Cook County Jury Finds for Business in Fraud Case, 2.1M, Punitive Damages; ISB Products, Inc. v. Autotech Technologies

A Cook County jury returned a verdict for $2,131,587 which included punitive damages, in favor of ISB Products, Inc., a Canadian corporation, in its claim against Autotech Technologies, an Illinois limited partnership and its individual owner. The case centered around a joint venture that was dissolved in March 2000 after only nine months of operation.

ISB Products, Inc. v. Autotech Technologies Limited Partnership, Shalabh Kumar, 01 CH-5970 (transferred to Law Division).

In this case, which was originally filed in the Chancery Division, ISB alleged that the defendants, Autotech Technologies Limited Partnership and Shalabh Kumar, its individual owner, fraudulently induced ISB to enter into a joint venture agreement. It was alleged that the defendants engaged in a scheme whose purpose was to defraud the plaintiff.

The complaint alleged that defendants misrepresented the amount of the existing business that Autotech would transfer to the joint venture, misrepresented that Autotech’s research and development department would design a new press control for ISB, and that defendants misrepresented that the distributors for Autotech’s $200 million business would sell ISB products through the joint venture.

In the lawsuit, ISB asked the jury to return a verdict to recover $777,196 in compensatory damages, plus punitive damages, against both defendants.

The defense denied Kumar made any false representations and also filed a counterclaim against ISB for breach of contract and breach of fiduciary duty. In that counterclaim, ISB claimed that it had transferred nearly $1 million in payments by the formed joint venture group called APA Press Automation to ISB without Autotech’s knowledge.

The jury returned its verdict finding in favor of ISB and denying the defendants’ counterclaim.

The jury verdict total was $2,131,588; $677,196 for compensatory damages plus $1,454,399 for punitive damages as to both defendants. The compensatory damages award included $345,000 in lost revenues, $196,660 amounts due under the joint venture agreement, $36,972 in payments to creditors, $52,306 for payments erroneously sent to the joint venture, $52, 258 for misappropriated funds. Punitive damages are reserved for cases where the acts of the defendant are found to be so egregious that punishment is warranted by the evidence. Not all Illinois case types even allow the assessment of punitive damages. These damages are meant to take an amount of money from the party based on a company’s revenues, reserves and value to punish it for its actions. The pound of flesh would be granted in an attempt to ensure that the conduct is not repeated.

Kreisman Law Offices has been handing complex business litigation matters for more than 35 years in and around Chicago, Illinois, Cook County and surrounding communities including, Countryside, Darien, Sauk Village and Burbank.