The Chicago Consumer Attorneys at Lubin Austermuehle Win Precedent In Hotel Billing Fraud Case

Our firm obtained a favorable verdict in a consumer fraud case with Terrill v. Oakbrook Hilton Suites & Garden Inn 788 NE2d 789 (2nd Dist 2003). In that case, our client, Cathy Terrill, was overcharged for a hotel room; her bill contained a charge for “taxes” that included an undisclosed non-tax charge for security services. This case was part of a set of class actions in Du Page County from 2000 to 2007 (Oakbrook Terrance Hotel Overcharge Class Actions), all of which alleged that hotels misled and overcharged their customers by including non-tax charges as “taxes” on their bills.

In Terrill, the Oakbrook Terrace Hilton moved for summary judgment at the trial court, claiming the Hotel Operators Occupation Tax Act (35 ILCS 145/3(f)) and Illinois Supreme Court precedent barred Terrill’s suit. The trial judge denied that motion and the hotel appealed. It claimed that because the security fees paid for extra security from Oakbrook Terrace law enforcement — a local government entity with the power to collect taxes — it had already paid the extra money to the state Department of Revenue and could not be sued.

The Illinois Second District Court of Appeal rejected that argument, calling it “untenable at best”:

It is clear, given the facts of this case, that defendant misapprehends the concept of accountability. Because defendant remitted the 2% service fee to Oakbrook Terrace instead of the Department, defendant cannot use the Act or case law to shield itself from direct liability. Unjust enrichment principles are based on the idea that no one ought to enrich himself unjustly at the expense of another.

Thus, Terrill’s claim was not barred and the suit was allowed to proceed. The case went back to the appellate court in a later, unpublished decision, in which the court struck Hilton’s response brief and affirmed the trial court’s grant of summary judgment and award to the Class of 100% of the tax overcharges plus prejudgment interest and attorneys fees and costs. Class members ultimately received a check in the mail for 98% of the over charge. Our firm is proud of our leadership role in this case and others where consumers and businesses have recouped tax and billing overcharges in billing fraud class actions, as well as our role in setting precedent with published cases. We have experience handling many types of fraud and business fraud cases and have litigated fraud cases in Chicago, and throughout the country. If you are a victim of fraud, consumer fraud or deceptive billing practices you can contact one of our experienced fraud attorneys by clicking here.

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