Although Illinois has a reputation as a plaintiff friendly state, the reality is that suing the State of Illinois for negligence has been very difficult.  That is because in 1971 a cap was put on lawsuits against the State that limited your recovery to $100,000.00.  The cap has not gone up for inflation or any other reason since 1971.  So a drunk Illinois State police officer in his work car could rear end you and kill your family and the value of the case would be $100,000.00.

The State also made it so you can’t sue in regular court, but instead have to sue in a State run court with State appointed judges called the Court of Claims. Essentially the defendant in these cases gets to pick the Judge.  And the process itself isn’t easy.  So what ended up happening is that a lot of good cases never got filed so justice was not served.  Attorneys would tell potential clients that they had a good case, but that the time involved and limited recovery made it not worth it.

In 2015 a bunch of Veterans at a Veteran’s home in Quincy were exposed to toxic bacteria and died of Legionnaire’s disease.  Thirteen heroes died and another 60 became ill from it.  Legionnaire’s is a severe form of pneumonia that inflames the lungs caused by bacteria spread through water droplets in the air.

The maximum value for these cases of clear cut negligence, because of the old law, was $100,000.00.  Fortunately the law has finally changed.  Senate Bill 2481 was passed last month that immediately and retroactively to cases filed since July of 2015 raised the cap on payouts to $2,000,000.00 which was a compromise after an initial proposal called for eliminating the cap altogether.

While I feel that there shouldn’t be a cap at all, these Veterans and anyone else harmed by negligence from the State of Illinois deserved a day in court and a chance for some form of meaningful compensation. There are many states less restrictive than us, but unlike the old law, the new cap at least gives victims and their families the chance to get in to court and have their story heard. These cases will still be a challenge, but now lawyers have a reason to take the cases and victims have the ability to get compensation that can come close to being considered just.

Suing the State of Illinois is tricky.  If you’d like to discuss a case with an experienced attorney for free, call us any time at 800-517-1614.

We’ve all heard and probably even used the expression “possession is 9/10th of the law.” So, by this mentality, what I physically have in my possession is mine? Great! The $20 I just saw drop out of the man’s wallet in front of me at Starbucks is now mine. The car my friend just let me borrow for the week, I’ll go ahead and keep that. What else do I have in my possession that I want to claim?

Okay, so let’s hope common sense tells us all this isn’t how it works. Yet, time and time again people have taken this idiom, yes that’s all it is, to mean fully what it implies. Let’s set the record straight: just because you have possession, doesn’t mean you have ownership. Possession isn’t 9/10th of the law.

A few common examples of cases implying possession is 9/10th of the law are pet ownership, engagement rings, and stolen property to name a few. A more recent example was a call received into the office where a woman had moved in with her boyfriend. Fast forward to when they broke up and he moved out, she decided she wanted to keep the furniture he had brought into the relationship. She felt entitled to it all because she had possession and her ex-boyfriend had no keys in to get it. Because, to her, “possession is 9/10ths of the law”, she felt she was in the right.

This old adage has been around for centuries and has been interpreted in many ways. The phrase “possession is 9/10th of the law” simply means that at law, ownership might be easier to maintain if one has possession of something and can be difficult to prove otherwise if not. This is where the remaining 1/10th comes into play. The person who is not in possession of the items is the one who has to prove his right to them. The challenging party has the burden of proof, giving the one who has physical control or possession over the property a slight advantage.

This is where replevin law comes into play. Replevin, also known as claim and delivery, is a law that allows people to recover personal property that they are the legal owner to. Replevin can apply to a variety of situations, including situations where property was lawfully withheld but should be released to the owner was not, like our previous example. It may also apply in situations where two parties have rights to possession of property, but one party may have greater rights to the property, such as an engagement ring.

Back to our original example, the ex-boyfriend will need to file a replevin lawsuit to recover his furniture. Unlike most other forms of legal action, replevin is seeking the return of a tangible possession, as opposed to recovering money damages.

Be sure not to get replevin confused with repossession. Repossession does not require a lawsuit and property can simply be taken back into possession without having to pursue a lawsuit first. This is most common with cars as a vendee broke the contract by failing to pay for the car as agreed.

Replevin law can seem confusing and tiring. If you think you have a valid claim, contact an attorney now to preserve your rights.

Illinois schools and their staff have a responsibility to provide a safe learning environment. Parents entrust teachers, coaches, bus drivers, custodians and school counselors, every day, for the safety and well-being of their children.

The sad reality is that each year, far too many cases reflect situations in which school employees take advantage of their positions of trust over children and engage in sexual misconduct.

Under Illinois law, if your child goes to a private school and is molested or otherwise sexually abused, the standard for winning the case is showing that the school acted negligent.  You can always sue the scumbag who committed the abuse, but there must be some sort of negligence on part of the school.

If the abuse happened at a public school, Illinois law requires that the school be more than negligent, but instead show reckless disregard.  In most cases that means that you need to show that the school knew or should have known that the staff member was doing these awful things or likely to do so.  So if they get a credible complaint about a staff member and don’t remove them and then it happens again, there would likely be a lawsuit.

It’s important to remember that the age of consent in Illinois is 17, but I would certainly argue that it’s beyond inappropriate for a teacher or coach to have a sexual relationship with any student whether they consent to it or not.  Beyond the age gap the position of authority issue is a real problem.

If your child has been a victim of abuse or you suspect that might be I recommend a few things:

1. Go to the hospital for an exam.

2. Go to the police and file a report.

3. Talk to an attorney before talking to the school.  Our first goal is to prevent this from happening to anyone else.  Unfortunately some schools will manipulate the situation and only look out for themselves at the peril of others and any case your child may have.

Very few Illinois law firms have real experience with these cases and a track record of success.  No matter where in Illinois this happened we can refer you to the best lawyers for a child sexual abuse lawsuit.  Call for a free, confidential consultation with our attorneys at 312-346-5320.  There is never a fee unless a recovery is made.

There seems to be an issue within social service departments and how children are handled. While their main focus seems to be first reunite children with their biological parents, kids are slipping through the cracks and are getting hurt and even dying in the process.

In one case in Cook County, a 2 year old was beaten to death by his mother. The mother had a background that included violence, drug use, prostitution and much more. The child was born premature due to the mother use of drugs while she was pregnant. The child was hospitalized shortly after birth because of the effects of the drugs and alcohol. During this hospitalization the doctors called DCFS because of the child’s condition as well as the fact this mother had 5 additional children who had been taken away from her.

After a short investigation, Lutheran Social Services placed the child back with the mother and closed the case. Six months later there was a report made of possible child abuse and that the mother was missing. The caseworker did not follow up and a few months later, and 2 more emergency room visits later, the child was dead from the abuse at his mother’s hands.

In this specific case, the father of the child was begging for custody. Social service agencies and doctors have a duty to report child abuse, and to protect children from further abuse. In this case, their inaction was deemed fault of the death of a child, and a $45 million dollar mistake.   Lutheran allegedly did not perform any risk assessment before placing the child back in the home.

This was a unique case involving errors by multiple doctors, agencies and Lutheran.  If something like this has happened to your family please call us at 312-346-5320 to see if you have lawsuit.

I recently read an article in Forbes about contesting a will.  It gave five “tips” from a lawyer, but if you read it, two of them are about how expensive this can be, one is how it’s emotional and the other one is that most cases settle. That’s not really great information in my opinion because it really is advice that could be true for most areas of law. So I thought I’d put together a real list of what you should know about contesting a will in Illinois.

1. Let’s start with cost.  Yes it can be expensive, but if the estate is worth enough money and the facts are on your side, we know lawyers who will take the case on a contingency basis which means that they only get paid if they win.  Their fee is typically 1/3 of what they recover.  So how much does an estate have to be worth?  It depends on the case and what your share would be, but in general the lawyers we know who work on a contingency want the eventual payout to them if they win to be at least in the high five figures.  So that would usually mean the estate is worth at least $500,000.00.  The bigger the potential payout, the more likely you are to find a contingency lawyer.

2. Generally speaking, to contest a will you have six months from the date the will is filed with the Court to do so or you can lose your rights to ever contest it.  So you need to act fast and if your relative that you are having a dispute with tells you that they will take care of everything, beware that this could just be a delaying tactic.

3. You can’t contest a will in Illinois because you don’t like that you were left out of it or you were told verbally that you were going to get something that isn’t in the will.  The best claim to a will not being valid is you being able to prove some sort of fraud or that the person who died didn’t know what they were doing when they signed the will.  The classic example is a will that is signed shortly before a death while the person is on medication or showing that they had severe dementia when the will was created and could not have had a lucid moment when they knew what they were doing.

4. If you are successful in getting a will thrown out, the previous valid will replaces it.  If none is available then Illinois intestate laws apply.  In cases of a parent death with no spouse that usually means that everything will get divided up among the children.

5. Contesting a trust is a little different because nothing has to be filed with the Court, but the same principle exists that if you believe the trust was fraudulently created, you have to act fast.

Hopefully this is more relevant to you than the Forbes article. If you have any questions or would like an attorney referral, call us at 312-346-5320 for a free consultation any time.

We are Chicago attorneys who help people find the right lawyer for their case and provide free legal guidance.  Call us at 800-517-1614 for a free consultation.

The false claims act is a federal law that is also sometimes called the “Lincoln Law.” This is the law that sets liability for those who defraud governmental programs. This law has been around and active on the books since the Civil War. It was originally started to help stop fraud against the government potentially caused by suppliers to the Union Army. However, in 1986 there were several mishaps by the department of defense contracting industry that brought on new amendments. Since those amendments, in the last three decades, over $48 billion dollars has been recovered on behalf of the government. With nearly half of the total recovered as a direct result of health care related cases.

Whistleblower and Qui Tam are provisions within the false claims law that allows others to file legal action for the government, even if they may be a party in the suit. The “others” that are allowed to file suit on behalf of the Government are not part of the government, and they are called realtors. These provisions were put into place due to the simple fact that our government doesn’t have the capacity to investigate all of the fraud and false claims that are submitted. Instead, private citizens have the ability to file suit on behalf of the government, submit evidence of fraud, and also receive monetary rewards sometimes up to 25% of any money that is retrieved from the suit.

Medicare and other healthcare fraud has taken over as a majority of these types of cases. While many Americans use privately held insurance, millions of Americans rely 100% on governmental programs and assistance such as Medicare. Due to the abundance of people using these programs, sometimes it is very hard to detect the fraud that is occurring. The fraud occurs when doctors or Medicare providers and facilities engage in behavior such as billing for services not rendered, billing for patients that were never seen, using billing codes that represent a more expensive treatment than which was actually preformed, billing for individual testing procedures instead of bundling them into one fee, and even billing for unnecessary medical tests and treatments.

Another form of suit that is becoming prominent is based on shareholders civil lawsuits filed Qui Tam, against their companies on behalf of the government. In one case like this, a software company that supplies it’s product to the government, did not disclose deep discounts and incentives given to private and commercial companies, while charging the federal government premiums that were highly inflated. The fraud was uncovered when a former senior executive filed a whistleblower action. In this case, the allegations were settled. The company agreed to pay $199.5 million dollars back to the government, less the $40 million that went directly to the former executive as a monetary reward for exposing the fraud.

If you would like to file a claim, or a whistleblower lawsuit, several very specific procedures must be filed for you to in fact receive the reward. The majority of the case will rely on evidence or proof you have of your claim. Facts on paper, emails, sales receipts, etc. anything that is solid evidence that your company was committing the crime will be submitted as evidence. If you have evidence of such fraud, you should contact a Qui Tam attorney immediately. They will review your documents, and determine if there was fraud, and if it falls within the statute of limitation to bring a case. Next they will draft what is called the Relator’s statement. This statement will serve as a complaint that explains to the government what exactly you are accusing or blowing the whistle on. This document gets filed first under seal with the attorney general and the US Attorney, then later is filed under seal with the US District Courts. Once that has been completed, the government will do their own investigation and determine if they would like to join the suit. For you to receive any benefit or award settlement, the government must join. After that, the case will either be litigated and decided upon by a judge, or settled out of court. Either way, once the case is “won” you will receive an award for coming forward.

Some recent Whistleblower’s Act claims that were litigated and won include a lawsuit against Respironics, a company that sells masks for people with sleep apnea. This lawsuit yielded a 34.8 million dollar gross to be paid, 5.38 million of which was rewarded to the Doctor that originally brought the suit. EV3 is a medical device company that allegedly convinced several hospitals to admit patients for a procedure prior had only been an outpatient procedure. In this suit, 1.25 million dollars was recovered. Another medical device company settled their case for $6 million dollars after being accused of participating in cash kickbacks to the doctors who referred patients to use its devices. One of the former product managers for the company came forward in her Qui Tam suit, and her recovery amount is not yet determined.

These cases are very complicated from the legal standpoint, but if you have proof that your employer or some other business is defrauding the government, an attorney will make the process easy on you. As well, there are anti-whistleblowers laws in place now that will protect you from any sort of retaliation.  Call or e-mail us at any time to ask questions or for help in finding the right type of lawyer for the fraud you want to expose.

Zinbryta (daclizumab) is a medication used to treat adults with relapsing forms of multiple sclerosis (MS). Multiple sclerosis is a neurological disease that scars nerve tissue and causes a range of symptoms, including pain, vision loss, impaired coordination and paralysis. MS affects more than 2.3 million people worldwide.

Zinbryta is not a cure for MS, but helps prevent the immune system from attacking the nerves in the brain and spinal cord. Doctors generally prescribe Zinbryta to patients who have tried two or more other MS medications and not experienced positive results. It is injected under the skin, typically once a month.

Why was Zinbryta withdrawn?
Biogen and AbbVie, the makers of Zinbryta, announced a voluntary withdrawal of the drug from the market on March 2, 2018, and they halted clinical studies. The move was in response to the European Medicines Agency call for an “urgent review” of the drug after twelve cases of serious brain inflammation were reported. The inflammatory brain disorders experienced included encephalitis and/or meningoencephalitis.

The European Medicines Agency stated that, “Zinbryta may also be linked to severe immune reactions affecting several other organs.”
Complications in addition to encephalitis and meingoencephalitis include:

• Liver failure and other serious liver injuries
• Serious skin reactions including Stevens Johnson Syndrome and Toxic Epidermal Necrolysis

Zinbryta was available in the European Union, Switzerland, Canada, Australia and the United States. Over 8,000 patients around the world have received Zinbryta according to the European Medicines Agency.

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) stated that it was aware of the 12 reports of brain inflammation and is conducting its own review. The FDA acknowledged the “complex safety profile” of Zimbryta since its approval.

Legal Action

If you or a loved one was diagnosed with encephalitis, liver failure, Stevens Johnson Syndrome (SJS), Toxic Epidermal Necrolysis (TEN) or another severe reaction/disorder after taking Zinbryta, please contact us immediately. You may have a legal claim.  We will talk to you about an individual claim, not a class action lawsuit.  Your individual claim will focus on what happened to you and will work to compensate you or your loved ones.  Beware of attorneys that want you to be a part of a class action and do not give you individual attention.  Call us at 800-517-1614 for a free consultation.

There is a basic premise under Illinois employment law that you can be filed at any time, for any reason, as long as it doesn’t violate a contract (e.g. you are in a union) or an illegal reason such as your race, religion, gender, age, etc.  So you can be fired for an unfair reason, a false reason or anything that isn’t illegal.  This includes being let go because you make too much money.

Say for example, a man has been at a construction job for 25 years. He is now 50 years old. He has always received excellent feedback from his supervisors and has moved up the chain of command as far as possible due to his work ethic and commitment to the company. Along with those steps up in the chain of command have come pay raises. Then on his 26th yearly review, he is given horrible feedback, and denied an annual raise. He later hears from his co-worker that they are starting to scale back the higher wage earners who happen to be mostly old-timers because they cost the company too much in benefits and salary. Giving poor employee reviews is simply the first step in trying to get rid of the people who make more than the younger people coming on board new with the company.

While it may seem like a no brainer that this is age discrimination, unless you have actual proof there is no case for legal action. Unfortunately, there’s no case at all unless it can be proven discrimination which is easy to suspect, but harder to actually prove. There are no laws about a company that lies to its employees during evaluation. There are no laws that guarantee you must be treated nicely or that everything that happens on a daily basis will be fair. There are laws and Court rulings that say a higher rate of pay and age are not correlated. Therefore, it isn’t a no brainer at all. In the above scenario, there is no evidence of age discrimination available without a statement that they are getting rid of you because you are too old or something else that actually proves what you suspect is actually true.

If you DO have actual evidence that you were terminated due to your age, race, gender or religion, please contact us to review the facts of your case. We can put you in touch with a qualified attorney in your area to help put your best interests first.  And if you just have questions, call us too. It’s always free to speak with one of our lawyers.

Most people are happy with their lawyer or at least not so unhappy that they want to sue them.  But when you lose a case you should win or pay a bunch of money and get no result, it’s not uncommon to want to sue.

The best reason to sue a lawyer and the one most likely to result in you getting money from a lawsuit is if the attorney failed to file a lawsuit in time. So if you hire them because you were rear-ended at a stoplight and they have two years to file a suit for you, if they don’t do it then you’d have a case against them.

That’s not the top reason people sue lawyers though. According to the ABA’s most recent Profile of Legal Malpractice Claims, “Failure to Know/Properly Apply Law,” was the most commonly alleged error committed by attorneys. Based on the data, this type of error accounted for more than 15% of all alleged errors. Basically it’s lawyers working on cases they don’t have a lot experience with or giving advice on things they know nothing about.

A lot of lawyers get calls for personal injury cases and think two things: 1. This will make me a bunch of money. 2. This will be a slam dunk.  So instead of referring the case to someone competent they try to handle it on their own.  They get in to it, are dealing with an experienced insurance adjuster and defense attorney and soon realize that they are in over their heads.

As a potential client you can minimize the chances of hiring a bad lawyer by choosing a law firm that has a narrow practice focus and can show a track record of some success.  Other red flags to look out for:

  • Is there high staff or attorney turnover?  If that happens it means someone who is inexperienced could end up with your file or they’d have to pick up the pieces well in to the case.  Ask who will be primarily handling your case, how many other lawyers there are and how long they’ve been there.
  • Are you working with a young lawyer who is given too much free reign by their boss.? Law school teaches you legal principles. It doesn’t teach you how to handle a case.  That comes from a good mentor or trial and error.  Don’t become the error in their trial.  I almost never recommend working with someone who has less than five years experience.
  • Do they not return phone calls or generally act rudely to you? If that’s happening at the get go, why would you want to be with them.  It’s a bad sign.
  • Are they really old?  I salute someone who is still practicing in their 70’s if they really love what they are doing, but more likely than not they are spending a ton of time in Florida or Arizona and if they are away your case will get neglected.

There are plenty of other red flags too, but these are the biggies to me.  Hopefully you never have to sue a lawyer and the best way to make that happen is by hiring the right one to begin with.

I hear a lot of stories that make me sad and some that piss me off.  There are a lot of people who contact me looking to get a lawyer referral who have gotten a raw deal by the justice system and want to sue over it.

In the last year or so I’ve had a ton of calls from people who want to sue for a wrongful arrest.  Unfortunately most of these cases go nowhere.

To get arrested in Illinois and charged with a crime there just needs to be probable cause.  That can be as simple as some random person saying they saw you rob a store or that you hit them.  It’s a really low threshold. And as a result innocent people get arrested all of the time in Illinois.

To convict you the State has to prove you guilty beyond a reasonable doubt. That is of course a much higher burden and allows some guilty people to go free so more innocent people won’t get convicted.

The problem is that if you are charged with a crime and can’t post bail, you can sit in prison for a long time.  That of course prevents you from working, being with your family and having any life.  It’s also very dangerous and can harm your health.  Even if you can post bail, being arrested can damage relationships and ruin your reputation.

So of course when you beat the charges whether winning at a trial or getting a good attorney who can get them dismissed, it’s natural that you’d want to sue.  Unfortunately it’s usually not a good case.

The people you could theoretically sue are the police and State’s Attorney. But if they have probable cause to bring charges, that is usually enough for them to avoid any liability for a lawsuit even if you think it should be obvious that you had nothing to do with the crime.

It’s typically only cases where you can prove a cop planted evidence or that the State’s Attorney hid evidence that would show you are innocent or something like that which would lead to a case. For example, in one case a guy was dating the ex-girlfriend of a police officer.  That officer was jealous and planted evidence on him to make him look guilty.  It was the intentional falsifying of the report that allowed there to be a case.

The better cases are the ones you wouldn’t want anything to do with and those are when people spend years or decades in jail after being wrongfully convicted.  Usually those cases are winners because DNA evidence shows that the police must have been lying about what they said happened and spending years in jail is a clear harm.

Either way, we are happy to talk to you for free if you think you might have a case or just want to know if you do.  We don’t promise a result, but do promise to always tell you the truth.