Law Firms Mandell Menkes and Leavens, Strand & Glover Join to Expand Media and Entertainment Practice Within Full-Service Law Firm

Mandell Menkes and entertainment law boutique Leavens, Strand & Glover announced that they are joining forces effective January 1, 2019.

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Rock Island Judge Throws Out Defamation Suit Over Article Highlighting Recreation Facility Owner’s Criminal Past In Wake Of Tragic Teen Drowning


In late May 2016, a high school student drowned in the pool at the Hillcrest Event Center, a recreational facility in Orion, Illinois near the Iowa border. Davenport station KWQC TV-6 reporter Dan Stevens investigated the drowning incident and looked into the background of Hillcrest owners Dan Kost, and his wife Terri Kost.  Stevens reviewed prior court records and discovered that Dan Kost served a federal prison sentence in 1990 for a financial fraud conviction arising from his participation in a credit card fraud scheme.  Additional records showed that after being released from prison, Dan Kost bought Hillcrest and later applied to the Small Business Administration for a low interest disaster assistance loan when Hillcrest sustained damage during severe rains.  The same records demonstrated that in 1998 Dan Kost was convicted on four felony counts arising from false statements he made to the Small Business Administration in connection with obtaining the loan for Hillcrest.

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Steve Mandell Leads Discussion on Public Records Access at the ABA Annual Meeting CLE Showcase Program

Steve Mandell shared key insights on the media’s access to information as the moderator of an all-star panel at the 2018 ABA Annual Conference CLE Showcase Program “Hurdles and Hope: The Quest for Transparent Government in the U.S. and Abroad” in Chicago on August 3, 2018.

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Mandell Menkes To Argue Case Defending Anonymous Speech Next Month

Next month, a McHenry County judge will decide whether McHenry County Recorder Joseph Tirio’s is entitled to unmask the anonymous citizens responsible for critical campaign fliers circulated in the lead up to Tirio’s primary election.   The fliers called attention to Tirio’s use of public resources to fund a trip to New Mexico and hire additional employees to staff his Recorder’s Office—the same office he promised to eliminate during his campaign. Mandell Menkes attorney Natalie Harris represents the respondents whom Tirio alleges know the identity of the citizens responsible for the fliers.  Respondents assert that the flier statements constitute political opinion protected by the First Amendment. Furthermore, Respondents maintain that as a public official, Tirio cannot meet the high burden of demonstrating that the citizens behind the fliers acted with actual malice—in other words, with knowledge that the flier statements were false, or harboring serious doubts as to their truth.  Read the article here: Judge to hear case on political attack ads against McHenry County recorder in August

Mandell Menkes Defends Anonymous Speech in McHenry County, IL Political Battle

McHenry County Recorder Joseph Tirio, who is running for McHenry County Clerk, has filed an Ill. Sup. Ct. R. 244 Petition seeking the identity of the individual(s) responsible for publishing the content on three campaign flyers  circulated in the months leading up to the Republican primary in the spring of 2018. The Petition requests an order requiring Breaker Press Co., Inc.—the company listed as having paid the postage on the flyers—and Tirio’s unsuccessful opponent in the primary, Janice Dalton, to disclose the identity of individuals associated with the Illinois Integrity Fund, the group behind the flyers. Mandell Menkes represents Breaker Press and Dalton, who object to the Petition on the grounds that the underlying speech is protected by the First Amendment and forcing disclosure of the speakers’ identities infringes on their constitutional right to engage in anonymous speech.  Read the article here: Chicago Attorney Objects To Probe Of Anonymous Group Behind McHenry County Campaign Ads

Steve Mandell featured in the Media Law Resource Center’s monthly MediaLawLetter, Ten Questions To A Media Lawyer

Read the entire article from The City’s No.1 Source for the Law Profession.

Mandell Menkes Lawyer Natalie Harris Facilitates Advertising and Promotions Workshop

Natalie Harris was the lead facilitator on the Hot Issues in Advertising and Promotions Law Workshop panel at the ABA Forum on Communications Law Annual Conference in Napa, CA March 1-3, 2018.  Ms. Harris spoke on recent developments in TCPA litigation in the wake of Spokeo v. Robins as well as new federal Consumer Review Fairness Act (“CRFA”) prohibiting certain contractual restrictions on consumers’ “right to Yelp” and corresponding state legislation such as Illinois’ new “right to Yelp” amendment to the Consumer Fraud and Deceptive Trade Practices Act.

Mandell Menkes Lawyer Speaks At 2018 FOIAFest

Brendan Healey spoke on a panel at the sixth annual FOIAFest at Loyola University Law School on February 24. FOIAFest, which is put on by the Chicago Headline Club, is a daylong series of speakers, panels, and training sessions on the Freedom of Information Act and access to public records. Brendan spoke on a lawyers’ panel on the topic of “Taking FOIA requests to court.” The Chicago Tribune’s Ben Meyerson moderated the panel.

Mandell Menkes wins dismissal of defamation and unfair competition suit against ABA and others.

Read the entire article from The City’s No. 1 Source for the Law Profession.

“Steve Mandell interviewed by Chicago Tribune regarding Officer Van Dyke’s effort to subpoena the media in the Laquan McDonald murder case.”

Lawyers for cop charged in Laquan McDonald shooting subpoena newspapers, click “here” to read the article.

University of Chicago Graham School Event

Steve Baron will be presenting at the University of Chicago Graham School on Legal Issues for Editors, Authors, and Freelancers at The Gleacher Center. Thursday, January 25, 2018 at 06:00pm READ MORE.

Judge Grants Motion To Quash High Profile Murder Defendant’s Subpoena To Reporter

Mandell Menkes appeared on behalf of the Reporter’s Committee for Freedom of the Press for ruling on Chicago reporter Jamie Kalven’s motion to quash a subpoena issued by former Chicago police officer Jason Van Dyke’s lawyers in pending first degree murder proceedings. Kalven’s Slate Magazine story “Sixteen Shots” ( revealed a police cover-up surrounding the shooting death of teenager Laquan McDonald by Van Dyke. Kalven’s story set in motion an investigation that revealed the existence of police dash-cam video that contradicted official police reports that McDonald had “lunged” at officers, and ultimately led to the firing of police chief Gerry McCarthy.  Van Dyke subpoenaed Kalven seeking “reports and/or information [Kalven] received regarding [the Van Dyke shooting incident] and when he received it.”   The court granted Kalven’s motion to quash Van Dyke’s subpoena, noting that the subpoena was “not sufficiently specific and seeks irrelevant and privileged material.”  Here is a copy of the order.

Mandell Menkes Represents Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press in High Profile Case

Mandell Menkes appeared on behalf of the Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press in the prosecution of Jason Van Dyke. Mr. Van Dyke, a Chicago police officer, has been accused of first degree murder in the death of 17-year-old Laquan McDonald. After Mr. Van Dyke subpoenaed reporter Jamie Kalven, the Reporters Committee, represented by Brendan Healey of Mandell Menkes, filed an amicus brief in the case on the reporters privilege. Eighteen other media companies and groups joined the Reporters Committee as amici. Steve Mandell was quoted in a WBEZ report on the case, and Brendan Healey’s appearance on behalf of the Reporters Committee was covered by WGN, the Chicago Tribune, CBS Chicago, BuzzfeedThe USA Bulletin, and What’s Life.

WFLD Fox 32 Chicago Wins Summary Judgment In Defamation Suit Filed By Gubernatorial Candidate Tio Hardiman

Mandell Menkes prevailed on a motion for summary judgment in a lawsuit filed by former and current Illinois gubernatorial candidate Tio Hardiman. Hardiman sued WFLD Fox 32 for defamation and false light arising from a news broadcast in the run up to the 2014 democratic primary.


Hardiman claimed WFLD (owned and operated by Fox Television Stations, LLC) destroyed his “good reputation as a reputable and law-abiding citizen and candidate with the voters of the State of Illinois, where the Plaintiff was well and favorably known” by publishing statements in the broadcast teaser and companion web article regarding his background.


WFLD filed a motion for summary judgment arguing, among other things, that Hardiman—a public figure—had no evidence that the WFLD producers involved in publishing the statements had any reason to doubt their truth when the broadcast aired. On August 21, 2017, the court granted WFLD’s motion for summary judgment and denied Hardiman’s cross motion. The court found that Hardiman had failed to contradict the WFLD producers’ testimony regarding their belief in the statements’ truth.  Hardiman filed a motion to reconsider, arguing that the court had misapplied the law by usurping the role of the jury in weighing the credibility of the WFLD producers’ testimony.  On December 5, 2017, the court denied Hardiman’s motion to reconsider, reiterating that Hardiman failed to provide the court with any actual evidence that the defendants published the broadcast either with knowledge that it was false or with reckless disregard for its truth.

Spotlight on Ghostwriting

On Friday, November 17, Steve Baron will be speaking about author-ghostwriter contracts at the “Spotlight on Ghostwriting” conference sponsored by the American Society of Journalists and Authors

Mandell Menkes Lawyers Speak At 2017 MLRC Media Law for Journalists Workshop in Chicago

Steve Mandell and Brendan Healey spoke at a recent workshop for journalists organized by the Media Law Resource Center’s MLRC Institute. The workshops, which the MLRC has been putting on around the country, are aimed at giving some legal fundamentals to freelancers, bloggers, photographers, documentarians and other independent journalists who do not have the support or ongoing help of a lawyer or legal department. Steve and Brendan spoke at the Chicago conference, which was held at Tribune Tower on October 26. Steve addressed conference attendees on Relationships with Sources and the Reporter’s Privilege, and Brendan spoke on Freedom of Information & Illinois Public Records

Steve Mandell Addresses Delegates at London Media Conference

The Media Law Resource Center (MLRC) London Conference is a biennial conference featuring distinguished speakers from government, the judiciary and the press. Media defense lawyers from around the world attend the MLRC London Conference to discuss the latest developments in libel, privacy, newsgathering and media IP laws.  Mandell Menkes’ Steve Mandell is pictured below addressing the MLRC London Conference delegates on the topic of litigating in a hostile jurisdiction.


George Desh Joins Mandell Menkes

The firm is delighted to announce that George Desh has joined Mandell Menkes as an associate. George previously practiced at Kirkland & Ellis. He is an experienced litigator with an engineering background, and he has successfully represented clients in broad range of cases including mass torts, patents, data security, environmental litigation, and idea misappropriation, among other matters. George graduated from the University of Chicago Law School in 2011, and he received a B.S. in Biomedical Engineering from Northwestern University in 2007.

Steve Mandell quoted on possible application of Illinois SLAPP statute to Cook County’s effort to enforce controversial soda tax

Steve Mandell quoted in The Chicago Daily Law Bulletin on possible application of Illinois SLAPP statute to Cook County’s effort to enforce controversial soda tax.  READ MORE

Mandell Menkes wins dismissal of emotional distress claims based on nurse’s bloody tweet.

Mandell Menkes wins dismissal of emotional distress claims based on nurse’s bloody tweet.  See attached opinion

Steve Mandell quoted in The Big Lead story on defamation suit filed by Charles Harder on behalf of RJ Bell against Deadspin.

Steve Mandell quoted in The Big Lead story on defamation suit filed by Charles Harder on behalf of RJ Bell READ MORE

Mandell Menkes Lawyers Featured At The 2017 ABA Forum On Communications Law Annual Conference

The American Bar Association (ABA) Forum on Communications Law holds an annual three day conference each year focusing on new developments and hot topics in the field of media law.  Steve Mandell was nominated as the 2017 Communications Law Forum Governing Committee Central Division Co-Chair and will assume his new position at the upcoming conference. Brendan Healey is on the faculty of the 2017 Media Advocacy Workshop at the conference and Natalie Harris is facilitating the Hot Issues In Advertising and Promotions Workshop covering topics including: the FTC Native Advertising Guide; experiential marketing and promotion trends; TCPA litigation in the wake of the Spokeo v. Robins decision; developments in political advertising and recent trends in browsewrap enforcement.

Steve Mandell quoted in Chicago Tribune article highlighting courtroom secrecy in first degree murder case against police officer accused of killing Laquan McDonald

Chicago police Officer Jason Van Dyke is charged with murdering 17 year old Laquan McDonald in October 2014. The Chicago Police Department’s disclosure of Van Dyke’s dashboard camera video of the incident drew significant public attention to the case and eventually prompted the recent United States Department of Justice inquiry into McDonald’s death and Chicago Police Department practices. Veteran criminal court Judge Vincent Gaughan is presiding over the case, and has a long history of conducting off-the-record discussions with attorneys in high profile criminal trials.  Steve Mandell was quoted in an article about the secrecy in the courtroom, noting that “efficiency and expediency is not an adequate basis to hold hearings outside the eye of the public.”  READ MORE

Wisconsin Court Of Appeals Affirms Dismissal Of Ex-Firefighter’s Defamation Complaint Against Megyn Kelly’s Fox News Segment

Mandell Menkes won an appeal in Wisconsin affirming dismissal of former Milwaukee firefighter Aaron Marjala’s defamation claim against Fox News, host Megyn Kelly and guest panelist Lee Armstrong arising from a Kelly’s Court segment debating Marjala’s decision to collect disability benefits while he was fit enough to compete as an Ironman triathlete. View the Kelly’s Court segment here:  The court noted the “mock trial or judicial debate” format of the Kelly’s Court  segment and described the piece as a debate in which panelist Armstrong opposed Marjala’s collecting disability benefits while panelist Lis Wiehl spoke in support of Marjala, with Megyn Kelly rendering her legal “opinion” at the conclusion of the debate.    The court concluded that “the Fox News piece simply delivered an opinion on the faults of duty disability systems.”  Furthermore, the court held Marjala could not meet his burden of demonstrating the falsity of statements implying that  he  (1) claimed total disability because of hitting his funny bone  and (2) was living off tax-free duty disability benefits to participate in marathons and triathlons. READ MORE

Mandell Menkes Helps Client Win Crucial Decision Before Medical Association Board

When a doctor came to Mandell Menkes for assistance, he was facing an uphill battle. The doctor was in the midst of a disciplinary proceeding before the professional organization of which he was a member. Representing himself in the initial hearing, the doctor lost on an ancillary but nonetheless important issue. The hearing panel voted to censure the doctor. Because of the nature of the doctor’s practice, a censure had career-threatening consequences. The doctor appealed the decision and lost again. Facing one last opportunity to reverse the censure, the doctor reached out to Mandell Menkes and the New York firm of Miller Korzenik Sommers. Mandell Menkes and Miller Korzenik worked together to develop a defense strategy for the doctor, and Steve Mandell argued the doctor’s case before the association’s board of directors. Less than a month later, the board announced that it was reversing the hearing panel and determined that the doctor should not be censured thereby preserving the doctor’s livelihood.

Mandell Menkes Client Wins Seventh Circuit Decision on Access to Grand Jury Records

In a victory for access to court records, firm client Elliot Carlson, an award-winning naval historian, recently prevailed in the Seventh Circuit in a lawsuit seeking grand jury transcripts. Mr. Carlson, who was joined by a consortium of scholarly organizations, sought the long-sealed transcripts from a 1942 grand jury investigation of the Chicago Tribune’s alleged violation of the War Espionage Act (the only time the government has attempted to prosecute a major media organization for a violation of the act). In its reporting on the Battle of Midway, the Chicago Tribune had suggested, without directly stating, that the United States had broken the Japanese code. This was one of the more closely guarded U.S. secrets of World War II, and President Roosevelt, a longtime foe of Tribune Publisher Colonel Robert McCormick, was livid. The government instituted a grand jury proceeding against the Chicago Tribune in the summer of 1942 but ultimately dropped the prosecution. The records lay sealed for more than seven decades before Mr. Carlson sought their disclosure. The district court found that a court has inherent power to order the unsealing of grand jury transcripts, and the Seventh Circuit affirmed in a 2-1 decision. The Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press and Brendan Healey of Mandell Menkes represent Mr. Carlson. Katie Townsend of RCFP argued the appeal. Click Here for LAW360 article Click Here for Tribune article


Mandell Menkes Celebrates First Annual Women’s Networking Event

Mandell Menkes lawyers Rebecca Edwards, Natalie Harris, Anne Jordan, Cristina Salvato and

Danielle Twait hosted a relaxing evening of good food, drinks, conversation and connections for professional women at the Ritz-Carlton Hotel in Chicago.  Guests enjoyed beautiful views of the city and Lake Michigan on one of the first lovely spring nights of the year. Thank you to everyone who supported and participated in this wonderful event. We are already looking forward to next year.   CLICK HERE FOR EVENT PHOTOS

Mandell Menkes Successfully Represents a Coalition of Media Organizations in Opposing A Request for a Gag Order

Mandell Menkes recently represented a coalition of television companies, newspaper companies, and media industry organizations contesting a proposed gag order in a Wisconsin criminal matter. The State of Wisconsin sought a gag order prohibiting the parties and counsel from making statements to the media that would have the likelihood of materially prejudicing the criminal proceedings. The media coalition argued the proposed gag order was an unconstitutional prior restraint on the media’s First Amendment rights to receive protected speech from willing speakers and to generally gather the news. This was an issue of first impression in Wisconsin.


After almost two hours of oral argument, the Judge agreed with the media coalition, finding there were less restrictive means of dealing with pretrial publicity that do not directly impact the media’s First Amendment rights. Accordingly, the Judge denied the request for the gag order. The media coalition comprised Gray Television Group, Inc. (WSAW/WZAW in Wausau, WEAU in Eau Claire/La Crosse, and WMTV in Madison), Journal Sentinel Inc. (Milwaukee Journal Sentinel), Lakeland Printing, Inc. (The Lakeland Times), Madison Newspapers Inc. (Wisconsin State Journal and The Capital Times), Quincy Media, Inc. (WAOW in Wausau, WQOW in Eau Claire, WKOW in Madison, and WXOW in La Crosse), Rockfleet Broadcasting/Northland Television, Inc. (WJFW in Rhinelander), Gannett Co., Inc.’s USA TODAY NETWORK-Wisconsin (Wausau Daily Herald), the Wisconsin Broadcasters Association, and the Wisconsin Newspaper Association.

Mandell Menkes Lawyers Coordinate 2016 ABA Journal Media, Privacy, Defamation and Advertising Law Update

Mandell Menkes lawyers Steven Mandell and Steven Baron served as the editors for the American Bar Association’s Tort Trial & Insurance Practice Section (TTIPS) Law Journal Winter 2016 article featuring recent developments in the field of media, privacy and advertising law.  Lawyers Brendan Healey and Natalie Harris co-authored the advertising law section featuring content on recent developments in the fields of sweepstakes and contests, endorsements and testimonials and the Telephone Consumer Protection Act (TCPA). The full article is available HERE

Court Dismisses Defamation Claim Arising From TV News Report On Metropolitan Water Reclamation District Candidates’ Campaign

Mandell Menkes won dismissal of a defamation, invasion of privacy and emotional distress complaint that Frank Gardner filed against the Fox 32 Chicago television station and it’s investigative reporter, Dane Placko.  Gardner is a  former attorney and Commissioner of the Metropolitan Water Reclamation District.  Gardner’s wife and son both ran as candidates for seats on the Water Reclamation District board.  In reporting on their campaign, Fox 32  noted that  Gardner’s wife and son downplayed their family connection seemingly to improve their chances of both winning seats on the Board. The report also noted that Gardner collected two pensions associated with his former Board employment totaling $158,000.


In his complaint, Gardner did not dispute that he was collecting $158,000 in annual county  pension money.  However, he claimed that the Station falsely reported that he received “two pensions totaling $158,000 a year” when, in fact, he received two payments from the same pension. He alleged that the report was defamatory because the report statement implied he was “double-dipping.” The Court granted the Defendants’ motion to dismiss all counts of Gardner’s complaint, with prejudice, finding that  accusations of “double-dipping” were reasonably capable of an innocent construction.

Mandell Menkes Wins Appeal Affirming Verdict In Favor Of Television Station For Report About Investigation Into Allegations Of Child Porn On Teacher’s Computer

In November 2014, Mandell Menkes won a directed verdict on behalf of its clients – a local television station and a news reporter – in a jury trial in Cuyahoga County (Cleveland), Ohio.  The plaintiff in the case, a former high school art/photography teacher, alleged he was damaged by a news broadcast reporting on an investigation into allegations that the plaintiff gave students access to a laptop computer containing child pornography.  The report did not name plaintiff, but it did contain a banner on the screen that read “TEACHER UNDER FIRE – Child porn found on laptop.”  Although the students claimed they found child pornography on the teacher’s laptop, the ensuing police investigation did not uncover any child pornography.


After a week of trial testimony led by Mandell Menkes lawyer Stephen Rosenfeld, the court entered a directed verdict for defendants ruling that the report was not defamatory per se because plaintiff could not prove it was about him without reference to outside evidence and “the gist and sting” of the report was substantially true.  Plaintiff appealed the directed verdict and the appellate court affirmed, concluding that taken as a whole, “[t]he newscast could not have been reasonably understood to claim that [plaintiff] had child pornography on his computer”—but merely that he was being investigated.READ MORE HERE

Steven Mandell and Natalie Harris Speak At The ABA Forum On Communications Law Annual Conference

The American Bar Association (ABA) Forum on Communications Law holds an annual three day conference each year focusing on new developments and hot topics in the field of media law. This year Steve Mandell facilitated the Hot Issues In Libel And Privacy session at the conference. The session covered a variety of issues including:  recent developments in “twibel” (libel published via the social media platform Twitter); anti-SLAPP decisions; libel by fiction in the context of motion pictures; student athlete right of publicity cases and the evolving definition of “commercial speech” in the right of publicity context.  Natalie Harris was on the panel for the Hot Issues in Advertising and Promotions and spoke about the FCC Omnibus TCPA Declaratory Ruling and Order (July 10, 2015) as well as the FTC FAQs “The FTC Endorsement Guides: What People are Asking” (May 2015).

Mandell Menkes Wins Summary Judgment On Contract Claim For Precision Parts Supplier

Mandell Menkes obtained summary judgment on a breach of contract claim for a supplier of precision machined components.  Mandell Menkes client Princeton Industrial Products Inc. supplied parts to a corporation with a machine gun mount contract for the U.S. Army.  When the Army contract expired and was not renewed, the purchaser ceased paying for parts ordered via e-mail and delivered by Princeton.   Princeton sued to collect the amount due for unpaid parts supplied pursuant to the e-mail and the Court granted summary judgment, finding that the e-mail from the purchaser  modified the original  purchase order, even though the email did not include an individually typed name of the sender. The court also found that defendant’s delayed attempt to return the ordered parts did not revoke acceptance of those parts.   See Princeton Indus., Prods. v. Precision Metals Corp., 2015 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 107722, 87 U.C.C. Rep. Serv. 2d (Callaghan) 460 (N.D. Ill. 2015).

Mandell Menkes Defends Supermarket Chain Against Michael Jordan’s Claim For Millions

Michael Jordan claims he is entitled to millions for use of his name and jersey number in a congratulatory advertisement included within a commemorative magazine issue.  In opening statements, Mandell Menkes partner Steve Mandell said that the astronomical sum of Jordan’s mega-contracts with Nike, Gatorade and Hanes does not represent the fair-market value of his likeness used in a one-page supermarket ad.  READ MORE HERE

Defamation Complaint Filed By Ironman Collecting Duty Disability Benefits Dismissed

Milwaukee County Circuit Court judge Jeffrey Conen granted Mandell Menkes’  motion to dismiss a defamation claim filed by ex-firefighter and Ironman triathlete Aaron Marjala against Fox News and the “Kelly’s Court” segment host and panelist.  The Court found that statements in the segment—which criticized Marjala’s decision to collect publicly funded benefits despite suffering only a “minor injury”—were non-actionable because they were either true or pure opinion. READ MORE

Steve Mandell was quoted in the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel’s article regarding a request that certain federal court pleadings be sealed.

Steve Mandell was quoted in the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel’s article regarding charged gambling guru, Adam Meyer’s request that certain federal court pleadings be sealed. Link to article

Steve Mandell speaks on recent developments in copyright law

Steve Mandell was a Panelist at the Professional Risk Symposium held in Atlanta, Georgia on April 28, 2015. The panel addressed recent developments in copyright law and, in particular, developments in the law of “fair use.” The presentation was entitled “Fair Use and the Spotlight” and addressed, among other things, the demand for a license fee for the cell phone video of the Walter Scott shooting.

Milwaukee County Circuit Court Judge Recuses Himself From Defamation Case

Mandell Menkes filed a motion to dismiss the defamation claim filed by former North Shore firefighter Aaron Marjala against Fox News and the “Kelly’s Court” segment host and panelist.  In its motion Mandell Menkes argues that statements in the segment, which described Marjala’s participation in marathons and an Ironman triathlon while collecting taxpayer funded duty disability benefits, are non-actionable opinion.  A new judge will hear and rule on that motion because Milwaukee County Circuit Court Judge Christopher Foley recused himself based on recent local Fox affiliate reporting about his son.  Read more here.

Mandell Menkes Wins Defamation Jury Trial On Behalf of Media

Mandell Menkes recently achieved a directed verdict on behalf of its clients – a local television station and a news reporter – in a jury trial in Cuyahoga County (Cleveland), Ohio.  The plaintiff in the case, a former high school art/photography teacher, alleged that our clients defamed him and placed him in a false light in connection with a news broadcast that reported on an investigation into allegations that the plaintiff gave students access to a laptop computer containing child pornography.


In 2011, two of plaintiff’s students told school officials that they observed pornography and child pornography on a laptop computer that plaintiff made available to students in his photography class.  Based on the students’ statements, the school placed plaintiff on administrative leave and a police investigation commenced.  In 2012, during the pendency of the police investigation, the television station broadcast a report on the status of “the investigation into a high school art teacher” who was “suspected of having child pornography on his personal computer.”  The report did not name plaintiff, but it did contain a banner on the screen that read “TEACHER UNDER FIRE – Child porn found on laptop.”  Although the students alleged to have found child porn on the teacher’s laptop, the ensuing police investigation did not uncover any child pornography.


After a week of testimony at trial, the court entered a directed verdict on behalf of our clients on the following grounds:  (1) the allegations did not constitute defamation per se because plaintiff was not named in the report and extrinsic evidence was necessary to ascertain plaintiff’s identity; (2) the reporter was not liable because plaintiff admitted at trial that all of his verbal statements in the broadcast were either true or non-actionable opinion; and (3) the television station was not liable for defamation per quod or false light because the gist and sting of the report was substantially true and because plaintiff failed to prove incremental harm (i.e., causation).


Steve Rosenfeld led the trial team.

Libel and Privacy Claims Over News Coverage of Sexual Harassment Complaint Dismissed

Innocent Construction and Fair Report Privilege Protect Media Read More


Illinois State Court Strikes Sex Tape Lawsuit Under California Anti-SLAPP Statute

Former Movie Star Could Not Prove Ebony Magazine Acted With Actual Malice Read More


Newspaper Wins Records Battle For Emails Seized in John Doe Investigation

The Milwaukee County District Attorney seized “secret” e-mails exchanged among County employees as well as the electronic equipment they used to keep those communications under the radar. Read More


Mandell Menkes helps Milwaukee Journal Sentinel force turnover of records from secret government investigation

Mandell Menkes lawyers represented the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel in successfully intervening in a Wisconsin John Doe proceeding and compelling the return of secret emails and other records collected during the John Doe investigation involving members of Governor Scott Walker’s staff when he was the Milwaukee County Executive. For more information see:


Click here for link to article

Click here for link to editorial


Mandell Menkes Defeats Bomb Bystanders’ Claims

Mandell Menkes successfully defended Discovery Communications, LLC’s Investigation Discovery Network in connection with a lawsuit arising from the “Wicked Attraction” docudrama series.

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The New Era of Publishing: What Authors and Their Lawyers Must Know

Who Formed and Insured Purchasing Groups in 2012?

Analyzing the 35 purchasing groups that were licensed in 2012, the RRR found that 27 different

companies formed PCs last year and those groups were insured by 39 insurers.


Class Action Complaint Dismissed After Mandell Menkes Attorneys Craft Novel Argument on a Federal Statute

On November 28, 2012, United States District Judge Virginia Kendall issued an opinion granting our client New Vitality’s motion to dismiss every claim alleged in a purported class action complaint.  The plaintiff sought to hold New Vitality liable for claims arising under the Electronic Fund Transfer Act and the Illinois Consumer Fraud and Deceptive Trade Practices Act, alleging that New Vitality violated federal regulations governing preauthorized transfers from consumer bank accounts.  New Vitality maintained the charges it issued to plaintiff for vitamin supplements were fairly disclosed but, in any event, the federal regulations about which plaintiff complained did not apply to the charges made in connection with its promotional offer. 


Judge Kendall agreed with Mandell Menkes’ narrow construction of 15 U.S.C. § 1693e, holding that the statutory provision would not find application in cases in which the plaintiff denied authorizing the debits at issue.  Although the district court recognized that a “paucity” of case law existed on some of the core issues raised in the motion, it reasoned that three related rulings Mandell Menkes analogized from other district courts made apparent the “limited scope” of §1693e.  The ruling granting the motion to dismiss may be retrieved here and a Chicago Daily Law Bulletin article reporting on the decision is available here.


Steven Mandell, Stephen Rosenfeld and John Fitzpatrick were the Mandell Menkes lawyers representing New Vitality in this matter.

Mandell Menkes Partner Steve Mandell Interviewed by CNN Radio

Steve Mandell was interviewed by CNN’s Nova Safo for the article “British React to Hacking Report”, Steve helps explain the difference between lible law in the U.S. and England. Click “read more” to go to the full article and soundbytes.

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Legal Issues In Marketing, Distributing & Selling a Product

Mandell Menkes Partner Steve Baron will be speaking on the topic of “Creating Contracts to Get a Product on the Market”

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Lawyers With Style

Rebecca Edwards is featured in a Chicago Lawyer Magazine article “Lawyers With Style”, click on the link to read the entire article.


Mandell Menkes Brings a Potentially Devastating Medical Data Breach to a Successful Conclusion

On March 7, 2012 the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Office for Civil Rights (OCR) issued notice to Mandell Menkes that it had concluded its investigation of a security breach involving protected health information (PHI) maintained by Mandell Menkes’ client, and did not intend to take any further action. The letter marked the end of a series of events which were set in motion six months earlier when the OCR, acting on a third party complaint, found medical records of thousands of the client’s patients allegedly abandoned in the garage of a residential building. Mandell Menkes represented the client in every stage of the process, from forming its strategy and its initial response to the OCR to the successful conclusion of the investigation. During the process, Mandell Menkes worked with the client to revise its documents and procedures to prevent a similar situation from recurring in the future. 

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Elizabeth Morris joins Mandell Menkes

Ms. Morris is a 2008 graduate of the University of Chicago Law School. Before joining Mandell Menkes, Ms. Morris clerked for the Honorable Rita Novak of the Circuit Court of Cook County, Chancery Division, where she worked on a broad variety of equitable matters that included insurance coverage cases, administrative reviews, non-competes, injunctions, property disputes, and trusts. Before her clerkship, she was a litigation associate at a large firm in Chicago and worked in a number of different areas, including intellectual property, securities, and internal investigations, and pro bono matters, including a habeas corpus case.


Social Media, Data Privacy, Online Gambling, and Other Hot Topics in Advertising & Promotions

Steve Baron will be one of the experts discussing what you should know about ads and promotions in 2012 and beyond.


Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press will partner with Mandell Menkes LLC for G-8 Summit in Chicago

The Reporters Committee is working with Mandell Menkes LLC to establish a hotline for journalists from around the world who will be covering the G-8 Summit in Chicago from May 15th through the 22nd. Hotline lawyers plan to work with police and public officials ahead of the political conventions and the G-8 Summit to help anticipate and resolve potential problems for journalists who may be arrested or detained during demonstrations or other disturbances that occur during the conventions.


Mandell Menkes client “The Duke of Earl” “In a Groovy Situation” following jury verdict

In May of 2008, legendary Chicago recording artist Gene Chandler entered into a written contract with Canterbury Productions, a concert promotion company headed by Henry Farag, concerning Chandler’s performance of his greatest hits at an upcoming “Ultimate Doo Wop” concert at the Chicago Theatre. On May 10th, Chandler performed a 20 minute set, closing with his classic number 1 hit “The Duke of Earl”, and received a rousing ovation from the audience. After his performance, the producer’s brother, Robert Farag, angrily confronted Chandler in the upper wings of the theatre outside of Chandler’s dressing room.  The situation escalated and led to a physical altercation in which Farag began throwing punches at Chandler. After Chandler’s son separated the two men, producer Henry Farag ordered a security team to evict Chandler from the theater, preventing him from singing in the ensemble finale of “Goodnight Sweetheart” and attending an after-show “Meet and Greet” reception with concertgoers. Farag then refused to pay Chandler’s $4,000 performance fee.

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Mandell Menkes Lawyers Obtain Dismissal in CRM Implementation Case

On January 26, 2012, United States District Judge James Holderman issued an opinion granting Oracle’s motion to dismiss a complaint
seeking to collect from Oracle a judgment that the plaintiff received in an unrelated action for breach of contract against one of Oracle’s “business

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Mandell Menkes wins summary judgment in technology licensing dispute

On October 21, 2011, United States District Judge Elaine E. Bucklo issued an opinion entering summary judgment in favor of our client, MDS, Inc.  Judge Bucklo found that the plaintiff could not dispute that he had been paid all royalties owed to him under a technology licensing agreement.

Defamation lawsuit against two newspaper employees dismissed

Mandell Menkes lawyers prevailed on a motion to dismiss a defamation suit with ancillary claims for invasion of privacy, trespass, battery, assault and stalking on behalf of two central Illinois newspaper employees. The matter involved the newspaper’s report of an incident that ultimately led to plaintiff’s arrest and conviction for multiple criminal offenses.

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Jury awards our client full measure of damages on counterclaim and denies plaintiff’s claim

A telecommunications provider represented by Mandell Menkes recently prevailed on all issues tried to a Cook County jury following two weeks of testimony and argument.  The plaintiff in the case, a national storage company, alleged that our client committed common law fraud and negligent misrepresentation, violated the Illinois Consumer Fraud and Deceptive Business Practices Act (“ICFDBPA”), and breached a series of contracts by charging for telecommunications services the storage company did not use or want. 

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Mandell Menkes wins dismissal of defamation claims under Illinois anti-SLAPP statute

Mandell Menkes recently successfully sought dismissal of claims of defamation and false-light invasion of privacy by asserting immunity under Illinois’s anti-SLAPP statute, the Citizen Participation Act (CPA).  In Satkar Hospitality Inc. v. Cook County Board of Review, No. 10‑cv‑6682 (N.D. Ill. Sept. 21, 2011), the plaintiffs, who own a suburban hotel, claimed that WFLD, Chicago’s Fox television station, defamed them by reporting on a possible connection between campaign donations to a state representative and favorable results in property tax appeals.  The plaintiffs had appealed their property tax assessment and received a substantial savings.  After WFLD ran its report, the Cook County Board of Review held additional hearings and rescinded the plaintiffs’ tax reduction. 


Mandell Menkes, representing WFLD, argued that WFLD’s reports were immune from liability under the CPA.  The CPA provides broad immunity for “acts in furtherance of the constitutional rights to petition, speech, association, and participation in government,” “regardless of intent or purpose,” and requires that courts award attorneys’ fees to a party that wins dismissal.


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Steve Baron contributes to a panel on marketing hosted by a national media law committee


On September 15, 2011, Mandell Menkes partner Steve Baron served as a panelist for a program entitled “Do’s and Don’ts of Using Facebook and Other Social Media Sites to Market Your Brand,” presented by the Media Law Resource Center Adverising and Commercial Speech Committee.

Mandell Menkes successfully defends record label against a motion for a TRO

Mandell Menkes successfully represented Green Label Sound, a record label affiliated with PepsiCo, Inc., and Cornerstone Industries, Inc., in opposing a motion for TRO that sought to enjoin the release of an album on the eve of its scheduled release date.


The music group, The Cool Kids, previously had a contract with the label Chocolate Industries.  The Cool Kids filed a declaratory judgment action against Chocolate in 2009, seeking a declaration that the contract is no longer in effect; that action remains pending in the Circuit Court of Cook County.  In that action, Chocolate unsuccessfully sought a TRO to prevent The Cool Kids from releasing music through entities other than Chocolate.

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John Fitzpatrick elected to Mandell Menkes partnership

Mandell Menkes is pleased to announce that it elected John Fitzpatrick to its partnership in May of 2011.  Since being admitted to the Illinois bar in 2002, Mr. Fitzpatrick has successfully handled a series of complex litigation matters in forums across the country, devoting a significant portion of his time to trial work. The United States District Court for the Northern District of Illinois admitted him to its Trial Bar in 2006 after he met the bar requirements 4 years after graduating from the University of Texas at Austin law school in 2002. While attending law school, Mr. Fitzpatrick participated in the Wilson Mock Trial Tournament and remained active in the community, volunteering with Habitat for Humanity and tutoring elementary school children. He also authored an article published by the State of Texas bar entitled “A Review of Recent Texas Whistleblower Litigation.” Mr. Fitzpatrick regularly counsels clients involved in commercial disputes affecting intellectual property, e-commerce, corporate governance, class action claims and software. The firm looks forward to him continuing his outstanding work as a partner. 

Case dismissed against financial institution represented by Mandell Menkes


On April 11, 2011, Mandell Menkes attorneys obtained a dismissal of a counterclaim filed against its client, a banking institution, in a foreclosure action pending in the Circuit Court of Cook County, Illinois. The Defendant first appeared in the foreclosure case in September 2010 and filed an answer which he later amended to include 12 affirmative defenses and a 7 count counterclaim. Our attorneys successfully moved to dismiss all of the defenses and counterclaims. 

Mandell Menkes lawyer speaks at a seminar on publishing law

A Mandell Menkes lawyer recently presented a lecture entitled “Fact and Fiction: Defamation and Rights of Privacy/Publicity” to a trade association.


Steve Baron led the panel through a discussion outlining the various tort claims that publishers and authors commonly face, including defamation, privacy, publicity, and related actions, as well as providing tips on minimizing the risks of such claims. 

Magazine wins motion for preliminary injunction and the plaintiff dismisses its trademark infringement claims

Mandell Menkes lawyers forced the voluntary dismissal of a suit for trademark infringement, dilution, unfair competition and palming off filed against a popular culture and entertainment magazine for parents in Chicago.  Plaintiff, a free publication for Chicago parents, claimed that the magazine’s use of a phrase that included the publication’s title violated, among other things, the publication’s state trademark rights. 

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Mandell Menkes wins summary judgment on behalf of major insurance company


Mandell Menkes successfully argued that no coverage extended to a claimant because, at the time of the decedent’s death, a required medical examination had not been completed.  In addition, Mandell Menkes maintained that even if coverage began before the decedent’s death, material misrepresentations on the insurance application voided any coverage. The district court agreed, granting summary judgment in favor of the insurer on all plaintiff’s claims.

Newspaper and reporter prevail on motion to dismiss a defamation lawsuit

Mandell Menkes lawyers prevailed on a motion to dismiss a defamation suit on behalf of a Rockford newspaper and reporter. The matter arose following publication of an article detailing a public meeting of the Winnebago County Board Economic Development Committee.

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Mandell Menkes successfully challenges foreign claimant’s eligibility to recover statutory damages under the Copyright Act

The U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Illinois issued multiple motion rulings which advanced Mandell Menkes’ successful effort to insulate a Chicago-based radio station from statutory damages in a copyright infringement lawsuit. 


The plaintiff, a foreign news correspondent, alleges in the lawsuit that the station infringed his copyrights by airing without his authorization a series of news dispatches originally broadcast in Europe.  The parties have disputed a number of novel legal issues during the course of the litigation concerning whether the plaintiff can recover statutory damages afforded by the Copyright Act (the “Act”). 

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Rebecca Edwards joins Mandell Menkes

Ms. Edwards is a 2003 graduate of Tulane University College of Law. Her practice focuses on advising clients on business organization, governance and long-term strategies in addition to commercial litigation. Before joining Mandell Menkes, Ms. Edwards dedicated the majority of her time to assisting public companies with U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission reporting obligations, securities offerings and compliance matters. As a law student, Ms. Edwards was a judicial extern for the United States District Court, Eastern District of Louisiana. Before receiving her law degree, Ms. Edwards worked for two years as a publisher’s assistant for a New Orleans-based newspaper. Ms. Edwards is admitted to practice in Illinois and Louisiana. Mandell Menkes is pleased that Ms. Edwards joined its team and anticipates she will be an asset to the firm and its clients.

Mandell Menkes attorney presents program on copyright law to graphic arts institute

On May 13, 2009, Mandell Menkes partner Steve Baron served as a panelist for a program entitled “Copyrights and Copywrongs for the Graphic Designer,” addressed to the American Institute of Graphic Arts in Chicago.

District Court dismisses copyright infringement case against publisher represented by Mandell Menkes

Mandell Menkes successfully defended publisher Mira Books in a copyright infringement suit.  The plaintiff originally submitted a manuscript to Mira Books for consideration. Mira Books rejected plaintiff’s submission, and plaintiff alleged that Mira Books later published a similar novel that copied portions of her manuscript.

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Mandell Menkes wins Motion to Dismiss on behalf of major insurer

A federal magistrate entered judgment in favor of  Mandell Menkes client Metropolitan Life Insurance Company after granting a motion to dismiss all counts of an amended cross claim. Sharp Electronics Corporation filed the amended cross claim against MetLife in connection with underlying ERISA disability benefits litigation.  In the amended cross claim, Sharp alleged that defenses MetLife raised during court supervised mediation in the underlying disability benefits litigation amounted to, among other things, a breach of fiduciary duty under ERISA. 


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Mandell Menkes Fortune 500 client prevails in federal Jury Trial

Following a four-day trial, a jury returned a defense verdict in favor of Mandell Menkes client Federal Signal Corporation and against Plaintiff Kim Wehrenberg.  Plaintiff alleged that, after his termination as the company’s general counsel, Federal Signal breached an agreement to provide him unimpeded access to funds it held in a trust reserved for top company executives.


The controversy began in February of 2004 when Federal Signal terminated the Plaintiff and the parties entered into a separation agreement.  As part of the agreement, Federal Signal agreed to provide Plaintiff “full access” to deferred compensation, which had largely been awarded in the form of Federal Signal stock. Plaintiff claimed he did not have full access because Federal Signal refused to pay him the cash value of the stock. Plaintiff also claimed that Federal Signal prevented him from selling the stock by giving him material, non-public information, thereby making him a “tippee” who had to hold his stock for a period of time.  He alleged that, by the time he could liquidate his stock, he had lost several hundred thousand dollars.

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Steve Baron moderates program on intellectual property issues at Illinois State Bar Association seminar

On May 5, 2008, Mandell Menkes partner Steve Baron spoke to approximately 50 people attending the Illinois State Bar Association’s full-day seminar “What Every Lawyer Should Know About Intellectual Property.”  Mr. Baron moderated the program and also spoke on the topic “The Basics of Privacy and Publicity Law.” If you would like to learn more about their presentations, please email Mr. Baron at

Mandell Menkes lawyers win summary judgment in newspaper defamation suit

Mandell Menkes lawyers prevailed on cross-motions for summary judgment in a defamation suit on behalf of a north suburban Chicago newspaper. The matter involved the newspaper’s publication of an advertisement for an imported household appliance popular in the Chicago Korean and Korean-American community. The advertisement, placed by a local business authorized to sell the appliance, warned potential consumers against purchasing the appliance from unauthorized retailers. The plaintiff, an unauthorized retailer specifically referenced in the advertisement, sued the newspaper for defamation and violation of the Uniform Deceptive Trade practices Act. On cross-motions for summary judgment, the court found for the newspaper, holding that the advertisement language was not defamatory as a matter of law. In addition, the court found that the plaintiff could not establish the falsity of the advertisement and that the newspaper submitted evidence sufficient to demonstrate that the advertisement was substantially true. Mandell Menkes associate Natalie Harris drafted the summary judgment briefs and argued the motion with the assistance of partner Steve Mandell.

Mandell Menkes on NPR

When NPR ran a story about an advertising agency’s complaint that the makers of the The Simpsons Movie stole the agency’s idea to turn the real world into the Simpson’s fictional world of Springfield, NPR turned to Steven Baron for legal advice.


Mr. Baron was interviewed by Elizabeth Blair on National Public Radio’s “Morning Edition” about the legal claims that may arise out of theft of ideas. To listen to the segment, click here.

Mandell Menkes Lawyers win ERISA cases on summary judgment.

Mandell Menkes lawyers secured grants of summary judgment in favor of one of the nation’s leading providers of insurance in two unrelated cases in the Northern District of Illinois.


In the first matter, Brown v. Metropolitan Life Ins. Co., 463 F. Supp. 2d 847 (N.D. Ill. 2006), the court affirmed the plan administrator’s determination that the plaintiff did not qualify for long term disability where plaintiff failed to submit proof of continuing disability. The court stressed the importance of the plan administrator’s reliance on the job description provided by plaintiff’s employer, which was reviewed by the independent physician consultant and incorporated into his conclusions regarding plaintiff’s condition.

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Mandell Menkes lawyers present commercial lending seminar

Mandell Menkes attorneys in the commercial lending practice gave a full day seminar at the Hyatt Regency Hotel in Chicago to an audience of bankers, banking attorneys and corporate financial officers. The Mandell Menkes lawyers were joined on the speaker’s platform by two prominent bankers whose institutions are clients of the firm.


Candelario Martinez, Senior Vice President and Director of Originations with Wells Fargo Bank opened the program by discussing analytical tools for solid commercial lending decisions. Candelario and Bruce Menkes of Mandell Menkes then focused on the initiation of the loan process and the commitment stage.

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Mandell Menkes lawyer speaks at intellectual property conference

A Mandell Menkes LLC partner served as a panelist at a seminar sponsored by the Illinois State Bar Association in Chicago entitled “What Every Lawyer Should Know About Intellectual Property.” Steven Baron presented a segment on the basics of privacy and publicity law, focusing on how to identify and protect clients against potential claims for invasion of privacy and misappropriation of right of publicity. For more information about the seminar or to receive materials from the program, please contact the Illinois State Bar


Mandell Menkes lawyers win Jury Trial

Mandell Menkes lawyers won a jury trial in Illinois state court for a firm client that is a Fortune 500 financial services company.


The case involved an allegation of anticipatory breach by a company (and its owner) that had borrowed money to purchase a chain of medical clinics. The lender, Mandell Menkes’ client, counterclaimed for the unpaid principal on the loan as well as interest and collection costs.


The jury returned a verdict against the plaintiffs on the plaintiffs’ claims and on behalf of the lender on its counterclaim. Mandell Menkes’ client was also awarded attorneys fees and costs. Mandell Menkes partner Steve Rosenfeld was the lead trial attorney on the case.