|Advisory Board Member|
| Litigator: Yes|
| Practice Description: |
Carmen Caruso, a nationally known trial and appellate lawyer engages in franchise, dealership and distribution, and other complex business litigation and arbitration. Mr. Caruso has tried numerous cases to verdict and has won decisive, cutting edge legal victories and obtained multi-million dollar recoveries for plaintiffs and savings for defendants.
With over 27 years of experience Mr. Caruso has successfully represented clients ranging from Fortune 100 companies to start-ups and their entrepreneurial founders, in diverse industries ranging from gas stations, restaurants, retailers and hotels to franchised manufacturers and healthcare clinics.
Mr. Caruso has served as trial counsel and outside general counsel for an international retailer, and numerous other franchisors, franchisees, and area developers. He has organized several Illinois franchisee trade associations and advises national independent franchisee associations such as the Asian American Hotel Owners Association and Dairy Queen Operators Association.
Mr. Caruso has represented or advised franchise clients in more than 100 systems and many of his cases have had "system wide impact."
Mr. Caruso's Franchise Dealership and Distribution cases include:
Notable Cases and Results:
Obtaining several million dollars in settlement on behalf of retail consumer electronics dealers who alleged that their dealerships were hidden franchises, which were induced by fraudulent earnings projections.
The successful defense of McDonald's Corporation in multiple cases including an antitrust and RICO action following the termination of a five-store owner; a claim for hundreds of millions of dollars in damages for the alleged theft of trade secrets in oven technology; and claims by a terminated supplier of uniforms to the system, who alleged that it had an oral agreement to manage the production and sales of uniforms by all of the system's other uniform suppliers.
Winning an important precedent in the United States Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit on the questions of whether a franchisor had breached the implied covenant of good faith & fair dealing by withholding referrals of "national account" patients to the franchisee, and by deliberately encroaching the franchisee's trade area, such that the franchisee defaulted in royalty payments - with the end result being that the franchisee was entitled to go to the jury on the issue of whether the franchisor had acted in bad faith, even though the franchisor had statutory "good cause" for termination.
Winning a "glass ceiling" decision in the United States Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit on behalf of a terminated female vice-president, who had been the only female manager of an industrial company, and who was the only employee terminated in an alleged reduction in force.
Successfully defending a retail franchisor from claims of post-sale fraud in arranging the franchisee's bank financing; and on the other side, the successful prosecution of fraudulent inducement claims on behalf of the owner of twelve national brand steakhouse restaurants.
Protecting the "book of business" of a terminated insurance agency, in the field of professional design liability, from efforts by an insurance company, which the company itself had described as a "knife fight," to transfer that business to a newly appointed age.
Protecting a terminated franchisee from claims of trademark infringement, where the franchisor had deliberately set a "trademark trap" by announcing the sudden end to post-expiration, at-will relationship, knowing that the franchisee could not possibly stop its usage of the trademarks in time to comply with the franchisor's mandate.
Successful representation of a franchisee in claim of racial discrimination in the denial of a franchising opportunity, where the franchisor had taken race into account in assigning different Chicago communities (by zip code) into segregated territories.
Successful defense of a national pizza franchisor against bad faith claims related to unsuccessful rollout of deep-dish pizza product.
Successful commercial arbitration on behalf of the sellers of a well-known sporting goods business, where the buyer, a regional chain, reneged on making the final post-sale payment to the seller, based on its perjured testimony as to an alleged shortfall in the seller's ending inventory.
Obtaining one of the largest reported Rule 11 sanctions against an attorney for a curtain wall sub-contractor who filed frivolous RICO claims against a construction management firm.
Obtaining nearly two million dollars in damages for a trust fund beneficiary where the trustees engaged in transactions that were tainted by conflicts of interest.
Defending a law firm accused of legal malpractice in the preparation of franchise registration and disclosure documents; and another law firm charged with breach of fiduciary duties in the promotion of limited partnerships in which their clients were solicited to invest.
United States Supreme Court
United States Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit
United States District Courts in Illinois, Wisconsin, Michigan and Colorado
Illinois Supreme Court
Federal Trial Bar (Northern District of Illinois)
Numerous pro hac vice admissions in many states
Date of Birth: 1958
Loyola University of Chicago School Of Law,J.D., 1983
Law School Honors/Involvement:
Top 10 percent upon graduation; member of Law Review; Appellate Practicum (brief and oral argument to 7th Circuit); intern for the United States Attorney for the Northern District of Illinois; street law teacher in a Chicago Public High School.
Marquette University, B.A., psychology, 1980
Undergraduate School Honors/Involvement:
Bar/Professional Association Involvement:
American Bar Association, Section of Litigation and Forum on Franchising. Member of the Litigation and Alternative Dispute Resolution Committee (LADR) of the ABA Franchise Forum
Chicago Bar Association (member)
American Association of Franchisees & Dealers, Formerly a director and chair of the Amicus Committee
Illinois State Bar
Asian American Hotel Owners Association, Supporting Member
Dunkin Doughnuts Independent Franchise Owners, Supporting Member
Awards; Honors; Distinctions:
In addition to being recognized as an Illinois Leading Lawyer, since 2006, he has served on the Advisory Board of Leading Lawyers. Mr. Caruso has recently been named to the Illinois Attorney General's Franchise Advisory Board. Caruso has also been named as an Illinois Super Lawyer by Illinois Super Lawyers magazine and Law & Politics, every year since 2005 and repeatedly named a "Legal Eagle" by Franchise Times, a Crain's publication focused on the franchise industry.
Mr. Caruso was also named to the Bar Register of Preeminent Lawyers in 2002, and is AV Peer Review Rated by Martindale-Hubbell; and he has been named to the "Who's Who Legal Illinois" list by the International Bar Association.
Catholic Charities of Chicago, Member, Board of Advisors
Mount Carmel High School Fathers Club, Officer
Union League Club of Chicago, Member
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