The Illinois Chamber of Commerce's Amicus Briefs Program is led by Peter Steinmeyer, Partner with Epstein Becker Green, and Keith Staats, Executive Director of Illinois Chamber's Tax Institute.
The goal of the Chamber’s amicus program is to provide a consistent, strong voice for the business community in cases before the Illinois Supreme court and state and federal appellate courts via amicus briefs on key business issues. The program’s primary focus is on tort related cases, but we will take up other types of cases when appropriate.
The program is an important way to bring attention to a specific case by providing additional information for the court to consider. It is crucial for Chamber members to know about this program and support it. For more information about the Amicus brief program, contact Keith Staats at (217) 522-5512 ext 231 or email@example.com.
Summary of Briefs Filed
2022 Amicus Program Activities
Case 127801 / Filed 03/29/22
Amicus Brief: Tims and Watson v. Black Horse Carriers
This case deals with the Illinois Biometric Privacy Act (“BIPA”). The interests of the Illinois Chamber are substantial – there are currently many Illinois Chamber members that are involved in BIPA litigation. More than1,486 Privacy Act lawsuits have been filed in state and federal courts since fall 2017. The vast majority of BIPA lawsuits consist of class actions with members of the class alleging technical violations of the statute due to the use of timekeeping systems that use finger, hand or face scanners.
The key question for the court in this case, and the subject of our amicus brief, is whether the statute of limitations for BIPA claims is one year or 5 years. In our brief, we argue that the court should apply a one year statute of limitations. This case is an appeal of an appellate court ruling that ruled that the 5 year statute of limitations should apply to most BIPA claims.
Case 128004 / Filed 03/04/22
Amicus Brief: Cothron v. White Castle System, Inc.
We filed an amicus brief, along with a motion to accept the brief, with the Illinois Supreme Court jointly with the U.S. Chamber of Commerce. As of the preparation of this report, the court has not yet acted on our motion to accept the brief.
This case presents an extremely important question under the Illinois Biometric Privacy Act regarding the meaning of the phrase “violation of this Act”—whether a new claim accrues each time a defendant allegedly collects or discloses the same biometric data from the same individual without consent, or whether multiple collections of the same data or disclosures of the same data to the same party each constitute a single “violation.”
We agree with Defendant-Appellant White Castle System, Inc. that the plain text of the statute and relevant case law demonstrate that collection and disclosure claims involving the same biometric information accrue only once, at the time of the allegedly unauthorized initial collection or disclosure of the particular biometric data. That is when the individual suffers the alleged injury the Act is intended to prevent. That accrual rule is consistent with BIPA’s text and purpose and with the accrual rules governing other privacy-based causes of action in Illinois.
Case 1210558 / Filed 01/03/22
Amicus Brief: Firebirds International, LLC v. Zurich American Insurance Co.
We joined an amicus brief filed by the American Property Casualty Insurance Association in support Chamber member Zurich American Insurance Co. in Firebirds v. Zurich. Our amicus brief was accepted by the court on January 3, 2022.
The case involves an appeal of a decision from the circuit court of Cook County granting Zurich’s motion to dismiss.
Firebirds International owns more than 50 Wood Fired Grill restaurants in 19 states. According to the list of states in the court decision, Illinois is not one of the states. At issue in the case is whether losses suffered by Firebirds as a result of the Covid-19 pandemic are covered by a commercial insurance policy issued by Zurich. Zurich denied the claim filed by Firebirds on the basis that the losses claimed by Firebirds are not covered losses under the insurance policy.
2021 Amicus Program Activities
Case 126605 / Filed 10/15/21
Amicus Brief: Jane Doe v. Lyft, Inc., Angelo McCoy, Sterling Infosystems, Inc., d/b/a Sterling Talent Solutions
We joined the U.S. Chamber of Commerce as amici in an amicus brief filed with the Illinois Supreme Court in Doe v. Lyft. Oral arguments were held before the court on November 10. Plaintiff seeks to hold Lyft, Inc. vicariously liable for criminal conduct of one of its drivers because Lyft provided the ride-referral platform (via the Lyft smartphone app) that connected Plaintiff to McCoy for a ride. Plaintiff contends that Lyft—and all other transportation network companies should be subject to the same kind of vicarious liability as “common carriers” under Illinois law, even though Section 25(e) of the Transportation Network Provider Act plainly declares that TNCs “are not common carriers.” 625 ILCS 57/25(e). Our amicus brief focused solely on whether Section 25(e) of the Transportation Network Provider Act, violates the special legislation provision of the Illinois Constitution, Ill. Const. (1970) art. IV, § 13. We explain why it does not.
In early January 2022, after oral arguments, but before the Supreme Court issued an opinion, the parties settled the case.
Case 1210558 / Filed 07/13/21
Amicus Brief: Illinois Road and Transportation Builders Association, Federation of Women Contractors, Illinois Association of Aggregate Producers, Associated General Contractors of Illinois, Illinois Asphalt Pavement Association, Illinois Ready Mixed Concrete Association, Great Lakes Construction Association, American Council of Engineering Companies (Illinois Chapter), Chicagoland Associated General Contractors, Underground Contractors Association of Illinois, and Illinois Concrete Pipe Association, v. The County of Cook
We filed an amicus brief with the Illinois Supreme Court in Illinois Road and Transportation Builders Association, et al. v. County of Cook.
This case involves the scope of the “lockbox” amendment to the Illinois constitution. Specifically, the case deals with whether the City of Chicago may use locally-imposed motor fuel taxes for purposes other than those authorized under the lockbox amendment. The appellate court ruled that the City of Chicago can use such funds for general purposes.
Oral arguments were held before the Supreme Court on January 12. We await the opinion of the court.
Case 127126 / Filed 06/14/21
Amicus Brief: William Walton v. Roosevelt University
We worked with outside counsel on an amicus brief filed in the appellate court. The case is Walton v. Roosevelt University, addressing whether BIPA claims brought by unionized employees must be grieved and arbitrated pursuant to their CBA, rather than brought in court.
The appellate court ruled that BIPA claims of unionized employees are preempted by federal labor law.
2020 Amicus Program Activities
Case 18-3644, US Court of Appeals for the 7th Circuit - 10/02/20
Amicus Brief: Prairie Rivers Network v. Dynegy
An amicus brief was filed with the court by the Illinois Environmental Regulatory Group, an Illinois not-for-profit corporation affiliated with the Illinois Chamber of Commerce. The acceptance of the amicus was contested. In a decision published October 2, 2020, the court accepted the amicus.
Amicus Brief: Gillespie v. East Manufacturing, Illinois Supreme Court
We filed an amicus brief with the Illinois Supreme Court and the brief was accepted by the court. East Manufacturing is a member of the Illinois Chamber of Commerce.
In this case, East manufactured a dump trailer, which was sold to a dealer who sold the dump trailer to a lessor who modified the trailer at the request of a lessee. An employee of the lessee slipped and fell off the steps of the trailer and suffered injuries. East was one of the parties sued. The appellate court in this case held that Occupational Safety and Health Act (OSHA) regulations are “relevant and admissible in a product liability case to determine whether the product is defective and whether a defect in the product is reasonable.”
Our brief was prepared by a member of our amicus committee, Hugh Griffin of Hall Prangle & Schoonveld. In our amicus brief, we supported the request of East Manufacturing to overturn the decision of the appellate court.
The petition for leave to appeal to the Supreme Court by East Manufacturing explained succinctly why the appellate court decision should have been be reversed:
The appellate court’s Opinion will require product manufacturers to comply with any safety regulation, standard, or recommendation, regardless of whether the regulation, standard, or recommendation applies to the particular product manufactured. The decision also means that as a matter of statewide public policy, any manufacturer of a product that might be used in a workplace setting in Illinois will have to manufacture that product in compliance with workplace safety standards governing employers—even if both the manufacturer and end-user of the product expect that the employer will make any modifications necessary to satisfy workplace safety standards.
Oral arguments were held on September 17. The court issued its opinion on December 3. Unfortunately, the court ruled against East Manufacturing
Amicus Brief: Tims v. Black Horse Carriers, Illinois Appellate Court
During the third quarter we filed an amicus brief with the first district Illinois appellate court in. Our amicus brief was prepared by Illinois Chamber law firm member Shook Hardy. Our amicus brief was accepted by the court.
This case deals with the Illinois Biometric Privacy Act (“BIPA”). The interests of the Illinois Chamber are substantial – there are currently at least 23 Illinois Chamber members that are involved in BIPA litigation. More than 780 BIPA lawsuits have been filed in state and federal courts since 2016, with 140 new BIPA lawsuits filed since March 2020. The vast majority of BIPA lawsuits consist of class actions with members of the class alleging technical violations of the statute due to the use of timekeeping systems that use finger, hand or face scanners.
The key question for the court in this case, and the subject of our amicus brief, is whether the statute of limitations for BIPA claims is one year or 5 years. In our brief, we argue that the court should apply a one year statute of limitations. This case is an appeal of a circuit court ruling that a 5 year statute of limitations should apply to BIPA claims.
Amicus Brief: InDeck Energy Services, Inc. v. DePodesta, Illinois Supreme Court
We filed an amicus brief with the Illinois Supreme Court. Our brief is filed in support of Illinois Chamber member InDeck Energy Services, Inc. and was drafted by IL Chamber and Tax Institute member law firm Mayer Brown.
InDeck is a privately held Illinois corporation which owns, operates, and develops independent power projects throughout the United States. The factual issues are somewhat complicated, but at the risk of over-simplification, in this case, the defendants while employed by InDeck set up their own company and negotiated an agreement for a power project with another company. The project is something that InDeck would have pursued. InDeck sued the defendants for damages. At issue in the case is the scope of the duty of loyalty employees owe their employer.
In a 4-3 decision, the Illinois Supreme Court ruled against InDeck.
2019 Amicus Program Activities
Amicus Brief: In the Matter of Sierra Club, Environmental Law and Policy Center, Prairie Rivers Network and Citizens Against Running the Environment vs. Midwest Generation, LLC
An amicus brief was filed with the Illinois Pollution Control Board by Illinois Environmental Regulatory Group, an Illinois non-profit corporation affiliated with the Illinois Chamber of Commerce as lead on behalf of a coalition of business associations on October 14, 2019.
The amicus is focused on what we see as the Board’s erroneous interpretation and application of its rules for groundwater management zones (GMZs) in a 3rd party enforcement action brought against Midwest Generation (NRG Energy) alleging groundwater contamination and other violations of the Illinois Environmental Protection Act.
2018 Amicus Program Activities
Case 123186 / Filed 9/10/18
Amicus Brief: Stacy Rosenbach v. Six Flags Entertainment Corporation ad Great America LLC
Outside counsel prepared a motion for leave to file an amicus brief, and the brief, for filing with the Illinois Supreme Court. The case is an appeal of an Illinois Appellate court determination that under the Illinois Biometric Information Privacy Act (Act) a "person aggrieved by a violation of [the] Act" must allege some actual harm. The court found that a "person aggrieved" by such a violation must allege some actual harm. Unfortunately, the Illinois Supreme Court reversed the appellate court and ruled that a person aggrieved by a BIPA violation does not have to allege any actual harm.
Case 123186 / Filed 9/10/18
Caesars Entertainment Corporation d/b/a Rio All-Suites Hotel and Casino and International Union of Painters and Allied Trades, District Council 15, Local 159, AFL-CIO
We responded to an invitation to file briefs before the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) in this matter. The NLRB has asked for briefs from interested parties on the issue of whether its decision in Purple Communications, Inc., 361 NLRB 1050 (2014) should be modified, adhered to, or overruled. Under Purple Communications, employees who have been given access to their employer’s email system for work-related purposes have a presumptive right to use that system for Section 7-protected communications on nonworking time, unless the employer can demonstrate that special circumstances necessary to maintain production or discipline justify restricting that presumptive right. We contended that the NLRB cannot compel an employer to open its communications systems and property for use by a union. A favorable ruling was received from the NLRB.
2017 Amicus Program Activities
Amicus Brief: Electric Power Supply Association, et al. v Anthony Star et al.
On September 5, 2017, the Illinois Chamber of Commerce filed an amicus brief supporting the position of the plaintiffs in the United States Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit. Our brief was accepted for consideration by the court.
Our brief was filed in support of efforts of the plaintiffs, who include Illinois Chamber of Commerce member Dynegy, to overturn the lower court dismissal of the challenge to the Future Energy Jobs Act, P.A. 99-0906. This Illinois legislation, enacted over the opposition of the Chamber, created a zero emission portfolio standard to subsidize the nuclear generating plants operated by Exelon. Unfortunately, the lower court dismissal was not overturned.
Case 122487/ Filed 3-27-18
Amicus Brief: People Ex Rel. Schad, Diamond & Shedden P.C. v. My Pillow, Inc.
The Illinois Chamber of Commerce filed a motion for leave to file an amicus brief with the Illinois Supreme Court in this matter. We retained as outside counsel Illinois Chamber member law firm, Horwood Marcus Berk, to represent the Illinois Chamber of Commerce in the filing of an amicus brief. Our brief was accepted by the Illinois Supreme Court.
This case involves the Illinois False Claims Act and is an appeal of an Illinois appellate court decision in which the court determined that a law firm serving both as client and attorney may not recover statutory attorney fees under the Illinois False Claims Act. In our amicus brief, we urged the Illinois Supreme Court to uphold the decision of the appellate court. Illinois Chamber of Commerce Tax Institute member law firm McDermott Will & Emery represents My Pillow in this matter.
The case was argued before the Illinois Supreme Court on May 22, 2018. During oral arguments, Counsel for My Pillow referred to our brief on a number of occasions in support of My Pillow’s position.
The court ruled in favor of My Pillow and upheld the position we urged the court to take.
2016 Amicus Program Activities
Kakos v. Bauer
The Chamber worked with outside counsel from Chamber member firm SmithAmundsen on a motion for leave to file an amicus brief in support of an appeal of an appellate court decision upholding a change in law that mandated a 6 person jury. Unfortunately, the Supreme Court declined to authorize the filing of any amicus briefs in this case. However, we agree with counsel that by filing of the motion requesting the acceptance of our brief we made the point that 12 person jury is better for the legal and business climate in Illinois.
In Kakos et al. v. Bauer et al. the circuit court held section 2-1105(b) of the Code of Civil Procedure (735 ILCS 5/2 1105(b)), as amended by Public Act 98-1132, infringed on the right to trial by jury, by mandating a decrease in the size of juries from twelve to six.
The case was appealed directly to the Illinois Supreme Court pursuant to Supreme Court rule 302(a) which allows appeals directly from the trial court to the Supreme Court in appeals from final judgments of circuit courts in which a statute of the United States or of Illinois has been held invalid.
The Supreme Court struck down the 6-person jury law, consistent with the arguments put forth in our amicus brief.
Carney v. Union Pacific Railroad Company
The Illinois Chamber was the lead filer in a motion for leave to file an amicus brief with the Illinois Supreme Court in Carney v. Union Pacific Railroad Company on October 30, 2015. The Court granted the motion and accepted the amicus brief. The case was argued before the Illinois Supreme Court, March 16, 2016.
At issue in Carney is whether Union Pacific is liable for an injury sustained by an employee of a subcontractor hired by a contractor hired by Union Pacific. Union Pacific hired the contractor to remove a bridge on its property. The contractor hired the subcontractor for the demolition of the bridge. The circuit court found that Union Pacific was not liable for an injury suffered by an employee of the subcontractor. The appellate court reversed the circuit court determination. Union Pacific appealed the appellate court decision and the Illinois Supreme Court accepted the appeal.
The Supreme Court ruled in favor of Union Pacific adopting the arguments put forth in our amicus brief.
Case 14-0171 / Filed 12-9-15
Motion for Leave to File Amicus Brief
Amicus Brief: Fattah v. Bim
The Chamber joined in a motion requesting leave to file an amicus brief with the Illinois Supreme Court in Fattah v. Bim and Bim. Our amicus brief made the point that the appellate court incorrectly decided the case. The court granted the motion and accepted the amicus brief. The court issued its decision in this case on May 19, 2016
At issue in Fattah, is whether Bim, the owner of Masterklad Inc., a builder of a new home, may be held liable for damages due to the collapse of a patio. Masterklad sold a new home to Lubeck (the first purchaser) and the contract of sale to the first purchaser contained a waiver of the implied warranty of habitability. The first purchaser, Lubeck, sold the home 3 years later to Fattah “as is.” Four months after Fattah’s purchase, the patio collapsed. Fattah sued the Bims alleging a breach of the implied warranty of habitability The circuit court ruled in favor of the Bims finding that Fattah’s claim was barred by the waiver of the implied warranty of habitability entered into when the first purchaser, Lubeck, purchased the home from the builder. Fattah appealed and the appellate court reversed the circuit court. Bim appealed to the Supreme Court.
The Supreme Court reversed the decision of the appellate court agreeing with the point made in our brief that it was improper for the appellate court to extend the implied warranty of habitability to a second purchaser when the warranty had been expressly waived by the first purchaser.
Amicus Brief: Enterprise Leasing Company of Chicago v. City of Chicago
The Chamber worked with outside counsel from Chamber member firm Baker & McKenzie on a motion for leave to file an amicus brief in support of Chamber member Enterprise Leasing Company, in Enterprise Leasing Company of Chicago v. City of Chicago. The Supreme Court granted our motion and accepted our amicus brief.
At issue in Enterprise is the validity of a City of Chicago Tax Ruling that requires automobile leasing companies engaged in short term leases, with locations outside the City of Chicago within 3 miles of the city border, to charge and collect the City of Chicago Personal Property Lease Transaction Tax on rentals to Chicago residents at those suburban locations.
The circuit court ruled in favor of Enterprise finding the Chicago Department of Revenue Ruling unconstitutional on its face by requiring Enterprise to collect the Chicago tax from Chicago residents renting automobiles at suburban locations within 3 miles of the city border. The City appealed and the appellate court reversed the circuit court. Enterprise appealed to the Supreme Court.
Oral arguments were held before the Illinois Supreme Court on September 20, 2016. The Illinois Supreme Court issued their decision on January 20, 2017. The court ruled in favor of Enterprise, adopting the reasoning set forth in the Chamber’s amicus brief.