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Masuda Funai represents business clients from diverse industries and specialized market segments from around the globe faced with domestic commercial disputes and litigation. We have successfully resolved high-stakes claims in courts and tribunals throughout the country involving single, multi-plaintiff and class action litigation. We utilize our experience to aggressively - but efficiently - assist our clients assert or defend business disputes, regardless of claim size.

In addition to our proven advocacy ability, we offer demonstrable skill in explaining the complexities of domestic litigation and the American court systems, which can be complicated for international businesses unfamilair with U.S. law and procedure. Our in-depth understanding of a wide range of cultures and fluency in a multitude of languages has allowed us to successfully advise foreign-owned business clients with limited English ability or whose documents are in their native language. We have also developed expertise in helping our clients coordinate and manage the complexities of cross-border litigation.

Our litigators are proven negotiators with extensive courtroom experience involved in a wide variety of business disputes, ranging from complex commercial and patent litigation to contract, real estate/construction, employment and partnership disputes; to cargo/shipping claims, antitrust matters, insurance coverge and product liability. Our national and international industry experience is equally broad and includes high tech, electronics and semi-conductors, automotive, heavy manufacturing, transporation and distribution, shipping and trade, import and export, telecommunications, life sciences, healthcare, retail and hospitality, among others. We also work diligently with clients on litigation prevention and risk management techniques designed to reduce the exposure to, and the cost of, litigation.

Whether a dispute involves federal, state or appellate court, arbitration or private negotiation designed to eliminate conflict behind the scenes, we are commited to a strategic approach to problem-solving and bring the right mix of lawyers to match the specific needs of each client. This means we listen to what our clients tell us they want to achieve and we articulate and discuss, in clear and simple terms, the optimal approach to dispute resolution, risk management and cost-containment. We make a point of preparing our clients for the rigors of litigation with a single purpose — to win.

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Range of Services Experience

Experience

Settled on highly favorable terms in multi-million dollar preference claims asserted by a customer in federal bankruptcy court in Delaware, on behalf of two Japan manufacturers of semiconductor equipment and a California subsidiary of one of the manufacturers.

Swiftly secured a dismissal with prejudice in federal court in Chicago for clients on a pro se plaintiff's billion dollar claim for infringement of a U.S. patent relating to security and mobile telephone technology.

Won a summary judgment of non-infringement for a client accused of stealing a former employee's patented process who was seeking over $100 million in damages.

Obtained a complete victory by summary judgment in federal court in Chicago for a manufacturer of outdoor power equipment on a $2.8 million breach of contact claim against a former New England distributor, including dismissal of the former distributor's $25 million franchise law counterclaim; prevailed on appeal before the federal court of appeals in Chicago.

Defended an international printing press supplier against claims of fraud and breach of warranty made by the equipment purchaser in a $20 million dollar arbitration claim filed with the American Arbitration Association in Texas; participated in the first three weeks of a scheduled eight-week long hearing in Texas, after which the matter was settled for a favorable amount.

Obtained a multi-million dollar settlement recovery for a client involved in a 3-year long litigation involving cutting-edge products used in high-tech applications.
After mediation in Columbus, Ohio, and without a lawsuit being filed, satisfactorily settled claims totaling several millions of dollars asserted against our client, an automotive supplier, in connection with a construction contract.

Defended an international printing press supplier against arbitration claims in excess of $1 million for breach of contract and breach of warranty filed with the American Arbitration Association in New York; participated in a week-long arbitration hearing in Manhattan, New York, resulting in a low 5-figure award.

Defended an international manufacturer of auto parts against claims in the Delphi bankruptcy in New York; resolved the matter by enabling the client to keep 86% of payments received and to enter into new long-term supply contracts with its customer.

Represented a machine tool manufacturer and its Japan parent in obtaining a preliminary injunction against infringement of its name and trademarks before a federal court in Chicago.

Settled claims of patent infringement and unfair trade practices brought by a patentee in federal court in Hawaii on terms highly favorable to several seafood distributor defendants.

Coordinated the defense and secured a dismissal of all claims against a Japan high-tech equipment manufacturer and its Illinois subsidiary with regard to breach of warranty and fraud claims asserted by an end user in Texas state court.
Coordinated the defense of a Tier I automotive parts supplier in federal court in Ohio from claims brought by a disgruntled industrial equipment supplier; the case was settled and dismissed without any payment to the plaintiff.

Achieved a significant reduction in penalties and charges levied by OSHA against an Illinois manufacturer in connection with an industrial accident.

Obtained a complete victory for a printing press supplier defending contract-based claims in a week-long arbitration in Chicago, enabling the client to subsequently obtain a judgment against the arbitration claimant in court and secure a seven-figure recovery.

Represented an international manufacturer of computer parts in a settlement conference in Tokyo, Japan involving multiple parties from the United States, Japan and Taiwan and claims in excess of $90,000,000 in the aggregate; assisted the client in bringing the matter to a speedy and satisfactory resolution for a tiny fraction of the disputed amount.

Obtained summary judgment against former employee under the Michigan Whistleblowers’ Protection Act where the Court held that the former employee failed to offer a disputed issue of fact that his former employer retaliated against him based upon the threat of reporting alleged illegal activity to the City of Detroit. The Court had earlier granted a motion to dismiss the former employee’s related claims holding that the former employee could not maintain both a statutory and a common law cause of action under the same theory. Yurk v. Applications Software Tech. Corp., No. 15-cv-13962, 2018 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 7244 (E.D. Mich. Jan. 17, 2018) (granting summary judgment); Yurk v. Applications Software Tech. Corp., No. 15-cv-13962, 2017 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 22804 (E.D. Mich. Feb. 17, 2017) (granting motion to dismiss common law claim).

Achieved complete dismissal of arbitration claims alleging violations of the Federal RICO Statute, common law fraud, and breach of contract, where initial claims requested in excess of $450M in damages stemming from the bankruptcy and liquidation of the Plaintiff company; all claims initially filed in federal district court in the Southern District of New York and arbitration compelled based upon controlling contractual provision in pertinent contract documents (Sep. 2018).

People

People

Yulia Chembulatova
Associate, Chicago
P 312.245.7511
Lisa A. Dreishmire
Associate, Chicago
P 312.245.7528
Michael S. Golenson
Principal, Chicago
P 312.245.7529
Alan M. Kaplan
Principal, Schaumburg
P 847.734.8811
Steven L. Katz
Principal, Chicago
P 312.245.7500
Kenton P. Knop
Associate, Chicago
P 312.245.7460
Reinhold F. Krammer
Principal, Chicago
P 312.245.7500
Asa W. Markel
Principal, Los Angeles
P 310.630.5900
Sachiyo Yamada Miller
Associate, Los Angeles
P 310.630.5900
Nancy E. Sasamoto
Principal, Chicago
P 312.245.7500
John B. Stanis
Principal, Schaumburg
P 847.734.8811
David J. Stein
Principal, Chicago
P 312.245.7474
Edward J. Underhill
Principal, Chicago
P 312.245.7500
Gary Vist
Principal, Chicago
P 312.245.7500
Jiwon Juliana Yhee
Associate, Chicago
P 312.245.7500
News & Events
Legal Updates/Client Advisories
United States Supreme Court to Continue String of Arbitration Related Decisions
The United States Supreme Court remains active during this fall’s term in determining employers’ rights and obligations when companies…
Buyer's Failed Claim of Breach of Requirements Contract Takes a Strange Turn – Enforceable as a Supply Contract for Fixed Quantity
On December 7, 2015 we reported on a 7th Circuit opinion in which a buyer failed in its efforts to enforce a supply agreement as a…
Manufacturer Loses Big Time Twice – to its Customer and to its Insurance Company
Berry Plastics Corporation (now known as Berry Global, Inc.) is a manufacturer of primarily plastic packaging products. It encountered some…
Breach of Contract and Interference Claims Fail Due to Statute of Limitations
In a recent update, we discussed a topical 7th Circuit Court of Appeals case in which an unpaid law firm successfully fended off a defense…
Ten Years After Crash, Litigation Continues – Directors of Bankrupt Holding Company not Liable to Trustee
The Great Recession of 2008 may seem a distant memory. September 15, 2018 is the 10th anniversary of the Lehman Brothers bankruptcy, the…
Unsigned Contract Still a Written Contract
Can an unsigned contract still be a contract? The answer is yes, for statute of limitations purposes, says the 7th Circuit Court of…
Fraudster's "Blame the Victim" Defense Fails
Richard Carter was a rancher in Wyoming where he operated a family-owned cattle ranch. He had the misfortune of using a dishonest broker…
Parent Company's Alleged Control of Subsidiary Insufficient to Establish Personal Jurisdiction
It is not uncommon for plaintiff’s counsel to assert creative theories in an effort to establish personal jurisdiction over a defendant in…
"Notwithstanding Anything to the Contrary" Language Disputed in Recent Case
Drafters frequently use language such as “Notwithstanding anything [in this section] or [in this agreement]” to emphasize and make clear…
DOJ Announces First-of-its-Kind Settlement Regarding "No-Poach" Agreement
On April 3, 2018, the Antitrust Division of the U.S. Department of Justice (“DOJ”) announced that it filed a civil antitrust lawsuit…
U.S. Supreme Court Announces New Standard for Interpreting FLSA Exemptions
Executive Summary Rejecting a ruling by the United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit and nearly fifty years of prior court…
FTC Updated Guidance to Avoid "Gun Jumping" Liability During M&A Negotiations
On March 20, 2018, the U.S. Federal Trade Commission (“FTC”) issued updated guidance concerning compliance with the antitrust laws while…
Does Vague and Subjective Wording Imply A Meaningless Contract?
Contracts should be precise and objective. Drafters should avoid subjective and vague language that could be subject to conflicting…
Another Release Unsuccessfully Attacked by Releasing Party
In our update of January 2, 2018, we reported on a 7th Circuit case in which the releasing party, ADM, unsuccessfully tried to overcome the…
Challenger to Arbitration Award in More Trouble
In our December 4, 2017 Commercial, Competition & Trade Update, we discussed a recent 7th Circuit case in which the losing party in an…
Termination and Settlement Agreement is Really Final, In Spite of Efforts to Overturn
Most parties which conclude a release and settlement, or similar, agreement would probably expect the agreement to be final. According to a…
Another Failed Effort to Overturn Arbitration Award
In several previous Risk Management Updates, we have reported on losing parties' challenges to an arbitration award. While challenging an…
Fraudster and Victim Both Fail to Shift Loss
Anyone faced with a claim or a loss will look for someone else to pay the claim or bear the loss. In an interesting decision from the 7th…
Dealer's $6.5 Million Judgement Against Supplier Reversed Under Indiana Franchise Law
Courts and lawyers must deal with ambiguous statutes all the time. But Judge Wood's frustration with the Indiana Deceptive Franchise…
U.S. Supreme Court Finds Overseas Service of Suits by Mail is Permitted
U.S. Supreme Court Finds Overseas Service of Suits by Mail is Permitted Summary The United States Supreme Court, in an unanimous decision…
Another Illinois Case Decides When an Asset Purchaser is Responsible for Liabilities as a Mere Continuation of the Seller
In our Risk Management Update of December 23, 2015, we discussed an Illinois case that had to decide when a successor entity purchasing the…
Effects of Assignor's Bankruptcy on Assignment of Payment Stream
In a May 2, 2017 decision, the Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals decided the fate of a stream of rental payments from the bankrupt owner of a…
Litigation Update for April 2017
California Supreme Court Rules on Fee Awards in Forum Selection Clause Dismissals This past week, the California Supreme Court weighed in…
Employer Outsmarts Itself and Loses Over $5 Million
Juanita Berry worked as Vice President of Major Accounts for Telamon Corporation, an Indiana telecommunications company. Using her…
Litigation Snapshot for 2016
Victory Before the American Arbitration Association in New York City, July 8, 2016 Rein F. Krammer and David J. Stein capped off nearly…
Scam Targeting Attorneys Causes Big Loss To Bank
As many attorneys know, attorneys have been the frequent target of scams, such as those promising a big fee to assist in transferring funds…
U.S. Federal Judge Refuses to Alter Bankruptcy Orders Protecting Hanjin Shipping Co. Ltd.
Recent Events The federal district court in New Jersey recently denied an appeal by maritime creditors of Hanjin to lift bankruptcy…
Hanjin Shipping Now Under U.S. Bankruptcy Protection: Options for Shippers and Intermediaries
Yesterday afternoon in Newark, New Jersey, Judge John K. Sherwood of the U.S. Bankruptcy Court granted Hanjin Shipping Co. Ltd.'s request…
The Gap is Closing on Vessel Seizures in the Hanjin Emergency
The Wall Street Journal has recently observed that if Hanjin Shipping Co. Ltd. fails in its attempts to reorganize and emerge from…
Judges Clash in Overturning Arbitration Awards
The debate about arbitration vs. litigation goes on, with partisans both for and against. One argument used by both sides is the finality…
Despite (or Because of) Extensive Negotiations, No Contract and No Promissory Estoppel
A common scenario involves two parties involved in intense and prolonged negotiations that one party feels resulted in an enforceable…
Giving Up What You Are Entitled To
There were two recent cases from the 7th Circuit Court of Appeals, one on May 16 and one on May 17. The parties, judges, and areas of law…
End-User Makes End-Run to Sue Manufacturer/Supplier of Competing Product
One of the issues to be negotiated in a distributorship agreement is the allocation between the manufacturer and the distributor of risks…
Another Corporate Veil Piercing Case – Sham Transactions Make Affiliates and Individuals Vulnerable
Suddenly courts in Illinois are issuing corporate veil piercing decisions. In our last update, we highlighted an Illinois Court of Appeals…
Extreme Example of "Piercing Corporate Veil"
It is standard legal advice for business lawyers to tell their clients to avoid claims of "piercing the corporate veil" by respecting the…
Trademark Infringement Suit That Should Not Have Been
Often trademark infringement suits result from the unanticipated intersection of two apparently unrelated products or services. Sometimes…
"Mere Continuation" Doctrine Applied to Transfer Liability to Successor Entity
It is an often-cited principle that an entity that purchases the assets of another entity is not liable for the debts and liabilities of…
Requirements Contract or Not? Courts Disagree
A contract for the sale of goods should state a quantity to be enforceable. (Uniform Commercial Code Article 2-201). Article 2 of the UCC…
Contract Says Terminable on 30 Days' Notice – But Court Says, Not Really
A recent case from the 7th Circuit Court of Appeals discussed an interesting issue of contract interpretation of termination provisions…
Be Careful Who You Contract with and Who You Don't Contract with – Non-Party Not Bound
Northbound Group, Inc. generated and sold life insurance leads under the brand name "Leadbot." It was fairly successful in the late 1990s…
Update: Bad Faith Negotiation or Hard Bargaining? Turns Out to Be Hard Bargaining
In an August 3, 2011 Business Update, we reported on a 7th Circuit decision which a thwarted purchaser of a business sued to recover a…
Dissatisfied Buyer Loses $2.7 Million on "Economic Loss" Doctrine
Child Craft, LLC (also known as Harrison Manufacturing, LLC) manufactured furniture for young children and infants. One of its key…
Wisconsin Dairy Equipment Manufacturer Gets Milked By Court
BouMatic is a Wisconsin dairy equipment manufacturer. Tilstra Dairy Equipment was its dealer in southwestern Ontario. BouMatic was not…
Contract With One-Sided Termination Enforced – Not a Perpetual Contract
In an earlier Risk Management Update, we reported on an Illinois case in which the court declined to enforce what it considered to be a…
Business Owner Loses $30 Million Through Lack of Due Diligence
William Carlson was a successful businessman. Carlson was the owner of Willis Capital LLC, through which he founded Belvedere Trading LLC…
"Exclusive" is a Dangerous Word to Use in Agreement
Many sales and distribution agreements purport to grant "exclusive" rights to a distributor or sales representative. A recent 7th Circuit…
California Court Allows Equitable Defense to Enforcement of Guaranty in Spite of General Waiver
Shortly before the new year, California's Fourth District Court of Appeal, sitting in Riverside, delivered some clarity to California's law…
Confidentiality Agreement Not Enough to Protect Confidential Information
Confidentiality agreements have become routine as a part of conducting business. Parties frequently exchange confidentiality agreements, or…
Ninth Circuit Allows Online Shoppers to Ignore Arbitration Agreement
In several earlier updates, we reported on Seventh Circuit cases striking down arbitration agreements in both the consumer and commercial…
Seventh Circuit Strikes Down Another Arbitration Provision
In an earlier Update, we reported on a 7th Circuit Federal Court of Appeals case that struck down an arbitration provision. (Deborah…
Court Strikes Down Bogus Arbitration Provision
Courts generally bend over backwards to enforce a freely negotiated arbitration provision, especially between commercial parties. But a…
Parties Held To Contract; Investor In Distressed Loans Loses Chance At Windfall
Courts, especially the 7th Circuit Court of Appeals, are noted for holding parties to the terms of their contract, particularly…
Fictional "Clean Slate" Computer Program Used In Batman Movie Is Not Infringing Existing Trademark
A recent decision of the 7th Circuit Court of Appeals discussed the concept of "confusion" with respect to an unusual trademark…
Conan Doyle's Estate's "Quixotic" Efforts to Prevent Publication of Sherlock Holmes Book
A recent case from the 7th Circuit Court of Appeals illustrates the time and expense required to respond to even a non-meritorious claim of…
Case Again Illustrates Importance of Terms and Conditions Especially Choice of Law – Seller May Lose Chance to Claim Interest and Attorneys' Fees
VLM Food Trading International, Inc. (VLM) was a Canadian agricultural supplier. One of its customers was Illinois Trading Company…
Borrower Escapes, But Guarantor Does Not, on $17 Million Debt
In a recent Risk Management Update, we reported on an Illinois case in which Michael Finley, former NBA star, avoided liability on his…
Another Case Where Freedom of Contract Goes Too Far – A Perpetual Contract
In an earlier Risk Management Update, we reported on a case in which a court refused to enforce what it perceived as an unenforceable…
Illinois Court Either Confirms or Limits Scope of Illinois Sales Representative Statute
The Illinois Sales Representative Act (820 ILCS 120/0.01 et. seq.) ("Act") is intentionally very favorable to sales representatives. It…
Freedom of Contract Goes Too Far - $4.3 Million Escrow is Not Liquidated Damages, But Unenforceable Penalty
One of the principals courts repeatedly cite is that of freedom of contract. For example, in a recent Risk Management Update, we discussed…
Claimant Loses Big Jury Verdict Award of $1.1 Million by Waiving and Not Pursuing Damage Theory
Dr. Aristo Vojdani was the owner of Immunosciences Lab, Inc. In June 2007, Dr. Vojdani and Immunosciences (referred to for convenience as…
"Fiasco" Creates "Peculiar Case" – Unpaid Creditor Loses Chance for Summary Judgment
A common scenario in which a bank offered a line of credit based on a daily cash collateral report created a "peculiar case" which the…
Slow Creditor Loses Out on Chance to Collect $8 Million
There are cases when creditors, who are rarely favored with the passage of time, wait far too long to collect their debt. An example of a…
Protecting "Cracker Barrel" Trademark: Kraft Foods Has Good Week, Starbucks and Cracker Barrel Do Not
As was widely reported, on November 12, Kraft Foods won a $2.23 billion arbitration award against Starbucks arising from Starbucks' early…
Warning to Corporate Plaintiffs: Beware of Suing in a State Where you are Not Qualified
Corporations are created under state law. A corporation created under the law of one state can transact business in another (foreign)…
When Does Competition Become Tortious Interference?
It is common for parties who feel injured when the other party breaches its contract to claim damages. Of course, the most likely target is…
Former NBA Star Has to Take His Game to Another Level – Appeals Court Refuses to Enforce NBA Star's Personal Guaranty
Tim Grover is a celebrity athletic trainer whose clients have included Michael Jordan, Dwayne Wade, Scottie Pippen and other current and…
Limitation of Liability Contract Provision Enforced – Hotel Owner Loses $4.1 Million
It is common for a contract to include provisions that allocate risks and liabilities among the parties. These could range from a complete…
Effort to Reverse Arbitration Award Fails
In a recent Risk Management Update, we described the "arbitration from hell" in which the 6th Circuit Court of Appeals reversed and vacated…
The Arbitration from Hell
Supporters of arbitration as a form of dispute resolution point to its many advantages. These include quicker resolution, finality and use…
Lessons for Secured Creditors in Recent Decision
A recent Seventh Circuit decision authored by Judge Posner offers several lessons for secured creditors competing over the same collateral…
Forum Selection Clause Enforces "Home Court" Advantage
As playoff season approaches in professional football, basketball and other sports, teams will compete for "home court" advantage. Most…
Without a License, Distributor Not Franchisee, Says New Jersey Federal Court
One of the banes of a commercial lawyer is the distinction between an ordinary distributorship and a "franchise" under state law. Most…
Risks and Rewards of Sales Requirements in Distributor and Sales Representative Agreements
Suppliers, when appointing a distributor or a sales representative, will often want to include minimum sales requirements. These…
Written Sales Representative Agreement Succeeds in Limiting Commissions of Terminated Representative
It is common for manufacturers and sellers of products to use independent sales representatives to generate sales. These arrangements can…
Statute of Frauds Defense Fails Based on Course of Dealing
The statute of frauds requires certain contracts to be evidenced by a writing to be enforceable. It is based on an English statute from the…
Business Update: Action to "Pierce Corporate Veil" Fails – Another Creditor Spurned
The 7th Circuit has again left a disappointed creditor with no recourse because of the creditor's failure to do basic investigation or take…
News
Masuda Funai Showcases Excellence in Obtaining Complete Dismissal Of Arbitration Claims
Masuda Funai demonstrated its ability to resolve complex legal matters involving multiple practice areas and jurisdictions by obtaining the…
Masuda Funai Obtains $5.77M Judgment against Client's Former President, Robert W. Neal, and Defeats His Claims of National Origin and Race Discrimination
On July 6, 2018, a team of Masuda Funai litigators, led by John Stanis, obtained an order from the Second Judicial District Court of…
Masuda Funai Welcomes Three New Attorneys
Masuda, Funai, Eifert & Mitchell, Ltd. is pleased to announce the addition of Lisa Dreishmire and Kenton Knop as attorneys in the firm’s…
Masuda Funai Hosts Northern Ireland Delegation
Masuda, Funai, Eifert & Mitchell Ltd. hosted the Northern Ireland Delegation on April 16, 2018 as part of its ABC Mission visit to Chicago…
Litigation Snapshot 2017
Highlighting a Few of our Litigation Practice Group Successes Bankruptcy: Equipment Supplier’s Victory Against Bankrupt Debtor, December…
Masuda Funai Elects Two New Principals
Masuda, Funai, Eifert & Mitchell , Ltd. is pleased to announce that Michael S. Golenson and David J. Stein have been promoted to Principal…
Gary Vist and Michael Golenson Speaking at the 6th Annual Litigation Seminars in Japan
Masuda Funai attorneys Gary Vist and Michael Golenson will be speaking at the 6th annual Fronteo/Masuda Funai/Kitahama Partners litigation…
The U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Illinois Awards Excellence in Pro Bono Service to Frank J. Del Barto and David J. Stein
PRESS RELEASE CHICAGO - Frank J. Del Barto and David J. Stein from Masuda, Funai, Eifert & Mitchell, Ltd. received awards for excellence…
Masuda Funai Showcases Excellence in Litigation Wins March/April 2017
CHICAGO – Masuda Funai's litigators continued their string of recent victories with two wins in employment-related litigation over the last…
Masuda Funai Showcases Excellence in Litigation Win March 2017
CHICAGO – On March 15, 2017, the United States District Court for the Eastern District of Tennessee rejected an auto parts manufacturer's…
Masuda Funai Showcases Excellence in Litigation Win February 2017
CHICAGO – On February 28, 2017, the United States District Court for the Northern District of Illinois, Eastern Division, following a bench…
Publications
"Promoter Wars: Round 1 | Top Rank & Golden Boy Fire First Shot" - Royal Divide Magazine, Aug 11, 2015
"The Risk of Proffering Financial Expert Testimony in Lay Witness Clothing: The Limits of Rule 701 of the Federal Rules of Evidence" - Litigation Forensics Board of the NACVA, National Litigation Consultant's Review, Vol. 2, 2013