Posts Tagged ‘Illinois’

An army of cosmetologist-informants, cont’d

New Illinois legislation signed by Gov. Bruce Rauner will force hairdressers, as a prerequisite of licensing, to take training in detecting evidence of domestic violence [Ann Althouse, New York Times] Earlier here (Ohio requires training in recognizing signs of human trafficking) and here (programs in at least eight states as of 2006, generally not however conscripting the beauty professionals’ participation).

More from Mark Steyn:

…in the Fifties one in 20 members of the workforce needed government permission to do his job. Now it’s one in three. The original justification for requiring a government permit to cut another person’s hair is that a salon contains potentially dangerous chemicals such as coloring products. Making the license conditional upon acing sexual-assault training courses is not just the usual Big Government expansion but the transformation of the relationship between a private business and the state.

Banking and finance roundup

Prosecutors: “Fast Eddie” Vrdolyak got secret cut of Illinois tobacco fees

The great tobacco settlement of the 1990s certainly is the scandal that keeps on giving, isn’t it? “On Tuesday, federal prosecutors…. charged that [influential former Chicago alderman Edward] Vrdolyak worked out a secret deal with other attorneys to collect as much as $65 million even though he’d done no work on the tobacco case [for the state of Illinois]. The indictment did not make clear just how much the former alderman actually pocketed. … The [Seattle-based Hagens Berman] firm has denied any attempt to conceal payments.” [Chicago Tribune]

By the time my book The Rule of Lawyers came out in its 2004 softcover edition, enough was known about the multistate tobacco settlement for me to call it a “gigantic heist.” More stories have emerged since then. How many more still haven’t come to light?

Consent decrees: the cost to kids

13 years after Ross Sandler and David Schoenbrod’s groundbreaking book Democracy by Decree, small groups of litigators, experts, special masters and other insiders continue to run many government agencies under what are known as consent decrees, court-enforced agreements to resolve litigation. Children’s services are particularly affected: “the Illinois child-welfare system is burdened by 10 different consent decrees, including one that has lasted nearly 40 years.” But the decrees often work against the real interests of the intended beneficiaries, argue Maura Corrigan and John Bursch in a paper for the American Enterprise Institute. By design, it is made hard to get out from under a decree, which can leave the small controlling group in control indefinitely: Connecticut’s 25-year-old child-welfare consent decree “contains 22 outcome measures that all must be met and sustained for six months before exit,” which has never happened.

Illinois: unconstitutional to curb public employee pensions

“In yesterday’s decision, the [Illinois Supreme Court] — as it did in a 2015 case dealing with state workers—relied on a clause in the Illinois Constitution that treats government pensions as ‘an enforceable contractual relationship, the benefits of which shall not be diminished or impaired.'” It wasn’t relevant that Chicago’s pension scheme was $8 billion in the hole, or that most of the city’s public unions had agreed to a deal with Mayor Rahm Emanuel under which the city would step up its funding in exchange for lower COLAs and higher employee contributions. “The bottom line …is that, having just been whacked with a record $543 million property tax hike to pay for old city pension debt, taxpayers are going to have to dig deep again — at least $168 million more over five years, by 2020, and rising from there.” [Chicago Business] Chicago now confronts population loss, aging of resident base [Chicago Magazine, Illinois Policy, Aaron Renn, City Journal] More: “While the US Constitution is famously “not a suicide pact,” the Illinois constitution apparently is.” [Jack Henneman on Twitter]

You lose, Illinois taxpayers

A big win for plaintiff’s lawyers: “Rewriting decades of established law in Illinois, the [state’] high court — by a 4-3 margin — repealed the public-duty doctrine that holds local government entities, including fire and police departments, owe their duty to protect to the general public, not individual citizens. The lawsuit opens the way for individuals to sue governmental entities based on some claim of harm caused to them as a result of the public entity’s negligence.” [Champaign-Urbana News-Gazette, Cook County Record, Municipal Minute; some related issues of government duty-to-protect exposure from the state of Washington]

Posner upholds dismissal of online-poker suit

Under an old Illinois law, not only can persons who lose at unlawful gambling sue the winners to claw back their losses, but if they fail to act, literally any other person can sue demanding that money. Citing this law, two women sued online-poker operators seeking to recover gambling losses of men who happened to be their sons (but could as easily under the law have been strangers). A Seventh Circuit panel, Judge Posner writing, has now upheld a lower court’s dismissal of the case (an intended class action) on the grounds that the Illinois law by its terms allows suit only against the other gamblers who won the poker games in question, not the house that collected a fee for presiding. [Courthouse News, Rakebrain; opinion in Sonnenberg v. Amaya Group Holdings via John Ross, Institute for Justice “Short Circuit”]

While on the subject of Judge Posner, Harvard Magazine has a Lincoln Caplan interview with him that is worth a read.

Bounty-hunting lawyer collects Illinois taxes nationwide

Wineries that ship to customers nationwide are among the latest targets of a Chicago attorney who has developed a lucrative freelance enforcement niche. Steven Diamond and his firm of Schad, Diamond and Shedden “have filed hundreds of suits against various companies in industries such as cookware, flowers and motorsports” and more recently beverage makers under “an Illinois law that requires businesses to collect sales taxes for the state, not only on what they sell, but on shipping-and-handling charges. A whistleblower rule allows anyone within the state to sue in the name of Illinois and collect any recovered funds.” [Wine Spectator] While a number of other states also tax shipping charges, Illinois authorities, unable to agree on how to interpret a relevant decision by their state’s high court, have given conflicting guidance on when taxes are owed. [Wines and Vines, Tom Wark, Schiff Hardin, WTAX]

P.S. Related on the practice of tax farming in the Roman Empire and pre-Revolutionary France, and latter-day parallels, here, here, and here.

Rating states on legal climates

“West Virginia courts have a well-deserved reputation for favoring plaintiffs, but the state’s Supreme Court may have gone too far this year when it said drug addicts who broke the law to obtain narcotics could sue the doctors and pharmacies who supposedly fed their addiction.” Rulings like that, writes Daniel Fisher, are one reason West Virginia perennially ranks at the bottom in the U.S. Chamber’s ranking of state legal climates, and did again this year. Louisiana, Illinois, and California are other cellar-dwellers, while Alabama and Texas, despite extensive reforms and the success of business-oriented candidates in many judicial races, also languish in the lower ranks with continuing problems such as the litigation atmosphere of east Texas [Lou Ann Anderson/Watchdog Arena] More: Bob Dorigo Jones. Related, from ALEC: State Lawsuit Reform.

Liability roundup

  • Home lab butane cannabis fatality: “The Hash Oil contributory negligence lawsuit you’ve all been waiting for” [Elie Mystal, Above the Law]
  • With Sheldon Silver out of the speaker’s chair, New York has better chance at reducing sky-high litigation costs [Manhattan Institute, earlier on scaffold law]
  • Per Norton Rose Fulbright annual business survey, responding companies more than twice as likely to be facing five or more lawsuits if based in U.S. than if based elsewhere [Norton Rose Fulbright, Bob Dorigo Jones]
  • “Hearing: H.R. 1927, the “Fairness in Class Action Litigation Act of 2015” [April House Judiciary Committee with John Beisner, Mark Behrens, Alexandra Lahav, Andrew Trask]
  • Legal outlook for Illinois defendants deteriorates as Madison County sees resurgence in suits and Cook County remains itself [ICJL]
  • Brown v. Nucor Corp.: did Fourth Circuit just try to gut Wal-Mart v. Dukes rules against combining bias plaintiffs in dissimilar situations into class action? [Hans Bader/Examiner, Derek Stikeleather/Maryland Appellate Blog]
  • No wonder New York City consolidation trials are so popular with asbestos lawyers if they yield average of $24 million per plaintiff [Chamber-backed Legal NewsLine] Information in eye-opening Garlock asbestos bankruptcy (allegations of perjury, witness-coaching, etc.) now unsealed and online [same, earlier]