On January 31, the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) published its annual adjustments to the reporting thresholds under the Hart-Scott-Rodino Antitrust Improvements Act of 1976, as amended (HSR Act). The newly-revised thresholds represent modest increases over last year’s thresholds. They are published in the Federal Register and will become effective 30 days after the date of their publication. The revised thresholds will remain in effect until the FTC’s next annual adjustment in the first quarter of 2021. HSR Act Basics The HSR Act requires parties to mergers, acquisitions, joint ventures, and certain other transactions of a certain size or scale to file…
In 2019, 72,675 Charges were filed with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC). Frequently, EEOC Charges are filed regardless of whether the claim has any merit. Since the EEOC has the authority to investigate regardless of whether there is reasonable cause to believe discrimination occurred, any EEOC Charge is going to cost an employer time, effort, and money to deal with it. During the EEOC’s investigation, the employer and the Charging Party will be asked to provide information related to the Charge. The EEOC may ask an employer to: 1) submit a statement of position (the employer’s side of the…
This post updates the October 15, 2019, blog post regarding the citizen enforcement proceeding against Midwest Generation, LLC (“MWG”) launched by several environmental advocacy groups (“Environmental Groups”). (That post can be read here.) On February 6, 2020, the Illinois Pollution Control Board (“Board”) issued an order in Sierra Club, et al. v. Midwest Generation, LLC (PCB13-15) (“Reconsideration Order”) reconsidering its June 20, 2019, interim opinion and order (“Interim Order”). As addressed in greater detail in the earlier post, MWG owns four coal-fired power plants in Illinois, each of which contains coal ash disposal ponds. After Illinois EPA (“IEPA”)…
The laws governing the Cannabis industry are changing so rapidly that it’s almost impossible to keep up with all the new legislation across the country. Currently, there are over 1,100 cannabis bills in state legislatures and Congress for 2020. While most in the industry do not believe we will see national legalization in 2020, an additional seven states could legalize cannabis in some form this year. That would bring the 2020 total to 40 states with some form of legalized cannabis. Presidential candidate Bernie Sanders announced at an Iowa rally that if he is elected to the White House, he…
If you have not looked at your debt collection policies or read your form “dunning letter” in a while, you might need to add some routine check-ups to your 2020 calendar. While collection jurisprudence rarely undergoes a large overhaul, it should be no surprise that tightening protections for consumers are already on the horizon. Consumer protection issues are frequent headliners in national news. From nationwide data breaches to ever increasing household debt, and now with student loan borrowing and medical debt emerging as hot topics in the 2020 presidential election, I would not expect conversations aimed at tightening consumer protection…
Facebook boasts of connecting us, of connecting users from across the world and uniting them by common interests and friendships.  One of the features for connecting users is the tagging feature – a way to indicate who is appearing in a photograph.  Facebook users can tag themselves and also tag their friends.  Facebook can also participate, using facial-recognition software to suggest the names of the people appearing in a users’ photos.  See Patel v. Facebook, Inc., 932 F.3d 1264, 1268 (9th Cir. 2019) (“If Tag Suggestions is enabled, Facebook may use facial-recognition technology to analyze whether the user’s Facebook friends…
Fresh off major wins in the 2019 session, Missouri tort reform advocates are shifting their focus to a new target: punitive damages. Following a string of large punitive damages awards from St. Louis City courts, legislators in both chambers introduced bills to sharply curb such claims. Senate Bill 591, introduced by Senator Bill White (R-Joplin), would establish new substantive and procedural restrictions on punitive damages claims. Most critically, the bill would raise the burden of proof on plaintiffs seeking punitive damages awards. Under existing Missouri law, a plaintiff must show by clear and convincing evidence that the defendant acted with…
When representing an insured, trial attorneys must be attentive and recognize the circumstances under which opposing counsel may or may not present evidence that their client carries liability insurance. More importantly, attorneys must understand the actions that must be taken to preserve the record and protect the client. The Eastern District Court of Appeals recently granted a new trial based on a finding that the plaintiff made repeated, improper references to the defendant’s liability insurer in front of the jury. Collier v. Steinbach, — S.W.3d –, 2019 WL 7159756 (Mo. App. E.D. Dec. 24, 2019). In so holding, the Court…
In Woods v. Amazon.com LLC and Johnson v. Amazon.com LLC, 2019 WL 2504093 (2019) & 2019 WL 2509122 (2019), respectively, two individuals, Andrew Woods and Michael Johnson (“Plaintiffs”) brought separate, but related personal injury actions against Amazon.com, LLC (“Amazon”), Duke Realty, LP (“Duke”) and Steel King Industries, Inc. (“Steel King”) (collectively, the “Defendants”). Defendants brought third-party contribution claims against Plaintiffs’ employer, Lakeside Rack Installer, Inc. (“Lakeside”). Both Plaintiffs suffered serious injuries when a forklift driver, employed by Lakeside, caused a steel shelving rack to collapse on them within a newly-constructed Amazon warehouse. Each Plaintiff alleged the structure collapse stemmed from…
In Illinois, statutes provide protection to a disabled person with respect to the time within which a cause of action for personal injury will accrue. Under traditional legal thought, the cause of action begins to accrue and the statute of limitations begins to run immediately on the date of injury. In cases where the injury is not obvious enough to be discovered the moment it occurs, the date of accrual begins on the date the injured person “knows or should have known” a cause of action exists. Under the discovery rule, the plaintiff has the burden of establishing facts to…
On December 4, 2019, the United States Environmental Protection Agency (USEPA) published in the Federal Register an Advance Notice of Proposed Rulemaking titled “Addition of Certain Per-and Polyfluoroalkyl Substances; Community Right-to-Know Toxic Chemical Release Reporting.” 84 Fed. Reg. 66369. USEPA is currently considering a rule proposal to add certain polyfluroroalkyl substances (PFAS) to the list of toxic chemicals subject to reporting under the Emergency Planning and Community Right-to-Know Act (Right-to-Know Act) and the Pollution Prevention Act. This list is also known as the Toxics Release Inventory (TRI), and chemicals within the TRI are known as “listed chemicals.” PFAS are synthetic…
We’ve all heard of, or even litigated, those cases where someone does something ridiculous on another person’s property, injuring him or herself in the process, then sues the property owner as if it was somehow the owner’s fault. Rest assured, Illinois’ Second District Appellate Court was having none of this in its recent decision in Lee v. Lee, 2019 IL App (2d) 180923. The decision is noteworthy not only because the court applied the open and obvious defense to an ordinary negligence case, but also because the court sua sponte held as a matter of law—based solely on the plaintiff’s…
In determining whether a lawyer must report a potential malpractice claim on a professional liability “errors and omissions” renewal or application form, must the insured attorney foresee how Missouri appellate courts would interpret a legal issue never before addressed? Based on a recent Missouri Court of Appeals opinion, the answer seems to be perhaps yes. In Ruiz v. Bar Plan Mutual Insurance Co., 2019 WL 4145480 (E.D. Mo. 2019)(Sept. 3, 2019), the Missouri Court of Appeals found that an attorney’s failure to notify his legal malpractice carrier of a potential malpractice claim (arising out of the attorney’s representation of a…
Grauer v. Clare Oaks, et al, 2019 IL App (1st) 180835, is noteworthy to all counsel who regularly encounter fee-shifting statutes in their practice. Grauer was borne out of a verdict against a nursing home, but the court’s analysis as to the reasonableness of attorney’s fees and what constitutes “costs” in the context of the Illinois Nursing Home Care Act is important to all practitioners. The Nursing Home Act provides that “the licensee shall pay the actual damages and costs and attorney’s fees to a facility resident whose rights” under the Act are violated. 210 ILCS 45/3-602. The rationale for…
  The Missouri Supreme Court recently affirmed a trial court’s order denying an insurance company’s motion to intervene and set aside a judgment that was entered following the plaintiffs’ contract with a defendant to limit recovery of the judgment against the insurance company pursuant to Missouri Statute Section 537.065. Desai, M.D., et al. v. Seneca Specialty Insurance Company, SC97361. Plaintiffs Dr. Neil Desai and Heta Desai filed a lawsuit for personal injuries against defendant Garcia Empire, LLC. Garcia Empire had a commercial general liability policy issued by Seneca Specialty Insurance Company. Seneca sought to intervene in the lawsuit after the…
Anyone who has spent time reviewing claim forms and bills submitted by medical providers has probably encountered at least some of the more typical fraud schemes: overbilling, false claims, or maybe even kickbacks and bribery. Sophisticated technology, investigative techniques, and data analytics let us zoom in – and out – to identify these traditional forms of fraud at the individual claim level and on a system-wide scale. But a recent opinion by the New York Court of Appeals, the state’s highest court, should serve as a reminder to look out for a different sort of fraud that might not be…