Sunday, August 30, 2009


by David McCarthy

Small claims court is a good place to be a plaintiff, if you must be a plaintiff at all.

It is a fast, simple, low-cost way to get a decision on a claim for money only that does not exceed $5,000, exclusive of interest and costs. Simplified pleading is permitted, discovery is prohibited except by court order, and generally there will be a trial on the date due for the defendant to respond to the summons.

The advantages are so great that it is worth considering ways to cope with some of the restrictions and requirements of the procedure.

One, a corporation which is a plaintiff must be represented by an attorney no matter how small its claim my be, but individuals may represent themselves no matter how great their claims may be. So a corporation might consider selling and assigning its claim to an individual, who can elect to proceed with or without counsel. The assignment should be in writing.

Two, when one plaintiff has claims against one defendant that aggregate more than $5,000.00, it is well to consider filing the claims in separate counts or even in separate suits.

Three, for those claims in excess of $5,000.00 that cannot be separated into counts there is no law against praying for the $5,000.00 maximum and waiving the right to the excess.

Thursday, August 27, 2009


If you were offered a deed to the Brooklyn Bridge for a million dollars, would you take the deed and pay the million dollars? That would be a great deal only if the deed gave you ownership of the bridge and a disaster if the deed were just a fancy piece of paper.

That risk is controlled by title insurance which sellers promise to provide to buyers. An insurer of land titles will protect a buyer against certain risks posed by rights and interest third parties may have in the land.

The insurer will investigate the existence and extent of the seller's interest in the relevant property by examining public records and otherwise. If and when it is satisfied that the seller is the true owner of the property, it will commit itself to insure the seller's title against the claims of others, subject to certain exceptions.

Friday, August 21, 2009


Divorce and Family Law, Paul Nordini

Special Education Law, Mary Denise Cahill

Disability Law, Robert Farley

Divorce and Family Law, Marsha Cellucci


By David McCarthy

Illinois is still a work at will state.

Put another way, the general rule was, and still is, that the employment relationsip is terminable at will by the employer or by the employee. The employer's right might be diminished or impaired by contract (e.g., a collective bargaining agreement) or by law. The fetters imposed by law on an employer's right to end the employment relationship at any time for any reason have been a hot topic for a long time. For years the fastest growing category of "employment-discrimination" claims has been not race, or sex. or national origin, but retaliation.

Small wonder.

A retaliation case is easy to manufacture, easy to prove, and it pays well. It starts by engaging in "protected activity" e.g., submitting to the boss a false and malicious claim that a co-worker and rival has committed sexual harassment will suffice if a true and honest complaint is unavailable. The law will repay the sociopath's mendacity by heaping rewards and protection on him or her.

A maliciously false complaint will gain for the employee the functional equivalent of a no-cut contract.

The employer who dares to end the employment relationship will be sued for retailiatory discharge, will be presumed guilty in most cases, and will be found guilty unless the presumption is perfectly overcome: the jurors possessed of Alan Alda sensibilities must be convinced that there was not even a tinge of retaliatory motive. Yet the more outrageous and unforgivable the complaint, the greater the chance that notions of "payback" figured in the decision to terminate.

It is not for nothing that claims of "retaliation" are a growth industry. If you believe this is an exaggeration, call us for details about the disgraceful state of the law.

Sunday, August 9, 2009


By David McCarthy

Wish we had a nickel for each time somone involved in a traffic accident has said, "The other guy got a ticket." That fact is irrelevant to the question whether the "other guy" is or is not liable for any injuries or property damage that may have ensued.

For that matter if the ticket ripens into a conviction, that too is irrelevant and inadmissible, at least if the offense in question was a minor one. If the other guy pleads guilty to the offense, that is admissible; but not the fact that he was ticketed or the fact that he was convicted... Another common misconception: Traffic accident reports are a latter day equivalent of the burning bush talking to Moses.

Not so.

They are hearsay, they often involve multiple layers of hearsay, and in general the police officers who write up the reports did not witness the events in question. Unless the report qualifies for that arcane exception to the hearsay rule known as past recollection recorded, it will not be admitted into evidence... Linda Tripp would have been at risk in Illinois, too.

Remember her?

The woman who taped her telephone conversations with Monica Lewinsky?

Illinois is an "all-party" state. It is a crime to hear or record a conversation without the consent of all parties to the conversation. And as an astute observer recently pointed out, you know all those "Soccer Moms" on the sidelines on Saturday morning with their camcorders whirring?

Felons all.

(720 ILCS 5/13-1 et seq.)