As we enter the final quarter of 2019, employers must begin to look ahead and begin preparing for a number of new employment laws that will take effect January 1, 2020. Even though employers have nearly 100 days to review and revise their employment policies, they should start familiarizing themselves now with the new requirements, training management in compliance, and preparing to implement any new procedures come the start of 2020. Continue reading ›
Online dating sites are an increasingly common way people seek to find romance. But, according to the Federal Trade Commission, these sites could also be a source of scams or a haven for scammers. The FTC recently filed a lawsuit against the company that owns popular dating sites and apps such as Match.com, Tinder, OKCupid, and PlentyOfFish, alleging that the company used fake advertisements designed to trick consumers into believing someone had shown interest in them and purchase a paid subscriptions on Match.com.
According to the FTC’s complaint, many consumers received emails or instant messages containing attention-grabbing text such as: “He just emailed you! You caught his eye and now he’s expressed interest in you… Could he be the one?” (referred to as “You caught his eye”-type notices in the complaint) Although Match allows consumers to create free accounts, to actually read these messages Match required consumers to upgrade to paid subscriptions. For many consumers hoping to find that special someone, the representation that specific suitors were already eager to meet them proved impossible to pass up. Many consumers responded to these emails and messages, often paying more than $100 for a subscription in the hope of connecting with these people who had already “expressed interest” in them. Continue reading ›
When two people purchased an RV that was later found to have a defect that substantially impaired its value, the purchasers were not required to give the seller of the RV time to cure the defect before being able to revoke their acceptance and receive a refund of their purchase price. The Illinois Supreme Court held that Illinois’ statute only required allowing the seller time to cure a defect if the purchaser had accepted a commercial unit with knowledge of a defect and an agreement with the seller which contemplated the seller repairing the defect.
In April 2014, Kimberly Accettura and Adam Wozniak purchased a new 2014 Palomino RV from Vacationland, Inc. for $26,000.25. They took possession of the RV a week later. That June, they discovered water leaking into the RV from the emergency exit window. The plaintiffs then brought the RV back to Vacationland for repair, which Vacationland performed without charge.
In July 2014, the plaintiffs took the RV to Michigan. During a rainstorm, the RV continued to leak extensively into the dinette area, damaging the walls and causing electrical failure. The plaintiffs towed the RV back to Vacationland for repair later that month. Vacationland was unable to repair the defect itself, so one of its employees told the plaintiffs that it would have to send the RV to the manufacturer for repair. Neither Vacationland’s employees or the manufacturer could give the plaintiffs an estimate for how long a repair would take. On Aug. 2, before the manufacturer picked up the RV, the plaintiffs called Vacationland and verbally revoked acceptance of the RV. Despite this, the manufacturer still picked up and repaired the RV. When the RV was returned to Vacationland at the end of September, Vacationland called the plaintiffs and told them that the RV was ready for pick up. At this point, the plaintiffs’ attorney sent a letter to Vacationland confirming the earlier revocation of acceptance of the RV. Continue reading ›
Divorce proceedings can be contentious but some can be more contentious than others. In the case of disbarred McHenry County lawyer, Mark McCombs, a contentious divorce led to his filing of a defamation and malicious prosecution lawsuit. The First District Appellate Court affirmed the trial court’s dismissal of the complaint in which McCombs alleged that his former wife defamed him and had him falsely charged with harassment. The Court also affirmed the denial of sanctions that McCombs sought against his ex-wife in the suit.
McCombs and his former wife, Kathryn Crivolio, started divorce proceedings in 2010. The proceedings soon became contentious. So contentious in fact that at one point in the proceedings, the judge entered an order prohibiting McCombs “from filing any pleadings in this matter without first seeking leave of court [ ] to do so.”
Shortly before the divorce proceedings began, McCombs, who had served as special counsel to the Village of Calumet Park from 2002 to 2010, was indicted for stealing between $600,000 to $800,000 from the Village. McCombs pled guilty and was sentenced to six years in prison. A few months later in January 2012, he was disbarred.
While McCombs was in prison, he conversed with his wife via email. In one of the email exchanges, Crivolio allegedly wrote to McCombs: “You have stolen from me, your employers, your client’s (sic) and your own mother.” McCombs alleged that Crivolio also published this statement to his children, family, and others, which he alleged “lowered [him] in the eyes of the community.” The complaint pled claims for both defamation per se and defamation per quod. Circuit Judge Kathy Flanagan dismissed the complaint with prejudice on the grounds that the allegations lacked substance. Continue reading ›
(July 28, Chicago) – Lubin Austermuehle PC announced it has joined Nextlaw Referral Network, enabling it to connect its clients to high-quality lawyers around the world. Nextlaw Referral Network is the largest legal referral network in the world, with more than 650 member firms, 30,000 lawyers covering 200+ countries.
Peter Lubin of Lubin Austermuehle said, “By joining Nextlaw Referral Network, we can now provide our clients with the best of all worlds by continuing to serve them where we currently have offices, while also being able to direct them to top tier lawyers in other jurisdictions where they need legal counsel and business advice. We can build on our trusted relationships with our clients by putting the full resources of the global, legal powerhouse at their disposal.”
Jeff Modisett, Nextlaw Referral Network CEO said, “We’re proud to have Lubin Austermuehle P.C. as part of our network. We’re only as good as the quality of our member firms and Lubin Austermuehle makes us stronger and better able to meet the needs of our other members’ clients in the Chicago metropolitan area and Illinois.”
If you recently received money as part of a settlement or award for a lawsuit, have you thought about how that settlement or award will affect your taxes? Depending on the nature of your claim, you’ll probably have to pay taxes on that money, just like you would on any other form of income. Whether you’ve already received your award, or you’re thinking of settling a legal dispute, here’s what you need to know:
The Origin of the Claim
Not all awards come in the form of monetary payment. For example, if you sue your employer for loss of income, for whatever reason, then any award you receive will be taxed as wages. If, on the other hand, you bought a car that turned out to be defective and you sue the manufacturer, you might be able to treat any award you receive as a reduction in the price you paid for the car.
Physical Injuries and Illness vs. Emotional Distress
If you sue your employer for physical injuries sustained while on the job, or if you sue your doctor for medical malpractice, those awards are not subject to taxation. While you can also sue for “emotional distress” caused by the incident, any amount granted for that will be taxed. Continue reading ›
When two founders of a company sued the company that had come into possession of the founders’ patents and intellectual property rights, the district court dismissed their suit for lack of personal jurisdiction. The appellate court affirmed on appeal, finding that the plaintiffs’ lawyer contrived to create personal jurisdiction by ordering a single item from the defendant company be shipped into the state of Illinois, even though the defendant company did not do business in or specifically target the Illinois market. The appellate panel also noted that the conduct that allegedly created personal jurisdiction had happened after the plaintiffs filed suit and was therefore clearly contrived.
Tai Matlin and James Waring, and other business partners co-founded a company called Gray Matter Holdings, LLC in 1997. Matlin and Waring developed certain products for Gray Matter, including an inflatable beach mat known as the “Snap-2-It” and a radio-controlled hang glider called the “Aggressor.” In 1999, facing failure of the company, Matlin and Waring entered into a Withdrawal Agreement with Gray Matter wherein they sold their partnership shares and forfeited their salaries. The agreement also assigned Matlin and Waring’s intellectual property to Gray Matter but entitled them to royalty payments. In the following years, Matlin and Waring frequently brought Gray Matter to arbitration to enforce royalty payments.
In 2002, Gray Matter filed an assignment of the products’ intellectual property rights with the United States Patent and Trademark Office. Matlin and Waring allege that Gray Matter filed the assignment without their knowledge and that the company forged Waring’s signature on the paperwork. The following year, Gray Matter sold assets to Swimways, including the patent rights to Matlin and Waring’s products. A 2014 arbitration between Gray Matter and Matlin and Waring determined that Gray Matter did not assign the Withdrawal Agreement to Swimways upon the sale of the products and that the plaintiffs were owed no further royalties. In 2016, Spin Master acquired Swimways and intellectual property rights. Continue reading ›
After a surgery went horribly awry at a private surgical center, and the center was sued by the patient, it could not recover the full amount of judgment against it from its insurer an appellate court found. The court found that the surgery center had urged its insurer, who was defending it in the patient’s lawsuit, not to settle, as it believed its case to be highly defensible. Because of this, the panel found that the insurer had behaved appropriately even though it eventually lost and the jury awarded damages that were more than quintuple the surgical center’s policy limit.
Surgery Center at 900 North Michigan Avenue, LLC is an outpatient surgical center that permits outside physicians to perform day surgery at its facility. American Physicians Assurance Corporation, Inc. is a medical malpractice insurance company that insured Surgery Center. The insurance policy that Surgery Center purchased from APA limited APA’s liability to $1 million per claim and provided that APA would defend and indemnify Surgery Center for claims that fell within the policy’s coverage. Continue reading ›
A class action lawsuit recently filed in a federal court in Washington accuses Getty Images, Inc. (“Getty”) of allegedly duping customers into paying for fictitious copyright licenses for images in the public domain that can be used freely.
The plaintiff in the case, Texas digital marketing company CixxFive Concepts LLC, claims that it was one of the victim’s of Getty’s wrongful conduct and alleges that Getty’s actions violated the RICO Act and state consumer protection laws. The wrongful conduct, according to the complaint, was not merely charging for the public domain images but rather deceiving customers into believing they needed to buy licenses for access to those images and purporting to restrict the use of those public domain images. The complaint concedes that “charging for public domain images is not illegal by itself,” but goes on to allege that “Getty’s and/or Getty US’s conduct goes much further than this… Using a number of different deceptive techniques, Getty and/or Getty US misleads its customers and potential customers into believing that it or one of its third-party contributors owns the copyright to all of the images available on its website, and that a license from Getty and/or Getty US is required to use all of the images on its website [when] [i]n truth, anyone is free to use public domain images, without restriction, and by definition in a non-exclusive manner, without paying Getty and/or Getty US or anyone else a penny.”
The complaint goes on to allege that “Getty and/or Getty US purport to restrict the use of the public domain images to a limited time, place, and/or purpose, and purport to guarantee exclusivity in the use of public domain images,” and that Getty’s license agreement currently “prohibits the use of licensed public domain works in on-demand products, such as ‘postcards, mugs, t-shirts, calendars, posters, screensavers or wallpapers,’ or in electronic templates, such as ‘website templates, business card templates, electronic greeting card templates, and brochure design templates.’” This conduct, the complaint alleges “deceptively purports to restrict the licensee’s preexisting right to free and unfettered use of public domain images.”
To add insult to injury, the complaint also alleges that Getty (through a company License Compliance Services, Inc. (“LCS”) which the complaint alleges Getty owns or controls) regularly sends copyright infringement letters to businesses using public domain images online “accusing them of infringing copyrights in public domain images.” The complaint gives an example alleging that “LCS sent a letter to Carol Highsmith, the noted American photographer who has donated tens of thousands of images to the Library of Congress, accusing her nonprofit foundation of copyright infringement for using one of her own public domain images.”
The lawsuit seeks to represent all licensees who have paid Getty for public domain images and seeks to recover treble damages, costs and attorney’s fees as well as an injunctive relief preventing Getty from “wielding a false claim of ownership of over intellectual property that is rightfully in the public domain.”
Any time you need photos for any kind of marketing material, but don’t want to spend a fortune on a professional photographer, you probably go online and search for photos that are either in the public domain (and can, therefore, be used for free) or photos with licenses that can be bought for a price that fits your budget. But how can you tell if the entity you’re paying for the rights to the photo really has the license?
Getty is the go-to source of high quality, affordable photos for many people. You pay them a small fee for the license of the photo you want and you’re free to use it within the restrictions of the license. Except, according to a recent proposed consumer class action lawsuit against Getty, you were always free to use some of those photos without having to pay Getty anything. Continue reading ›