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Emotional challenges and business litigation

For business owners, being taken to court can be one of the most stressful experiences they will have to work through. Not only can legal action in and of itself be difficult, but they may be worried about the ramifications of a lawsuit. Will additional people decide to take legal action as a result of the case? Will the financial implications of the lawsuit be so significant that staying in business will no longer be an option? These are just some of the questions that business owners may struggle with if they are facing litigation, which is why it is so pivotal to prepare and handle negative emotions properly.

Aside from stress, some business owners may become depressed or overly anxious as a result of the case. These emotions can adversely affect their ability to handle the case properly. Moreover, litigation may arise when business owners are dealing with existing emotional hurdles. For example, someone who runs a business may have been struggling with depression for years, and the lawsuit will hit them especially hard.

Are you making the best use of association fees?

As more and more people are looking to forge a connection with those surrounding them, neighborhoods with Home Owner Associations (HOAs) have become more popular. But it’s no easy task to be on the board that organizes neighborhood events, upkeeps recreational structures and handles general maintenance matters.

If you’re a part of a HOA, it’s important to make the best use of your budget by responsibly planning for the use of association fees. Here’s a few tips that can help.

How to handle business partnership disputes

If you are in a partnership for a business in Illinois, more than likely you are not always going to see eye to eye. There are certain disputes that many partners face over the course of sharing a business, and if you handle them in the right way you can move past them smoothly with no long-term consequences.

According to Business News Daily, there are three main common disputes that most business partners may have. One revolves around the company's operation, and a common complaint is that one partner is not working his or her fair share. Another prevalent dispute is over money, such as whether one partner spends more than the other, one does not get permission for a specific purchase or there is an inflation of expenses. If partners start a company based on one of the partner's intellectual property, there may be a dispute if the partner does not document ownership of this IP.

Could you face a lawsuit regarding a social media post?

Many people use multiple social media accounts, both to connect with friends and family and to promote their business. It can be a good way to reunite with people you grew up with and encouraging to build connections that could help you expand your company.

However, did you know you could potentially face a lawsuit about something you post online? Although many people use the internet in positive ways, others use it to vent. And while that may not be inherently bad, it’s how it’s done that could potentially lead to trouble with the law and harm your company’s reputation. With the spread of social media has come the spread of court cases for defamation relating to what people post about other people online.

What is the purpose of zoning?

You may hear a lot about zoning in Illinois. Sometimes zoning issues are a hot topic at community meetings or government events. The idea of zoning, according to the Geneva, Illinois, website is to provide you with the best possible community. It helps to create a better place to live.

Zoning is a type of regulation for what can be built where in a city. For example, you may see areas zoned for business only or residential only. Business zones, as the name suggests, are where businesses may operate or build new locations. Residential areas are reserved for homes, apartments and other residencies. Some areas may have zoning that includes business and residential. There are other classifications as well, such as agriculture for farming.

Appeals case ruled on right to access company records

Illinois Court decides that a director of a privately held corporation has presumptive right to inspect corporate documents that can be denied, however, if the purpose for inspection is improper or illegitimate.

In Munroe-Diamond the First District Appellate Court has carved out a new set of rules for a Director's access to the books and records of a corporation which could be used to thwart a minority shareholder's access to those records.

Defenses to Libel and Slander

Not every false statement, even ones that seem very egregious on their face, can be the basis of a defamation claim. As a recent decision involving media coverage of a political candidate illustrates, when the statements at issue do not fall into one of the per se defamatory categories under Illinois law, the lack of special damages can be fatal to a defamation suit.

Philip Piscopo Protects Parent's Rights and Wins Reversal of Custody Decision

We are really proud of our partner, Philip Piscopo, for his outstanding work on an appeal last year in obtaining an outright reversal of trial court's decision to deny a father's request to obtain primary residential custody of his daughter. In In re the Parentage of A.I.G-K.,2018 Ill App (2d) 170601-U, a father asked the court to modify custody so that he could have primary residential parenting time for his daughter. The Guardian recommended against granting the father primary residential parenting time, and the trial court agreed. However, on appeal our partner persuaded the Appellate Court that the Guardian's recommendation was wrong, and it reversed the trial court's decision, finding that the best interests of the child required that she be placed with her father.

Complex Partnership Litigation- Breach of Contract or Rescission

Complex Partnership Litigation- Breach of Contract or Rescission
The choice between seeking money damages for the breach of contract versus rescission of the contract can be an important one. And knowing the rules governing appeals is also crucial. The recent case of Horwitz v Sonnenchein Nath & Rosenthal ,2018 IL App (1st) 161909 illustrates both points.
The Plaintiff was an equity partner in a law firm who exchanged his existing equity stake for a new interest as a partner under a "special partnership agreement" that was supposed to allow him to continue to work for the firm but lower his workload and compensate him differently. The partner claimed that the law firm started breaching the new agreement almost immediately but he continued to work for the firm under the new agreement for six years before he filed suit. He sued for a breach of contract and money damages (for the amounts he should have received under the new agreement) but also sued to rescind the contract to regain his original equity position.
The law firm succeeded in forcing the Plaintiff to try his breach of contract claim first to a jury, where he recovered a judgment for the amounts the jury found he should have been paid under the new agreement. The Plaintiff did not appeal the judgment or seek and new trial or an "additur" to change the amount he was awarded. It appears that if he had succeeded in being restored to his earlier position, he would have been due significantly more than what the jury awarded him. However, the law firm next argued that he had received an adequate remedy at law in the form of the money judgment and therefore was barred from pursuing his rescission claim. The trial court disagreed and allowed the Plaintiff to try his rescission claim, but the Plaintiff lost that claim with the Court finding that the Plaintiff had waited too long to seek rescission and that his claim for the monetary amounts he was seeking were too speculative.
On appeal the court ruled that the Plaintiff's money judgment awarded on his breach of contract claim was an "adequate remedy at law" which then barred his rescission claim. The Court reviewed a number of cases which discussed the issue of whether a claim for breach of contract and a claim for rescission are mutually exclusive. The Court held that here, the damages for the breach of the contract were an adequate remedy that barred his rescission claim as a matter of law.
The case illustrates that in partnership matters, careful thought should be given to whether or not to pursue claims based upon a breach of contract theory versus rescission or some other equitable theory.
The case also highlights that in these complex partnership litigation cases, paying close attention to the rules governing appeals may become extremely important.
Cooper, Storm & Piscopo handles both complex partnership litigation and appeals.


Two cases from the Fourth District Appellate Court interpreting the "Public Recital" requirement of the Illinois Open Meetings Act have set the stage for the Illinois Supreme Court to weigh in on this issue.
Section 2 (e) of the Illinois Open Meetings Act (5 ILCS 120/2 (West 2014)) sets forth what is known as the "Public-Recital" requirement. It states as follows:"Final action. No final action may be taken at a closed meeting. Final action shall be preceded by a public recital of the nature of the matter being considered and other information that will inform the public of the business being conducted."
In Board of Education of Springfield School District No. 186 v. Attorney General of Illinois, 2015 IL App (4th) 140941, the appellate court determined that the Board of Education of Springfield complied with the public-recital requirement of section 2(e) of the Act before it approved an agreement terminating the employment of its superintendent, by posting an agenda on its website that included an item entitled, " 'Approval of a Resolution regarding the *** Agreement *** Between Superintendent *** Milton *** and the Board.' " (Id. ¶ 7) with a hyperlink directly underneath that item linked to a digital copy of the agreement. (Id. ¶ 39).
In addition, at the meeting, the Board's president introduced the item by stating as follows: " 'I have item 9.1, approval of a resolution regarding the *** Agreement. The Board president recommends that the Board ***vote to approve the *** Agreement between *** Milton *** and the Board." Id. ¶ 7.
But in a case just decided this month Allen v. Clark County Park District Board of Commissioners2016 IL App (4th) 150963 the Fourth District Appellate Court ruled that the Clark County Park District Board of Commissioners violated the Act's public recital requirement when they voted to approve unidentified leases and covenants but only announced that approval of lease rates and covenants were the matters up for consideration before moving to approve both.
However, the appellate court stopped short of setting forth any specific requirements for public recitals in general, leaving that task for the Illinois Supreme Court because it has granted leave to appeal to hear the Springfield case.Watchdog groups and public bodies will want to follow the progress of the Springfield case carefully because the Illinois Supreme Court may be in a position to clarify what public bodies must do to meet this requirement.
Peter M. Storm
Cooper, Storm & Piscopo

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117 South 2nd Street
Geneva, IL 60134

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Geneva Business Law Office