The attorneys at Bock & Hatch will investigate any case that may be a viable class action in state or federal courts. We have worked with many referring and local attorneys from across the United States on various types of class action litigation. We offer competitive referral fees that are consistent with the Illinois Rules of Professional Conduct.
Below are examples of the claims that we litigate most often. If you are an attorney and have any questions about whether your client, or potential client, may have class claims, please call us or email us.
Consumer Fraud and Deceptive Business Practices
Consumers pay the price when companies use fraud and deceptive conduct to sell their products or services. A company’s use of fraud or deceit to unfairly and unjustly make money is not a new phenomenon. Fortunately for consumers, there are remedies under various federal and state consumer protection laws to hold companies accountable and that force companies to compensate injured consumers.
We have filed claims against various entities under breach of warranty theories, common law fraud, fraudulent misrepresentations, fraudulent concealment, various state consumer protection laws, breach of contract theories, and unjust enrichment.
Fair Debt Collection Practices Act
Congress created the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act (“FDCPA”) to protect consumers from unfair, deceptive, and harassing debt collection practices. The FDCPA is a federal law that gives consumers certain rights and prohibits certain debt collection methods. Consumers may be entitled to a recovery of up to $1,000. FDCPA violations may include:
The use of obscene or profane language
An attempt to collect debts that have been discharged in bankruptcy or subject to a bankruptcy automatic stay
A demand of payment on debts that are time-barred, or have already been paid in full
Threatening to use violence or other illegal collection actions
Calling at unreasonable hours
Misrepresenting a consumer’s legal rights
Sharing information about a consumer’s debts with neighbors, friends or employers
Telling lies in order to obtain information about a consumer
Impersonating public officials or attorneys to collect a debt
Filing lawsuits over debts that have been paid in full, discharged in bankruptcy, or are beyond their statute of limitations
Reporting incorrect information on a credit report
Fair Credit Reporting Act
Congress passed the Fair Credit Reporting Act (“FCRA”) in 1970 to give consumers rights in dealing with consumer reporting agencies. Consumer reporting agencies and background check companies keep records on how you pay your bills, whether you’ve been sued, whether you’ve been arrested, and whether you have filed for bankruptcy. These records are easily accessed by creditors, potential employers, and banks.
As a result, credit reporting errors can present very serious, and immediate, problems for consumers. Credit bureaus can make mistakes by reporting information that is not yours, the incorrect amount of debt owed, or continuing to report a debt that has been paid off. The failure to remove this incorrect information after you provide written notice to the credit bureaus is a direct violation of the FCRA. Under the FCRA, consumers may be entitled to recover their actual damages sustained, damages up to $1,000, and/or punitive damages.
Identity Theft/Privacy violations
Identify theft is on the rise and takes numerous forms. Unlawful disclosure of credit reports, e-mail scams, and the interception of bank statements and credit card offers are several ways others can obtain your personal information. Online banking, social networking, digitalization of medical and insurance records, and the purchase of goods and services over the internet require us to share personal, medical, and financial information with companies and institutions. We expect this confidential information to be secure and safe. Privacy violations occur when our personal information is not kept safe or is collected and sold without our knowledge.
The Fair Labor Standard Act (“FLSA”) and various Illinois statutes regulate overtime pay, commissions, and other monetary compensation for nonexempt employees. Employers may try to improperly circumvent the FLSA by giving false titles to employees in an attempt to make it appear they are “exempt” employees. Under the FLSA a nonexempt employee is entitled to receive one and half times the normal pay for any hours worked over the standard 40 hours/week. Moreover, an employer must pay nonexempt employees at least minimum wage.
Mass layoffs can be devastating. In an attempt to protect workers from mass layoffs, Congress passed the federal Worker Adjustment and Retraining Notification Act (“WARN” Act). The WARN Act requires employers with 100 or more employees to provide notification 60 calendar days in advance of plant closings and mass layoffs. Additionally, Illinois has its own similar WARN Act. The Illinois WARN Act applies to businesses with 75 or more full-time employees. The Illinois WARN Act defines as “mass layoff” as the loss of employment of at least 25 full time employees.
Telephone Consumer Protection Act
In 1991, Congress passed the federal Telephone Consumer Protection Act (“TCPA”) to stop automated telephone calls and unsolicited junk faxing. Although text messaging was not around in 1991, the TCPA also protects consumers from certain unsolicited text messages.
When presenting the TCPA during the 102nd Congress on July 11, 1991, Senator Hollings made clear the nuisance and cost shifting present when companies bombard consumers with unsolicited calls and faxes. Hollings stated that “The telephone is a basic necessity of life. You cannot get along in this country if you do not have a telephone in your home. However, owning a telephone does not give the world the right and privilege to assault the consumer with machine-generated telephone calls. These calls are a nuisance and an invasion of our privacy.” Furthermore, Senator Hollings stated “The bill also prohibits unsolicited advertisements sent to fax machines, known as junk fax…these unsolicited advertisements prevent the owners from using their own fax machines for business purposes. Even worse, these transmissions force the recipient to pay for the cost of paper used to receive them. These junk fax advertisements can be a severe impediment to carrying out legitimate business practices and ought to be abolished.” See 137 Cong. Rec. S9840-02, 1991 WL 126847 at *97.
The criteria for proving each type of TCPA claim varies depending on whether the claim was generated from an unsolicited fax advertisement, a robocall to a cell phone, or a robocall to a personal residence. However, each TCPA claim allows for a $500 per violation recovery and a court may treble those damages to $1,500 per violation.