Blog Post

Intellectual Property

Cequent Performance Products, Inc. reached a favorable settlement with Wyers Products Group, Inc., in a patent infringement lawsuit

McDonald Hopkins’ intellectual property team represented Cequent Performance Products, Inc., a subsidiary of Horizon Global Corporation, in a favorable settlement with Wyers Products Group, Inc., in a patent infringement lawsuit. Wyers Products, which operates under the Trimax brand name, agreed to pay Cequent guaranteed payments totaling approximately $1 million over the next several years to settle an ongoing patent dispute with Cequent. Based on the settlement, that amount could go higher. For more information, click here.

Intellectual Property

Federal Court Rules in Favor of TriMas’ Cequent Americas Business on Patent Infringement

On April 22, 2015, the Federal District Court in Colorado entered multiple summary judgment rulings, all in favor of TriMas Corporation’s Cequent Americas business, in a patent infringement lawsuit against Wyers Products Group, Inc. McDonald Hopkins’ Intellectual Property team represented TriMas in the dispute, which involved multiple patents for hitch receiver locks and universal trailer coupler locks. In its decision, the Federal Court ruled that two of Wyers’ universal trailer coupler locks infringe Cequent’s patent, which was ruled valid by the court. The Federal Court further determined that Cequent did not infringe, as a matter of law, the two patents that Wyers raised in this dispute.

You can read the full press release at the TriMas website.

Government Affairs

Adoption Network Cleveland achieves 25-year advocacy goal

Aaron Ockerman, director of state and local government affairs at McDonald Hopkins, serves as the legislative agent for Adoption Network Cleveland (ANC). In his advocacy role, Aaron works with ANC’s executive director and staff to steadfastly advocate for better adoption laws and funding. Their efforts culminated in the passage of Ohio Senate Bill 23, which was recently signed into law by Governor Kasich. SB 23 was the capstone to 25 years of advocacy by the adoption community to allow adult adoptees to have access to their original birth certificates.

McDonald Hopkins congratulates Adoption Network Cleveland for their service to the community and the many lives they have impacted for the better. We continue to advocate for their interests at the state capitol.


Supreme Court of Ohio case will set precedent for oil and gas disputes in Ohio

Jeffrey Pollock, representing some of the heirs of a family claiming ownership to mineral rights, argued the first case involving oil and gas rights in the Utica Shale before the Supreme Court of Ohio on August 20. The case is captioned Dodd v. Croskey. This historic case will determine the procedures by which ownership of mineral interests may be preserved in response to claims by surface owners of the land that the mineral interests have been abandoned.

Click here to read more.

Employee Benefits and ERISA

John Wirtshafter among the panel of judges to select the 2014 Benefits Management honorees

John Wirtshafter, a member in our Cleveland office and immediate past president of the Worldwide Employee Benefits Network, was on the panel of judges to select the Business Insurance 2014 Benefit Manager of the Year award recipient, as well as the Benefit Management Honor Roll. The panel of independent judges includes the previous year’s winner and benefits experts.

Banking and Lender Liability Litigation

Increased Regulations Don't Just Burden Banks; Vendors Must Also Manage Risk

A recent Bloomberg BNA Banking article written by Richik Sarkar details how increased regulatory guidance as laid out by the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency on October 30, 2013, has a direct effect not only on banks, but also their vendors. As a result, vendors must be proactive in their planning by understanding their clients' needs, regulatory environment, and expectations in order to properly manage risks. The article outlines the regulatory guidance provided to banks while presenting a corresponding course of action for vendors.

Click here to read the full article or go to the Business Advocate to discuss.


Fourth District Court of Appeals affirms final judgment ordering turnover of Palm Beach Polo and Country Club Property Owners Association

On May 8, 2014, the Fourth District Court of Appeals affirmed the Final Judgment entered by the Trial Court on November 21, 2012, in what was a big victory for more than 700 homeowners.

Following a three-day non-jury trial, the Trial Court entered a final judgment holding that the events requiring turnover of the master Palm Beach Polo and Country Club Property Owners Association (“POA”) from the developer to the homeowners had occurred as of 2005. As a result of the decision, Palm Beach Holdings, Inc., was required to relinquish control of the POA at the next annual meeting.

The homeowners were represented by Howard K. Coates, Jr. and Mary F. April of McDonald Hopkins, LLC throughout the proceedings, which lasted several years and ends over thirty years of developer control of the master homeowners association at the Palm Beach Polo development in Wellington, Florida. 

Click here to read more.

Consumer Financial Protection Bureau

How the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau Ensnared Auto Dealers

A Bloomberg Law article written by Richik Sarkar, Edward Kraus and Matt Henken, addressed the CFPB’s increased efforts to regulate Auto Dealers. Although Auto Dealers were originally excluded from CFPB regulations, as often happens with federal law, through exceptions to the exemption and using financial institutions as proxies, lenders and auto dealers can expect additional regulatory guidance and enforcement activity from the CFPB.

Click here to read more.


McDonald Hopkins trial team wins punitive damage award for client

Following more than a three-day arbitration hearing, our Chicago Managing Member Rick Kessler and Member Peter Berk achieved a victory for a client in a suit alleging breach of fiduciary and fraud against a former employee. The monetary award also included a sum for punitive damages.


Trust clients win in Illinois case of first impression

McDonald Hopkins represented the defendants at trial in which the issue concerned the validity of several amendments to a trust. In this case, there was an initial trust and three subsequent amendments. However, the Plaintiffs did not recognize the most recent amendment which placed our client as Trustee and filed a lawsuit seeking a declaration that the most recent amendment was not valid, asserting undue influence as well as a technical basis with regard to delivery of the trust amendment.

Following a four day bench trial, the Court ruled in favor of our clients and addressed an issue of first impression in Illinois. The court found that a trust amendment that does not expressly revoke prior amendments, incorporates the prior amendments to the extent that they are not inconsistent with the most current amendment. Further, the victory resulted in a significant swing of assets going to our clients.


McDonald Hopkins guides Dominion East Ohio to significant victory regarding subsurface rights for natural gas storage

Dominion East Ohio, through its McDonald Hopkins lawyers, led by Mike Snyder, Jerry Cook and Ann Hunt, was awarded summary judgment in an order issued by Stark County Common Pleas Judge Kristin G. Farmer. Judge Farmer’s order eliminated a massive class action lawsuit, filed in an effort to undermine long-standing subsurface rights in oil and gas geologic formations located below formations Dominion currently uses for natural gas storage. The storage field extends over an area exceeding 162 square miles; the lawsuit implicated all land holders within that area.

Class representatives claimed they shared common attributes with owners of land throughout this expansive gas storage field. The Dominion team, consisting of 13 lawyers and paralegals at McDonald Hopkins, created a database that analyzed every historic oil and gas lease in the storage field. Consideration of the land rights claimed by the putative class representatives ultimately revealed that they held no valid interest in any oil or gas in the storage field, as a matter of law. Dominion moved for summary judgment on these issues, and was successful. This case has wide ranging implications for the oil and gas industry.

Mergers and Acquisitions

McDonald Hopkins represented IGP Sports & Entertainment Group (IGP) in connection with IMG Worldwide, Inc.'s acquisition of IGP

McDonald Hopkins represented Kenneth R. Kennerly, the sole shareholder of IGP Sports & Entertainment Group (IGP), in connection with IMG Worldwide, Inc.'s acquisition of IGP. IGP manages the PGA Tour's Honda Classic as well as several PGA Tour players. Mr. Kennerly is, and will continue to be, the Executive Director of the Honda Classic, and he will join IMG as the head of its North American golf events management division.

Business Restructuring and Bankruptcy

McDonald Hopkins completes unconventional sale of 110 franchise restaurants

McDonald Hopkins provided restructuring counsel to Kazi Foods, owner of 110 distressed franchise restaurants. McDonald Hopkins’ member attorney Stephen Gross successfully guided Kazi Foods through multiple Chapter 11 bankruptcies in several states, resulting in the sale of its assets to two Texas-based companies. Not only was he successful in saving the restaurants and associated jobs, but the client was able to pay back its creditor 5.6 times earnings before interest, tax, depreciation and amortization. Crain’s Detroit named the Kazi deal the “Best Deal of the Year” under $100 million.

Business Restructuring and Bankruptcy

Last minute sale saves beloved Detroit bakery

McDonald Hopkins provided restructuring counsel to Awrey Bakeries, a more than 100 year old Detroit-based company on the brink of liquidating through a fire sale auction. Our attorneys successfully structured and closed a going concern Article 9 transaction over the holiday weekend when a buyer stepped forward just days before the auction was to take place. Our team of attorneys represented the company in this swift and successful sale to a Michigan-based buyer maximizing value for all parties involved, especially the local community.

Pro Bono

Significant pro bono victory for mental health rights in Ohio

The Ohio Supreme Court has issued its opinion in the matter of McQueen v. Court of Common Pleas of Cuyahoga County, Probate Div., Slip Op. 2013-Ohio-65 (Jan. 16, 2013). The Court determined that an indigent adult ward who was subject to a guardianship, was entitled to court-appointed counsel in a hearing to review the necessity of the continued guardianship. McDonald Hopkins LLC and Jeff Pollock, urging reversal of the appellate court’s denial of the ward’s right to counsel, submitted an amicus curiae brief on behalf of The Arc of Ohio, National Alliance on Mental Illness of Ohio, and People First of Ohio. The Court specifically referenced its reliance on the briefs of amici curiae in its decision. Read the Court’s decision here.

Pro bono at McDonald Hopkins: pro-bono

Mergers and Acquisitions

McDonald Hopkins represented Monomoy Capital Partners, L.P.

McDonald Hopkins recently represented Monomoy Capital Partners, L.P., a New York-based private equity fund, in the acquisition of Raybestos PowerTrain, LLC from Sun Capital Partners. Headquartered in Crawfordsville, Indiana, Raybestos is one of the world's largest manufacturers of transmission and wet-wheel brake friction products, supplying both OEMs and automotive aftermarket customers.

Mergers and Acquisitions

McDonald Hopkins represented Ninth Street Capital Partners

McDonald Hopkins represented private investment firm Ninth Street Capital Partners in its sale of Nebraska-based Castronics LLC to Inspection Oil Field Services, a portfolio company of Baltimore private equity firm Calvert Street Capital Partners. Ninth Street had acquired in December 2009 the assets of Castronics, a provider of pipe threading, perforating and refurbishing services to oil and gas drillers in the Rocky Mountain and Upper Midwest regions. The transaction generated a 3.5x cash-on-cash return and an 81 percent IRR for Ninth Street's investors.

Mergers and Acquisitions

McDonald Hopkins represented Sanders Tools & Supplies, Inc.

McDonald Hopkins represented Sanders Tools & Supplies, Inc., one of the premier industrial distributors of cutting tools, abrasives, and precision instruments, in its sale to BlackHawk Industrial Distribution, Inc. Sanders Tools & Supplies, Inc., based in Peoria, Illinois, was the fourth acquisition for the private equity-backed BlackHawk Industrial. John Spinoso, former CEO and owner of Sanders, said: "The team at Sanders Tool Supply Division will be well served under the support and structure of the BlackHawk Industrial leadership."

Women-Owned Businesses

Michelle Kantor recognized by the South African Consulate General in Chicago

Michelle Kantor, a Member in our Chicago office, was recognized by the South African Consulate General in Chicago for her "commitment to the launching of the first-ever United States-South Africa Women's Business Forum from 24-28 October 2011." Amb. Nomvume P. Magaqa, also noted: "With your help and participation, we have successfully introduced an innovative new instrument for the empowerment of women-owned businesses in South Africa... It is only with the continued support of organizations like McDonald Hopkins LLC that this conference will truly establish itself."

Michelle Kantor has devoted most of her more than 24-year career to providing legal assistance and helping women-owned, minority-owned and veteran-owned businesses to be successful. She is a frequent speaker at seminars, conventions and trade associations nationwide on topics focused on assisting minority and women-owned companies. Michelle is also Chair of our firm's Diversity Committee.

Mergers and Acquisitions

McDonald Hopkins represents Canadian Public Company in acquisition of leading gallium producer

McDonald Hopkins represented Neo Material Technologies Inc. (“Neo”), a Canadian corporation listed on the Toronto Stock Exchange, in its acquisition of an 80% interest in Gallium Compounds LLC. Gallium Compounds, based in Quapaw, Oklahoma is a recognized world leader in special, value-added gallium products. Neo is a producer, processor and developer of neodymium-iron-boron magnetic powders, rare earths and zirconium based engineered materials and applications, and other rare metals and their compounds through its Magnequench and Performance Materials divisions.

Mergers and Acquisitions

McDonald Hopkins represents MCM Capital Partners in acquisition of valueaAdded chemical manufacturer

McDonald Hopkins represented MCM Capital Partners in its recapitalization of Zinkan Enterprises Inc., a manufacturer and value added distributor of specialty chemicals serving mining, industrial and commercial customers. Founded in 1982, Zinkan, headquartered in Twinsburg, Ohio, is the premier provider of proprietary formulations used in mining, general industrial water treatment and wastewater applications. Zinkan’s current product line includes airborne particulate control chemicals, flocculants, frothers, freeze conditioners, defoamers, pond treatment products, pH control products, cooling tower biocides and descaling chemicals. MCM Capital Partners, founded in 1992, is a private equity firm focused on acquiring niche manufacturers, value added distributors and service companies that generate up to $75 million in annual revenues and have enterprise values of less than $50 million.

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