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St. Louis Legal Issues Blog

What is a phishing scam?

Consumers face a battery of different scams and unethical behaviors. Some have been around for decades or even centuries. Others have sprung up with the growth of the internet. Either way, it is important for consumers to know what these scams look like and what to watch out for.

One of the most common scams, per the U.S. Department of the Treasury, is a phishing scam. Do you know what this is and how it works?

Prenuptial Agreements are Invalid if Unconscionable, or if Assets are not Disclosed

The Illinois Prenuptial Agreement Act provides that prenuptial agreements are not enforcible if they are unconscionable (unfairly one-sided), or if a party fails to reasonably disclose his/her assets before marriage, unless the right to disclosure is waived in writing.  However, a wife's attack on a prenuptial agreement was rejected where she voluntarily signed the agreement without reading it, and the husband made a fair, but not full, disclosure of his assets and liabilities before marriage.  An agreement is not unconscionable just because it is one-sided.  A valid prenuptial agreement replaces the marital rights of the parties under the law.  Marriage of Woodrum (Illinois Court of Appeals, 3rd district, Sept 20, 2018).

Lawyer Does Not Qualify as Innocent Spouse for Tax Purposes

The IRS determined that a husband-wife attorney team owed $207,000 in back taxes and $77,000 in penalties.  The husband was a tax attorney.  The wife had a law degree and taught school.  After the Tax Court affirmed the decisiosn of the IRS, the wife, an attorney with MBA and Doctorate degrees in addition to her law degree, petitioned the Tax Court for relief from the tax bill under a section of the Tax Code that allows relief for "innocent spouses".  She testified that she did not understand the joint tax return, financial matters, checking accounts or credit card statements.  The Tax Court ruled that her testimony was not credible and that she did not qualify as an innocent spouse for that reason and because she had participated in the original tax case by sitting at the table for parties and their attorneys.  The Court of Appeals affirmed.  The attorney-wife was represented by her tax-attorney-husband throughout.  Frances Rogers v. The IRS (U.S. Court of Appeals for the 7th Circuit, Nov., 2018).

5 reasons you need a contract, not a handshake deal

You sit down with a potential business partner and the two of you come to an agreement. You shake hands. You agree to work together.

That's when you suggest writing up a contract, but your new partner says you won't need one. The handshake is enough, they claim. They promise to uphold their end of the deal.

Charges filed in Illinois motorcyclist's death

An Edwardsville, Illinois, man has been charged in the death of a motorcyclist.

The 35-year-old woman was driving her motorcycle on July 12 at about 8:30 in the evening when she was hit by a 2004 Buick Rainier. She was wearing a helmet but passed away a few hours later from her injuries.

Termination of A Public Official for Political Reasons Violates the First Amendment

Two park commissioners organized a coup to terminate the employment of the park district's executive director, as retaliation. because she supported the election of a board member they opposed.  They also broke into her office and stole her personnel file.  The U.S. District Court acknowledged that breaking into the office and stealing the file were not official duties for the purpose of establishing that they were acting under color of state law; but nevertheless denied the motion to dismiss because the defendants' other activities established that they engineered the plaintiff's termination from public office for political reasons, which violates the First Amendment of the U.S. Constitution.  McCaskill v Barbara Moore et al (U.S. Dist Ct for the N. dist of Ill., Oct. 2018)

Landlord's Failure to Stop Tenants from Attacking Lesbian Violates the Law

The Fair Housing Act prohibits landlords from discriminating against any person with respect to the sale or rental of a dwelling because of race, color, religion, sex, familial status or national origin.  The United States Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit recently ruled that the Act also establishes liability for landlords which have actual notice of tenant-on-tenant harassment based on any protected staus, which includes sexual orientation, but fails to take any reasonable steps within their control to stop the harassment.  It is not necessary to establish that the landlord had discriminatory animus toward the victim.  Wetzel v. Glen St. Andrew Living Community.  ( U.S. Seventh Circuit, August, 2018)

Failure to Read Insurance Policy was Devastating

Homeowners purchased insurance from American Family Insurance in 2012 because of a promise that the policy would be equal to or better than their previous policy with Travelers Insurance Co, which provided liability coverage for defamation.  The American Family policy did not provide coverage for defamation.  More than 2 years later (the policy was renewed) the Homeowners were sued for defamation. They demanded that American Family defend the lawsuit, but it declined because the policy did not provide defamation coverage.  The Homeowners sued for negligent failure to provide a policy with equal or better coverage than the Travelers policy.  The Illinois Supreme Court, in a 5-2 decision, ruled that the 2-year Statute of Limitations for negligent procurement began when the Homeowners received, and could have read, the policy, not when the defamation lawsuit was filed.  The Court reasoned that the homeowners could have read, and understood, the policy when it was received.  The decision assumes that most homeowners, upon reading, can determine the coverages provided,  and that most homeowners actually read their policy before a claim arises.  American Family Insurance v. Krop ( Ill. Sup. Ct., Oct. 2018)

2 tips for motorists that will prevent injury and death

There's no reason why you shouldn't be able to get from A to B without being involved in a serious auto collision -- that is, if everyone else on the road were attentive, defensive and law-abiding motorists. Unfortunately, no matter how safe and careful we are on the road, there will be an unlimited number of drivers who are not. This is why, if we hope to reduce our chances of injury in an auto accident, we need to take extra precaution, such as:

Making sure you are driving the safest car you can afford: Your car needs to be well maintained mechanically. When you keep your vehicle in excellent condition, it will stop faster and be more agile if you need to make any split-second, evasive maneuvers required to avoid a collision. As for buying new, when you buy a new, modern vehicle with the latest safety features, you will also benefit from having a car that's more capable of avoiding accidents. Also, in the event of a crash, a newer automobile may be better equipped at reducing the severity of your injuries.

David M. Duree and Associates, P.C.
312 South Lincoln Avenue
O'Fallon, IL 62269
Phone: 618-589-0956
Fax: 618-628-0259
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St. Louis, Missouri 63177