BCS Servs., Inc. v. BG Inv., Inc., No. 13-1435 (7th Cir. 2013)Annotate this Case
When a Cook County, Illinois property owner fails to timely pay property, the amount of tax past due becomes a lien on the property. The county sells tax liens at auctions, with bids stated as percentages of the taxes past due. The percentage bid, multiplied by the amount of past‐due taxes, plus any interest, is the “penalty” that the owner must pay to clear the lien. The lowest penalty wins the bid. When bids are identical, the auctioneer tries to award the lien to the bidder who raised his hand first. The rules permit only one agent of a potential buyer or related entities, to bid. Plaintiffs accused defendants of fraud for having multiple bidders representing a single potential buyer and sought damages under the Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act, 18 U.S.C. 1961 and for interference with a prospective business advantage under Illinois tort law. On remand, a jury found in favor of the plaintiffs and awarded damages of $7 million, to which the judge added $13 million in attorneys’ fees and expenses. The Seventh Circuit affirmed, describing the defendants as hyperaggressive adversaries who drove up the plaintiffs’ legal costs without justification.