• Attorney Kevin Chern sued by former employer for civil conspiracy, the suit against Chern assets causes of action for alleged breach of fiduciary duty, violation of the Illinois Trade Secrets Act and unjust enrichment, in July 0f 2015

    In the latest of a series of lawsuits linked to a claimed theft of proprietary software by a competitor, Chicago bankruptcy law firm chief Peter Francis Geraci is seeking $1 million in damages from a former associate.

    Filed Tuesday in Cook County Circuit Court, the suit alleges that Kevin Chern, who last worked for Geraci’s firm in 1997, participated in a claimed conspiracy to allow the Legal Helpers bankruptcy firm to make use of Geraci’s software, the Cook County Record (http://cookcountyrecord.com/stories/510629987-geraci-alleges-rival-formerassociate-chern-aided-taking-of-proprietary-software) reports.

    “By using … software owned by Geraci, Chern reduced substantially the development costs associated with creating the type of proprietary software necessary to operate a sophisticated consumer bankruptcy law practice in direct competition with Geraci, and saved himself and his former law [firm] in excess of $1 million in development costs that Geraci incurred,” the complaint says.

    Chern had worked for Legal Helpers immediately after leaving Geraci’s employ, but he is now amanaging partner at another law firm. Other Geraci employees participated in the claimed software conspiracy, too, Geraci has alleged in prior litigation, the Record article reports. At least one federal lawsuit is still pending.

    In addition to civil conspiracy, the suit against Chern assets causes of action for alleged breach of fiduciary duty, violation of the Illinois Trade Secrets Act and unjust enrichment.

  • Peter Geraci accuses Kevin Chern (formerly with Total Attorneys and Currently with Upright Law) of Stealing Proprietary Information

    A Chicago lawyer has brought his battle over allegedly stolen bankruptcy software to federal court after the suit he filed four years ago in state court failed to reach final judgment.

    Peter Francis Geraci, known to avid television viewers throughout the Chicago area for his “bankruptcy info tapes,” originally filed suit in 2010 in DuPage County Court against R. William Amidon, a former employee, and others.

    He claimed Amidon copied and shared his trademarked bankruptcy law practice management software — Geraci Automated Program (GapC)– when he created similar software for rival bankruptcy firm Legal Helpers.

    Filed Friday in Chicago’s federal court, Geraci’s suit, which seeks more than $1 million in damages, again names Amidon and Thomas G. Macey, founder of Legal Helpers, though the names of several co-defendants in his state court suit are not included.

    The suit again accuses Amidon of violating Geraci’s copyright to the software and handing the code at its heart over to Macey. It alleges the duo’s actions violated the Illinois Trade Secrets Act and that Amidon breached a contract.

    According to his recently-filed federal complaint, Geraci hired Amidon in 1996 to develop GapC, software Geraci asserts he designed to streamline the process of generating bankruptcy-related forms and managing appointments, litigation and client information.

    Geraci asserts he fired Amidon in 2006, and then in 2010, discovered Amidon had been “working secretly for Macey.” Geraci claims he uncovered an exact copy of his computer code on Macey’s server, along with a similar program called “LH1” that Geraci’s forensic experts determined was based on the code Amidon and Macey had stolen from him.

    In the suit he filed in 2010 in state court, a DuPage County judge found in favor of the defendants, but a panel of the Second District Appellate Court in December ruled in favor of Geraci and remanded the case for further proceedings.

    The defendants unsuccessfully sought rehearing and review from the Illinois Supreme Court, according to Geraci’s suit, which goes on to note the appeals panel in February entered a protective order in the case requiring all documents to be filed under seal.

    Geraci non-suited Amidon before the appeal, and is proceeding to non-suit the rest of the state court action in light of Macey dissolving his bankruptcy law practice and being an involuntary debtor in bankruptcy proceedings in the Southern District of New York. No final judgment was rendered against Amidon or Macey in the original case.

    In his federal suit, Geraci levels new allegations at Kevin Chern, a former employee of his own firm and a law school friend of Macey. Chern, however, is not named as a defendant.

    Geraci accuses Chern of “stealing client information and giving it to Macey,” and claims that when confronted about it, Chern quit and went to work for Macey.

    “Macey and Chern decided to copy Geraci’s law practice, and steal his trade secrets. They decided they could not accomplish this because a multi-office, multi-state consumer bankruptcy practice would not be profitable without software such as Geraci’s, so they hired Amidon to steal Geraci’s software,” Geraci’s suit alleges.

    Geraci contends that Amidon would leave his “office with daily copies of software updates, or builds, and go to Macey’s office and give them to Macey in exchange for small sums of money, while he remained on Geraci’s payroll.”

    According to Geraci’s allegations, a widespread conspiracy of former firm members followed.

    “Macey and Chern then hired numerous attorneys from Geraci’s office who were familiar with his software and algorithms and trade secrets,” his suit asserts.

    Geraci claims those attorneys who had worked for him went over to Macey’s firm and used their knowledge of his business model to copy his practice.

    Several former members of Geraci’s firm who were named in the original DuPage County case are accused of betraying him to go become partners at Macey’s firm, but are not named as defendants in federal suit; among them Shobhana Khasturi, Jeffrey Aleman and Richard Gustafson. Also mentioned by name were former Geraci attorneys Richard Melendez and Guillermo Guisse.

  • Personalized Service from Benjamin Brand, LLP

    At Benjamin Brand, LLP, our Chicago bankruptcy attorneys are dedicated to helping people get out of debt and fix their credit. Our foreclosure attorneys offer customized, personal service, so that all clients feel comfortable in our firm. Each of our bankruptcy lawyers is dedicated to making our clients feel at home from the moment they set foot in our office.

    If you’re considering filing for bankruptcy in Chicago , choosing the right bankruptcy lawyer is one of the most important steps. This video provides a brief look at the representation offered by Benjamin Brand, LLP. As leading Chicago bankruptcy attorneys, our mission is to change people’s lives. To accomplish this mission, our foreclosure attorneys go over every option and case strategy with our clients, allowing them to make an informed decision when filing for bankruptcy. Our foreclosure attorneys can help explain foreclosure alternatives, including loan modification options.

  • A Look at What Foreclosure Means for You

    Missing one mortgage payment or accidentally paying the incorrect amount doesn’t necessarily mean you will face foreclosure and the prospect of filing for bankruptcy. However, if you are unable to stay current on multiple mortgage payments, your lender may try to repossess your property and sell it to pay back your debt. In fact, your lender can get a court order cancelling your property rights if you continuously fail to make your monthly mortgage payments, which is why it’s so important to enlist the services of a foreclosure attorney. Foreclosure Attorney Chicago

    If you begin to fall behind on your monthly mortgage payments, it’s a good idea to consult a Chicago bankruptcy attorney . As your bankruptcy lawyer will explain, your lender ne eds t o give you an opportunity to make payments or obtain a loan modification before beginning a foreclosure proceeding. Even though the legal requirements vary by state, you generally need to be considerably behind on your payments for foreclosure to begin. If you are filing for bankruptcy in Chicago, this will result in an automatic stay, which will immediately stop creditor activity on your property. However, every bankruptcy case is unique, so it’s important to discuss your financial situation with a foreclosure attorney in your area.

  • Reasons to Hire a Foreclosure Defense Attorney

    As soon as you are served with a foreclosure notice, you should consult a Chicago bankruptcy attorney. A Chicago foreclosure attorney can help you delay the foreclosure process through a Chapter 7 petition or save your home altogether by filing a Chapter 13 bankruptcy petition. If you are filing for bankruptcy, the court will automatically issue an order for relief, which prohibits your creditors from continuing their collection activity and can postpone a foreclosure sale.

    Representing You in Court
    Foreclosure Defense Attorney in Chicago Even after filing for bankruptcy, you may have to go to court in order to prese rve your homeownership. Without the help of a foreclosure attorney, it will be much more difficult to state your case and protect your interests. The banks you face in court will have legal representation, so you will be at a disadvantage if you go to court without a foreclosure lawyer by your side. If you are filing for bankruptcy in Chicago, a bankruptcy lawyer can maximize your chance of keeping your home, ensure that you never miss a legal deadline, and help protect your rights during this stressful time.

    Responding to a Foreclosure Notice
    Once you receive a foreclosure notice, you have a certain time period to respond. This time frame is even shorter once the foreclosure summons and complaint are filed in court. Usually, you and your bankruptcy lawyers will have only a few weeks to investigate the complaint and challenge your bank. In fact, banks count on you not being able to file on time, which will result in a default judgment for the bank. Consulting with Chicago bankruptcy attorneys will keep you on track so you don’t miss this deadline.

    Investigating Foreclosure Alternatives
    As a bankruptcy attorney will explain to you, there are many alternatives to foreclosure. Once you consult a Chicago foreclosure attorney, he or she will investigate your case and provide you with a detailed analysis of your options. Foreclosure attorneys are experts at investigating foreclosure alternatives, including loan modifications and short sales. A foreclosure attorney can also help you reduce your monthly payment or reduce the interest rate on your mortgage.

  • How can our law firm help protect your home?

    If you are currently at risk of losing your home to foreclosure, the first thing that you need to do is contact a foreclosure defense attorney from our law firm. Our firm is known for providing active, aggressive help in these cases. Not only can we answer the claim, but we can defend it in state court. Foreclosure Defense Lawyer Chicago

    In modern times, cases of foreclosure can be difficult because of how often ownership is transferred. It is not uncommon for a mortgage to be packaged with securities and then sold multiple times. When this happens, it can become convoluted and difficult to determine who has the right to foreclosure.

    Therefore, when we take on a case, one of the first things that we will do is make the bank prove that they actually have the right to foreclose, which can be extremely difficult in most cases. Should they face an error in the chain of securitization or title, it may be nearly impossible for them to prove that they have the right. Due to this level of difficulty, many banks may accept a loan modification proposal.

  • Understanding the Basics of the Home Affordable Modification Program

    The Home Affordable Modification Program is available to people who are employed but are having difficulty making their monthly mortgage payments. By participating in HAMP, a homeowner can lower his or her monthly payments, making them more affordable and sustainable in the long-term. This can help a petitioner facing financial difficulties avoid filing for bankruptcy, escape foreclosure, and still keep his or her home.

    Eligibility
    Home Affordable Modification Process Chicago If someone is considering filing for bankruptcy, he or she should discuss HAMP with a bankruptcy lawyer. A Chicago bankruptcy attorney can help a petitioner determine whether or not he or she is eligible for HAMP. In general, petitioners need to have obtained their mortgages on or before January 1, 2009 in order to be eligible. In addition, petitioners must owe up to $729,750 on their primary residences or single unit rental properties. In order to qualify for HAMP, a homeowner should consult a foreclosure attorney to ensure that his or her income is sufficient to support a modified payment plan. Someone participating in HAMP also can’t have a felony conviction within the last 10 years in connection with a mortgage or real estate transaction.

    Availability
    The best way for someone to determine his or her HAMP eligibility is by consulting a mortgage service provider. This will help the petitioner determine whether or not his or her mortgage company participates in the program. If the mortgage company doesn’t participate in HAMP, it might be willing to discuss other foreclosure prevention programs. A mortgage company may also offer loan modification options, so it’s important for a petitioner to discuss these options with a bankruptcy attorney .

    Application
    In applying for HAMP, a homeowner needs to complete various forms and file them with his or her mortgage provider. A Chicago foreclosure attorney has the experience to ensure that these documents are completed accurately. Chicago bankruptcy attorneys understand how to fill out the Request for Mortgage Assistance Form and related IRS paperwork in Illinois. In addition, Chicago bankruptcy lawyers can help homeowners determine which mortgage loan modifications are best suited to their financial situations.

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  • Chicago Bankruptcy Attorney Addresses Financial Struggles Athletes Face

    The tragic tale of American professional athletes rising from poverty to fame, only to squander their earnings and file bankruptcy after retiring is becoming all too common. Professional athletes in popular sports in America can make anywhere from hundreds of thousands of dollars to tens of millions. Although their playing careers are shorter than those of other professions, many of these athletes make enough money to last them the rest of their lives.

    A report in 2009 from Sports Illustrated estimated that 78 percent of NFL players are either bankrupt or “facing serious financial stress” within two years of ending their playing careers, and 60 percent of NBA players are completely broke within 5 years of retirement.

    “When a 21-year-old kid get such big numbers, they go out and buy the big house and the fancy car,” said Robert Luna of SureVest Capital Management in Phoenix. Luna has served as a financial advisor to professional athletes, such as Arizona Cardinals offensive lineman Levi Brown. “Before they know it, they are out of the league and their income drops significantly.”

    Another problem is that because they are high-profile figures, athletes will have friends, relatives and organizations asking for money.

    “All sorts of people and advisers start calling,” said Brown, who was a high-profile fifth overall draft selection in 2007. “In any business where you make a lot of money, there are people trying to get their hands on it.”

    Young athletes should follow Brown’s lead and hire financial advisors. Please contact our firm for a free consultation if you are struggling with debt.

    Benjamin Brand Services- Chicago bankruptcy lawyer .

  • Q&A with a Chicago Bankruptcy Attorney–Borrowing from a 401(k)

    Q:      My wife and I are in our late 20s with a mortgage and almost $20,000 in student loan debt between the two of us. We each have 401(k) plans we have contributed to-should we cash one out to pay off student loan debts?

    A:      It may be very tempting to cash out a 401(k) to pay off any debt, including student loans and mortgages, but it is probably not in your best interests for your long-term financial security. If you do withdraw money from the 401(k) early, you will have to pay a 10 percent penalty on whatever you withdraw in addition to your tax rate. Hypothetically, if you make more than $75,000 annually, you will pay your 25 percent tax rate in addition to the 10 percent penalty. If someone tried to get you to sign off on a loan at 35 percent interest to pay off the student loan, you would think that person was out of his mind.

    People who have large student loan debt on top of other debt may want to look at bankruptcy get rid of dischargeable debt and focus on paying back the student loan debt, which is rarely dischargeable in bankruptcy. Contact or firm for more bankruptcy information .

    Benjamin Brand Services- Chicago bankruptcy lawyer .

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