July 2013

2021 Midwest Road, Suite 200, Oak Brook, IL 60523

Month: July 2013

Got Hoodwinked in a Contract?

We've all been there. You sat at a table at opposite sides, excited about a new prospect, person, or product. You sign at the X and then...

And then .... nothing. You paid the money or expected something in return. Or you provided a service and now they won't pay. It sucks. You feel cheated. Used. This, my friends, is a classic breach of contract. So what would your options be? In the legal system, there are two ways a contract can be enforced: 1) 'specific performance' and 2) money damages. Specific performance is only applied in cases in which the object in issue is unique. Real estate is the most common example. For most cases, you can try to get your money damages. Practically speaking, it's best to try to just work it out, even if means settling for a lesser amount. But often, the party on the other side might take a 'make me' approach putting you in a very difficult position. Other than legal remedies, I advise clients to take a more commercial approach. If it is a business, let them know that you are highly dissatisfied and will post a negative review on the internet (be careful though as to not exaggerate or lie or you might end up defaming the party and can yourself in legal trouble that way). Also, make clear that you will not refer your friends and family to the business. Otherwise, court may be the only option. Like I ...

‘Limited Time Offer’

These are words irritating enough coming from pushy salespeople (and now law schools), but might be outright unethical coming from an attorney in some circumstances. Then there's real life. The fact is that any time you see trouble, legal or otherwise, early intervention is key to a positive outcome. Better yet is the old cliche, an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure. Which brings us to the question, 'When do I consult a lawyer?'. I would suggest the answer is when the question has to be asked. If you think you might need a lawyer, then you need a lawyer. I've had prospective clients come to me a month after a final judgment had been entered. At that point, there's nothing to do. Hiring an attorney can be costly, especially for smaller businesses who do not have the luxury of a general counsel that can be consulted without additional cost. However, it's less costly to have a lawyer review a contract for $1,000.00 than to litigate any problems with it for $10,000.00. Every lawyer has limited time offer for you that's not explicitly stated: the earlier you come, the better chance he has at a positive outcome for a lower price.
Let's imagine a scenario involving Larry Lawyer and Carl Client. The case is a breach of oral contract for the sale of a portion of a grocery store in small town. Carl gave his portion of the store to the buyer but they buyer paid only a small amount of the agreed upon price. It went something like this.

Larry calls Carl and tells him, 'Hey Carl, do you remember that hearing we had this morning where I told you it's pretty much a sure thing?'

'Yeah, are you ready to head out?' responded Carl.

'I'll be ready soon but something changed and we'll probably lose. It's better to cancel. Opposing counsel didn't send me the documents regarding the change like he should have, but we won't get a win just because of that.'

'We have to go to court' insisted Carl.

'I'm going to drive out to the middle of nowhere and I'll have to bill you for all the driving time just to lose. I don't think it's a good idea.'

'Fine, bill me but we're going to court!' was Carl's adamant reply.

It's important to define a few terms before continuing. A venue selection clause (sometimes used interchangeably with a forum selection clause) is a statement in the contract that states, in case of a dispute, which court and county the dispute will occur in. Generally, they are upheld. Hometowning is a less formal term. It refers to where an out-of-town attorney is disfavored in a ...
Food labels are insane these days. Even many informed consumers are often thrown off with labeling such as 'made with 100% xyz' But take a quick look at the ingredients are well... get even more confused. And because most of these terms are not regulated by the Food and Drug Administration, companies can use them as they see fit.

Well, hopefully no more. Kellogg is being sued for its claim 'made with real fruit' for its Super Mario snacks. At first reading, you might think 'oh hey it has lots of real fruit' then you might think 'oh, ‘made with' means it's just one ingredient' then lastly 'well, just how much of this is 'real fruit?' Actually, the average/reasonable consumer may not get to that last conclusion and children are often the target of these products, not adults, so a hurried and stressed parent might not give it much thought.

In this case, the fruit ingredient is 'de minimis' and is misleading. Not only to the snacks NOT contain fruit, but it contains lots of junk (high fructose corn syrup, starches, color additives).

Do your children influence the way you shop? What about your children's friends (ie, peer pressure?). How do you resist? My baby is only 1 year old so I have not run into this issue, but I would love to hear from other parents. ...
Abraham Shakfeh, managing partner of Shakfeh Law's Tampa office, had the recent privilege of presenting at a diversity workshop. It was well attended by judges and other members of the bar seeking a greater understanding of Muslim clients and parties.