September 21, 2018

This Week in Illinois 

Thanks to everyone who attended our Annual Luncheon yesterday!  

This week, the Illinois Chamber officially endorsed Governor Bruce Rauner for Governor.  The Chamber's endorsement process began in late spring with requests for the candidates to submit questionnaires and appear for interviews. Governor Rauner submitted his questionnaire and engaged in a lengthy discussion with the board in June. While not every member agrees with every decision made by the Rauner administration over the last 3 1/2 years, there is no doubt that the governor remains absolutely committed to policies that will return Illinois to fiscal stability, modernize state government and foster an environment where Illinois employers will thrive and create jobs.

The November election is less than 50 days away and early voting is right around the corner.  Many Chamber members will cast votes for local legislative races.  Before heading to the polls, check out our 100th General Assembly Legislative Ratings.  We provide a score for every lawmaker in the General Assembly on issues important to the overall business community.  We also honored 34 members of the Illinois House of Representatives and 13 members of the Illinois Senate with its biennial "Champion of Free Enterprise" award, given in recognition of their support for voting to further economic opportunities for Illinoisans. Check to see how your lawmaker voted with us here.

The Illinois Chamber's Amicus Program has been busy this year submitting amicus briefs to cases of importance to the business community.  This week was quite busy...

Supreme Court accepts Chamber brief on biometric case
This week, the Illinois Supreme Court accepted our brief support of Six Flags Entertainment Corporation in the Rosenbach v. Six Flags case before the state's high court.  The case involves a punitive class action lawsuit alleging violation of the Illinois Biometric Information Privacy Act (BIPA) by Six Flags for the alleged use of finger scan technology for season pass holders.  
Alleged violations of BIPA have had a direct and significant impact on the well-being of our members, many of which have been target of the approximately 110 recently-filed cookie cutter complaints seeking to impose catastrophic damages on Illinois businesses - despite the complete absence of any actual harm to individuals.  
Since the law's inception, the plaintiff bar has brought cases against companies ranging from hospitals, to day care centers, technology companies, car dealerships, liquor stores, senior living centers,  restaurants, grocery stores, and janitorial services companies.  
First, our brief discusses the typical allegations in BIPA class actions, who is filing them, how the Illinois businesses who have become targets of these lawsuits span multiple industries (including small, local Illinois businesses), and how a decision by the Illinois Supreme Court to remove any and all barriers to the filing of BIPA class actions would open the floodgates to potentially thousands of additional class action complaints statewide filed indiscriminately against Illinois businesses.  
Second, our brief discusses how plaintiffs are attempting to utilize BIPA's private right of action as a sword to seek devastating strict liability damages on behalf of themselves and other individuals - in the absence of any injury - to the detriment of Illinois businesses and commerce.  Moreover, our brief discusses how such massive exposure will force businesses to go bankrupt and result in increased litigation costs which will make employing people more difficult and expensive, translating to fewer growth opportunities, increased layoffs and out-of-state relations.  
There is a lot at stake under this case for the general business community.   You can read our brief here.  

Supreme Court issues ruling on False Claims Act
Yesterday, the Court ruled on a case in which the Chamber submitted an amicus. People ex rel. Schad, Diamond & Shedden, P.C. v. My Pillow deals with the Illinois False Claims Act.  There was one issue before the court - where a relator in a successful qui tam action brought against a corporation for the benefit of the State of Illinois under the False Claims Act is a law firm, does the law firm to an award of attorney fees for the service provided by the firm?  The court ruled that a law firm that represents itself in an action under the False Claims Act is not entitled to attorney fees.
As explained by the court, from the filing of the complaint to final judgment, Diamond the relator was represented by Diamond the law firm.  The court noted that during the trial Stephen Diamond served not only as lead trial counsel, but also testified as a witness and two other Diamond lawyers served similar dual roles, representing Diamond and also appearing as witnesses on its behalf.  The court concluded that "in every meaningful respect Diamond represented itself.
In ruling to uphold the appellate court, the Supreme Court opinion concluded "[h]aving elected to assume the dual role of litigant and lawyer, Diamond must be content with the percentage share of the ward is was granted by the circuit court to compensate it for its efforts in collecting that sum.  As would be the case with any other pro se litigant, the law does not permit it to claim an additional amount as attorney fees for the work it did itself.
The Illinois Chamber of Commerce filed an amicus brief in support of My Pillow.  We were represented by Chamber Tax Institute member Horwood Marcus & Berk.

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If you have questions about the Government Affairs Report, contact Tyler Diers at Do not reply to this email. 

Illinois Chamber of Commerce

2017 Government Affairs Report | Tyler Diers, Editor