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Monday, December 16, 2019

Deal slices $2.3 million unpaid child support judgment vs Herscher car dealer; sanctions still pending

By Jonathan Bilyk | Aug 30, 2016

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A Flossmoor woman who a judge had ordered to receive almost $2.3 million from a Herscher car dealership has agreed to a settlement deal, greatly reducing the amount of money she will collect as the result of her lawsuit over the dealership’s alleged failure to withhold child support payments from the paychecks of the woman’s ex-husband.

On Aug. 15, Cook County Judge Bonita Coleman signed off on the settlement between Lisa Watson and Country Chevrolet Inc., effectively vacating Coleman’s April judgment concerning the purportedly unpaid child support.

The parties did not disclose the terms of the settlement.

However, in the agreed order entered Aug. 15, Coleman said Country Chevrolet had agreed to pay Watson $299,000. Coleman said that payment and the terms of the settlement agreement should effectively end the legal action against the dealership, and she dismissed with prejudice the lawsuit against the business and its officers and employees.

In April, Coleman, who presides from Cook County’s courthouse in suburban Markham, had ruled Country Chevrolet, located in Herscher, a Kankakee County village about 15 miles southwest of Kankakee, needed to pay Watson the relatively large sum as penalties for more than two years of delays in processing $7,820 in child support payments it should have withheld and paid to Watson weekly.

Watson, then known as Lisa Bos, had sued the dealership in 2010, saying the business had attempted to sidestep the need to withhold the payments from the wages earned by Watson’s ex-husband, Scott Bos, by attempting to claim Bos, who worked as the dealership’s finance manager for about 10 months in 2009, was an independent contractor, rather than a direct employee of the dealership.

According to court documents, Bos and Watson divorced in 2002, and Bos was ordered, through the divorce judgment, to pay Watson $230 per week in child support. The judgment included an order requiring Bos’ employers to withhold the appropriate amount from this paychecks. Court documents indicated Watson’s former attorney provided Country Chevrolet with a copy of the withholding order.

Judge Coleman said the dealership’s actions “cannot be classified as a simple clerical error or mistake,” and she applied a provision of the law allowing a penalty of $100 per day for refusal to comply with a withholding notice. She calculated the penalty should apply to each day from March 31, 2009, to April 7, 2011, bringing the penalty to more than $2.26 million.

Watson was represented in the action by attorneys Paul L. Feinstein and Todd Walters, of Chicago.

Feinstein declined to discuss the settlement agreement terms. However, he said both parties agreed to settle, as “failure to settle would have meant additional litigation for all parties with an uncertain result.”

“I still believe that this case should convince business owners throughout Illinois of the need to comply with the applicable withholding statute,” Feinstein said.

The settlement agreement, however, applied only to Country Chevrolet and its employees and owners. The agreed order said the release did not apply to any of Watson’s claims against Country Chevrolet’s attorney Stephen F. Potts.

Watson and her attorneys are continuing to pursue sanctions against Potts, asking the court to order him to pay Watson’s attorney fees for allegedly unnecessarily extending the litigation over five years.

In the motion for sanctions originally filed in December 2015 against Country Chevrolet and Potts, Watson and her legal team had requested $761,000 in attorney fees, plus an additional fine of $100,000. 

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Organizations in this Story

Law Offices of Paul L. Feinstein, Ltd.Law Office of Stephen F. Potts