Articles Posted in Best Business And Class Action Lawyers Near Chicago

The COVID-19 pandemic has disrupted all kinds of businesses all over the world, but small businesses have been hit the hardest. Many business owners pay for business insurance to help them cover the costs of doing business when they can’t do business, or to cover the costs of litigation if they get sued.

But this pandemic has put so many small businesses out of business, even if just temporarily, those insurers have been flooded with claims – and when insurers get flooded with claims, they usually look for excuses to avoid paying all those claims.

Hiscox is a major insurance company that specializes in selling business insurance to small business owners, often directly over the internet without the aid of an insurance broker. When many of those policyholders tried to file claims with Hiscox for business disruption, Hiscox allegedly claimed the pandemic is not covered under the terms of their business disruption insurance policy.

In response to the insurance company’s refusal to pay up, almost 350 policyholders came together to form the Hiscox Action Group. Mishcon de Reya, a law firm based in London, has been hired to represent Hiscox Action Group and they quickly entered into arbitration against Hiscox over the unpaid business disruption insurance claims.

Hiscox is not the only insurance company refusing to pay small business owners for the losses they have suffered as a result of COVID-19. Seven other insurance companies, along with Hiscox, are taking part in a UK court test case to determine whether insurers can be made to pay business disruption claims in the wake of COVID-19. Continue reading ›

MG_6325_1-300x200The FTC sued a student loan debt relief company that promised consumers that it would reduce their monthly student loan payments, or arrange for their student debts to be forgiven in whole or part by their student loan servicers. Instead, the company kept most of the money sent to them by the consumers and failed to negotiate with the servicers or remit the payments in a timely fashion. The district court granted summary judgment to the FTC and issued a permanent injunction against the defendants, as well as a monetary judgment for more than $27 million in restitution.

The United States District Court for the Central District of California granted summary judgment to the Federal Trade Commission in a suit filed against Elegant Solutions, Inc. The FTC filed a complaint against Elegant Solutions for a permanent injunction and other equitable relief pursuant to § 13(b) and 19 of the Federal Trade Commission Act and 57(b) of the Telemarketing and Consumer Fraud and Abuse Prevention Act.

The FTC’s complaint charged that the defendants participated in acts or practices that violated § 5(a) of the FTC Act by representing in advertising that consumers who purchased the defendants’ debt relief services would be enrolled in a repayment plan that would reduce their monthly payments on their student loans to a lower, specific amount, or have their student loan balances forgiven in whole or part; that most or all of the consumers’ monthly payments to the defendants would be applied toward consumers’ student loans; and that the defendants would assume responsibility for the servicing of consumers’ student loans. The district court found that, in numerous instances in which the defendants made such representations, they were false or not substantiated. The panel determined that these representations constituted a deceptive act or practice in violation of § 5(a) of the FTC Act. Continue reading ›

A building contractor in Minnesota ordered a specific brand of flameproof lumber from a Chicago distributor of commercial building materials. Unbeknownst to the contractor, the distributor substituted its in-house brand of lumber in the order. The in-house brand of lumber had not been certified to meet the safety standards required by the architect of the buildings and the contractor was later required to rip out the lumber and replace it with new material. The contractor sued the distributor. The distributor’s insurance company then sought a judgment that it was not required to defend the distributor. The district court and the appellate court agreed, finding that the actions of the distributor were not covered under its insurance policy.

Chicago Flameproof is an Illinois-based distributor of commercial building materials, including fire retardant and treated lumber (FRT). Chicago Flameproof maintained general liability insurance through Lexington Insurance Company. Under the policy, Lexington had the right and duty to defend Chicago Flameproof against any suit seeking covered damages, but no duty to defend against any suit seeking uncovered damages.

The policy defined an occurrence as an accident, including continuous or repeated exposure to substantially the same general harmful conditions. The policy also defined “property damage” as physical injury to tangible property, including all resulting loss of that property, or loss of use of tangible property that is not physically injured. Chicago Flameproof sold lumber to Minnesota-based residential and commercial contractors JL Schwieters Construction, Inc. and JL Schwieters Building Supply, Inc. Schwieters then contracted with two building contractors, Big-D Construction Midwest, LLC and DLC Residential, LLC to provide labor and material for the framing and paneling for four building projects in Minnesota. The architectural firm on all of the projects, Elness Swenson Graham Architects, Inc. required that FRT lumber meeting the requirements set forth in the International Building Code be used for the exterior walls of each building. Continue reading ›

Longtime customers of Allstate Insurance Corporation alleged that Allstate determined they were willing to pay higher prices than new customers with similar risk profiles and started hiking their auto insurance rates as a result. The customers sued Allstate, alleging that Allstate failed to disclose its practice of optimizing rates in this fashion when it filed its rates with the Illinois Department of Insurance. Allstate attempted to have the case dismissed under the filed rate and primary jurisdiction doctrines, but the circuit court denied the motion and the appellate panel affirmed.

Allstate Corporation sells property and casualty insurance, including private passenger automobile insurance, to consumers in Illinois. Several customers who had purchased insurance from Allstate for more than two decades sued Allstate, alleging that Allstate illegally increased prices for their insurance under a practice called “price optimization,” after it determined that longtime customers would be more willing to absorb price hikes than new customers. The plaintiffs alleged that as a result they were charged higher prices than new customers who presented the same risk and that Allstate’s use of price optimization was not disclosed in its rate filings with the Illinois Department of Insurance.

In the trial court, Allstate filed a motion to dismiss the complaint, arguing that the action was barred by the filed rate doctrine and the primary jurisdiction doctrine. Following a hearing, the circuit court denied Allstate’s motion to dismiss. The court determined that Allstate failed to establish that the plaintiffs’ complaint should be dismissed under either the filed rate doctrine or the primary jurisdiction doctrine. The circuit court noted that Illinois is unique in that insurers may select their own rates and merely inform the Illinois Department of Insurance of their selection. The circuit court then granted Allstate’s motion to certify the questions of whether either the filed rate doctrine or the primary jurisdiction doctrine barred plaintiffs’ suit to the appellate court and the appellate court granted interlocutory review. Continue reading ›

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 ›

Best-Chicago-libel-slander-and-defamation-attorneys-Best-Chicago-shareholder-oppression-lawyers-best-chicago-business-dispute-attorneys-300x115(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 ›

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