Articles Posted in Best Business And Class Action Lawyers Near Chicago

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.”

A copy of the complaint against Getty can be obtained here. Continue reading ›

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 ›

A fan emailed MomoMilk LLC last fall, excited because she had heard they were opening a store in her home town of Chicago. But she was soon disappointed when she realized it was not the nationally recognized bakery that was coming to Chicago, but another company altogether taking advantage of the Milk Bar trademark and brand recognition.

A few years ago, chef Christina Tosi started a restaurant and bakery called “Milk Bar” in New York City, which features shakes, milk cookies, cakes, pies, and a variety of cereal products. The bakery was an instant success and was soon opening other stores throughout the city, then in other cities across the country. It also works with third-party distributors and sells its delicious products through its website. Although it does not currently have a store in Chicago, Tosi has publicly spoken in interviews about the fact that she has been considering opening new stores in cities like Chicago and Miami where the brand has a strong fan base.

The famous bakery operates under the name MomoMilk LLC and it has owned the trademark to the stylized milk since 2014. Now another restaurant has recently opened in Chicago, also calling itself “Milk Bar” and using the trademarked style milk that MomoMilk has been using in all its branding materials for the past five years. Continue reading ›

Our settlement for our client in a Chicago Libel, Defamation and Slander Suit was featured in the Cook County Record.
Our clients give us five star reviews for our work in Oak Brook and Chicago Libel Defamation and Slander cases:

Gerald Modory

 7 weeks ago

I really appreciate this opportunity to highly recommend Peter Lubin of the Law Offices of Lubin and Austemuehle. I recall in 2016 considering that I might be involved in litigation. This lead me to search Google for a lawyer as people might do. I saw the law offices of Ditomasso and Lubin which specialized in the problem I had. I called Mr. Lubin by phone and left a message. He returned my call a short time later. We discussed my case over the phone and I was impressed with Mr. Lubin’s insight and experiences. Although I really didn’t know him my “instincts” told me this was the right person. Unfortunately, my fears came into true and I was eventually sued in federal court months later. When I contacted Mr. Lubin again there was no hesitation that he would take the case. He guided me through the initial paperwork and fees and then did all the required notifications involving my insurance company. Mr. Lubin also asked me to send him the paperwork I had and reviewed same. He then started the process of representing me in court. He filed his appearance as the attorney of record and then set about defending me. Not only did Mr. Lubin defend me in the lawsuit, per se, but he also worked on dealing with my insurance company. During this process Mr. Lubin contacted me numerous times via text, phone, and email. He and his staff were well prepared for the work that was required. Mr. Lubin made me feel like I was the only one that he was representing. He was thoughtful, professional, and particularly mindful of how all this would be affecting me personally and financially. When it came to his fees he was considerate that monies would have to come from me and not my insurance company. He specifically counseled me to talk to my wife and family to see how his fees could be paid. He was never pushy about this. He allowed me to pay him a set amount over time. When I got discouraged he consistently encouraged me to have faith that I would prevail. He never promised that I would win but he did promise that he would not give up or abandon me. This was absolutely true. I also want to say that Mr. Lubin could not have done all this without his associates and staff. The staff are fantastic. I got updates from them frequently, and yes, I also got the invoices. But they were very kind about it. I want to let you know that Mr. Lubin was successful in defending me when I was sued. A federal judge dismissed the case, I believe, as a direct result of the superior legal briefs that Mr. Lubin and his staff developed. Mr. Lubin is a very aggressive attorney. Aggressive in the sense of defending his clients. I didn’t sleep so well during all this time, but I did sleep better knowing that Peter Lubin and his superior staff were working for me. Peter Lubin is a seasoned, experienced, and successful Libel, Defamation and Slander lawyer. In my opinion he is the best Chicago area Libel, Defamation, and Slander lawyer that anyone could have. Gerald Modory

Settlements end diamond wholesalers’ fraud, defamation disputes; lawyer accused of ‘extortion ring’

By Jonathan Bilyk Aug 24, 2018


A legal dispute, in which one diamond wholesaler allegedly falsely accused another of fraud, has ended in a settlement to resolve a potential multi-million dollar defamation lawsuit, amid accusations the plaintiff in the original fraud suit was acting in coordination with an attorney facing a racketeering action over claims he has participated in an alleged scheme to use alleged fraud lawsuits to allegedly pressure jewelers into settlements.

On Aug. 17, a Chicago federal judge signed off on the settlement deal between diamond wholesalers David Cohen and Ofer Mizrahi. The case was terminated on Aug. 20.

The notice of voluntary dismissal filed in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Illinois does not discuss or specify the terms of the dismissal.

However, in a letter to the Cook County Record, an attorney for Mizrahi said the settlement included a “full retraction and apology for all claims made” by Cohen against Mizrahi in an initial lawsuit filed in Cook County court.

 Peter Lubin    DiTomasso Lubin

The matter had landed first in the courts in January, when Cohen, through his attorney David Hammervold, of Nashville, Tenn., filed a complaint accusing Mizrahi of selling him a diamond without informing Cohen the diamond had been internally laser drilled, was thus worth less than he had been led to believe.

Cohen had demanded at least $1.5 million in damages in that action.

That case was also ultimately settled and dismissed with prejudice on Aug. 15, but not before Mizrahi through his attorney, Peter Lubin, of the firm of DiTomasso Lubin Austermuehle P.C., of Oakbrook Terrace, asked the judge in June to sanction Cohen and his attorney for bringing the lawsuit in the first place.

In that motion for sanctions, Mizrahi’s attorney said the lawsuit was brought in an effort to “extort” a settlement from Mizrahi, after a customer of Mizrahi’s decided to directly deal with Mizrahi, rather than use Cohen as a “second middleman,” exacerbating what Mizrahi said was Cohen’s declining business, which “was losing tens of thousands of dollars a year” before the incident at the heart of Cohen’s lawsuit.

Later in June, Mizrahi followed his Cook County court motion for sanctions with a defamation lawsuit filed in Chicago federal court.

In that lawsuit, again filed through attorney Lubin, Mizrahi detailed accusations against Cohen and his attorney, Hammervold, who they said is accused in a separate action pending in federal court in the U.S. Fifth Circuit of participating in an “extortion ring” in which the lawyers “allegedly use the lawsuits they file as a jumping off point to begin defamatory smear campaigns against … jewelers’ businesses” to secure settlements that pay the lawyers “contingency fees.”

In the defamation lawsuit, Mizrahi accused Cohen and Hammervold of using “these same tactics” in the Cook County case, including issuing a “defamatory press release” which was “eventually picked up by both national and international media outlets,” accusing Mizrahi of harming his business.

“In fact, there were no lost reputation damages and thus there could not possibly be punitive damages of anything more than a few thousand dollars and certainly not the $1.5 million falsely represented by Cohen,” Mizrahi asserted in his defamation complaint.

In the defamation lawsuit, Mizrahi had requested actual damages of at least $2 million, and punitive damages of at least $6 million.

Continue reading ›

Our clients give us 5-star reviews for winning judgments or obtaining favorable settlements for them in used car fraud cases where they could have lost 10s of thousands of dollars:
****** 6 weeks ago

Although non-compete agreements were originally invented to keep executives from running off to competitors with trade secrets and/or client relationships, many businesses have started taking advantage of noncompete agreements by including them in employment contracts with all their workers – even those at the bottom rung of the corporate ladder.

Workers earning minimum wage (or close to it) doing things like making sandwiches and entering data into a computer system are being made to sign employment agreements that prohibit them from working in any capacity for a similar company. Despite the fact that these are unskilled jobs (often held by people who don’t even have a high school diploma), and certainly don’t include access to any important trade secrets, workers are being made to sign such agreements as a condition of employment. And when agreeing to all the terms of the contract is the difference between getting the job and going without a paycheck, most workers don’t consider it much of a choice.

Although signing the employment contract might get them the job, it makes it much harder for them to move up the corporate ladder because the non-compete agreement often means they can’t leverage their experience to get a better paying position with another company. Their options are to try to move up the ladder in their own company or stay in their position where they’ll continue to earn the same low wage.

If employees try to take a new job in violation of the non-compete agreement, they can be prevented from doing so or even made to leave their new job after they’ve settled into it. In many cases, the clause prevents workers from even looking for new employment or asking for a raise for fear of retaliation from their employer. And when they’re not allowed to seek out a similar position with another company that pays better, they have no leverage to ask for a raise. Continue reading ›

When a water main was damaged by work performed by a telecommunications company, causing a pharmacy to flood and sustain damage, the circuit court did not err in granting summary judgment to the insurance company. The Illinois appellate court found that the policy’s exclusion of coverage for damages relating to water from under the surface of the ground applied to water that originated underground, even if the damage caused by that water occurred above ground.

In December 2015, Prekshot Professional Pharmacy was operating in leased space in Peoria, Illinois. Preckshot had a contract of insurance with its insurer, Pharmacists Mutual. AT&T and its subcontractor were performing directional boring behind Preckshot’s premises. The boring damaged a water service line near the Preckshot premises, causing a discharge of water that flooded the Preckshot pharmacy above the ground.

Preckshot subsequently filed a claim with Pharmacists Mutual pursuant to its insurance policy. Pharmacists dispatched an investigator to determine the precise cause of the damages. The inspector concluded that the water from the ruptured line flowed through under a concrete slab and came up through the ground to infiltrate the interior of the pharmacy. Pharmacists then denied Preckshot’s claim, stating that coverage was excluded by a provision in the policy which excluded perils caused by water below the surface of the ground. Continue reading ›

When a shipment of sand was tainted by excess moisture, the contract between the two companies involved in the transaction required that any suit be filed within four months of the delivery. As the plaintiff corporation’s suit was filed over two years later, it was untimely.

In 2014, Vesuvius Corporation and American Commercial Lines, LLC (“ACBL”), entered into a shipping contract to transport olivine sand from New Orleans, Louisiana to Vesuvius’ facility in Wurtland, Kentucky, by way of a river barge. The shipment arrived in January 2015, at which time Vesuvius’ employees inspected the cargo and found it damaged by excess moisture. The employees notified ACBL, and ACBL arranged for a surveyor to perform an inspection that same day. The surveyor found no structural defect in the barge, and instead concluded that the sand was wet when it was loaded and that some of that moisture had evaporated during transit, condensed on the overhead portion of the cargo space, and dripped back onto the sand. The surveyor filed his report with ACBL on Feb. 23, and ACBL promptly contacted Vesuvius to disclaim liability. Continue reading ›

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