Paycheck Protection Program Loan Update

On June 5, 2020, the Paycheck Protection Program Flexibility Act (the “Act”) was signed into law.  The Act provides greater flexibility to businesses that obtained loans under the Paycheck Protection Program (“PPP”) by: Extending the covered period during which a loan recipient may use PPP funds for certain expenses while remaining eligible for loan forgiveness… Continue reading

On June 5, 2020, the Paycheck Protection Program Flexibility Act (the “Act”) was signed into law.  The Act provides greater flexibility to businesses that obtained loans under the Paycheck Protection Program (“PPP”) by:

  • Extending the covered period during which a loan recipient may use PPP funds for certain expenses while remaining eligible for loan forgiveness from eight weeks to twenty-four weeks;
  • Extending the deadline to rehire laid off or furloughed workers from June 30th to December 31st, 2020; and
  • Extending the initial two-year loan term to five years.

The Act also increases the percentage of PPP loan proceeds that may be used on qualifying non-payroll costs from 25% to 40%.  At the same time, however, the Act provides that PPP recipients must use at least 60% of the loan amount for payroll costs in order to receive forgiveness of a PPP loan.  This represents a significant departure from the Small Business Administration’s PPP regulations, under which a failure to meet the prior 25% payroll-cost threshold did not completely disqualify a business from receiving forgiveness of a PPP loan.

Shutterfly Users in Illinois: You may be entitled to relief.

You may be entitled to a minimum of $1,000 under Illinois law if you have uploaded photographs of yourself to your Shutterfly account. We’re Here to Help It’s easy to qualify and we will guide you through the claims process, which will not take place in court. To take the first step toward recovering, contact… Continue reading

You may be entitled to a minimum of $1,000 under Illinois law if you have uploaded photographs of yourself to your Shutterfly account.

We’re Here to Help

It’s easy to qualify and we will guide you through the claims process, which will not take place in court.

To take the first step toward recovering, contact us at 618-656-5150 or send us the following information and we will contact you:

Illinois Law Protects Your Privacy

Companies collecting biometric identifiers, such as facial geometry from photographs, must comply with the Illinois Biometric Information Privacy Act. The law requires that such companies make certain disclosures and obtain your written consent. The law provides damages of $1,000 per negligent violation and $5,000 per willful violation.

You Must Take Action

Recently, a Shutterfly user filed a class action against Shutterfly for violating the Illinois Biometric Information Privacy Act. Because Shutterfly’s Terms of Service prohibit customers from seeking relief in court or through class actions, the court dismissed the case without ruling on the merits of the claim (the court sent the claim to private arbitration). 

You still may have a claim against Shutterfly, but you have to make a claim outside of court, and no one else can make the claim on your behalf.

This means you cannot get paid unless you take action.  

But you don’t have to do it alone. Contact us to learn more.

About Our Firm

Goldenberg Heller & Antognoli, P.C. practices in the area of consumer protection and privacy law. Recently, we litigated and obtained a $24 million settlement for purchasers of personal seat licenses from the former St. Louis Rams football team. Read more about the settlement here.  Find out more information about our firm here.

This webpage contains advertising material. The information provided on this website is for general, informative purposes and should not be interpreted to indicate that a certain result will occur in any reader’s specific legal situation. The information on this website is not legal advice and does not create an attorney-client relationship. A preliminary communication made via the internet, mail, fax, or telephone does not create an attorney-client relationship or provide any of the protections afforded by that relationship. Goldenberg Heller & Antognoli, P.C. is responsible for the content of this page.

SBA Announces Paycheck Protection Program Certification Safe Harbor

On May 13, 2020, the Small Business Administration (“SBA”) issued guidance regarding a borrower’s good-faith certification concerning the necessity of a Paycheck Protection Program (“PPP”) loan.  All borrowers who, together with their affiliates, receive PPP loans with an original principal amount of less than $2 million will be deemed to have made the required certification… Continue reading

On May 13, 2020, the Small Business Administration (“SBA”) issued guidance regarding a borrower’s good-faith certification concerning the necessity of a Paycheck Protection Program (“PPP”) loan.  All borrowers who, together with their affiliates, receive PPP loans with an original principal amount of less than $2 million will be deemed to have made the required certification in good faith.  Moreover, if the SBA determines that a borrower who obtained more than $2 million dollars through a PPP loan lacked an adequate basis for the required certification, the SBA will not pursue administrative enforcement or referrals to other agencies based on the SBA’s determination with respect to the certification if the borrower repays the amount of the loan in full.

The full text of the SBA’s guidance is available here:   https://www.sba.gov/sites/default/files/2020-05/Paycheck-Protection-Program-Frequently-Asked-Questions_05%2013%2020.pdf

Families First Coronavirus Response Act

Signed into law on March 18, 2020, the Families First Coronavirus Response Act (“FFCRA”) requires covered employees to provide paid leave to workers who are absent from work due to certain COVID-19 related reasons.  The FFCRA applies to employers with fewer than 500 employees.  The FFCRA takes effect on April 1, 2020, and applies to… Continue reading

Signed into law on March 18, 2020, the Families First Coronavirus Response Act (“FFCRA”) requires covered employees to provide paid leave to workers who are absent from work due to certain COVID-19 related reasons.  The FFCRA applies to employers with fewer than 500 employees.  The FFCRA takes effect on April 1, 2020, and applies to leave taken between April 1, 2020, and December 31, 2020.  This post summarizes the main provisions of the FFCRA.

Many issues that employers will face when complying with the FFCRA will require specific legal attention. The material provided in this blog is for informational purposes only and does not constitute legal advice.  Goldenberg Heller & Antognoli, P.C. has a team of skilled business and commercial legal experts who can help navigate the complexities of the law in this rapidly changing environment. Feel free to contact us with your legal needs today.

Emergency Paid Sick Leave Act

  • The FFCRA includes the Emergency Paid Sick Leave Act (“EPSLA”) which mandates that employees be paid for up to two weeks if they are unable to report to work for coronavirus-related reasons.
  • The United States Department of Labor has explained that an employee qualifies for paid leave under the EPSLA if the employee is unable to work (or telework) due to a need for leave because the employee:
      1. Is subject to a Federal, State, or local quarantine or isolation order related to COVID-19;
      2. Has been advised by a health care provider to self-quarantine related to COVID-19;
      3. Is experiencing COVID-19 symptoms and is seeking a medical diagnosis;
      4. Is caring for an individual subject to an order described in (1) or self-quarantine as described in (2);
      5. Is caring for a child whose school or place of care is closed (or child care provider is unavailable) for reasons related to COVID-19; or
      6. Is experiencing any substantially-similar condition specified by the Secretary of Health and Human Services, in consultation with the Secretaries of Labor and Treasury.
  • Full-time employees are entitled to up to eighty hours (two weeks) of leave under the EPSLA. Part-time employees can take the average number of hours they worked during a two-week period in the previous six months.
  • If employees are unable to report to work for reasons 1-3, employees are entitled to pay at their regular rate or the applicable minimum wage, whichever is higher, up to $511 per day and $5,110 in the aggregate.
  • If employees are unable to report to work for reasons 4-6, employees are entitled to pay at 2/3 their regular rate or the applicable minimum wage, whichever is higher, up to $200 per day and $2,000 in the aggregate.
  • Employers cannot force employees to use accrued paid time off, sick leave, or vacation pay in lieu of the benefits provided by the EPSLA. Employees may elect, however, to use any accrued paid time off, vacation pay, or sick leave in lieu of the leave afforded by the EPSLA.
  • The EPSLA contains an anti-retaliation provision, which prohibits employers from retaliating against employees who exercise their rights under the EPSLA.

Emergency Family and Medical Leave Expansion Act

  • The FFCRA also includes the Emergency Family and Medical Leave Expansion Act (“EFMLEA”), which temporarily expands the Family Medical Leave Act (FMLA).
  • The EFMLEA only applies to employees who have been employed for thirty days or more
  • Employees are entitled to leave under the EFMLEA if they are caring for a child whose school or place of care is closed (or child care provider is unavailable) for reasons related to COVID-19.
  • Leave under the EFMLEA is available for a period of 12 weeks. The first two weeks of leave may be paid leave pursuant to the EPSLA and the remaining 10 weeks will be paid leave pursuant to the EFMLEA.
  • Under the EFMLEA, employees are entitled to pay at 2/3 their regular rate or the applicable minimum wage, whichever is higher, up to $200 per day and $12,000 in the aggregate (over the 12-week period).
  • Employers cannot force employees to use accrued paid time off, sick leave, or vacation pay in lieu of the benefits provided by the EFMLEA. Employees may elect, however, to substitute accrued vacation or sick time for the leave provided under the EFMLEA.
  • Leave under the EFMLEA is subject to the provisions of the FMLA requiring employers to restore employees to their prior positions at the conclusion of the leave period. Some exceptions to these requirements are available for employers whose business has been adversely affected by COVID-19.
  • Leave under the EFMLEA is subject to the anti-discrimination and anti-retaliation provisions of the FMLA.

Tax Credits

  • Employers subject to the EPSLA and/or the EFMLEA’s requirements will be reimbursed for the costs of complying with the enactments’ provisions in the form of refundable payroll tax credits.

Exemptions

  • Small businesses with fewer than 50 employees may qualify for exemption from the requirement to provide leave due to school closings or child care unavailability if the requirement would jeopardize the viability of the business as a going concern. Regulations regarding the availability of such exemptions are expected to be issued by the Department of Labor in April.

Notice Requirement

  • The FFCRA requires employers to post a notice from the Department of Labor informing employees of their expanded rights under the new enactment.
  • The poster must be posted in a conspicuous place on the employer’s premises.
  • For employers whose employees are teleworking, an employer can satisfy its notice obligation by direct mailing or emailing the notice to its employees or by posting the notice on an employee information internal or external website.

COVID-19 Updates on Governmental Offices

The Coronavirus (COVID-19) Outbreak has caused governmental offices and courthouses to cease or alter their services. This Fact Sheet provides an overview of those governmental offices and courthouses that are closed or have altered services. Updates will be made as they become available. If you have questions about how these closures or limitations may affect… Continue reading

The Coronavirus (COVID-19) Outbreak has caused governmental offices and courthouses to cease or alter their services. This Fact Sheet provides an overview of those governmental offices and courthouses that are closed or have altered services. Updates will be made as they become available. If you have questions about how these closures or limitations may affect you or your business, we stand ready to assist.

Governmental Offices – Federal

United States Patent and Trademark Office

  • Operations will continue as normal without interruption until otherwise notified.
  • The USPTO is waiving petition fees in certain situations for customers impacted by the coronavirus.
  • The Director of the USPTO has extended the filing deadlines of certain items due between March 27, 2020 and April 30, 2020, including:
    • Responses to Office Actions,
    • Statements of Use or extension requests to file a Statement of Use,
    • Notices of Opposition or extension requests to file a Notice of Opposition,
    • Renewal applications, and
    • Affidavits of Use.
  • The deadlines have been extended 30 days from the initial date it was due, provided that the filing is accompanied by a statement that the delay in filing or payment was due to the COVID-19 outbreak.

Internal Revenue Service

  • All Taxpayer Assistance Centers are temporarily closed.
  • The April 15 filing deadline for tax returns has been extended to July 15, 2020.
  • All individual and other non-corporate tax filers are allowed to defer up to $1 million of federal income tax (including self-employment tax) payments due on April 15, 2020, until July 15, 2020, without penalties or interest.
  • Corporate taxpayers are allowed to defer up to $10 million of federal income tax (including self-employment tax) payments due on April 15, 2020, until July 15, 2020, without penalties or interest.

Governmental Offices – Illinois 

Secretary of State

  • Closed to the public through April 7, 2020.
  • Expiration dates for driver’s licenses, identification (ID) cards, vehicle registrations and other transactions and document filings will be extended by 30 days through an emergency rule.
  • Reminder: many transactions may be conducted online – customers are encouraged to take advantage of the online services (i.e. filing Business Services documents)

Department of Revenue

  • The April 15 filing deadline for all taxpayers who file and pay Illinois income taxes is automatically extended to July 15, 2020.
  • Penalties and interest will begin to accrue on any remaining unpaid balances as of July 16, 2020.
  • This does not impact the first and second installments of estimated payments for 2020 taxes that are due April 15 and July 15.
  • Taxpayers who operate eating and drinking establishments that incurred a total Sales Tax liability of less than $75,000 in calendar year 2019 will not be charged penalties or interest on late payments for Sales Tax liabilities reported on Form ST-1, Sales and Use Tax and E911 Surcharge Return, that are due for the February, March, and April 2020 reporting periods.

Governmental Offices – Missouri

  • The Missouri Capitol and state government office buildings will close to the public starting Tuesday, March 24. They will remain closed until at least April 6. The move does not apply to prisons, veterans homes and other state-run facilities.

Department of Revenue:

  • The April 15 filing deadline for tax returns has been extended to July 15, 2020. The deadlines for income tax payments for individual and corporate income returns with a due date of April 15, 2020 has also been extended to July 15, 2020. These extensions are automatic – filers do not need to take any additional steps to qualify.
  • Penalties and interest will begin to accrue on any remaining unpaid balances as of July 16, 2020.

Courthouses – Federal

 Southern District of Illinois

  • The federal courthouses in East St. Louis and Benton remain open to the public, subject to limitations.
  • All civil matters scheduled for an in-court appearance are continued pending further order; judges have discretion to utilize videoconferencing or teleconferencing.

Central District of Illinois

  • The courthouses remain open.
  • All civil and criminal jury trials scheduled to begin before April 3, 2020, are continued and will be rescheduled by the presiding judge to a date after April 3, 2020.
  • All civil hearings, including settlement conferences, will be conducted by telephone or video teleconference.

Eastern District of Missouri

  • The United States Courthouses located within the District will remain open, but office hours for the Clerk of Court will be reduced to 10am to 3pm.
  • All civil and criminal jury trials scheduled to begin before May 31, 2020, are continued and will be rescheduled by the presiding judge to a date after May 31, 2020.
  • All proceedings will be conducted by means other than in-person meetings wherever possible by law and as directed by the presiding judge in the proceeding.
  • Any proceeding not deemed essential by the presiding judge in the proceeding that does require in-person meeting will be continued until further notice by the presiding judge.

7th Circuit Court of Appeals 

  • The court is closely monitoring the progression of COVID-19 to determine possible impact to court operations.

8th Circuit Court of Appeals

  • The 8th Circuit remains open for business. The public is not being admitted to the Eighth Circuit Clerk’s Office at the present time.

Courthouses – Illinois 

Madison County

  • Effective March 23, 2020, the following matters are continued for 30 days:
    •  All jury and non-jury trials in civil, criminal, and traffic divisions.
    • All arbitration, mediation, foreclosure matters, and any hearings or trials associated with such dockets.
  • Effective March 23, 2020, all Plenary Orders of Protection , Emergency Orders of Protection, and Plenary and Emergency Civil Stalking No Contact Orders are extended for 30 days.
    • Parties may seek relief from such Orders only upon filing a motion with the assigned judge.
  • Effective March 20, 2020 and until further order of the court, only essential court matters and proceedings will continue to be heard. All non-essential court matters and proceedings will be continued or, where possible, conducted remotely.
  • All case management and status dockets scheduled for March 2020 will be continued by the assigned judges.
  • All Probate and Landlord-Tenant cases scheduled through April 15 will be continued by the assigned judges.
  • All civil motion dockets or settings scheduled through April 15 will be continued by the assigned judges in the event of an agreement to do so by the parties. If an agreement cannot be obtained, or cannot be conducted by email, video, or telephonic means, such motions will proceed at the discretion of the assigned judge.
  • The court will continue to conduct hearings on essential or timely matters if the presentment of a motion or petition cannot be conducted remotely by email, video, or telephonic means.
  • All arbitration hearings set in March are continued without the necessity of either party filing a motion to continue.
  • All foreclosure settings through April 20 are continued without the necessity of either party filing a motion to continue.

St. Clair County

  • Effective March 24, 2020, all civil matters are continued for sixty days, and all arbitration, mediation, and foreclosure matters are continued.

Macoupin County

5th District Appellate Court

  • Until further notice, the court will remain open and all filing deadlines will remain in effect.
  • The clerk’s office will remain open for business during its regular business hours, but the building will be closed to the general public.

Courthouses – Missouri

  • On March 22, the Supreme Court of Missouri issued an order in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. Among other directives, the order suspends – with certain listed exceptions – all in-person proceedings, as well as grand jury proceedings in all state courts through April 17.

COVID-19 Fact Sheet

The Coronavirus (COVID-19) Outbreak raises an array of legal issues for businesses. This Fact Sheet provides an overview of some of the key legal issues that Goldenberg Heller & Antognoli, P.C., is monitoring. Updates will be made as they become available. If you have questions about the applicability of any of these issues to your… Continue reading

The Coronavirus (COVID-19) Outbreak raises an array of legal issues for businesses. This Fact Sheet provides an overview of some of the key legal issues that Goldenberg Heller & Antognoli, P.C., is monitoring. Updates will be made as they become available. If you have questions about the applicability of any of these issues to your business, we stand ready to assist.

Workplace Safety

Employee Leave – The Families First Coronavirus Response Act

  • The Families First Coronavirus Response Act (“FFCRA”) was signed into law on March 18, 2020, and will take effect on April 1, 2020.
  • The FFCRA contains two new federal laws requiring employers with less than 500 employees to provide paid leave for certain COVID-19 related absences.
  • Employers will be provided with refundable tax credits to offset the costs associated with complying with these new laws.
  • Small businesses with fewer than 50 employees may qualify for exemption from required leave due to school closings or child care unavailability if the leave requirements would jeopardize the viability of the business as a going concern.
  • The Department of Labor will be releasing a model poster regarding the FFCRA that covered employers will be required to post in a conspicuous location.

Employee Compensation

  • The federal Fair Labor Standards Act and state law impose various requirements on employers with respect to employee pay.
  • These statutes may bear on the payment of final compensation to separated workers and the payment of compensation to workers whose hours have changed as a result of COVID-19.

Unemployment Insurance Benefits

  • Employees who are temporarily laid off because of COVID-19 may qualify for unemployment insurance benefits.
  • Information on unemployment insurance benefits for Illinois workers is available via the following link: https://www2.illinois.gov/ides/Pages/COVID-19-and-Unemployment-Benefits.aspx.
  • Information of unemployment benefits for Missouri workers is available via the following link: https://labor.mo.gov/COVID-19.

Americans with Disabilities Act

  • The Americans with Disabilities Act (“ADA”) requires that employers make reasonable accommodations for employees with disabilities.
  • Under some circumstances, the ADA may require that employers provide “reasonable accommodations” to employees in connection with COVID-19.
  • The ADA may also bear on communications with employees about COVID-19.

Workers’ Compensation

  • COVID-19-related illness may give rise to workers’ compensation claims if COVID-19 is contracted during the course and scope an employee’s employment.
  • Assessing such claims will require an inquiry into the particular facts and circumstances of the employee’s employment and his or her contraction of COVID-19.

Insurance Coverage

  • Various forms of insurance, including event cancellation insurance, business interruption insurance in commercial property policies, and general liability insurance may be available to mitigate losses arising from the COVID-19 outbreak.

Contracts

  • COVID-19 may raise a number of issues relating to parties’ rights and obligations under their contracts, including whether the COVID-19 outbreak will trigger “force majeure” clauses.

Relief Programs for Businesses

  • The Small Business Administration is offering loan resources to certain small businesses adversely affected by COVID-19. Information on such loan resources is available via the following link: https://www.sba.gov/page/coronavirus-covid-19-small-business-guidance-loan-resources.
  • The Illinois State Treasurer’s Office has announced that it will make available $250 million to Illinois banks and credit unions for the purpose of offering low-interest bridge loans to certain Illinois small-businesses and non-profits. Details regarding this program are available via the following link:  https://www.illinoistreasurer.gov/Invest_in_Illinois/Small_Business_COVID-19_Relief_Program.
  • Relief loans and grants may also available through the Illinois Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity. Information on such programs is available via the following link: https://www2.illinois.gov/dceo/SmallBizAssistance/Pages/EmergencySBAIntiatives.asp.

Labor Relations & Collective Bargaining Agreements

  • The COVID-19 pandemic has given rise to concerns regarding labor relations, particularly with respect to changing unionized employees’ work schedules or duties, and employees striking or otherwise refusing to perform work as scheduled.

Mandatory Business Closures and Event Restriction

As of March 30, 2020, the following mandatory closures and event attendance limits have been put into place in Illinois, Missouri and the St. Louis Metropolitan Area:

  • Illinois
    • Shelter-in-Place Order
      • Illinois has ordered residents to shelter in place beginning March 21, 2020 at 5:00pm. This order will continue through April 30, 2020.
      • Persons may leave their homes or place of residence only for Essential Activities (such as seeking medical services, obtaining medical supplies, going to the grocery store), Essential Governmental Functions, or to operate Essential Businesses and Operations.
    • All businesses and operations in the State, except Essential Businesses and Operations, are required to cease all activities within the State except Minimum Basic Operations (meaning the minimum necessary activities to maintain the value of the business’s inventory, preserve the condition of the business’s physical plant and equipment, ensure security, process payroll and employee benefits, or for related functions).
    • Businesses may continue remote operations.
    • All public and private gatherings of any number of people occurring outside a single household or living unit are prohibited.
    • Any gathering of more than ten people is prohibited unless otherwise exempted.
    • All travel, including, but not limited to, travel by automobile, motorcycle, scooter, bicycle, train, plane, or public transit, except Essential Travel and Essential Activities is prohibited.
    • Examples of “Essential Businesses and Operations” include:
      • Healthcare and Public Health Operations
      • Human Services Operations
      • Essential infrastructure (i.e. food productions, distribution, and sale; construction; building management and maintenance; utility operations)
      • Stores that sell groceries and medicine
      • Food, beverage, and cannabis production and agriculture
      • Organizations that provide charitable and social services (such as food banks, shelters)
      • Media
      • Gas stations and businesses need for transportation
      • Financial institutions
      • Hardware and supply stores
      • Critical trades (i.e. plumbers, electricians, security staff, cleaning and janitorial staff)
      • Mail, post, shipping, logistics, delivery, and pick-up services
      • Educational institutions
      • Laundry services
      • Restaurants for consumption off-premises
      • Stores that sell supplies to work from and supplies for Essential Businesses and Operations
      • Transportation
      • Home-based care and services
      • Residential facilities and shelters
      • Professional services (i.e. legal services, accounting services)
      • Day care centers for employees exempted from the shelter-in-place order
      • Manufacture, distribution, and supply chain for critical products and industries
      • Critical labor union functions (i.e. administration of health and welfare funds)
      • Hotels and motels
      • Funeral services
  • Missouri:
    • Missouri is restricting any gatherings statewide to no more than 10 people.
    • Casinos have been instructed to close through March 30, 2020.
  • St. Louis Metropolitan Area:
    • In St. Louis City, St. Louis County, and St. Charles County, all bars have been ordered to close. Restaurant services have been limited to delivery, carry out, and curbside services only. Customers will not be allowed in dining rooms and bars. This ban and limitations will take effect beginning the evening of March 19 and will continue for an undetermined period of time.
    • St. Louis and St. Louis County will require people to shelter-in-place beginning Monday, March 30, 2020. Residents will still be able to go to the grocery store and pharmacy, and will be able to walk in public parks

 


Goldenberg Heller & Antognoli, P.C. has a team of skilled business and commercial legal experts who can help navigate the complexities of the law in this rapidly changing environment. Feel free to contact us with your legal needs today.

COVID-19 Update on Relief for Small Businesses

Goldenberg Heller & Antognoli, P.C., is monitoring the fluid developments with respect to COVID-19, including the relief programs available to small businesses.  Below is a summary of such programs available through the federal government and the state of Illinois. Federal The Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act (the “CARES Act”) The CARES Act provides… Continue reading

Goldenberg Heller & Antognoli, P.C., is monitoring the fluid developments with respect to COVID-19, including the relief programs available to small businesses.  Below is a summary of such programs available through the federal government and the state of Illinois.

Federal

The Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act (the “CARES Act”)

  • The CARES Act provides relief to businesses affected by COVID-19 in the following ways:
  • The Small Business Administration’s Economic Injury Disaster Loan Program (the “Disaster Loan Program”)
    • The Disaster Loan Program provides qualifying small businesses with working capital loans of up to $2 million to help overcome the temporary loss of revenue they are experiencing as a result of COVID-19.
    • Eligibility depends on a number of factors, including the industry in which the business operates, the business’s annual revenue, and/or the number of people employed by the business.
    • These loans may be used to pay fixed debts, payroll, accounts payable and other bills that can’t be paid because of the impact of COVID-19.
    • Eligible small businesses that apply for an economic injury disaster loan may obtain a $10,000 advance that will not need to be repaid, even if the loan application is ultimately denied.
    • Loans are offered with long-term repayments, up to a maximum of 30 years, and with interest rates of 4% or less. Terms are determined on a case-by-case basis, based upon each borrower’s ability to repay.
    • Applications may be submitted via the following link: https://disasterloan.sba.gov/apply-for-disaster-loan/index.html.
    • Loans under the Disaster Loan Program may be converted to Payroll Protection Program loans (see below).
  • Payroll Protection Program – Forgivable Loans
    • The CARES Act makes $377 billion in funds available to small businesses through the Small Business Administration’s § 7(a) loan program.
    • These loans will be available from participating private lenders and may be used for certain purposes, including the payment of payroll, rent, and utilities.
    • These loans may be forgiven to the extent they are used to cover payroll or to pay other specified expenses, including rent, interest on certain mortgage obligations (but not principal), and utilities. Layoffs or salary reductions may affect the amount of loan forgiveness that a business is eligible to receive under the Payroll Protection Program.
    • These loans will be available at interest rates of 4% or less, and the amount of the loan cannot exceed an amount equal to 250% of a business’s average monthly payments for payroll costs during the 1-year period before the date on which the loan is made.
    • The SBA will issue regulations implementing the Payroll Protection Program.

SBA Express Bridge Loans

  • The Express Bridge Loan Pilot Program allows small businesses that currently have a business relationship with an SBA Express Lender to access up to $25,000 with less paperwork.
  • These loans can provide economic support to small businesses to help overcome the temporary loss of revenue they are experiencing and can be a term loan or used to bridge the gap while applying for an SBA Economic Injury Disaster loan.
  • To find an Express Bridge Loan Lender, visit https://www.sba.gov/funding-programs/loans/lender-match.

Illinois

Hospitality Emergency Grant Program

  • Eligibility:
    • Bars and restaurants with a valid license to serve food or liquor and with revenue between 500K and $1 million in 2019 are eligible for up to $25K.
    • Bars and restaurants with a valid license to serve food or liquor and with revenue of less than 500K in 2019 are eligible for up to $10K.
    • Hotels that generated revenue of less than $8 million in 2019 are eligible for up to $50K.
  • Permitted Uses of Grant Funds
    • For bars and restaurants, based on the businesses needs identified in the grant application, funds can be used to support working capital (rent, payroll, and other accounts payable), job training (such as new practices related to take out, delivery and sanitation) and technology enabling new operations as well as other costs to implement that technology.
    • For hotels, funds can be used as working capital to support the retention of employees.
  • Application Process and Deadline
    • Applications are submitted online through the following website: https://us.accion.org/news/covid-19-hospitality-business-grant-program/.
    • Applications must be submitted by 5:00 pm on April 1, 2020.
    • A total of $14 million is available under this program, and grant recipients will be chosen via lottery.
    • Grant recipients will be notified on April 4, 2020, and funds may be available as soon two days after banking information is received from a grantee.

Illinois Small Business Emergency Loan Fund

  • Eligibility:
    • Small businesses located outside of the City of Chicago with fewer than 50 workers and less than $3 million in revenue in 2019 can apply.
  • Loan Terms and Permitted Uses:
    • Businesses can receive a low interest loan of up to $50,000 with a 5 year repayment period with no payments due for the first six months.
    • Loan funds must be used to support working capital.
  • Application Process:

Downstate Small Business Stabilization Program

  • Eligibility:
    • Eligible local governmental units can apply on behalf of businesses with 50 employees or less.
    • Madison County, St. Clair County, and the municipalities contained therein are not eligible governmental units.
  • Grant Amounts and Permissible Uses
    • Grants of up to $25K are available for use in supporting working capital.
  • Application Process:
    • Businesses in eligible areas must work with their local governmental units to submit applications.

Small Business COVID-19 Relief Program

Tax Deadline Relief

Federal

  • The April 15 filing deadline for federal income tax returns has been extended to July 15, 2020. All individual and other non-corporate tax filers are allowed to defer up to $1 million of federal income tax (including self-employment tax) payments due on April 15, 2020, until July 15, 2020, without penalties or interest.
  • Corporate taxpayers are allowed to defer up to $10 million of federal income tax (including self-employment tax) payments due on April 15, 2020, until July 15, 2020, without penalties or interest.

Illinois

  • The deadline to file individual and corporate income tax returns has been extended from April 15, 2020, to July 15, 2020.
  • This does NOT impact the first and second installments of estimated payments for 2020 taxes that are due April 15 and June 15. Taxpayers are required to estimate their tax liability for the year and make four equal installments.

 Missouri

  • The deadline to file individual and corporate income tax returns has been extended from April 15, 2020, to July 15, 2020.
  • Income tax payment deadlines for individual and corporate income returns with a due date of April 15, 2020, are extended until July 15, 2020. This payment relief applies to all individual income tax returns, income tax returns filed by C Corporations, and income tax returns filed by trusts or estates. The Missouri Department of Revenue will automatically provide this relief, so filers do not need to take any additional steps to qualify.
  • This relief for individuals and corporations will also include estimated tax payments for tax year 2020 that are due on April 15, 2020.

 

Message from GHA regarding COVID-19

Dear Clients, Colleagues and Friends: Goldenberg Heller & Antognoli, P.C. is monitoring the fluid developments with respect to COVID-19, including information and guidance published by the Center for Disease Control and Prevention. We are also monitoring legal developments and the status of government offices, federal and state courthouses, and business closures that impact the firm’s… Continue reading

Dear Clients, Colleagues and Friends:

Goldenberg Heller & Antognoli, P.C. is monitoring the fluid developments with respect to COVID-19, including information and guidance published by the Center for Disease Control and Prevention. We are also monitoring legal developments and the status of government offices, federal and state courthouses, and business closures that impact the firm’s practice areas and services. We will endeavor to provide updates on these items on the Firm’s web site through our Coronavirus Fact-Sheet and our Governmental Offices and Courthouses Fact-Sheet. We encourage you to continue to check our web site for updated information and to contact us directly with any questions or concerns you may have.

COVID-19 has not impacted the firm’s ability to deliver legal services at this time. Goldenberg Heller & Antognoli’s primary interest is continuing to provide services to our clients without interruption or disruption, while ensuring the health and safety of our employees and community.

Thank you for your business and continued confidence in our firm as the nation deals with the challenges faced by the COVID-19 pandemic. We are focused on supporting our valued clients and are prepared to respond to these challenges in the coming days and weeks. We will move through this together.

Thank you again,

Goldenberg Heller & Antognoli, P.C.

Lawsuit to Protect Citizens’ Private Information Resolved

The Auditor’s Lawsuit and Settlement Protects Private and Confidential Information of County Citizens from Unlawful Disclosure In March 2019, the Madison County Board passed a resolution granting the County Chairman, his unnamed “designee,” the County Administrator, and the County Treasurer the power to access the Madison County Auditor’s software. The resolution would have forced the… Continue reading

The Auditor’s Lawsuit and Settlement Protects Private and Confidential Information of County Citizens from Unlawful Disclosure

In March 2019, the Madison County Board passed a resolution granting the County Chairman, his unnamed “designee,” the County Administrator, and the County Treasurer the power to access the Madison County Auditor’s software. The resolution would have forced the elected Auditor, Rick Faccin, to unlawfully disclose the confidential information of county citizens, such as the identities of grand jurors and other non-financial information contained in the Auditor’s files. State and federal law prohibits the disclosure of this confidential information.

In fact, before the Board passed the resolution, the County’s State’s Attorney advised the Board during its meeting that the resolution “would create a massive violation of privacy rights for the citizens whose records are contained in it” and stated: “My legal opinion is that this Board does not have the authority to enforce the resolution.” Despite this advice, the Board passed the resolution on a party-line vote of 13-12.

To prevent the unlawful disclosure of private information required by the resolution, the Auditor sought relief from the court. Because the State’s Attorney already represented the Board, the Chief Judge of Madison County appointed Goldenberg Heller attorneys Tom Rosenfeld and Kevin Green as a Special State’s Attorney to represent the Auditor. The Auditor filed a lawsuit and quickly obtained a Temporary Restraining Order prohibiting the Board from enforcing the resolution.

At the insistence of the Chairman and Administrator, the case was expedited, causing the parties to quickly engage in discovery and motion practice, culminating in the filing of cross-motions for summary judgment two months after the case was filed (most cases take several years to get to that point). While these motions were pending, the Auditor proposed a settlement that would allow Board members and other officials access to a portion of the auditor’s software where they could view financial data that they already received in daily, monthly, and quarterly reports—but without the unlawful disclosure of confidential information that the resolution would have required.

“We wish it had not taken a lawsuit to protect the confidential information of citizens, but we had no other choice once the Board approved the resolution that would have required our office to unlawfully disclose the private information,” said Faccin. “Our office has always been transparent and thorough in providing all the financial information to County officials and citizens, both periodically, and upon request. The settlement gives the Board the same financial information they have always received, but without the disclosure of the non-financial, private data that their resolution would have required.”

Background

In Illinois a county auditor is a separate constitutional officer elected by the people. Illinois law vests the elected Auditor of a county with several powers and duties, including: (1) acting both as the accountant and auditor of the county’s other elected officers, departments, and agents; (2) maintaining a continuous internal audit of the elected officers, agents, and divisions; and (3) having access to all records, documents, and resources necessary to discharge these responsibilities, including confidential information contained in the records of county officers and departments, which is prohibited from disclosure under federal and state law. 55 ILCS 5/3-1005, 1006. To perform these functions, the Auditor is vested with statutory authority to control the internal operations of his office, subject only to the board’s budgetary limitations. 55 ILCS 5/3-1004. Further, “[n]o county board may alter the duties, powers and functions of county officers that are specifically imposed by law.” 55 ILCS 5/5-1087.

To perform his statutory auditing duties, including auditing the claims of the county, auditing the receipts of the elected officers and county departments, and maintaining a continuous internal audit of the operations and financial records of the officers, agents, and divisions of the county, the Auditor utilizes certain computer software in his office. The Auditor utilizes this software to prepare and provide public financial reports and data, though the software contains more than simply financial data. For example, some of the information received by the Auditor and placed in the auditing software includes information of citizens and county employees that is protected from disclosure under the Illinois Code of Criminal Procedure and other state and federal laws including:

  • names, addresses, and dates of payment for citizens who have served on grand juries in the county;
  • references to names and medical procedures for inmates paid by the Sheriff’s Office; and
  • names, addresses, and case number related to individuals, including minors, who have served as witnesses for the State’s Attorney.

Since the Auditor began using the auditing software in 2001, no prior county administration, chairman, board member, or treasurer has had, or requested access to, the software.

The Resolution

On March 20, 2019, the Madison County Board adopted a resolution that purported to give the County Chairman, his unnamed “designee,” the County Administrator, and the County Treasurer access to the auditing software. The resolution also required the installation of the software on these individuals’ computers outside of the Auditor’s office. Although the Board contended that the purpose of the resolution was only to see financial information, because the auditing software contained more than financial information, the resolution would have resulted in the unauthorized disclosure of confidential information of county citizens and employees in violation of Illinois law. During the Board’s debate on the resolution, the State’s Attorney advised the Board that the resolution “would create a massive violation of privacy rights for the citizens whose records are contained in it” and gave his legal opinion “that this Board does not have the authority to enforce the resolution.”  Nonetheless, the Board passed the resolution on a party-line vote.

The Lawsuit and Injunction

To prevent the unlawful disclosure of private information, the Auditor requested the appointment of a special state’s attorney to represent his office because the State’s Attorney was already representing the Board. The Court appointed attorneys Thomas Rosenfeld and Kevin Green as Special State’s Attorney to represent the Auditor.

On March 29, 2019, the Auditor filed a lawsuit asking the court to declare the resolution invalid and enjoin its enforcement. The Auditor maintained that the Board, Chairman, and Administrator were improperly equating the right to obtain financial information (which the Auditor already provided), with the right to access all of the data—including confidential non-financial data—contained in the Auditor’s software.   For example, to audit the Chief Judge’s grand jury service payments, data about grand jurors is uploaded into the software directly from a file provided to the Auditor by the Chief Judge’s Jury Commission. This information is not provided to the Board or anyone else outside the Jury Commission because the Illinois Code of Criminal Procedure prohibits the disclosure of information that reveals grand juror identities. See 725 ILCS 5/112-6(b); Better Gov’t Ass’n v. Office of the Special Prosecutor, 2019 IL 122949, ¶ 36 (quoting Lopez v. Department of Justice, 393 F.3d 1345, 1349 (D.C. Cir. 2005)). See also Sherman v. Ryan, 392 Ill. App. 3d 712, 737-38 (1st Dist. 2009) (finding confidentiality and privileges are preserved when disclosure of such information are made to auditors). See also 5 ILCS 140/7(m) (prohibiting disclosure of “materials prepared or compiled with respect to internal audits of public bodies”).

On April 1, 2019, after an extensive hearing, the Court issued a Temporary Restraining Order that prohibited the Board, Chairman, Administrator, Treasurer, and their agents from implementing the resolution or otherwise accessing the Auditor’s software. The Court found that there was a likelihood that the Auditor would succeed on the merits and that the Auditor would suffer irreparable harm without the injunction, namely, the invasion of his constitutional office and the unauthorized disclosure of the private and protected information contained the auditing software, “which could expose the Auditor and the County to significant liability under federal and state law.”

The Counterclaim

On April 22, 2019, the County Chairman and County Administrator, who had also requested the appointment of a Special State’s Attorney to represent them, filed a Counterclaim against the Auditor. They argued they had the unfettered right to access the Auditor’s software and view all the data contained therein.

As the case progressed, the defendants’ arguments supporting their need for the information and the resolution changed.

Argument 1: Access to Financial Data

The defendants initially argued that they needed access to the auditing software because the Auditor was purportedly keeping the financial books of the County a secret. After the lawsuit was filed, the parties proceeded with discovery, seeking documents and taking depositions to test this assertion. On May 28, 2019, the Auditor filed a motion for summary judgment, accompanied by deposition transcripts, affidavits, and 580 pages of exhibits showing that the Auditor routinely provided any and all financial information of the County to the Board, Chairman, Administrator, Treasurer, (both periodically and upon request), and to anyone else who requested it.

For example, the Auditor provided, among other things, daily financial reports to the Treasurer, monthly budget variance reports and budget expenditure reports to the Board’s Finance Committee, monthly comparative financial statements showing revenues and expenditures to the County Administrator, quarterly financial statements to the Board showing actual and projected revenues, expenditures, and conditions of all funds and appropriations, numerous other reports, documents and information upon request, and a Microsoft Excel file containing requested portions of the general ledger that could easily be searched, filtered, or otherwise manipulated using the countless accounting functions provided by Excel. In fact, the former Republican Chair of the Board’s Finance Committee for the current administration stated under oath that the Auditor’s office is “extremely cooperative” in providing information and documents requested, and never withheld from the Chair or Finance Committee financial information necessary to: (a) track the financial performance of the various Offices and Departments; and (b) establish their budgets.

Consistent with Ms. Ciampoli’s testimony, the Board’s sworn discovery responses showed that the Board could not identify a single document “evidencing a denial by the Auditor within the past 24 months for information or records requested by” the Board, Chairman, Administrator, or Treasurer.

None of these facts were disputed by the Board, Chairman, Administrator, or Treasurer. In fact, the Board explained to the Court that the information it purportedly needed from the Auditor “has already been provided.” These facts supported the Auditor’s view that the resolution was not about accessing financial information—it was about access to the auditing software and the confidential, non-financial information it contained.

Argument 2: Board Entitled to Any Private Information Held by Any County Official

Acknowledging that the Board already had the financial data, the Board next argued that it had a right to access all confidential information held by any county office, and, therefore, a county officer could not restrict information to other county government units.

This argument presented a slippery slope. Following this argument to its logical conclusion meant that any Board Member or County Administrator (or any government official?) could, with or without a resolution, obtain access to the software of other constitutional officers, such as the State’s Attorney, Sheriff’s Department, Circuit Court, or Chief Judge’s offices, and view private information that was prohibited from disclosure. Per the Board’s argument, if the Board Members or other county officials came across confidential information in these software programs, they “would be under the same obligation to protect the CI and PII as the [officer].” Essentially, no harm, no foul.

The Board’s position ignored the protections afforded to the privacy rights of county citizens. For instance, if the Board wants information about criminal investigations or proceedings, it has to ask for it from the State’s Attorney or Sherriff, and it may not be entitled to get what it wants. The Board cannot simply grant itself the power to access their software systems. This is because, like the Auditor’s system, there is certain information protected from disclosure within the software used by these separate constitutional officers. The Board acknowledged this reality, explaining: “[T]here is some information within those Departments that is so important and/or confidential” that is not “subject to invasion and scrutiny” and that is protected “from ever being disseminated.”

The Board’s own reasoning for why it could not freely access the software of the State’s Attorney and Sheriff’s Department, however, applied equally to the Auditor and the confidential non-financial information contained in the Auditor’s software. Just as state law prohibits the disclosure of certain information held by the State’s Attorney and Sheriff’s Department, so too does it prohibit the disclosure of certain information contained in the auditing software, including the identities of grand jurors and materials prepared or compiled during internal audits. See 725 ILCS 5/112-6(b); 5 ILCS 140/7(m).

Argument 3: Format of Financial Data

As the case progressed, the Board and other defendants shifted to a third argument. Although the defendants now acknowledged the Auditor was providing all the financial information requested and needed, they began arguing that the format of the information was unworkable. Again, the Auditor was providing daily, weekly, and monthly reports, along with Excel spreadsheets of the financial data that could be searched, filtered, or manipulated.

The Settlement

With the complaint about the format in mind, the Auditor began working toward a solution that would allow the defendants to see all the same financial information the Auditor had been providing, but within the auditing software. To resolve the lawsuit, the Auditor offered to work with the software vendor to create a program that would allow for financial information in the software to be exported to a separate database within the software, with the confidential non-financial information redacted. The Auditor offered to provide a separate computer terminal in his office at which the Board members, Chairman, Administrator, and other designated county officials could view the redacted general ledger within the auditing software. The Auditor also offered to post Excel sheets from the redacted general ledger (similar to what it had previously been providing) on its website on a monthly basis.

After back-and-forth with the defendants, the Auditor, Chairman, and Administrator reached a tentative agreement. But the Board still needed to approve the deal. In the Auditor’s view, this solution gave the defendants what they said they wanted—access to the financial data within the specific software, but without the overbroad scope of the resolution that would have compromised the privacy rights of county citizens and employees and exposed the county to significant liability.

At the first Board meeting to vote on the proposed settlement, the Board postpone the vote, which meant the lawsuit continued for another month. At the Board meeting the following month, the Board resolution to approve the settlement passed by a narrow 2-vote margin. Pursuant to the Settlement, the court dismissed the lawsuit and counterclaims on September 27, 2019.

Illinois Supreme Court Hears Argument on Guardian Ad Litem Immunity

On March 13, 2019, Kevin Green of Goldenberg Heller argued before the Illinois Supreme Court in Nichols v. Fahrenkamp, Case No. 123990. This case presents the issue of whether a guardian ad litem acting within the scope of his appointment in a probate proceeding is an agent of the Court and, therefore, entitled to quasi-judicial… Continue reading

On March 13, 2019, Kevin Green of Goldenberg Heller argued before the Illinois Supreme Court in Nichols v. Fahrenkamp, Case No. 123990.

This case presents the issue of whether a guardian ad litem acting within the scope of his appointment in a probate proceeding is an agent of the Court and, therefore, entitled to quasi-judicial immunity from claims of negligence.

This is a matter of first impression for the high court, and the Court’s ruling is expected to provide much-needed clarity about the duties and immunities for individuals appointed as guardians ad litem in probate proceedings.

A video of the argument can be viewed here.


Background

The underlying case involved the personal injury settlement fund created for plaintiff when she was a minor.  The plaintiff’s mother was appointed as the guardian of her person and her estate, and the court was required to approve any disbursements of the settlement fund until the plaintiff turned 18.  The court also appointed a guardian ad litem.  Over the next few years, the mother made requests for disbursements to pay for expenses related to the minor, the guardian ad litem recommended approval of several of these requests, and the probate court approved the disbursements.

After she turned 18, the plaintiff claimed that her mother dissipated the settlement funds, essentially by lying in the disbursement requests about what the money would be used for or how much was needed.  The plaintiff sued her mother, but did not recover everything she thought she should, largely because the court would not reexamine or go behind the probate court orders approving each disbursement.  Plaintiff did not appeal the decision.  She did, however, then sue the guardian ad litem for negligence.

The Trial Court Grants Summary Judgment

The guardian ad litem moved for summary judgment, arguing he was subject to quasi-judicial immunity as an agent of the court.  Although this was a matter of first impression for the court, the appellate courts for the First and Second District have each held that a “child representative” in divorce or custody proceedings (who performs more functions than a guardian ad litem in such proceedings) is entitled to quasi-judicial immunity.  The trial court followed these and other decisions to find that the immunity applied.  The plaintiff appealed the decision.

The Appellate Court Reverses the Trial Court

On appeal, a divided panel of the Fifth District reversed, finding guardians ad litem may have immunity in divorce or custody proceedings, but not in probate proceedings.  See Nichols v. Fahrenkamp, 2018 IL App (5th) 160316.

The Appellate Court held that the guardian ad litem “owed a duty to plaintiff to render advice and to protect plaintiff’s assets and interests arising out of the underlying personal injury settlement.”  Id. ¶ 14.  This meant that the guardian ad litem “had a duty to act as an advocate on behalf of plaintiff.”  Id.  In light of this duty, summary judgment was inappropriate because a question of fact remained as to whether the guardian ad litem “fulfill[ed] his role as plaintiff’s advisor, advocate, negotiator, or evaluator.”  Id. 

Thus, the Appellate Court held that the guardian ad litem had no immunity whatsoever because he “was not simply a neutral party *** [but] was a licensed attorney, an officer of the court, who should have understood the need to protect the assets of his ward,” and he had a duty “independent of merely acting as an arm of the court.”  Id. ¶¶15, 17.

Finally, the Appellate Court acknowledged that guardians ad litem are afforded absolute immunity in dissolution of marriage and child custody proceedings.  Id. ¶ 16.  Relying on Vlastelica v. Brend, 2011 IL App (1st) 102587, ¶ 23, however, the Appellate Court explained that the only rationale for such immunity was to allow guardians ad litem to fulfill their obligations without worry of harassment or intimidation from dissatisfied parents—and this rationale did not apply in this case.  Id.

The Appellate Court Dissent

 The Appellate Court included a dissent by Justice Goldenhersh, who argued that the majority’s determination that the guardian ad litem was not entitled to qualified or absolute immunity “runs contrary both to sound authority and is impractical in practice in our trial courts.”  Id. ¶ 23.  Further, the dissent explained that the majority’s decision would have consequences “adverse to the effective administration of justice in such an important area,” such as:

  • requiring trial judges “to provide specificity in directions to the guardian ad litem, which may or may not be effective, may or may not cover the factual situation at issue, and may very likely be premature in the development of the litigation in which the guardian ad litem is acting, since the guardian ad litem’s appointment would likely be early in the litigation and prior to development of facts and issues”; and
  • imposing upon the guardian ad litem “duties and requirements, not well defined,” increasing the likelihood “that future guardians ad litem be blindsided by duties not specific or implied in the trial judge’s appointment and subsequent orders,” and deterring attorneys from accepting appointments to be guardians ad litem.

Id. ¶ 27.

The Supreme Court Reviews the Case

Following the appellate court’s decision here, the guardian ad litem petitioned the Illinois Supreme Court to review the appellate court’s decision.  The Illinois Supreme Court is not required to review every decision from a court of appeals (this Illinois Bar Journal article estimates that the Supreme Court grants 2 to 4% of the petitions filed).

In the Petition, the guardian ad litem argued that the Supreme Court should address the issue because the Appellate Court’s ruling conflicted with prior rulings of the First and Second Districts, as well as the Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals and District Courts applying Illinois law.  See Davidson v. Gurewitz, 2015 IL App (2d) 150171, ¶ 11, appeal denied, Davidson v. Gurewitz, 2016 Ill. LEXIS 195, 48 N.E.3d 672 (Jan. 20, 2016) (“[W]e hold that the common law affords defendant absolute immunity from suit related to his court-appointed duties as child representative.”); Vlastelica v. Brend, 2011 IL App (1st) 102587, ¶ 36, appeal denied, Vlastelica v. Brend, 2011 Ill. LEXIS 2102, 962 N.E.2d 490 (Nov. 30, 2011)) (same); Heisterkamp v. Pacheco, 2016 IL App (2d) 150229, ¶ 11, appeal denied, Heisterkamp v. Pacheco, 2016 Ill. LEXIS 1013, 60 N.E.3d 873 (Sept. 28, 2016) (finding court-appointed experts asked to advise on the best interests of a child are entitled to absolute immunity); Cooney v. Rossiter, 583 F.3d 967, 970 (7th Cir. 2009) (“Guardians ad litem . . . are absolutely immune from liability for damages when they act at the court’s discretion.  They are arms of the court, much like special masters, and deserve protection from harassment by disappointed litigants just as judges do.”); Scheib v. Grant, 22 F.3d 149, 157 (7th Cir. 1994) (“We believe that the Illinois Supreme Court would find this reasoning persuasive and grant a court-appointed GAL absolute immunity from lawsuits arising out of statements or conduct intimately associated with the GAL’s judicial duties.”).

The guardian ad litem further argued that the Appellate Court’s decision disregarded the important public policies for providing absolute immunity to guardians ad litem acting within the scope of their duties, and if left undisturbed, would create a confusing and uncertain standard, imply unknown duties upon guardians ad litem, deter the acceptance of guardian ad litem appointments, and hinder the effective administration of justice in cases involving minors.

The Supreme Court granted the petition.  After the parties submitted additional briefs (including a brief amicus curiae by the Illinois Trial Lawyers Association), the Supreme Court heard oral arguments on March 13, 2019.

The parties, along with the bench and bar, now await the Court’s decision.

To learn more about our litigation and appellate practice, please contact us today at (800) 782-8492.