In the News

William Quinlan named Leading Business Litigation Attorney of the Year, Illinois

Originally Published in Acquisition International – Leading Adviser 2019.

When it comes to litigation, William Quinlan has seen it all. With a fine family history of legal experts behind him, it’s no surprise that he has managed to make The Quinlan Law Firm, LLC such a tremendous success. With a string of high-profile cases under his belt, most recently being Jussie Smollett, he has definitely earned the title of Leading Business Litigation Attorney of the Year, Illinois. We took a closer look to find out more.

The world of litigation is incredibly complex, but William Quinlan has not only the skill, but the expertise to bring something new and exciting to any case. With a strong background in the operations of government as well as the ability to design strategies that ensure a client achieves their business goals, there are very few finer. Working with Quinlan means that businesses and individuals can move forward as quickly as possible.

Quinlan received his J.D. from Georgetown Law School in 1995, serving as the Notes and Comments Editor of the Georgetown Immigration Law Review, as well as a member of the finance committee that was responsible for administering the school’s $44 million annual budget.

Quinlan spent his early years working within the government, serving as a member of the Appropriations Staff of Illinois House Speaker Michael J. Madigan and as a staff member of the Ways and Means Committee of the United States Congress. Eventually he served as General Counsel of the State of Illinois, overseeing all legal matters within state agencies as well as approximately 300 attorneys who were under the auspices of the Governor. Prior to that, Quinlan was also an associate in the litigation department at Gardiner, Carton & Douglas, a 200-lawyer full-service firm in Chicago.

The rapid growth of The Quinlan Law Firm belies its humble beginnings in 2006. Now it serves a national practice, covering all aspects of litigation from the circuit to the appellate court. With offices in Chicago, Illinois and Phoenix, Arizona and Silicon Valley, California, the business is able to serve clients across the country from a wide variety of backgrounds, with a wide variety of cases. It is a process that takes advantage of the fact that distance is no longer a barrier to top talent.

Quinlan recently took on the case of Twitch streamer ‘Phantoml0rd’. This particular case has brought a great deal of attention to Quinlan in Silicon Valley, and he has recently established an outpost there to court the interests of streamers and tech firms. This is another area where Quinlan and his firm excel, able to offer outside counsel to numerous corporations, as well as litigation counsel to both businesses and individuals. Covering every business need from employment matters to contract drafting and negotiation, it is knowing the best direction in which to take a case that elevates Quinlan and The Quinlan Law Firm above and beyond its competitors.

The driving force behind any decision is always a client’s ultimate business goals, with the processes specifically designed to ensure the best possible result for a client. Often, this approach means that litigation is not the best way forward, and one of the many skills which Quinlan has is that of altering the strategy to meet this ideal. Quinlan and his firm have represented clients in alternative dispute resolution matters and arbitration.

Litigation is a notoriously difficult skill and having an experienced attorney by your side who knows which way to take a case to achieve the result you want is critical. This is where Quinlan’s evident skill and ability pay off completely.

Company: The Quinlan Law Firm, LLC
Contact: Maya Hermerding
Website: www.quinlanfirm.com

Read original publication here

Taking Names: Quinlan Named to Irish Legal 100

Published by Politico Illinois Playbook – October 1, 2021 (link).

Chicago lawyer Bill Quinlan has been selected to be part of the 2021 Irish Legal 100, an annual listing of the distinguished U.S. legal professionals with Irish heritage. Members include U.S. Supreme Court Chief Justice John Roberts and former Justice Anthony Kennedy. Honorees will be celebrated in an awards ceremony at the home of the Irish Ambassador to the U.S. Daniel Mulhall in Washington, D.C.

Quinlan is the third-generation lawyer and politico in his family. His father was William Quinlan, who was a county and state appellate judge, and served as chief corporation counsel to Mayor Richard J. Daley as well as Mayors Michael Bilandic and Jane Byrne. Quinlan’s uncle is former Cook County Board President Richard Phelan. Early in his government career in government, Bill Quinlan served as general counsel for Illinois.

Read more at Politico.

CPS parents ask US Education Department to intervene in SAT booklet fiasco

Published by WGN Chicago, September 5, 2021.

Read original story on WGN

CHICAGO — Parents of CPS students who were told their SAT scores no longer count due to a booklet error have asked the US Department of Education to intervene.

In late July, nearly 800 Chicago Public Schools students were told they were given the wrong SAT booklet this past spring, rendering their scores invalid.

CPS blamed Lincoln Park High School, Bogan Computer Technical High School, Gwendolyn Brooks College Prep and Benito Juarez Community Academy for the error.

“Just when you thought they couldn’t get any more incompetent, there comes up something else,” said CPS parent William Quinlan.

So Quinlan decided, on behalf of CPS parents affected by the mistake, to ask the U.S. Department of Education to intervene. The College Board has refused to accept the test scores due to students receiving the same booklet on the second date of testing as those who sat for the SAT on the first day.

Lincoln Park high schooler Kate Hansen said studying for the test in the middle of the pandemic was already a stressful experience.

“I took an eight-week studying and tutoring course, and it was about four hours every Saturday morning,” she said.

Read the full letter here.

Read original story on WGN

Judge Rules Trial against Twitch for Phantoml0rd Breach of Contract Can Proceed, Dismisses Motion for Summary Judgment Entirely

Trial Set for March 2021 in case deemed among “most significant lawsuits in streaming history”

Chicago—The Quinlan Law Firm LLC (QLF) revealed a San Francisco County Superior Court judge has ruled in favor of its client, influential livestreamer James “Phantoml0rd” Varga, dismissing a motion for summary judgment sought by streaming platform Twitch. The ruling allows Varga’s lawsuit to proceed against the platform for violating its terms of service after banning him in 2016. A jury trial in what has been called one of the “most significant lawsuits in streaming history” is scheduled to begin on March 29, 2021. 

“This is an important decision not only for Mr. Varga to move forward in his quest to seek full compensation for the losses he suffered as a result of Twitch’s wrongful termination, but it also poses significant legal ramifications for hundreds if not thousands of other streamers who have signed contracts with Twitch and rely on the platform as their main source of income and professional standing,” said William J. Quinlan, who represents Varga. “This case has the potential to set a standard of rights and responsibilities for streamers and platform providers for years to come.”

From 2012 to 2016, Varga was one of the most popular broadcasters on Twitch, attracting millions of viewers, after having signed a contract with Twitch, including a Partnership Agreement that permitted Varga to stream content and established a revenue share. In July 2016, Twitch terminated Varga’s account but failed to cite why it was terminating his account, or provide a written notice of its intent to terminate or set 30 days to cure any alleged breach of contract, as required by the Partnership Agreement. 

In 2018, Varga filed suit in California state Superior Court in San Francisco, alleging Twitch’s termination constituted a breach of contract, negligent misrepresentation, intentional misrepresentations, and a violation of California’s Unfair Competition Law. 

Following two years of discovery, Twitch filed a motion for summary judgment in July 2020 seeking to have all of Varga’s claims dismissed. Twitch’s motion argued that Varga’s claims were barred by Section 230 of the federal Communications Decency Act—which ostensibly immunizes websites from litigation involving content posted on its site—and that its Terms of Service permit it to nullify streamer accounts without notice or explanation. The company also argued that Varga’s Partnership Agreement terms were pre-empted by the Terms of Service that Twitch requires all users to sign prior to joining its website. 

Judge Curtis Karnow’s decision found that Section 230 did not immunize Twitch from Varga’s claims for wrongful termination because Twitch was not acting as a “publisher” when it breached Varga’s Partnership Agreement, finding that the actual contract at issue in the case is the Partnership Agreement between Varga and Twitch, not Twitch’s Terms of Service, and that Twitch had failed to even attempt to show that its actions were consistent with the Partnership Agreement.  

The recent order dismissing Twitch’s motion follows Karnow’s earlier ruling that Varga can seek damages in excess of Twitch’s original $50,000 cap, noting Varga suffered potentially millions in damages and lost wages as a result of his wrongful termination. 

The case, Varga v. Twitch Interactive, Inc., case number 18-1564337, is being handled by Quinlan and Associate Eric Schmitt.

About the Quinlan Law Firm LLC

The Quinlan Law Firm, LLC is a national complex litigation practice headquartered in Chicago, with offices in Phoenix and Redwood City. Founded in 2006, the firm oversees 

 all aspects of litigation from the circuit court to the appellate court. Principal and founder William J. Quinlan, former General Counsel to the State of Illinois and a litigator for over 20 years, brings his extensive government and litigation experience to guide clients in developing custom strategies that meet their legal needs as well as their ultimate business goals. The Quinlan Law Firm, LLC serves as outside counsel to numerous corporations, as well as litigation counsel to both businesses and individuals. The Quinlan Law Firm, LLC brings together a team of talented litigators with experience in handling complex commercial litigation, as well as the ability to assist with the day-to-day legal matters that arise in the daily operations of the business world, from employment matters to contract drafting and negotiation. 

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Judge: Streamer who didn’t read contract can sue Twitch for over $50K

Ruling for ‘Phantoml0rd’ could potentially open the streaming giant to additional lawsuits

Published at Polygon on October 1, 2019

James “Phantoml0rd” Varga, the controversial streamer involved in an elaborate Counter-Strike: Global Offensive gambling scandal, has prevailed in his initial court case against Twitch. After being banned from the platform since 2016, a judge in San Francisco now says he’s free to sue for damages in excess of the $50,000 allowed by his contract. His lawyer says this could pave the way for similar suits from other banned streamers.

“This is an important decision not only for Mr. Varga to seek full compensation for the losses he has suffered as a result of Twitch’s wrongful termination, but it also makes the case for hundreds if not thousands of other streamers who have signed contracts with Twitch should they similarly find themselves unfairly singled out by the platform’s administrators and cut off from their main source of income,” says William J. Quinlan, the lawyer from Quinlan Law firm representing Varga.

On July 19, 2016, Varga’s Twitch channel was deleted after reports claimed that Varga owned a site where CS:GO players could gamble with the game’s weapon skins, failed to disclose that ownership, and subsequently broadcast himself on Twitch winning rigged games of chance. The episode led to a string of legal threats against similar platforms by the game’s developer, Valve.

Nearly 600 days after his ban, Varga returned on YouTube to announce his intent to sue. The video has since been removed. While Varga has leaned into producing live gambling content on YouTube and elsewhere, his court case has been ongoing. Just last week the judge ruled in his favor, saying that the limitation of liability that capped his potential damages at $50,000 was “unconscionable.”

Read the article at This entry was posted in In the News on by .

Meet the lawyer representing Jussie Smollett

Published at Crain’s Chicago Business on October 17, 2019

Bill Quinlan? He’s got experience advising controversial characters (starting with Rod Blagojevich, Dan Rostenkowski and Michael Madigan, to name a few).

Bill Quinlan is nothing if not connected. His father, the late William R. Quinlan, was a judge and chief counsel for three Chicago mayors. His uncle is former Cook County Board President Richard Phelan. He’s worked for Illinois House Speaker Michael Madigan, former U.S. House Ways & Means Chairman Dan Rostenkowski and former Gov. Rod Blagojevich, and has had dealings with the Daley family. Now Quinlan, 48, is representing actor Jussie Smollett, helping him fend off a city demand that he pay $130,106 for overtime costs police allege were spent on a hate-crime hoax. Quinlan, who is married with two teenage kids and lives in Old Town, is a Northwestern and White Sox season ticket holder.

What did you learn from working with your dad?

He used to say, “Be the lawyer.” He never tried to be the operator.

Why take on Smollett?

I get three phone calls a night from people that say they fought for this country, and they can’t believe that I’m representing someone like him. My response is, what we fought for is the right to a jury trial of our peers, the right to counsel and the right to due process. And God forbid that’s ever you and you’re entitled to have a hearing or a trial and everyone judges you guilty.

Do you believe his version of events?

In my dealings with him, Jussie’s been very honorable.

Here’s a lightning round. I’ll give you some names; tell me the first word that pops in your head. Dick Phelan.

Uncle.

How about an adjective?

Maybe it’s passionate, because everything he did was at 100 miles per hour. Zealous.

Mike Madigan?

Calculated. I don’t think I’m the only one who’s used that adjective to describe him.

Dan Rostenkowski?

Passionate. The goal was, don’t let the perfect get in the way of the good.

David Orr?

Believer.

Ed Burke?

Historian. I mean it broader than just knowing about the Chicago Fire. He understands how government works, from an ordinance level, a constitutional level, a practical level. He has this wealth of history to understand practically how to get things done through the different worlds.

Rod Blagojevich?

Caring. Part ward boss, part somebody who literally cared and wanted to make a difference. I think that conflict existed with him a lot. The best retail politician I’ve ever seen.

Rahm Emanuel.

Dogged.

Think you have a good shot with Jussie’s case?
Absolutely.

Read at Crain’s Chicago Business >>

Quinlan Law Firm LLC has announced three hires

Published by Politico Illinois Playbook, October 15, 2019

Quinlan Law Firm LLC has announced three hires. David Hutchinson has been named an associate after serving as a judicial clerk at the U.S. Court of Appeals for the First Circuit. He previously worked as an associate at Jenner & Block LLP. Hutchinson’s expertise is in complex commercial litigation disputes involving breach of contract, business torts and security agreements. Kamil Merchant has been named an associate attorney, focusing on commercial litigation matters. He previously was a judicial law clerk at the Illinois Appellate Court, First District. He earned his law degree from the University of Illinois College of Law. And Eric Schmitt will lead the firm’s just-opened Silicon Valley office in Menlo Park, Calif. Schmitt previously worked at Sidley Austin LLP and also served as judicial clerk at the U.S. Court of Federal Claims in Washington, D.C. He earned his undergrad from University of Chicago.

WGN Radio: James “Phantoml0rd” Varga vs Twitch: Lawsuit

James “PhantomL0rd” Varga was suspended from Twitch in July 2016 for violating Twitch Tv, Terms of Service (TOS). Phantoml0rd decided to sue Twitch, because they were not forthright with their TOS and his suspension cost him revenue.  Bill Quinlan, Phantoml0rd’s attorney at The Quinlan Law Firm LLC, explains the Phantonl0rd case in detail and gives an update on a recent ruling in the case. Bill explains how this lawsuit will set a precedent for the video game & E-sports industry.

Listen to the interview with Bill Quinlan here at WGN >>

Judge Rules That Twitch’s Contract With Banned Streamer Includes ‘Unconscionable’ Language

Published by Kotaku, September 30, 2019

The legal saga between Twitch and the banned Counter-Strike: Global Offensive streamer James “PhantomL0rd” Varga continues. The judge’s latest ruling is a potential mark in the “win” column for Varga, as well as other Twitch streamers who might have grievances with Twitch in the future.

The trouble started back in 2016, when Varga was banned from Twitch after he streamed himself using CS:GO gambling sites. According to an exposé by journalist Richard Lewis, Varga allegedly had a financial stake in one of these sites. Two years later, Varga sued Twitch for lost income and damages incurred from what he now claims was a wrongful ban. Twitch responded with a counter-suit against Varga that asserted the streamer had violated multiple Twitch policies.

Varga was suing for lost income, and while the legal system has yet to determine whether his ban was actually wrongful and that he should therefore be repaid, his lawsuit has revealed some unusual fine print in the contract he signed with Twitch. Apparently, Varga’s contract stated that he wouldn’t be allowed to receive anything more than $50,000 from a suit against Twitch.

The judge’s full ruling, first reported by Dexerto and also obtained by Kotaku, deemed that this $50,000 cap was “overly harsh and unreasonably and unfairly one-sided… There is no reason to limit Varga to $50,000 when he might well be entitled to a much, much higher sum.”

The judge continued, “From a practical point of view, which I think is an essential consideration, limiting recovery to $50,000 virtually kills off the odds of a suit against Twitch at all. The agreement doesn’t appear to have an attorney fees clause, and few—if any—lawyers would take on a contingency case against Twitch for some reasonable percentage of $50,000. The cap is unconscionable.”

Varga admitted in court that he hadn’t actually read the contract before first signing it in 2012, nor did he read it when he signed a re-upped version of it two years later. He claimed he didn’t know “if that’s what needed to be done.” According to the judge’s summary: “Varga, who spent virtually all his waking hours on computers, and was familiar with a variety of programs, did not know he could scroll through the agreement. He had time, both in 2012 and 2014, to do so, and if he had, he would have seen [the relevant section]. He simply chose not to do so.”

If Varga had read the contract, the judge theorized that the streamer could have tried to push back against it before signing. Nonetheless, the judge ultimately ruled that the language in the contact was “unconscionable,” meaning the court can ignore this clause when deciding how much money (if any) to award Varga. One mark in Varga’s favor was the “significant difference” between him and Twitch “in their legal sophistication. Varga in 2014 was 26 years old living with his parents, and he had little to no legal experience.” In contrast, Twitch had paid a legal team to draft their end of the bargain, putting the platform at a clear advantage.

Although Varga’s case is not particularly sympathetic, since most people just associate him with the CS:GO gambling streams that led to his ban, his case has nonetheless revealed one way that Twitch had been unfair in its contract. Varga may or may not win his overall suit for lost income, but if he does, he’ll now be able to ask for more than $50,000. (According to the ruling, Varga’s income “averaged over $5,000 per month and appeared to cluster around $10,000 per month,” so multiple years of lost income would have exceeded the cap.) The case will proceed, but regardless of its outcome, this ruling could potentially help other streamers who have a similar clause in their contract and who may bring a suit against Twitch in the future. Most important of all, it’s a reminder to read anything you sign.

Judge Rules Twitch Contract Clause “Unconscionable,” Phantoml0rd Can Sue for Damages Over Original $50,000 Cap

For Immediate Release
Media Contact:

Natalie Bauer Luce
Culloton + Bauer Luce
nbl@cullotonbauerluce.com

Chicago—The Quinlan Law Firm LLC (QLF) today announced a San Francisco County Superior Court judge has ruled in favor of its client, influential livestreamer James “Phantoml0rd” Varga, with a decision that rendered streaming platform Twitch’s limited liability clause in its players’ contract as “unconscionable” and therefore unenforceable. The decision allows Varga to seek damages in excess of Twitch’s original $50,000 cap and marks a significant legal victory for potentially thousands of content producers who have signed contracts with Twitch.

Varga sued Twitch for violating its terms of service after banning him in 2016 from the platform, alleging claims of breach of contract, intentional misrepresentation, negligent misrepresentation and unfair competition, with the damages Varga suffered as a result of his wrongful termination potentially amounting to millions of dollars. The lawsuit, which went to trial in August over the validity of the $50,000 cap on damages contained in Twitch’s contract, has been characterized as one of the “most significant lawsuits in streaming history.”

“This is an important decision not only for Mr. Varga to seek full compensation for the losses he has suffered as a result of Twitch’s wrongful termination, but it also makes the case for hundreds if not thousands of other streamers who have signed contracts with Twitch should they similarly find themselves unfairly singled out by the platform’s administrators and cut off from their main source of income,” said William J. Quinlan, who represents Varga.

In ruling Twitch’s contract as “unconscionable” and the $50,000 cap to be invalid, Judge Curtis E.A. Karnow found that the platform’s $50,000 cap was “so incommensurate” with the amount the parties would have expected Varga to earn at the time he signed his contracts with Twitch that it was “overly harsh and unreasonably and unfairly one-sided.” The ruling also points out that the absence of any reasonable competitors to Twitch gave it superior bargaining power over Varga and that Twitch had failed to present any evidence demonstrating that other livestreamers had been able to negotiate the terms of their contracts with Twitch. Judge Karnow further found that the unfair circumstances surrounding the signing of the contracts were exacerbated by the “significant difference” in the parties’ legal sophistication at the time the second contract was signed, when “Varga was a 26 years old living with his parents” with “little to no legal experience,” while Twitch had retained the services of the large law firm Wilson Sonsini to draft the form contracts it used with all of its livestreamers.

The victory comes as QLF prepares to open a new office in Menlo Park, Calif., where it will be able to better serve its growing list of clients in the gaming and tech industries in Silicon Valley.

The case, Varga v. Twitch Interactive, Inc., case number 18-1564337, is being handled by Quinlan and Associate Eric Schmitt.

About the Quinlan Law Firm LLC
The Quinlan Law Firm, LLC is a national complex litigation practice headquartered in Chicago, with offices in Phoenix and Redwood City. Founded in 2006, the firm oversees all aspects of litigation from the circuit court to the appellate court. Principal and founder William J. Quinlan, former General Counsel to the State of Illinois and a litigator for over 20 years, brings his extensive government and litigation experience to guide clients in developing custom strategies that meet their legal needs as well as their ultimate business goals. The Quinlan Law Firm, LLC serves as outside counsel to numerous corporations, as well as litigation counsel to both businesses and individuals. The Quinlan Law Firm, LLC brings together a team of talented litigators with experience in handling complex commercial litigation, as well as the ability to assist with the day-to-day legal matters that arise in the daily operations of the business world, from employment matters to contract drafting and negotiation. For more information, visit www.quinlanfirm.com.