May 2011

Halstead Wins Bench Trial in Title Insurance Case

Merrillville, Indiana associate John Halstead recently received a defense verdict for Chicago Title. The case involved an erroneous preliminary commitment which failed to disclose the existence of an easement for access to a dam on the property which the plaintiffs had contracted to purchase. At issue was whether Chicago Title owed a duty to the plaintiffs to insure that the commitment reflected the actual condition of title and whether the plaintiffs relied on the commitment when they closed on the sale. The plaintiffs claimed damages of $142,707.78. The court adopted defendant's findings and entered judgment for Chicago Title on all claims.

Littman and Guolee Obtain Dismissal of Class Action Statutory Damage Claims

Chicago office shareholders Roger Littman and Terrence Guolee recently obtained an order of summary judgment on behalf of two defendant dentists that were named as defendants in a "junk fax" class action case filed under the Telephone Consumer Protection Act (TCPA), 47 U.S.C. § 227.

In the case, the defendants were sued along with another dentist. Plaintiff alleged that the defendant dentists should be held liable to a proposed class for statutory damages allowed under the TCPA based on the other dentist's sending of allegedly unsolicited advertising faxes through a "blast fax" service that contained both his name and practice information, along with information regarding the defendant dentists.

Roger and Terrence developed evidence that the defendant dentists had not authorized the fax campaign, including obtaining testimony from a representative of the New York based agent for the Romanian blast fax sender. Nevertheless, plaintiff's counsel argued that liability should attach under the statute regardless of the defendants' lack of involvement, based on theories that they benefitted from the advertising fax campaign. Rejecting these arguments, the court entered summary judgment for defendants and dismissed the claims, finding that there is no basis to allow potentially devastating statutory damage claims without evidence the defendants were in any way aware of or involved in the illegal fax campaign.

Madormo Obtains Not Guilty For Client in Binding Arbitration

Tony Madormo, a shareholder in our Chicago office, recently obtained a not guilty finding at a binding arbitration on behalf of a retail store chain, arguing that the plaintiff failed to establish notice and proximate cause of alleged wetness on the floor. Plaintiff alleged that he slipped and fell on wetness in proximity to a misting device utilized in the store to keep products fresh. Plaintiff argued because the device was related to the store's business practice and operations, notice was not required to be proven. Plaintiff presented medical specials in excess of $138,000.00 and alleged two shoulder surgeries, including a shoulder replacement surgery, and asked for an award of $798,000.00. After hearing all the evidence and reviewing the case law submitted by the parties, the arbitrator ruled in favor of the defendant store finding that the plaintiff failed to prove notice.

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