Articles Posted in Best Business And Class Action Lawyers Near Chicago

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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

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When considering filing a lawsuit against a company or individual, it is advisable to first make sure that you have a strong case. The first things to check are that you are covered under the relevant law and that you have a valid claim for loss of a certain monetary value. It is important to note that deciding not to buy something because the price was too high does not constitute a loss.

Ben Hoch-Parker disagrees. He and Josh Finkelman filed a class action lawsuit against the National Football League for allegedly violating the New Jersey Consumer Fraud Act (NJCFA). The lawsuit alleges that the NFL withholds 99% of its Super Bowl tickets from the general public. According to the lawsuit, the NFL gives 75% of the big game tickets to the 32 NFL teams. Five percent goes to the host team, 17.5% to each team that is represented in the Super Bowl, and the remaining 29 teams each get 1.2% of the tickets. Another 25% of the game tickets are then allegedly given to broadcast networks, media sponsors, the host committee, and other insiders.

Once the NFL’s member clubs have their tickets, the NFL allegedly places no restrictions on the sale of those tickets, allowing the NFL franchises to auction off their ticket allotments to the highest bidding ticket broker. The lawsuit alleges that, “The broker then sells the tickets for exorbitant amounts on the secondary market.”

The lawsuit is filing a claim for this allegedly illegal practice because the NJCFA states that at least 95% of tickets must be sold to the general public. Instead, the lawsuit alleges, every year, the NFL prints “tens of thousands of Super Bowl tickets, yet it only allocates a meager one percent of these tickets for release to the general public through a lottery system, forcing all other fans into a secondary market for the tickets where they must pay substantially more than the ticket’s face value to attend one of the most popular and iconic sports events of the year.” Continue reading

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Firing an employee is always a delicate matter. Not only are wrongful termination lawsuits a possibility, but there’s always the possibility that the employee has some information on the company which might be less than flattering. In a recent lawsuit, Steven Jacobs alleges he was wrongfully terminated by Sands China Ltd. as their chief executive officer. He also claims to be in possession of certain incriminating documents which Sands China might prefer not be revealed in a court of law.

The documents consist of about 40 gigabytes of information, which Sands says that Jacobs took “surreptitiously” when he was fired in 2010. The information includes three reports prepared by Steve Vickers of International Risk Ltd. The reports allegedly featured the investigation of “certain Macau government officials” and others, according to the letters sent by Sands’s lawyers to Jacobs’s lawyers, asking for the return of the documents.

Jacobs alleges that the reports were commissioned by Sands and include incriminating information “on foreign government officials, as well as individuals with whom they were doing business that were suspected of having ties to Chinese organized crime.”

Jacobs alleges that his employment with Sands was wrongfully terminated after he had disagreements with Adelson, Sands’s majority owner and chairman. The disputes include arguments over what Jacobs alleges were illegal demands that secret investigations be conducted of Macau government officials for information which Sands could then use as leverage against unfavorable regulations.

After Jacobs made these allegations, the U.S. Justice Department and Securities and Exchange Commission opened investigations to determine if Adelson’s company violated the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act. This Act bars any company with operations in the U.S. from making improper payments to foreign officials in order to win or maintain business.

Although Sands denies Jacobs’s allegations, it did admit a few months ago that it had found likely violations of the books, records, and internal provisions of the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act. Around the same time, Adelson said in a declaration that the investigation had been commissioned by Jacobs, not by the company. Adelson claims that he knew nothing of the investigation until after Jacobs had been fired. In his declaration, Adelson states, “I never asked or authorized Jacobs to conduct a private investigation or ‘create a dossier’ on Macanese officials. … We believe unequivocally that Jacobs initiated the investigation on his own for his own purposes.”

Last year, Sands was sanctioned by Nevada District Judge Elizabeth Gonzalez for failing to disclose the fact that it was sitting on a trove of documents in Nevada which Jacobs sought to use as evidence. The company, however, claimed that the documents could not be removed from Macau and that they are “privileged” and therefore exempt from disclosure. Gonzalez disagreed however, and ruled that Jacobs could legally use the documents as evidence.

Currently, the case has reached a standstill. Sands is now appealing three other rulings by the lower court to the Nevada Supreme Court and, most recently, it has won a postponement hearing on whether Sands China, being a Chinese company, can be tried in Nevada.

Jacobs claimed that this is nothing more than stalling the case in order to keep the incriminating documents against Sands hidden. Sands called these accusations “baseless”.

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The Class Action Lawsuit claims that Estee Lauder’s skin cream claims about repairing DNA are fraudulent. But as unbelievable as it sounds, dermatologist Dr. Jeanette Graf said creams can repair DNA.

“Whether it’s in the form of peptides, whether it’s in the form of retinols, whether it’s in the form of enzyme inhibitors — all of which play a role together in diminishing the amount of DNA damage,”

Graf told CBS News.

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