Nick Sandmann achieved fame earlier this year when a short video clip of him standing face-to-face with a Native American by the name of Nathan Phillips went viral back in January. Sandmann, who is wearing a “Make America Great Again” hat in the video clip, was chastised on social media as a racist who had taunted a Native American.

After the video went viral, several news organizations reported on the incident, including the Washington Post, NBC, and CNN. Sandmann sued all of them for allegedly defaming him by misrepresenting his actions and failing to report the full story.

Shortly after the video went viral, it was revealed that the Native American group was there with the Indigenous People’s March and Sandmann and his classmates were students from Covington Catholic High School in Kentucky, who was in Washington D.C. for The March for Life. But it turned out those two groups weren’t the only ones outside the Lincoln Memorial that day. The third was a group of Black Hebrew Israelites who, it turned out, were heckling the students and other visitors to the memorial, claiming they were the result of incest and sodomy. The students pointed out to the group of Black Hebrew Israelites that their comments about sodomy were homophobic. 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.”

New England employers have seen a restricting on their ability to use non-compete agreements in recent weeks with the passage of new laws in Maine, New Hampshire, and Rhode Island. In a previous post, we profiled the non-compete legislation passed in Massachusetts. The bills in Maine and New Hampshire are set to be enacted later this year, while the bill in Rhode Island has passed the legislature and awaits signature by the governor.

Maine

The newly passed Act To Promote Keeping Workers in Maine is set to take effect on September 18, 2019. The new law will dramatically affect employers who utilize various common restrictive covenants by: (1) prohibiting employers from entering into no-poach or non-solicitation agreements with other employers; (2) barring employers from entering into non-compete agreements with low-wage employees; (3) limiting an employer’s ability to enforce restrictive covenants; (4) mandating advanced disclosure of the use of non-compete agreements; and (5) delaying the effective date of non-compete agreements; and (6) imposing stiff monetary penalties for violation of the law’s restrictions.

The law prohibits employers from requiring employees earning at or below 400% of the federal poverty level to sign covenants not to compete. The new law also prohibits the use of no-poach agreements, even those ancillary to legitimate business collaboration, and non-solicitation agreements, a common provision in NDAs used by many companies.

The law also limits the ability to enforce non-competes by limiting an employer’s legitimate business to only: (a) trade secrets; (b) confidential information; or (c) goodwill. Any employer who violates the law is subject to a fine, not less than $5,000. Continue reading ›

A student loan debtor sued her loan servicer, arguing that the servicer had violated Illinois consumer fraud law by asserting that its customer representatives were experts in repayment options and acted in a borrower’s best interest when they were in fact instructed to steer borrowers into payment options that benefited the servicer more than the borrower. The district court dismissed the suit, finding that federal disclosure law preempted the suit, but the appellate court reversed, holding that penalizing loan servicers for making affirmative misrepresentations did not impose additional disclosure requirements on servicers, and thus was not preempted.

Nicole Nelson financed her education with federal student loans. Great Lakes, Nelson’s loan servicer, manages borrowers’ accounts, processes payments, assists borrowers with alternative repayment plans, and communicates with borrowers about the repayment of their loans. Nelson began repaying her loans in December 2009. In September 2013, she changed jobs and her income dropped. She contacted Great Lakes, and its representative led Nelson to believe that “forbearance” was the best option for her personal financial situation. A few months later, Nelson lost her new job. She contacted Great Lakes again in March 2014. This time, the representative again did not inform her of income-based repayment options, and instead steered her into deferment.

Forbearance is the temporary cessation of payments, allowing an extension of the term of the loan, or temporarily accepting smaller payments than were previously scheduled. Under forbearance, unpaid interest is capitalized, which can substantially increase monthly payments after the forbearance period ends. Federal law requires lenders and loan servicers to offer income-driven repayment plans, which Nelson argues are more appropriate in situations of longer-term financial hardship. Enrolling callers in these plans is, however, time-consuming for customer service representatives. Nelson eventually sued Great Lakes on behalf of a putative class, arguing that Great Lakes breach Illinois consumer protection law when it held itself out as an expert on student loan plans and caused her to rely on their assertions that they would operate on her behalf. The district court dismissed Nelson’s complaint, finding that her claims were preempted by federal law that stated that federal student loans were not subject to state-law disclosure requirements. Nelson then appealed. Continue reading ›

The government enforces a separation of church and state, but what about a separation of church and employer?

Joel Dahl, who founded and runs Dahled Up Construction, requires all his workers to attend Christian Bible Study as a condition of continued employment.

Ryan Coleman, a convicted felon, said attending Bible study was not a condition of employment for the first month that he worked as a painter for Dahl. When it became mandatory, he attended for almost six months, afraid his felony conviction would prevent him from getting another job. When he finally said he wouldn’t attend the Bible study anymore, he was fired.

Coleman was disappointed, having just received a pay raise two weeks beforehand. He also loved his job, claiming he was excited to get up and go to work in the morning, and realizing how lucky he was to be one of the few people who could say that.

Coleman, who is half Native American, told Fox News that Christianity just wasn’t for him. Continue reading ›

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 ›

Ford started installing a new dual-clutch transmission (referred to as the DPS6 transmission) in its Focus and Fiesta models back in 2010 and as many as 1.5 million of the allegedly defective vehicles remain on the road today. The new transmission allowed the cars to reach 40 mpg, but according to recent allegations, Ford failed to properly test the new transmission before putting it out on the road, where it allegedly failed and put customers in danger.

As if that wasn’t bad enough, Ford allegedly ignored warnings from internal engineers and lawyers before putting the cars on the market, at which point the car company allegedly proceeded to ignore complaints from customers for more than five years.

According to complaints, the new transmission allegedly did everything from losing power on highways for no apparent reason to shoot into intersections without warning. Instead of issuing a recall, Ford allegedly gave its dealers talking points that included telling them the cars were operating normally when that was far from the truth.

The financial result of all this doesn’t look good for Ford. The company has had to spend hundreds of millions of dollars in repair costs, many of which didn’t actually fix the cars. In addition to having to litigate lawsuits from thousands of consumers, Ford has also lost a significant amount of business from many loyal fans who now say they will never buy another Ford. Combine that with word of mouth reports of the dangerous cars it let on the road, plus bad press, and it will be difficult for the company to recover financially from this mess. In fact, the company recently warned its investors that litigation over the new DPS6 transmissions poses a financial threat. According to an internal report by Ford, the total costs related to the new transmission could reach $3 billion by the end of next year. Continue reading ›

Worldwide, the impact of global change is being felt. While some people deny that climate change is even happening, the courts are, in fact, seeing the effects in the litigation scene. Suits concerning the issue are trending upwards. Jurisdictional restraints and distance are not stopping litigants from coming forward to file suit. Science, damages, and people being passionate about the cause have increased the number of people wanting to seek retribution, restraint or some form of way to mend harm done by being awarded damages and the cutting of carbon emissions. The biggest offenders? Large corporations. The Human Rights Commission in London is currently investigating the catastrophic effects of Typhoon Yolanda which affected those in the Philippines. The nexus between the polluting corporations with the effects on the environment is what will need to be established and whether the condition was exacerbated as a result of that pollution. The difficulty in being able to produce evidence to present this case and the distance of greater than six thousand miles is no bar.

One possible reason for the increase in lawsuits is the lack of response from governance. People are also more environmentally conscious and know of the impacts of gas emissions
when it comes to health, land and air quality. Successful litigation in this realm has not been as successful as environmentalists would like. However, the pendulum is shifting. Public
awareness and better-equipped machines with techniques to track results also tie in with that. A worldwide consensus is now there when it comes to damage. It is proving that a single
corporation is responsible and to what degree used to be more difficult than it is now. We also know that from a few prior posts on our blog, those actions have started in the USA
also. We discussed this when we looked at a suburban business in Chicago that is under scrutiny for implementation of a system in which the way they sterilized caused emissions of
a cancer-causing substance. The operational facility provided sterilization services to the medical, pharmaceutical and food industries. Ironically, the health damage by its emissions made locals
worse off. Continue reading ›

Although many financial planning companies rely on the relationship between the financial planner and the customer, E-Trade’s customers primarily conduct business online – usually without communicating directly with any of the company’s financial planners.

Even so, the company includes a non-solicitation agreement as part of their employment contract with their financial consultants and brokers. According to a recent employment lawsuit, Heather Pospisil, a former financial consultant for E-Trade, allegedly violated that agreement by taking E-Trade clients with her when she moved to Morgan Stanley.

According to the lawsuit, Pospisil allegedly accessed a considerable amount of client information late one night, just a few days before she left to join Morgan Stanley, another financial planning company that competes directly with E-Trade.

Pospisil alleges she was merely accessing the information so she could let clients know she was leaving the company. Not only would those clients be unlikely to care, given the online nature of E-Trade’s business, but U.S. Judge Ronald A. Guzman pointed out that it would have been much faster to send a mass email to all her clients. In addition to being more efficient, it also would have provided evidence to support her claim that all she did was provide notice of her departure.

Judge Guzman also noticed that the number of files she accessed on that night accounted for 75% of all the files she had ever accessed in the more than four-and-a-half years she had been working for E-Trade. Continue reading ›