Articles Posted in Best Business And Class Action Lawyers Near Chicago

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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 have been selected for this honor.

Two additional DiTommaso-Lubin 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

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More than six years after the devastating Deepwater Horizon oil spill, a group of BP, P.L.C. shareholders are still trying to get their day in court.

In Whitley v. BP, PLC, No. 15-20282 (5th Cir. 2016), the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals threw out an amended complaint brought by the shareholders based on a recent U.S. Supreme Court decision, Fifth Third Bancorp v. Dudenhoeffer, 134 S. Ct. 2459 (2014).

The plaintiffs are investors in the BP Stock Fund, an employee stock ownership plan comprised of BP stock. The plan is governed by the Employee Retirement Income Security Act, which imposes strict fiduciary duties on those who manage such plans. After the 2010 Deepwater Horizon catastrophe in the Gulf of Mexico and subsequent decline in BP’s stock price, the investors filed suit alleging that the plan fiduciaries breached their duties of prudence and loyalty by allowing the plans to acquire and hold overvalued BP stock; their duty to provide adequate investment information to plan participants; and their duty to monitor those responsible for managing the fund.

The federal district court dismissed the claims under the “presumption of fiduciary prudence” standard of Moench v. Robertson, 62 F.3d 553 (3d Cir. 1995). While the shareholders’ appeal was pending, the Supreme Court issued Fifth Third, holding there was no such presumption of prudence under ERISA. Instead, the Court held that “…a plaintiff must plausibly allege an alternative action that the defendant could have taken that would have been consistent with the securities laws and that a prudent fiduciary in the same circumstances would not have viewed as more likely to harm the fund than to help it.”

The Fifth Circuit then remanded the case for reconsideration in light of Fifth Third. The shareholders filed an amended complaint alleging, under Fifth Third, that the fiduciaries possessed unfavorable inside information about BP and could have taken alternative actions including freezing, limiting, or restricting company stock purchases; and disclosing unfavorable information to the public. The district court granted their motion to amend. Continue reading

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Class action and collective action lawsuits are both important tools for plaintiffs with common complaints against the same defendant. Both types of lawsuits allow plaintiffs to do essentially the same thing in terms of the rights they can win for plaintiffs, but with one distinct difference.

In class actions, all the potential plaintiffs that can be identified are automatically included in the class unless they opt out. By contrast, collective actions require potential class members to submit a valid claim in order for them to be included in the lawsuit. Each type of lawsuit has its own procedural rules but, according to the Eleventh Circuit Court, the filing of one type of lawsuit does not invalidate a lawsuit of the other kind, even if both were filed by the same plaintiffs.

Four sheriff’s deputies in Lee County, Florida filed a collective action against their sheriff, Michael Scott, for allegedly requiring them to work overtime without properly compensating them for the extra hours they worked. The collective action alleges Scott violated the federal Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) by refusing to pay the proper overtime compensation of one and one-half times their normal hourly rate when they worked more than 40 hours a week. Continue reading

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Most of us are familiar with that little box that pops up every time we visit almost any website. It usually says something about agreeing to the terms of service, which are sometimes listed in the box, while other times there’s a link to a full web page devoted to a long list of legal terminology that few people bother to read. More often than not, users check the box without bothering to read all or any of the terms of service so we can go about our business. Reading all the terms of every service we ever use could very well take up most or all our time so we tend to skip over them.

Recently, U.S. District Judge Jed Rakoff recognized this fact when denying Uber’s motion to compel arbitration that was filed in Manhattan federal court.

Spencer Meyer, an Uber customer from Connecticut, sued the ride share company’s CEO, Travis Kalanick, for allegedly participating in a price-fixing scheme with drivers that allegedly raised Uber prices during periods of high demand. Because Uber takes a certain percentage of every driver’s earnings, the lawsuit alleged both Uber and its drivers benefited from the allegedly calculated rise in prices. Although the consumer lawsuit was initially filed only against Kalanick, the complaint was later amended to include Uber as a defendant and that’s when the company asked the court to compel arbitration. Continue reading

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In the court system of the United States, it is possible for plaintiffs who have not suffered a measurable injury but have suffered an intangible injury such as invasion of privacy or loss to reputation or humiliation to file a lawsuit against another party. This means even if the plaintiff has not been physically injured or suffered any financial loss, they might still have an opportunity to make someone pay up for violating the law.

Most laws come with statutory provisions in which the statutory penalty for breaking the law is often written into the legislature itself. Sometimes it’s a defined number and other times it’s a range. Either way, they provide an opportunity for plaintiffs who have not lost anything tangible to file claims.

Businesses lately have been complaining about a slew of consumer class action lawsuits that focus on what they claim are mere technical violations of the law. One such case is that of Thomas Robins against Spokeo Inc., a people search engine. Robins alleged Spokeo had violated the Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA) by posting that he was employed, wealthy, and married, when in fact he was single and struggling to find work. Continue reading

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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