Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Blue-Rhino Propane Tank Class Action

Did you purchase or exchange one or more pre-filled Blue Rhino propane gas cylinders in the U.S. between June 15, 2005 and October 11, 2011?  

If so, you better sit down.  You may be entitled to damages totaling dozens of dollars.  To claim your riches, you must submit a claim on or before May 23, 2012.  

Details here:

Friday, November 18, 2011

The NBA hired an expensive lawyer.

The NBA hired Paul D. Clement to represent it in litigation with its locked-out players.  Mr. Clement has argued more Supreme Court cases since 2000 than any other lawyer.  He made his 54th appearance before the Supreme Court in October and has another argument scheduled for December. 
Mr. Clement typically bills his time in the range of $1,000 per hour, but he has also been known to charge flat fees or limit his fees. For instance, a group of 26 attorneys general hired Clement to represent them in their challenge to Obama's Health Care Reform.  It is reported that he has taken their cases at a reduced hourly rate and capped his fees at $250,000 for each State.  That's $6.75 million for you folks scoring at home.  
Clement also represented the U. S. House of Representatives in defending the controversial Defense of Marriage Act.  Mr. Clement spent a relatively small amount of time on that case because his law firm elected to withdraw shortly after getting into the case following an outpouring of criticism by gay rights advocates.  I can't tell how long he was in the case, but multiple sources online state that he withdrew "almost immediately" after undertaking representation.  Oh ya, and the House of Representatives approved his fee request of $1.5 million.

I wish I could find if he has a cap on his NBA fees, or if he's charging a flat fee.  But as well as he is doing, he's still not making Kobe money.   

Wednesday, November 16, 2011


I alerted you foreclosure defense lawyers to the name Linda Green last summer.  There was a segment on 60 Minutes back in July that uncovered thousands of foreclosure documents all signed by someone named "Linda Green."  They even interviewed former employees of several mortgage servicing firms that said they had signed the name Linda Green to hundreds of documents per day over a long period of time.  

Well, today there is an article in the Rockford Register Star that quotes the Winnebago County Recorder as saying that she still sees frequent evidence of robo-signing.  She says that Linda Green is appearing less frequently on recorded documents, but there are new names that make her suspicious.  The names "Pat Kingston" and "Brian Blaine" are two of those names.  The same names appear written in different handwriting and also as employees of different companies.  For instance, Brian Blaine has signed affidavits as a Vice President of Chase Mortgage Bank, Washington Mutual Bank, Nations Credit Financial Services Corp., and Indymac Federal Bank.  

Keep an eye out for those names!  The Register Star article can be accessed HERE.

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Sandusky's lawyer has it all wrong.

The Jerry Sandusky tragedy is fascinating and I have strong feelings on several aspects of the case.  I rarely state my opinions as to the strength of high profile cases in the news, even in private conversations with friends and family.  I make arguments all of the time, but I never really state my true opinion.  My profession requires me to argue positions with which I do not always agree, so in private I try to hone those skills by taking the unpopular or opposing view, just for the sake of argument.  Oftentimes I don't even have a personal opinion.  I just make the arguments based on the facts presented, or based on who is paying the retainer.  If you asked me whether Casey Anthony should be sued in civil court for the wrongful death of her daughter, I would say "I don't know, who do I represent?"

But for this case, I am going to make an exception.  I think he's guilty.  The reason I feel so comfortable making that proclamation seven days into a two year process is that Sandusky's attorney, Joe Amendola, went on national television last night and let everyone know that his theory of the case is completely wrong.  They're already focusing on the children.  Supposedly, they have several alleged victims who will say that the abuse never occurred.  He's way off base with his theory of the case however.  

This case, ultimately, will not be about children.  Children can be manipulated.  Their memories can be impeached or even recreated, especially by veteran defense attorneys under the hot lights of cross-examination.  This case, however, will be about adults.  Independent, third-party, adult witnesses who have already testified under oath in front of a grand jury!!  For Sandusky and Amendola to appear on live television last night to proclaim their innocence is completely absurd.  If the only witness was a ten year old child with a history of behavioral problems, maybe you proclaim your innocence and beat the kid up on cross to raise reasonable doubt.  

But that's not what's going on here.  Here we have an independent witness who is a 36 year old assistant college football coach.  We also have two detectives who surreptitiously listened to Sandusky spill his guts to the mother of one of his victims.  Of course, the defense strategy will be to try to exclude that recorded telephone admission from the trial.  Then they'll impeach McQueary's credibility ("You then immediately called the police, didn't you Mr. McQueary?"  "WHAT?!?!?!  YOU WAITED 10 YEARS TO CALL THE POLICE?!?!!?).  So, based on the knowledge publicly available at this point, it may not seem like too much of a stretch for Amendola to think that he can win this case if he has strong doubts about the admissibility of the telephone recording and if he thinks that McQueary is not a credible witness.  

But it's way too early for a lawyer who was hired only five days ago to declare that anyone is innocent.  Again, we are seven days into a two year process.  35 more victims may come forward next week....with pictures.  The police might uncover surveillance video from some random parking lot on campus which shows Sandusky having illicit relations with a poodle.  We don't know at this point.  Anything is possible. Not even I, a rouge blogger intent on inflaming the masses, can argue for Sandusky on this one.  All we do know is that they just committed to a defense that they're going to have to stick with for the next two years.  And it's going to take a lot more than one kid recanting his accusations for Sandusky to prevail in this case.  

Monday, November 14, 2011

Social Security Numbers on Pleadings Prohibited by new Supreme Court Rule

A new Supreme Court Rule is effective January 1, 2012. Rule 138 prohibits including a social security number on a pleading or other document filed with the court. If a social security number is required – by law or court order – only the last four digits are to appear on the filing and the filing is to be accompanied by a separate document that includes the full social security number. The rule provides a form for this document which is titled “Notice of Confidential Information within Court Filing.” The court clerk is required to keep the “Notice” separate from the court file and confidential from everyone except the parties to the action.

The comment to the rule explains that it was adopted pursuant to section 40 of the Identify Protection Act (5 ILCS 179/40) which required the Supreme Court to adopt rules to regulate disclosure of social security numbers. The Identity Protection Act was effective June 10, 2010.

Submitted by Brian D. Moore, Class of ‘92

Are your insurance rates based on accurate information?

The Fair and Accurate Credit Transactions Act (FACT Act) was enacted in 2003 and amends the Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA), a federal law that regulates who is permitted to access your consumer report information and how it can be used. 

The FACT Act entitles consumers to obtain one free copy of their file from certain consumer reporting agencies during each 12-month period.  One of the consumer reporting agencies that must give you a free report is C.L.U.E. Inc., which maintains information on all of your insurance claims.  If your claims history is inaccurate, this will certainly lead to higher premiums, and may lead to other consequences as well, including cancellation of your policy.   

In order to view a seven year history of all of your auto and personal property insurance claims, visit this website:

You will then click on "Insurance Report."  Order both your personal property and auto reports and then set up a free username and password. Within minutes you'll be able to tell if your claims history is accurate.  If it is not, there are instructions on the website for disputing the inaccuracies.

Please note that you can also obtain free copies of your employment history and resident history by calling 1-866-312-8075.  

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Illinois Testamentary Capacity and Will Execution: The Bulletproof Will

Judge Dudgeon recently spoke to the DuPage County Bar Association Civil Practice Committee on testamentary capacity, undue influence and executing estate planning documents in a talk he titled “Keeping the Vultures Away.” This blog entry contains my notes from that session and any inaccuracies are mine.

Testamentary Capacity: Judge Dudgeon began by reminding attendees of the three requirements for testamentary capacity as found in Estate of Wrigley, 104 Ill App 3rd 1008 (1st Dist., 1982): that the testator have sufficient mental ability to i) know and remember the natural objects of her bounty, ii) comprehend the kind and character of her property, and iii) make disposition of her property according to some plan formed in her mind.

To confirm that these three requirements are met Judge Dudgeon recommended:
• interviewing the testator without family members or friends in the room
• bringing in another attorney to help assess the testator’s mental ability
• developing a list of questions aimed at each of the three requirements
• asking the questions out of any order and repeating some questions
• having a conversation that reveals how aware the testator is of the world around her
• asking what medications the testator takes, why, and when she started taking each
• taking detailed notes that include testator’s answers, appearance, and behavior

Judge Dudgeon then pointed out some warning signs that should cause you to take a closer look at the testator’s capacity:
• family member or third party makes the appointment
• family member or third party wants to sit in on appointment
• testator’s attention wanders
• testator wants big changes to an existing plan
• testator uses charm and/or story-telling to hide her inability to answer

Judge Dudgeon recommended taking confirmation a step further if you have any doubts by getting a medical release from the testator and talking to her doctor(s), and/or having the testator professionally evaluated.

Undue Influence: Judge Dudgeon recommended referring to the relevant Illinois Pattern Jury Instructions on this topic (IPI 200.00 et seq.) The IPI defines undue influence as “influence exerted at any time upon the decedent which causes him [her] to make a disposition of his [her] property that is not his [her] free and voluntary act.” (IPI200.09)

Undue Influence can arise from
• A specific act or conduct evidencing undue influence, or
• The existence of a fiduciary relationship between the testator and her beneficiary where i) the testator reposed trust and confidence in the beneficiary, ii) the beneficiary prepared the relevant document or caused it to be prepared, and iii) the beneficiary gets a benefit from the document greater than others with an equal claim. (see also IPI 200.04)

Judge Dudgeon then pointed out some signs that should cause you to take a closer look at the influence issue:
• Did a family member or third party make the appointment?
• Does this person want to sit in on appointment?
• Does this person hold a POA and/or pay the testator’s bills for her?
• Does this person make the medical decisions for the testator?
• Does this person or his family/children substantially benefit from the new document?

Executing the Will: Judge Dudgeon recommended that when it is time to execute the will you remember what it is the witnesses are witnessing and attesting to: that “1) he was present and saw the testator or some person in his presence and by his direction sign the will in the presence of the witness or the testator acknowledged it to the witness as his act, (2) the will was attested by the witness in the presence of the testator and (3) he believed the testator to be of sound mind and memory at the time of signing or acknowledging the will...” 755 ILCS 5/6-4(a).

Judge Dudgeon recommended explaining these requirements to each witness and asking them to make notes describing why each thought the testator was “of sound mind and memory” and that they saw her sign the document. To give the witnesses information to make their determination Judge Dudgeon recommended having a conversation with the testator in front of the witnesses.

Finally, Judge Dudgeon recommended dictating notes to your file explaining what you did to assure the testator had the requisite capacity and was not subject to undue influence, and which contain forwarding addresses and contact information for the witnesses.

Submitted by Brian D. Moore

Friday, November 4, 2011

iTunes Class Action

I just received the following email:

If you purchased an Apple iTunes gift card, you could get benefits under a class action settlement.
A proposed settlement of a class action lawsuit could affect you if you purchased an Apple iTunes gift card and the card or packaging to which it was attached contained language that “songs are 99¢” or other language indicating that songs are priced at 99¢ (referred to as a “99¢ iTunes gift card” in the rest of this Notice).
The settlement will provide you a $3.25 iTunes Store credit if you purchased or received a 99¢ iTunes gift card and used it to purchase one or more $1.29 songs from the iTunes Store on or before May 10, 2010.
If you qualify, you may submit an online Claim Form to ask for the credit.
The Superior Court of the State of California, County of Santa Clara authorized this Notice. The Court will have a hearing to consider whether to approve the settlement.
Who’s Affected?
You’re a “Class Member” if you purchased in the United States a 99¢ iTunes gift card and used the card to purchase one or more $1.29 songs from the iTunes Store on or before May 10, 2010.
What’s this About?
The lawsuit claimed that Apple advertised, distributed, and sold 99¢ iTunes gift cards. It further alleged that in April 2009, Apple raised the price of certain songs at the iTunes Store from 99¢ to $1.29 and that 99¢ iTunes gift card holders who purchased $1.29 songs were overcharged. Apple denies all allegations and has asserted many defenses. The parties are entering into this settlement to avoid burdensome and costly litigation. The settlement is not an admission of wrong-doing or an indication that any law was violated.
What can you Get from the Settlement?
The settlement provides for an iTunes Store credit in the amount of $3.25.
How do you Get an iTunes Store Credit?
You must submit a completed online Claim Form by September 24, 2012: A detailed Notice, online Claim Form, and instructions are available at You can also receive a detailed Notice, sample Claim Form, and instructions by calling 1-888-332-0275.
Important Deadlines
You must submit the completed online Claim Form on or before September 24, 2012.
What are your Options?
(1) If you want to participate in the settlement, submit an online Claim Form by September 24, 2012. The Claim Form is available at
(2) If you don’t want a payment and you don’t want to be legally bound by the settlement, you must postmark your request to exclude yourself by December 29, 2011, or you won’t be able to sue, or continue to sue, Apple about the legal claims in this case. If you exclude yourself, you can’t get a payment from this settlement.
(3) You may also object to the settlement. Objections must be received by December 29, 2011.
The detailed Notice describes how to exclude yourself or object. Apple retains the right to withdraw from the settlement in the event an excessive number of requests for exclusion are received.
The Court will hold a hearing in this case (Johnson v. Apple Inc., Case No. 1-09-CV-146501) on February 10, 2012 at 9:00 a.m. to consider whether to approve the settlement and the attorneys’ fees and expenses requested by Class Counsel. Class Counsel will request from the Court, and Apple has agreed not to oppose, an award of attorneys’ fees and expenses of up to $2,117,500. The attorneys’ fees and expenses were negotiated separately from the amount to be paid to the Class and do not reduce the amount of the award to the Class. The Court will determine the amount of fees and expenses that will be paid to Class Counsel. You may appear at the hearing, but you don’t have to. For more details, go or call 1-888-332-0275.

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Top 5 Reasons that Student Loans should be Dischargeable in Bankruptcy.

I am simply linking to an excellent post written by James Michel of the San Francisco Bankruptcy Blog.  He makes very strong arguments that Congress and President Obama should amend the Code to make student loans easier to discharge.  HERE is the post.

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Elgin Community College Mock Trial Judges Needed

For all those lawyers out there, volunteer your time for a good cause. The Elgin Community College Mock Trial Team is seeking judges and attorneys to volunteer to act as judges at its First Annual Golden Gavel Invitational Mock Trial Tournament, to be held on the college campus in Elgin, Illinois, on Saturday, November 12th and Sunday, November 13th.
On Saturday, November 12, 2011 - Judges are needed from 8:00 a.m. - 12:30 p.m. and 1:30 p.m. - 6:00 p.m.
On Sunday, November 13, 2011 - Judges are needed from 8:00 a.m. - 12:30 p.m. and 1:30 p.m. - 5:00 p.m.

Volunteers may sign up for full day shifts or half day shifts on one or both days. Refreshments will be provided to our volunteer judges throughout the tournament, including lunch on Saturday and Sunday and dinner on Saturday.

No experience in judging a mock trial tournament is necessary. Students will be trying a criminal murder problem supplied by the American Mock Trial Association, and will be judged on their ability to present the facts of their case through opening statements, direct and cross examination of witnesses, arguing objections and closing arguments. General courtroom decorum and presentation will also be scored. Training will be provided to tournament judges on the morning of the competition. This is a great way to volunteer and provide feedback to undergraduate students seeking a career in law.

The ECC Mock Trial Team earned national acclaim two years ago for defeating the Yale University Mock Trial Team in a competition sponsored by Harvard University. It is one of the only community colleges to compete against 4-year universities across the country.

Please consider volunteering for this exciting event.

For more information please contact the ECC Mock Trial Team at
847.214.7466 or

Thank you in advance for your consideration!