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Tallgrass suit

Tallgrass suit

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Published by Todd J. Behme
Tallgrass suit
Tallgrass suit

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Published by: Todd J. Behme on Oct 14, 2013
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11/05/2013

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UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURTNORTHERN DISTRICT OF ILLINOISEASTERN DIVISION
JAMES B. WHITNEY and THE BLOOM )AGENCY, INC., )) Case No. 13-cv-7322Plaintiffs, ))v. ))TALLGRASS BEEF COMPANY LLC )and WILLIAM H. KURTIS, ))Defendants. )
COMPLAINT
Plaintiffs, JAMES B. WHITNEY and THE BLOOM AGENCY, INC., by and throughtheir undersigned attorneys, and for their Complaint against Defendants TALLGRASS BEEFCOMPANY LLC and WILLIAM H. KURTIS, state as follows.
N
ATURE OF THE
C
ASE
 
1.
 
This is an action stemming from violations of the Illinois Wage Payment andCollection Act, 820 ILCS 115/1
(“IWPCA”) and breach of contract for Defendants’ failure
to pay an employee wages and to pay a consultant compensation for work completed and accepted by Defendants.
P
ARTIES
 
2.
 
Plaintiff James B. Whitney (“Whitney”) is a citizen of North Car 
olina. Whitneywas employed by Tallgrass Beef Company LLC as
its Chief Executive Officer (“CEO”) andChief Financial Officer (“CFO”)
from December 2008 through 2011. Whitney performed
services on behalf of Tallgrass within this judicial district. Whitney is an “employee” within the
meaning of the IWPCA. 820 ILCS 115/2.
Case: 1:13-cv-07322 Document #: 1 Filed: 10/11/13 Page 1 of 7 PageID #:1
 
-2-3.
 
Plaintiff The Bloom Agency, Inc. (“Bloom Agency”) is a North Carolina
corporation which has its principal place of business in North Carolina. Tallgrass engaged theBloom Agency in July 2009 to develop and implement a marketing plan for Tallgrass.4.
 
Tallgrass Beef Company LLC
(“Tallgrass”)
is a Delaware limited liabilitycompany which has its principal place of business in Illinois. Tallgrass is a single-member limited liability company. Its sole member, Defendant William H. Kurtis, is a citizen of Illinois.Tallgrass is a producer and distributor of grass-fed beef. Tallgrass maintains an office in this judicial district and sells a substantial amount of its products to restaurants, grocery stores, andconsumers within this judicial district. Tallgrass
is an “employer” within the meaning of the
IWPCA. 820 ILCS 115/2.5.
 
Defendant William H. Kurtis
(“Kurtis”)
is a citizen of Illinois. Kurtis is thePresident and sole member of Tallgrass.
Kurtis is an “employer” within the meaning of the
IWPCA. 820 ILCS 115/2 & 13.
J
URISDICTION
&
 
V
ENUE
 
6.
 
Jurisdiction is proper in this court based upon the C
ourt’s diversity jurisdiction
 pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1332(a).7.
 
Venue is proper in this judicial district pursuant to § 1391(b) in that a substantial part of the events giving rise to the claim occurred in this judicial district and Defendantsmaintained offices and transacted business within this jurisdiction.
B
ACKGROUND
 
8.
 
Tallgrass was founded in 2005 by Kurtis. Tallgrass is a producer and distributor of grass-fed beef. Tallgrass sells its products to restaurants, grocery stores, and consumersacross the country.
Case: 1:13-cv-07322 Document #: 1 Filed: 10/11/13 Page 2 of 7 PageID #:2
 
-3-9.
 
In or around December 2008, Tallgrass employed Whitney as the
company’s
CFO. Whitney remained an employee of Tallgrass through 2011.10.
 
To date, there are significant amounts owed to Whitney for back wages andreimbursable expenses. Attempts by Whitney to collect on the amounts due from Tallgrass haveyielded no success.11.
 
In July 2009, the Bloom Agency presented to Kurtis, Whitney, and Dr. AllenWilliams (then acting CEO of Tallgrass) an initial marketing proposal for Tallgrass. As a resultof the presentation, Tallgrass engaged the Bloom Agency to develop and implement a thoroughmarketing plan for Tallgrass.12.
 
Pursuant to the agreement, the Bloom Agency completed a thorough marketing plan for Tallgrass. In addition, the Bloom Agency implemented the marketing plan by
completing various tasks, including, but not limited to, designing Tallgrass’ website, conductin
g
email campaigns on behalf of Tallgrass, and designing Tallgrass’ marketing collateral and
 packaging materials. The Bloom Agency submitted invoices to Tallgrass for the services itrendered. Attempts by the Bloom Agency to collect on the amounts due from Tallgrass haveyielded no success.13.
 
820 ILCS 115/5 provides that every employer shall pay the final compensation of separated employees in full, no later than the next regularly scheduled payday for eachemployee. The monetary equivalent of all earned vacation pay shall be paid as part of theemployee's final compensation.
 Id.
Final compensation is defined by the IWPCA as not only
including wages, earned bonuses, earned vacation and holidays, but also “any other 
compensation owed the employee by the employer pursuant to an employment contract or 
agreement between the two parties.”
820 ILCS 115/2.
Case: 1:13-cv-07322 Document #: 1 Filed: 10/11/13 Page 3 of 7 PageID #:3

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