Carmen D. Caruso

Attorney Profile

Top Rated Franchise & Dealership Attorney in Chicago, IL

Carmen D. Caruso Law Firm
77 West Washington Street, Suite 1900
Chicago, IL 60602
Phone: 312-626-1160
Fax: 312-276-8646
Selected to Super Lawyers: 2005, 2007 - 2021
Licensed Since: 1985
Practice Areas: Franchise/Dealership (60%), Business Litigation (10%), Employment Litigation: Plaintiff (10%), Intellectual Property Litigation (10%), Professional Liability: Plaintiff (10%)
Attorney Profile

We represent franchisees and dealers in litigation, arbitration or mediation in Illinois and nationally, and are one of the most respected firms in this field, and we are leaders in protecting minority franchisees or dealers (and other minority-owned companies) under federal civil rights laws.  We also represent victims of legal malpractice or ethical violations, and we represent select, high-end plaintiffs (including lawyers and other professionals) in employment cases including sexual harassment, discrimination and retaliation/whistle-blowing cases.  We also represent individuals and companies in contract, fraud, and business tort cases.  We also represent a start-up developer of cutting edge legal industry software, and most recently we have expanded our practice into mass tort litigation.  We regularly try cases in Illinois and across the country most often against much larger firms.  

White Papers

About Carmen D. Caruso

Admitted: 1985, Wisconsin

Professional Webpage:


  • Named to the International Who's Who of Franchise Lawyers 2012, which recognizes the world's leading franchise lawyers based on peer nominations and client opinions. Also recognized in Who's Who Legal Illinois, an International Bar Association publication. 
  • Received an AV rating by Martindale-Hubble, the highest rating available for both legal ability and ethics, each year for more than twenty years, and anmed a member of the prestigious Bar Register of Pre-Eminent Lawyers. 
  • Named an Illinois Leading Lawyer by the Chicago Daily Law Bulletin each year from 2006-2015 based on the recognition of his peers, and selected to serve on the Advisory Board of the Illinois Leading Lawyers Network in each of these years. 
  • In 2015 Carmen was named a Hall of Fame Legal Eagle. Consistently named a Legal Eagle by Franchise Times, a Crain's publication focused on the franchise industry, in 2001 and 2002 and then consecutively from 2005 to present.
  • Selected by his peers to be included in the 2015 edition of The Best Lawyers in America for his franchise and dealership litigation practice in Illinois and across the United States.


  • We are actively franchising several new ventures including an urgent care clinics, imported automobile dealerships, and home health care services.

Bar/Professional Activity

  • Member Illinois State Bar Association, Member Chicago Bar Association
  • Named on American Arbritration Association Roster for Neutrals, National Franchise Arbiration Panel.
  • Active member of the American Bar Association - Chair of the Forum on Franchising's Section 1981 Subcommittee; and active in the Sections of Litigation and Antitrust Law.  
  • Active Member International Franchise Association (IFA) (Round Table Leader, May 2012 Legal Symposium, Washington, D.C.) 
  • Serves on the Illinois Attorney General’s Franchise Advisory Board, which advises the Illinois Attorney General in its implementation and enforcement of the Illinois Franchise Disclosre Act, from 2010-2013. 
  • American Association of Justice (AAJ), section on litigation., 2014


  • Recent Confidential Seven Figure Settlements -- (1) For Plaintiff Dealers alleging that their dealership agreements were unlawful "hidden franchises" and claiming fraudulent inducement' and (2) For Defendants, a law firm accused of negligence in the preparation of a franchise offering circular (the settlement was approximately 15% of the demand); (3) For Plaintiff Franchisees, we obtained a restructuring of the franchisor's pricing structure that resulted in millions of dollars worth of savings to our clients.Other franchise litigation which we initiated on behalf of a national brand independent franchisee association led to the franchisor's modification of the business plans that we were challenging.

Pro bono/Community Service

  • Board of Advisors, Catholic Charities of Chicago; and Officer, Fathers Club of Mount Carmel High School in Chicago.
  • Trustee, Union League Boys & Girls Clubs

Representative Clients

  • Confidential.  Referrals and further information available on request.
  • Representation of national independent association (and numerous state franchisee associations) of a major, well-recognized national food industry brand in litigation seeking declaratory and injunctive relief against “coerced concept change” whereby the franchisor seeks to require its franchisees to make investments that will arguably have the effect of converting their historic units into a new brand with consequently higher costs.  
  • Multi-unit franchisees/dealers in the BP and CITGO systems.  Independent franchisee associations in several regional and national brands including the Dairy Queen Operators Association and the National Association of Pre-Cast Wall Manufacturers.  Numerous franchisee/dealer clients in multiple industries.

Educational Background

  • J.D., Loyola University of Chicago School of Law; B.A., Marquette University (1980), cum laude., 1983

Scholarly Lectures/Writings

  • This was an advanced trial practice program for experienced franchise litigators.   See www, for more information, Presenter, Evidence in Franchise Cases, American Bar Association (forum on Franchising), 2008
  • Editor, since 2008, of the Illinois Chapter of the Franchise Desk Book of state and federal franchise laws published by the American Bar Association Forum on Franchising. 
  • Authored an article in The Franchise Law Journal, a Publication of the American Bar Association, Franchisees Claims for Constructive Termination Under the PMPA After Mac's Shell,, Published in The Franchise Law Journal Vol. 30 N. 1 Winter Edition 2011, 2011
  • Speaker at the American Asian Hotel Owners Association (AAHOA) Annual Meeting in June 2012 in Atlanta, 2011 in Las Vegas and 2010 in Chicago.
  • Speaker at the Dunkin Donuts Independent Franchise Owners (DDIFO)Spring Franshise Owners Meeting, 2011.
  • Speaker at the American Bar Association's Fall 2011 Forum on Franchising Annual Meeting.,
  •  Round Table discussion leader at IFA Legal Symposium in Washington, D.C., May, 2012, Roundtable leader, International Franchise Association, 2012
  • Speaker at the ABA's 36th Annual Forum on Franchising, October 16-18, 2013 in Orlando, Florida. 
  • Interviewed for the Summer 2013 Young Advocates Newsletter for American Bar Association Section of Litigation ( Vol 3 No. 3) regarding franchise litigation., Just the Facts on Franchise Litigation, American Bar Association Section Litigation Young Advocates Newsletter, 2013
  • Authored, Section 1981 Litigation: Making Free Markets Free, American Bar Association Section Of Litigation, Civil Rights Litigation, 2013
  • Just the Facts on Franchise Litigation”, an interview with Carmen D. Caruso by the Young Advocates American Bar Association Section of Litigation, Just the Facts on Franchise Litigation
  • Carmen D. Caruso spoke in Montreal on the subject "Entering Your Case From A Position Of Strength" at the annual meeting of the American Association Of Justice (AAJ) in July, 2015. The AAJ is the leading bar association of Plaintiff trial lawyers in the United States.

Industry Groups

  • Automobile
  • Distribution
  • Healthcare
  • Hospitality
  • Licensing
  • Manufacturing
  • Petroleum Marketing
  • Professional Services
  • Restaurant
  • Retail
Show More
Office Location for Carmen D. Caruso

77 West Washington Street
Suite 1900
Chicago, IL 60602

Last Updated: 8/27/2020

Page Generated: 0.89061808586121 sec