James C. VlahakisAttorney
James Vlahakis practices in federal court, representing plaintiffs consumer
class actions, civil rights and employment law. Mr. Vlahakis has successfully
litigated cases before the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit.
As a former defense attorney, with a nationwide practice, James represented debt collection agencies, credit furnishers, banks, credit card based ISOs and other businesses in the dense of consumer based class actions. In his former role as a defense attorney, James has defended countless consumer claims brought pursuant to the Fair Debt Collections Practices Act as well as the Telephone Consumer Protection Act (“TCPA”). As a TCPA defense attorney, James defended the first wave of “junk fax” cases filed in Cook Count Ilinois. He has also successfully precluded the certification cellphone based TCPA cases and was one of the first attorneys to has decertified a certified TCPA class action. James filed one of the first successful Petitions For Declaratory Relief before the Federal Communications Commission, which led the FCC to grant a waiver to his client.
After close to twenty years in the trenches, James is experience to represent aggrieved consumers, with a focus on litigating class action based TCPA and FDCPA lawsuits.
James has defended governmental officials in numerous high-profile civil rights lawsuits involving wrongful death claims, excessive force and false arrest. In many of these cases, James served as a specially appointed States Attorney or Assistant Attorney General. James is currently representing plaintiffs who have been mistreated by school officials and a variety of employers.
Finally, James will be focused on representing consumers in data breach and privacy based class actions. Mr. Vlahakis filed the first comprehensive class action case in response to a data breach case involving a rideshare app. Notably, Mr. Vlahakis began to investigate and draft the pending case weeks before news broke of the year old data breach.
Notable Cases and Results:
Mr. Vlahakis successfully defended the Illinois Department of Human Services and a private corporation in a class action brought by the American Civil Liberties Union on behalf of a class of individuals committed by the State of Illinois pursuant to the Sexually Violent Persons Act. Mr. Vlahakis' clients prevailed on all aspects of the class members' broad request for injunctive relief in a comprehensive ruling issued in January 13, 2005. He has advised other similar treatment programs across the country facing similar litigation.
On January 9, 2008, Mr. Vlahakis succeeded in reversing a federal trial court ruling which had held that a psychologist was not entitled to the dismissal of a case on the basis of the defense of qualified immunity. In reversing the district court, the Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals held that the underlying facts did not demonstrate the existence of a constitutional violation, and held that the psychologist acted within the bounds of accepted professional judgment. This case is notable for the fact that the psychologist was able to assert qualified immunity as an employee of a private contractor with the State of Illinois.
Early in his career in a rare appearance as a plaintiff's attorney, Mr. Vlahakis prevailed in a civil rights case in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Indiana, which resulted in a jury award of approximately $1.1 million in favor of his client, a former Assistant Police Chief who had been demoted and issued an 11-day suspension with pay.
Undergraduate School: Michigan State University, B.A., 1992
U.S. District Court, Northern and Central Districts of Illinois (1996)
U.S. District Court, Northern District of Indiana (1999)
U.S. District Court, Eastern District of Michigan (2005)
U.S. Court of Appeals, Seventh Circuit (1996)
Mr. Vlahakis is the co-author of the Illinois Continuing Legal Education's 1997 chapter on "Civil Rights Liability and Immunities."
"Civil Commitment Legal Issues," Association for the Treatment of Sexual Abusers, Annual Conference, Atlanta, Georgia, October 2008.
"Current Legal Issues," Sex Offender Civil Commitment Programs Network, Tenth Annual Summit, Atlanta, Georgia, October 2008.
"Operations at the Treatment & Detention Facility," Chicago-Kent College of Law seminar "Navigating the ILSVP Process," Chicago, Illinois, February 2008.
"Class Action / Civil Rights," part of the round table discussions at "Shaken Not Stirred," and American Bar Association Law Student Networking Event, Chicago, Illinois, February 2008.