Carmen D. Caruso is a trial lawyer first, and a franchise lawyer second. Carmen has tried more than 40 cases to decision in state and federal courts in Illinois and across the country. In addition, as an Arbitrator, he has presided over nearly 20 hearings in the last five years.
The Carmen D. Caruso Law Firm is quite proud of the fact that it receives most of its business by referrals from other attorneys from all over the country, from former clients and from other professionals that are familiar with Carmen's work and his reputation.
After serving as the Chair of the Franchise & Distribution Practice of a larger firm (a practice group that he founded for that firm), Caruso formed his own law firm to be free of conflicts of interest that result from his representation of franchisees and dealers, and more importantly to take compelling cases to trial. To this end, Caruso has assembled a talented small firm team of associates, paralegals and law clerks that enables him to compete across the county in significant cases against much larger law firms.
In recent years, Carmen has been averaging three or more trials per year, and 2016 will be no different.
Caruso started in franchise litigation as a protege of former federal prosecutors Tom Foran and Dick Schultz, with whom he successfully defended McDonald's Corporation and Godfather's Pizza in numerous cases.
Over the years Caruso has emerged as one of the most highly regarded trial attorneys in the nation on the franchisee/ dealer side of these contentious disputes.
In addition, Caruso has been successful in legal malpractice cases, representing either plaintiffs and defendants in different cases. Some, but not all of his legal malpractice cases have involved alleged negligence by other lawyers in the practice of franchise law. Other cases have involved very serious alleged breaches by other attorneys of their ethical duties.
Caruso has also enjoyed considerable success in employment litigation, again on behalf of either plaintiffs and defendants, and most frequently in cases involving company executives or high performing sales persons (including cases involving franchise industry executives).
Caruso accepts challenging cases in all areas of commercial litigation, and frequently works with other attorneys as their client's counsel in Chicago, or as trial counsel for their clients.
Born and raised in Chicago, Caruso graduated from Marquette University (B.A. in psychology, with honors) in 1980 and from Loyola University of Chicago (J.D. 1983), where he won the American Jurisprudence Award in antitrust law, made the Law Review, taught a Street Law/Mock Trial class in a Chicago public high school, argued a federal court appeal, and served as an extern for the United States Attorney for the Northern District of Illinois. He also obtained a Masters Advocate certificate from the prestigious National Institute of Trial Advocacy (N.I.T.A.) and completed the American Bar Association’s comprehensive training in commercial arbitration.
Caruso is an active member of the American Bar Association, the Illinois State Bar Association, the Chicago Bar Association and the American Association for Justice. He is also a member of Alpha Sigma Nu (the National Jesuit Honor Society), the Board of Advisors for Catholic Charities of Chicago, and member of the Union League Club of Chicago, where he serves as a Trustee for the Union League of Chicago Boys & Girls Clubs.
Arbitrator, American Arbitration Association — Carmen Caruso is a panel arbitrator for the AAA, serving on its commercial, franchise, labor/employment and complex case panels.
Thermodyne v. McDonald's Corporation — Defense of international franchisor accused of theft of trade secrets in oven technology.
Interim Health Care of Northern Illinois v. Interim Health Care, Inc. — Victory in the U.S. Court of Appeals on behalf of a franchisee who was terminated for non-payment of royalties, where the franchisor had breached its duty of good faith and fair dealing in failing to refer national account patients to the franchisee.
Dairy Queen Operators Association v. International Dairy Queen — We represent this association in its ongoing battles to protect its franchisee members from conduct by the franchisor that is arguably overreaching. We would be pleased to provide additional details on request.
Defense of Legal Malpractice Claim against Franchise Attorney (names withheld) — Successful defense of attorney accused of negligence in failing to properly advise client on compliance with the FTC Franchise Rule and applicable state law in preparing franchise agreement for client's use in selling franchises.
Berggren v. Bang & Olufsen Corp. — Obtained a significant confidential settlement for five retail dealers across the country who claimed that they were defrauded in the purchase of their dealerships.
Bellaver v. Quanex Corp. — Success in the U.S. Court of Appeals on behalf of a female manager in a Title VII case, helping to shatter the "glass ceiling" that had existed at the company.
Home Repair, Inc. v. Paul W. Davis Co. — Successful claim under 42 U.S.C. Section 1981 on behalf of an African American franchisee who was denied the opportunity to expand into the Chicago metropolitan market, unless he agreed to locate in a minority community.
Mages v. MC Sports — Recovery for defrauded sellers of a sporting goods business in an arbitration lasting three weeks.
Advanced Concrete et al v. Superior Walls of America — Successful resolution of arbitrated claims for multiple franchisees in a somewhat unique franchise system, where the license to manufacture and sell the franchisor's patented products are the essence of the franchise, and where the franchisor had arguably breached its duty of good faith and fair dealing by failing to stay in compliance with national building code standards and had engaged in unreasonable product pricing.
Representation of a prominent Chicago CEO in a fee dispute with his matrimonial law firm — When the combined fees in a recent divorce case exceeded $3 million, the senior partner of the firm that represents the husband's company referred the CEO to us. We appeared in the divorce case and initiated a four-way mediation process that led to a settlement of the underlying divorce as well as separate settlements with the law firms representing each spouse. We include this case as an example of some of Chicago's most prominent law firms trusting us to protect their clients in very delicate situations.