Corporate, Business &
Intellectual Property Litigation

Carmen D. Caruso Law Firm represents companies or their owners or executives in a wide variety of cases.

Our experience in business tort cases, contract litigation, fraud litigation, employment litigation, intellectual property litigation, and business ownership disputes involving partners or minority shareholders runs deep.

Our cases are often very complex, but we reject the term “complex litigation” and instead strive to present every case in the most straightforward and direct manner.

Our case highlights:

Contract Litigation

  • Current breach of contract claim pending against a Silicon Valley company that stopped paying commissions owed to a Chicago start-up.
  • Current contract litigation pending.
  • Success in protecting the “book of business” of a terminated insurance agency, in the field of professional design liability, from efforts by an insurance company, which the company itself had described as a “knife fight,” to transfer that busi­ness to a newly appointed brokerage firm.
  • Recovery for a manufacturer against an equipment supplier for failing to meet specifications in the delivery of a new product assembly line.
  • Successful commercial arbitration on behalf of the sellers of a well-known sport­ing goods business, where the buyer, a regional chain, reneged on making the final post-sale payment to the seller, based on its perjured testimony as to an alleged shortfall in the seller’s ending inventory.
  • Successful defense of a construction management firm that terminated a cement sub-contractor for poor performance, overcoming claims of civil rights violations as well as overcoming factual challenges to the stated reasons for termination.
  • Successful termination of window-wall subcontractor on three landmark Chicago office building projects.
  • Successful state court bench trial for breach of contract by a plumbing contractor.
  • Successful defense of manufacturer accused of failing to properly design and build a new video-dispensing machine.

See also, our System-Wide Impact and Supplier Litigation Cases involving franchise & dealership matters, and our Franchise Termination Cases.

Corporate Criminal Liability

  • Successful criminal defense of a Fortune 200 company accused, in a state court criminal prosecution, of violating a workplace safety act – obtaining dismissal of the indictment on statute of limitations grounds.
  • Currently pending claim for Breach of Fiduciary Duty claim against high-producing insurance salesman who maneuvered to induce clients to leave his employer in the months before he resigned his employment.
  • Numerous cases seeking to enforce or defend against the enforcement of non-compete, non-solicitation and confidentiality clauses or other restrictive covenants in employment agreements and related claims for alleged trade secret misappropriation, including a successful defense against an attempt to invoke the “inevitable disclosure” doctrine.
  • Successful defense (as successor counsel) of a privately held design firm against a breach of employment contract claim by its former president, where there were questions of fact as to whether the company had good cause for the termination, and whether the company had given the president adequate notice of the “good cause” defense. As successor counsel, Carmen raised an additional issue of whether the former president and the corporate attorney for the company had acted with conflicts of interest in establishing terms of the contract that were disadvantageous to the company.
  • In a successful pivoting of the plaintiffs’ theory of the case, Carmen obtained substantial six figure settlements for two upper level Chinese born biostatisticians who were terminated by a leading pharmaceutical company, but arguably “without cause” as provided in their employment agreements – but only after changing the theory of the case from one of national origin discrimination, which had been asserted at the EEOC before Carmen became involved.
  • Numerous other termination cases involving the question of whether there was “good cause” for termination.

Fraud & RICO Cases

  • Not Guilty decision obtained in defending a bank against a RICO counterclaim in the trial of a mortgage foreclosure case, where the home was owned by a lawyer representing himself pro se, and who had tied the foreclosure case up for nearly twelve years before Carmen was retained and took the case to trial.
  • Recovery under RICO and the federal securities laws for 30 investors who were induced by their dentist to invest in oil wells.
  • Successful defense of debtor in bankruptcy (a lawyer and real estate developer) in a dischargeability hearing in which the creditor alleged that the debtor had procured a loan by fraud.
  • Federal court jury trial on RICO and federal securities fraud claims for a defrauded restaurant investor.
  • Successful defense of construction management firm on RICO charges that it defrauded a terminated window-wall subcontractor on three landmark Chicago office building projects, leading to one of the largest Rile 11 awards ever (discussed separately below).
  • Successful defense of law firm in federal securities fraud action stemming from the sale of gas lease interests to the firm’s clients.
  • Successful defense of a company and its executives against RICO allegations arising from alleged interference with a creditor’s bankruptcy proceedings.

See also, our Fraud Cases involving Franchise & Dealership Matters.

Intellectual Property Litigation & Related Client Counseling

  • Successful defense of telemarketing firm accused of selling knock-off golf clubs.
  • Successful team defense against charges of theft of trade secrets filed by the owner of certain oven technology, who sought nearly $200 million in damages based on his allegation that a substantial international franchisor had misappropriated the technology in rolling out its own oven product, and then cancelled the roll out after receiving a cease and desist letter. A substantial part of this defense was to prove that the technology was already in the public domain (both in the United States and abroad), and that it did not confer a competitive advantage, as it did not perform adequately in testing.
  • Defeating a requested federal court injunction for alleged trademark infringement against a voluntarily terminated franchisee from claims of trademark infringement, where the franchisor had deliberately set a “trademark trap” by announcing the sudden end to post-expiration, at-will relationship, knowing that the franchisee could not possibly stop its usage of the trademarks in time to comply with the franchisor’s mandate.
  • Client counseling on copyright matters

Shareholder & Partnership Disputes

  • Successfully defending the majority shareholders of a privately held company against “freeze out” allegations brought by a minority shareholder AND in an­other case, successfully representing a minority shareholder in bringing a “freeze out” and “waste” claim.
  • Successful settlement achieved in a shareholder’s derivative claim against a manufacturing com­pany’s board members for breach of fiduciary duty, overcoming defenses based on the business judgment rule.
  • Success in defeating a lost profits damages claim brought by a minority share­holder, a doctor, in a medical testing firm against the majority shareholders, who were accused of usurping corpo­rate opportunities for themselves.
  • Representation in several cases of minority shareholders in various privately held firms in actions for waste, freeze-out, fraud.
  • Successfully refuting a minority shareholder’s claim that the board of a private­ly held franchising company was in breach of its fiduciary duties by failing to sell-off several company-owned retail outlets or otherwise failing to maximize shareholder profits.
  • Successfully defending franchisees from a claim by the former majority shareholder of the franchisor that the franchisees had injured him, personally, by engaging in a royalty-strike out of vindictiveness in a successful effort to cause him to lose his company.
  • Serving for six years as outside general counsel to an international retail brand franchisor (following our success in defending the company at trial) and advising the company’s executives, key shareholders and directors on all issues related to its business.
  • Representation of law firm partners in law firm dissolution matters.
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