there was a catch. As part of the agreement, Trump had to take on $50 million in debt. The club had a refund policy regarding a deposit members paid when they purchased their membership. But when members wanted out of the club, it couldn’t afford to refund all their deposits.

Rather than pay up, as agreed, Trump did what he does best: he allegedly played hardball. He allegedly told the members they could cancel their membership, after which they would no longer be allowed to use the club’s facilities, but they would have to continue paying their membership dues to the club. They were also allegedly told they would not receive their refunds until new members had been found to replace them, which could potentially take years to accomplish. Continue reading

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Vincent L. DiTommaso, Peter S. Lubin, Patrick D. Austermuehle, and Andrew C. Murphy recognized by Illinois Super Lawyers 

Vincent L. DiTommaso and Peter S. Lubin have been selected as 2017 Illinois Super Lawyers in the areas of Business Litigation and Class Action Law. No more than 5% of attorneys in Illinois receive this honor each year. This marks the sixth straight year both co-founders of DiTommaso Lubin Austermuehle have been selected for this honor.

Two additional DiTommaso Lubin Austermuehle attorneys, partner Patrick D. Austermuehle and senior associate Andrew C. Murphy, have been selected as Illinois Rising Stars for the third straight year in the areas of Business Litigation and Class Action Law. Rising Stars are selected from attorneys under the age of 40 who have been practicing for less than 10 years. No more than 2.5% of Illinois attorneys are selected by the research team at Super Lawyers to receivet his honor each year.

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California-based home furnishings retailer Restoration Hardware is accusing two former executives of helping competitor Crate & Barrel steal its successful in-store food and beverage concept. In a trade secrets lawsuit filed in San Francisco Superior Court January 30, Restoration Hardware (RH) claims that Crate & Barrel undertook an aggressive campaign to lure away its top executives in an effort to turn around its own declining performance, eventually recruiting chief development officer, Douglas D., and Kimberly A., director of food and beverage (Restoration Hardware, Inc. v. Diemoz, Alheim, Crate & Barrel Inc.)

“Crate effectively sought to steal a page from the successful RH playbook,” the suit charges.

RH unveiled the furniture showroom/restaurant concept at its new Chicago store in October 2015, the site of the renovated century-old Three Arts Club in the Gold Coast. Dubbed “the Gallery at the 3 Arts Club,” the multilevel facility features wine and coffee bars and culinary offerings. Douglas and Kimberly had worked on the rollout. Douglas left RH to become CEO of Illinois-based Crate earlier in 2015, shortly before the store opened. Continue reading

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Some companies will do anything to get their hands on valuable trade secrets from their competitors. According to Olaplex, a startup based in California, L’Oréal allegedly tried everything from poaching employees to allegedly offering to acquire the company in order to gain access to allegedly sensitive, privileged and secret information. What was at stake was a alleged secret formula designed to protect hair from damage during the dyeing process.

Starting around the middle of 2015, L’Oréal allegedly tried to hire Olaplex employees it thought were responsible for creating the revolutionary product. When that didn’t work, L’Oréal allegedly approached Olaplex about possibly acquiring the company.

As a direct result of talks between the two companies to negotiate the terms under which the French-based company might acquire the U.S.-based company, L’Oréal was allegedly given access to confidential and proprietary information that had not yet been made available to the public, including an unpublished application for a patent on a product designed to allow customers to dye their hair without causing damage. Continue reading

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Attorneys generally get a bad reputation from those who think they’re motivated too much by money and not enough by serving their clients, but according to a recent indictment against Paul Hansmeier and John Steele, these two attorneys were allegedly using the courts to extort money from their opponents, rather than their clients.

The two attorneys attended the University of Minnesota Law School together, and while Hansmeier still lives in Minnesota, Steele is licensed in Illinois. According to the indictment, the two attorneys allegedly created sham companies in 2010, which they used to acquire the rights to certain pornographic films, some of which they made themselves. Then Steele and Hansmeier allegedly uploaded their copyrighted porn to file-sharing websites, knowing people would download their porn. Steele and Hansmeier would then file a copyright lawsuit against the individual on behalf of their “clients” – which were, in fact, the companies they themselves owned.

Then Steele and Hansmeier would allegedly petition the courts to require internet service providers to provide the identities of the people who had downloaded the porn. Once they had acquired those identities, the attorneys allegedly offered to settle the lawsuit for about $4,000. The alternative was to face public exposure and fines that could potentially get as high as $150,000. Many of their victims were either too humiliated and/or financially incapable of dealing with the lawsuit, so they often accepted the settlement offer. Continue reading