The Business Litigators
The Business Litigators
The Business Litigators
The Business Litigators
Patrick Austermuehle and Andrew Murphy were selected by Super Lawyers as Rising Stars
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One of the problems with arbitration is that it’s private, which means the results never make it into the news. This poses a problem for those trying to use lawsuits in order to make a statement.

Rick Pitino recently sued Adidas for allegedly inflicting damage to his reputation after a corruption scandal that eventually resulted in him losing his job at Louisville. The defamation lawsuit sought both compensatory and punitive damages, although the complaint did not specify an amount for either one. According to Steve Pence, Pitino’s attorney, the lawsuit was less about the money than it was about trying to salvage Pitino’s reputation.

But shortly after Pitino filed the lawsuit, Adidas filed a motion to dismiss it, saying the case belonged in private arbitration outside of court. The judge agreed and dismissed the case.

It’s worth noting that the dismissal does not mean that Adidas is innocent of the allegations against it. All it means is that the U.S. court is not the proper jurisdiction to handle the dispute. But since the results of arbitration are never made public, Pitino’s stated main goal of clearing his name cannot be accomplished through arbitration.

In 2017, an FBI investigation linked Pitino with improper recruitment practices, specifically his connection with Brian Bowen, a five-star player who was allegedly paid $100,000 to commit to playing for the University of Louisville.

Pitino was initially placed on administrative leave in September of 2017 after the results of the FBI investigation were made public. He was fired just a few weeks later and Bowen ended up not playing for U of L. Continue reading

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While most companies let people return a product a month or two after purchase if something goes wrong, some companies go above and beyond by offering a lifetime guarantee. The idea is to ensure customers that nothing will go wrong with the product during its lifetime, and if something does go wrong, the company will either replace the item or reimburse them the cost of the item. A lifetime guarantee is a sign that the company believes in the quality of its products and will go to great lengths to make sure their customers remain satisfied.

But some people choose to interpret “lifetime warranty” to mean the product is guaranteed to last for the rest of their lifetime, rather than the standard lifetime of the product. According to Shawn O. Gorman, the Executive Chairman of L.L. Bean, some customers were taking advantage of the company’s lifetime warranty to mean anything they bought from the company would not be subject to wear and tear, and if it were, the company should reimburse them for the item or replace it.

According to an open letter to the public released by the company on February 9th, some people were taking advantage of the lifetime guarantee by trying to get replacements or reimbursements for products several years after they had been purchased. Some had even sought replacements or reimbursements for used L.L. Bean items they had bought at garage sales. As a result, the company recently decided to get rid of its century-old lifetime guarantee and to replace it with a one-year warranty – which can only be used if the customer still has their receipt. The company said it will still work with customers who want to return or get reimbursed for a product more than a year after the date of purchase, but only if the product is defective. Continue reading

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Despite the fact that judges are the ones who set bail, one Cook County court judge, Judge Celia Gamrath, says it is up to lawmakers, rather than judges, to determine how judges are allowed to set bail.

The issue in question is the fact that Cook County judges have been using a cash bail system. The intention behind such a system is to give defendants a reason to appear in court, but a recent class-action lawsuit alleges it has also had the effect of discriminating against minorities and the poor, who are often unable to come up with the cash necessary to pay their own bail.

The lawsuit was filed against five Cook County court judges on behalf of two detainees who sat in jail for almost a year because they couldn’t afford to post their own bail. They both eventually pled guilty to the charges against them.

Alexa Van Brunt, one of the attorneys who filed the lawsuit against the judges, said they plan to appeal Judge Gamrath’s decision, claiming they hadn’t even had a chance to fully explain their arguments regarding the allegedly unconstitutional nature of the current cash bail system before Judge Gamrath dismissed them.

Van Brunt noted that the lawsuit might feel political to Gamrath because the class action is asking her to make a ruling about other Circuit Court judges. In fact, that’s not what they’re trying to do at all – instead, they are just asking the judge to help make sure the courts follow the law. But Van Brunt claimed the judge chose to get the lawsuit off her desk rather than face the consequences of ruling on a potentially sticky situation. Continue reading

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The Illinois Supreme Court recently adopted a new rule that allows couples going through a divorce to have lawyers work with the parties on a limited-scope to attempt a settlement while avoiding costly litigation.

Illinois Supreme Court Rule 294 (“Rule 294”) was adopted by the Court on June 8, 2018 and became effective on July 1, 2018. The new Illinois Supreme Court Rule is a result of the new Illinois law allowing for the collaborative process. 750 ILCS 90/1 Collaborative Process Act (“Collaborative Act”) became an effective law in Illinois on January 1, 2018.

The Collaborative Act creates a new way for couples that have a dispute in relation to a: marriage, divorce, dissolution, annulment, legal separation, or property distribution. Also, the Collaborative Act can be a useful tool for a dispute regarding a: significant decision making and parenting time of children; maintenance and child support; adoption; parentage; and premarital, marital, and post-marital agreements.

The Collaborative Act was put in place to allow couples that have a legitimate dispute about a family issue, to have a quicker and more cost-effective way to resolve these issues. The Collaborative Act saves couples both time and money and allows for a back-and-forth of communication between the parties to reach a better result without the ruling of a judge. The Illinois legislature passed the Collaborative Act to give couples an alternative route from the court system. The Illinois court system has been viewed as slow to resolve family law issues or in some litigant’s opinions unfair to one of the parties. Continue reading

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Not all companies are sure how to apply their business practices to the Digital Age. Since most people running some of the larger, more established companies came of age in a pre-internet era, many of them are understandably stumped by what laws and rules apply to which online situations (although admittedly a lot of younger viewers aren’t sure about the rules of social media either).

The situation has improved over the years as everyone has adjusted to the new technologies, but the early part of the new century was an especially trying time for companies and individuals alike.

Take Stephanie Lenz for example. She took a video of her infant son dancing to the song, “Let’s Go Crazy,” by Prince, and then uploaded it to the internet where anyone could see it – without asking permission or paying for the use of a song to which she did not own the rights. That seemingly harmless act resulted in a copyright lawsuit that dragged on for more than ten years.

Universal Musical Publishing Group (UMPG), which owns the rights to the recordings of Prince’s songs, issued an order under the Digital Millennium Copyright Act for Lenz to take down the video.

Lenz initially complied with the order, but then she contacted the Electronic Frontier Foundation, an international non-profit group that works to protect people’s rights online. The company is based in San Francisco and argued that UMPG had ignored the fair-use exception to the copyright law when it ordered Lenz to take down the video. Continue reading

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Hogs can be defined as either of these two:

  1. a domesticated pig, especially one over 120 pounds (54 kg) and reared for; or
  2. a large, heavy motorcycle, in particular, a Harley 

Recently, both have come under the scrutiny for different legal reasons. You wouldn’t think so, but they did.

Hogs Corporation Being Squeezed for Trade Reasons 

Part of the Harley Davidson Investor Relations has included Corporate Governance. It makes good corporate sense, transparency and accountability is what they want for their investors. All of this is tied to profit and branding. Good business sense has also made them consider a recent move of some of its production out of the U.S.A. as part of a strategy to overturn the likelihood of decreased economic profitability. This is since the recent tariffs that the U.S.A. has imposed on steel and aluminum. They have been rather substantial and the production decision came right after it was caught between the new steel and aluminum duties imposed by President Trump. There was no doubt that the domestic prices on Harley Davidson were bound to shoot up. Trading partners within the European Union, have retaliated with tariffs placed on American products. It has been squeezed to move production where the overall costs will be less. The cost of a bike basically added up by more than two thousand

dollars in a public filing. The stock went down by 2%. It is not known for how long the tariff based war will last and executives are looking for ways to reduce impact. A likely question is that with more and more tariffs being raised against the U.S.A., will other companies and their in-house counsel soon be considering cross-border moves as well? All sorts of considerations come into play. More specifically, it involves the re-assessing support several functions including

U.S. distribution, procurement and technology, compliance and international legal affairs. That is why scrutiny by the legal department must have been made prior to any move. All sorts of jurisdictional issues will come into play. Continue reading

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Most people associate Fuji and Xerox with an office setting involving photocopying and printing. If you go to their website at: https://www.fujixerox.com They advertise smart work innovation that liberates from Restraints with an open professional expertise.  These are work aspects that most professionals want to aspire to be a part of and probably one of the reasons why they have taken off in the US market.

Fuji Xerox Co., Ltd., is a joint venture partnership between Fujifilm Holdings and Xerox, both being document related services.  Operating out of Tokyo, it was set to be one of the most powerful alliances held between the Japanese and Americans. Continue reading

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Elevated walkways overlooking parking lots, store entrances, and other commercial spaces can be both beautiful and functional, giving shoppers a chance to grab some fresh air and watch people coming and going below them, while also giving retailers extra space for storage, lockers, kiosks, and places for shoppers to walk, hang out, and mingle.

But according to a recent lawsuit against a Manhattan mall, such walkways can also be dangerous, posing a potential liability for both the mall and the security company charged with keeping the mall and its customers safe.

The East River Plaza Mall in East Harlem was sued for more $45 million after two boys shoved a shopping cart over the railing of the elevated walkway in October of 2011. The shopping cart hit Marion Hedges, a philanthropist, and real estate agent, on the head. She had been shopping for Halloween candy with her son, Dayton, who was 13 at the time.

Hedges collapsed immediately, stopped breathing for a time, and was rushed to the hospital. She suffered severe brain damage, which allegedly resulted in symptoms such as double vision, memory loss, diminished cognitive abilities, and incontinence. According to her attorney, Hedges continues to suffer from the effects of her head injury almost seven years after the incident.

The two boys who shoved the shopping cart over the railing were 12 and 13 years old at the time of the incident. They were both arrested and convicted as minors, although Hedges did not sue them. Instead, she sued the mall and Planned Security Service, the security company the mall had hired to secure the mall’s common areas, including the walkway in question. Continue reading

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Chalk up a victory for pro-consumer speech in Illinois. In a recent opinion, the Third District Appellate Court found that Better Business Bureau of Central Illinois (BBB) did not defame a business by giving it a “D-” reliability report on its website because the rating was protected as subjective opinion.

Perfect Choice Exteriors LLC, a home improvement company in Creve Coeur that installs windows, roofing, and siding, sued BBB in Peoria County circuit court for defamation, commercial disparagement, tortious interference with contract, and violation of the Uniform Deceptive Trade Practices Act. Perfect Choice claimed BBB told inquiring customers that they should not do business with the company, resulting in a loss of contracts exceeding $50,000, as well as “injury to [its] reputation and standing within the business community in an amount exceeding $50,000.”

BBB initially gave Perfect Choice an “A” rating after it launched in 2009, but later changed that to a D- based on what it called the “complaint volume with the BBB for a business of [Perfect Choice’s] size” and Perfect Choice’s inadequate response to and resolution of customer complaints. Perfect Choice denied these claims and alleged that BBB never materially investigated the complaints to determine their validity. Continue reading

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Tensions between American citizens are higher than ever with no sign of slowing down any time soon and there’s ample evidence that the 2016 election played a significant role in widening those divides. Trump’s presidential campaign ran on a platform of anger and division as he routinely worked his rally crowds into a froth of resentment and hatred.

As he encourages his citizens to attack each other (both verbally and physically) his proponents who work in television, radio, and on the internet have likewise been encouraging their followers to participate in the same destructive behaviors. One such supporter, Alex Jones, has a radio show and website in which he publishes conspiracy theories about natural disasters. While the rest of the country was mourning the lives lost in the Oklahoma City bombing, 9/11, and Sandy Hook, Jones publicly and repeatedly insisted the first two were inside jobs and the last one never happened. Instead, he claims survivors and their families are “crisis actors” promoting the “gun-grabbing” agenda.

But the families have had enough. Family members of eight of the Sandy Hook victims, plus an F.B.I. agent who was a first responder at the shooting, have filed a total of three defamation lawsuits against Jones. One lawsuit alleges Jones and his company, InfoWars, have continuously perpetuated the monstrous lie that the Sandy Hook families faked the deaths of their loved ones. Continue reading