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Johnson & Bell Associates, Jennifer M. Theodore and Amber N. Lukowicz, secured summary judgment in favor of their transportation client, who was mired in a business dispute over an alleged promise of start-up funding. In this case, plaintiff sought more than $500,000 in damages. Plaintiff claimed they were retained to create an Americans with Disability Act (ADA) compliant ride-sharing program in Chicago – with the help of $500,000 of start-up funding allegedly promised by employees of Johnson & Bell’s client. Plaintiff claimed that the funds were never provided, despite plaintiff investing more than $125,000 in services into the venture. Plaintiff charged Johnson & Bell’s client with promissory estoppel and unjust enrichment in its complaint.

The court accepted the plaintiff’s version of the facts. However, it still ruled in favor of Johnson & Bell’s transportation client. On the issue of promissory estoppel, the court agreed that under the doctrine of sovereign immunity, Johnson & Bell’s client could not be bound by promises made by its employees. Any such promises had to come from the board of directors of the company. With respect to the unjust enrichment claims, the court agreed with Johnson & Bell’s contention that the services provided by plaintiff were covered by a separate contract with another organization. Johnson & Bell argued that the plaintiff had been paid $50,000 under this separate contract – the maximum allowed under the agreement. As a result, the court ruled that plaintiff could not claim unjust enrichment.

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