Corporate & Commercial

A railroad switch carrier sued a railroad operator alleging that the operator took advantage of its position as a majority shareholder in a joint venture to force the joint venture company to agree to a contract with atrocious and unfair terms. The switch carrier alleged that the contract forced the joint venture company to pay 3.5x the fair market value of rent for use of railroad tracks, as well as turn over its assets to the railroad operator. The plaintiff sued, but the district court found that the company’s claims were preempted by federal statutes. On appeal, the 7th Circuit…
Full disclosure, we’re a sponsor of the Hospitality Business Association of Chicago and respect and admire their tireless and timely work on behalf of Chicago liquor licensees, Chicago restaurants, and in providing Chicago liquor law related information.  During the COVID-19 topsy-turvy the HBAC has been updating and regularly reporting on Chicago liquor licensee and Chicago restaurant licensee issues relevant to re-opening, liquor license and retail food license enforcement, inspections, required documentation, and signage.  As part of that work, they’ve been sending out a regularly updated letter regarding those issues. I’ve gotten permission to share it with you as it is…
The Supreme Court decided two years ago in Carpenter v. United States that the Fourth Amendment requires police to obtain a warrant, in most circumstances, to access GPS location information spanning seven days or more from a cell phone user.   Prior to that decision, the court had held that voluntarily providing this information to third parties like technology companies did not have Fourth Amendment protections and thus litigants did not have any reasonable expectation of privacy. Although the court majority labeled the decision “narrow,” it nonetheless led to questions about where else Fourth Amendment protections might be applied in future…
Recently, the Commerce Department disclosed the most devastating three-month collapse of the U.S. economy ever.  In the second quarter of 2020, the gross domestic product fell by 9.5%.  The effects of the coronavirus pandemic reached throughout the economy.  Consumers cut their spending.  Businesses reduced their investing.  Global trade mostly ended.  <<https://www.nytimes.com/2020/07/30/business/economy/q2-gdp-coronavirus-economy.html>>.  Economic declines have real world consequences for businesses.  Many must now consider large-scale layoffs and closing their facilities.  Both federal law and some state laws regulate larger employers that conduct mass layoffs and plant closings.  Before implementing such a strategy, employers must know their legal duties under…
This fight has the industry on the edge of its chair. It involves the interplay and nebulous no-man’s-land between state and federal laws regarding cannabis.  The US Attorney’s office in Southern California is representing the DEA in a subpoena enforcement kerfuffle against the State of California and its Bureau of Cannabis Control that arose after the DEA sent a subpoena demanding the production of specific documents (licenses,license applications, and shipping manifests), for six adult-use cannabis licensed or related entities from the state agency responsible for licensing and regulating the medical and adult-use cannabis industry in California. The state marijuana regulator…
Back in January of 2012, the City of Westland Police and Fire Retirement System filed a class-action lawsuit against MetLife Inc. They alleged that the insurance company used data from the Social Security Administration’s “Death Master File” (DMF) to determine when to stop paying annuities to deceased policyholders, but allegedly did not use the same database to determine when to pay out life insurance policies or the Retained Asset Account, although it could have easily done so. The insurance company also allegedly failed to include data from the DMF regarding its pending payouts in its quarterly reports to its shareholders,…
This case involves a shipment of spoiled wine – potentially “cooked” wine – the reason that arranging a refrigerated shipping container is an important point for many wine importers. The allegations are that Rang Dong Winery contracted with defendant Hillebrand to ship three containers of wine to Ho Chi Minh City Cat Lai Port, Vietnam. Rang Dong alleges Hillebrand represented that the shipment would be delivered to the Cat Lai Port, consistent with prior shipping arrangements between the two parties. Without notice, Hillebrand allegedly altered the shipment destination and ultimately delivered the cargo to Cai Mep Port, a different terminal…
For a week or two now #beerlaw twitter has been writing about the record breaking offer in compromise between Anheuser-Busch and the Alcohol and Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau. A $5,000,000 payment for the charged violations (the allegations) of violating the trade practice laws set forth in 27 U.S.C. § 205 by:  entering into sponsorship agreements with various entities in the sports and entertainment industries requiring concessionaires and other retailers to purchase A-B’s malt beverages and prohibiting them from purchasing specific competitor brands;  inducing sports industry concessionaires to purchase A-B’s malt beverages by furnishing fixtures, equipment, and services;  reimbursing, through…
An Ohio Federal Court has marked two wine shipping cases as related. One suit has the State of Ohio as the plaintiff suing Wine.com and other online retailers in an attempt to stop the out-of-state liquor retailers from selling and shipping liquor direct to Ohioans and the other case is a wine direct shipping case from the same legal group pressing wine direct shipping cases across the country. In the State of Ohio case, the Attorney General is looking for a preliminary and then permanent injunction to halt alcohol direct to consumer sales by companies advertising “wine delivered right to…
Chicago landlords have extra hurdles in front of them if they want to evict tenants between now and September 25 as stipulated by the COVID-19 Eviction Protection Ordinance that passed City Council, and all Illinois landlords face a different terrain under Rules 120 and 139 promulgated by the Illinois Supreme Court, both of which occurred last month. Chicago Ordinance Continue reading
The 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…
For the past several years, Family Offices have increased their appetite for direct investments and co-investments with other Family Offices and private equity funds.  On February 21, 2020, Forbes reported that going direct was an “undeniable trend” and focused on the 5 Reasons Why Family Offices Are Focusing on Direct Investments which included greater control and decision-making ability, better value and interest in alignment and return, reduced fees and expenses, the strength of Family Office networks and the ability to make an impact. UBS reported in their Global Family Office Report 2019, that private equity outshined other investment classes…
I’m doing my best to draft headlines that tell you all you really need to know. Would that it were possible for this issue regarding the retail of alcohol, the Commerce Clause, and the 21st Amendment. We have discussed the problems with the 6th Circuit’s reversal of a District Court’s decision to allow out-of-state alcohol retailers to ship alcohol to Michigan residents where that right was enjoyed by in-state liquor retailers. There was a petition to rehear the case en banc that got denied and the next logical step (the only real one left) is the petition for certiorari. That…
An emergency rule promulgated in April by the Illinois Workers’ Compensation Commission gave certain classes of “essential” workers the ability to claim COVID-19 as an occupational disease vis-à-vis the ability to collect workers compensation.  This is a change that every Illinois business should be aware of. The commission withdrew the rule after a court challenge, but last month Governor J.B. Pritzker signed legislation amending the Illinois Workers’ Occupational Diseases Act (820 ILCS 310, codified as Public Act 0633) to say that a “COVID-19 first responder or front-line worker” has the rebuttable presumption of having contracted the disease due to hazards…
Chicago liquor licensees without access to outdoor seating are ordered shuttered for indoor service once again beginning Friday, July 24. This comes less than a month after they were allowed to re-open on a limited capacity and took substantial steps and investments in PPE and other measures to meet guidelines for Chicago liquor licensees and Illinois liquor license requirements. The press release detailing the renewed restrictions lists the following restrictions: Bars, taverns, breweries and other establishments that serve alcohol for on-site consumption without a Retail Food license will no longer be able to serve customers indoors. Restaurants that serve…
Yes, expect it. Even with many states passing or considering COVID-19 protections for businesses choosing to open the lawsuits will mount for a time as courts consider how to treat coronavirus lawsuits. Thankfully, precedents grow for the hospitality industry establishing boundaries and criteria for liability. One recent case, stemming from an outbreak of COVID-19 aboard the Princess Cruise Line ship, the Grand Princess, involved people that didn’t contract the virus but who were passengers aboard the ship that was set to travel from San Francisco to Hawaii. Two weeks into the cruise, people started testing positive for COVID-19. The plaintiffs…