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  • Give A Big Applause To CVS

    CVS Caremark, the country’s largest drugstore chain in overall sales, announced in February that it planned to stop selling cigarettes and other tobacco products by October 2014. The company estimated that its decision would shave an estimated $2 billion in sales from customers buying cigarettes and other products, including incidental items like gum that might also be purchased. The company’s move was another sign of its metamorphosis from being a largely retail business into more of a health care provider, with stores offering mini-clinics and health advice to customers visiting its pharmacies.

    As of January 2014, at least 1,182 college or university campuses in the U.S. have adopted 100% smoke-free campus policies that eliminate smoking in indoor and outdoor areas across campuses including residences. This number has doubled in size in the past few years and is expected to continue to climb as a result of the growing social norm supporting smoke-free environments and support from the academic community for policies supporting campus health and well being. Curbing tobacco influence on campuses could prevent a new group of lifetime smokers. Students are leading efforts by refusing tobacco industry sponsorship, grants, donations and other gifts. The uptick is also due to the efforts of the American College Health Association (ACHA) which adopted a Statement on Tobacco, as well as the social norm change about when and where people smoke as a result of city- and state-wide smoke-free laws. In fact:

    • The majority of the U.S. population does not smoke.
    • 49.1% of the U.S. population is protected by a 100% smoke-free workplace, restaurant, and bar laws.
    • Most local and state laws do not include college campuses as they are considered private property, although some states include state schools in their smoke-free workplace laws.

    The tobacco industry continues to market and advertise to young adults in order to remain profitable; the statistics regarding the prevalence and rise in tobacco use for young adults demonstrates that their plan is having its desired effect. Simply look at promotions held in bars near campuses across the country in order to realize how important 18-24 year olds are to the tobacco industry.

    Since being introduced to the U.S. market in 2007, the electronic cigarette (E-cigarette) has become one of the fastest growing industries in the U.S.  According to E-cigarette industry reports, sales are smoking hot, set to hit $1.7 billion. They have also become popular among 18-25 year olds, especially those who once smoked cigarettes, but have also attracted many who have never smoked. Students claim they should have the freedom to use electronic cigarettes on campus because they emit vapor, not harmful smoke, and do not effect bystanders. An electronic cigarette, or E-cig, is defined as a battery-operated device that creates a vapor that is inhaled instead of smoke.  Specifically, the battery powers a heating element called an “atomizer” which contains nicotine-infused liquid. The liquid, when heated, turns into vapor.

    New studies confirm that chemicals in electronic cigarettes pose minimal health risk; E-cigarette users can breathe a little easier today.  A study just released by Drexel University School of Public Health confirms that chemicals in electronic cigarettes (e-cigarettes) pose no health concern for users or bystanders.  This is the first definitive study of e-cigarette chemistry and it found that there were no health concerns based upon generally accepted exposure limits.

    Sitting in a car with a smoker is about as close to lighting up as a nonsmoker can get; many  schoolchildren are exposed to secondhand smoke in this way according to an estimate by researchers at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. About 1 in 5 nonsmoking kids in middle and high school reported sharing a car with a smoker who had lit up within a week. The car is often the only source of exposure for some of these children; if that exposure is reduced, it’s definitely advantageous for their health. The American Academy of Pediatrics stated that any exposure to secondhand smoke is unsafe for kids. The latest report finds that nonsmoking kids’ exposure to secondhand smoke in cars has declined to 22.9 percent in recent years. Researchers suggest that laws barring smoking in many public places may be a factor. The Illinois legislature is currently debating legislature that would ban smoking in cars where children are present. Police officers who notice someone smoking in a vehicle with a minor cannot stop that vehicle solely for that reason and motorcycles and convertibles with their tops down would be exempt.

    Many states and local governmental agencies are considering laws regarding all aspects of smoking from restricting sales of e-cigarettes to raising the age limit on purchasing tobacco products. Changes in attitudes about heath as well as economic pressures have continued to drive down the overall use of tobacco products in the United States.


  • Low Testosterone Medication

    Low testosterone can dim a man’s sex drive, energy, and motivation. Medication to cure low testosterone can have harmful effects.

    When needed, testosterone replacement therapy (TRT) can boost T levels back to normal and return a man to full vigar.

    Still, there are also risks to TRT,  and the long-term safety isn’t clear. A consumer advocacy group is calling on the Food and Drug Administration to add a bold warning label to popular testosterone drugs for men in light of growing evidence that the hormone treatments can increase the risk of heart attacks.

    The group Public Citizen says the agency should immediately add a “black box” warning — the most serious type — to all testosterone medications and require manufacturers to warn physicians about a higher risk of heart attack, stroke and death with the treatments. The FDA announced last month that it was reviewing the safety of drugs like the blockbuster testosterone gel, AndroGel, in light of two recent studies that showed higher rates of cardiovascular problems in men.

    Treating low T can strengthen a man’s bones and help prevent osteoporosis. Some evidence also suggests that treatment can also aid blood sugar control, which is important for the prevention and control of diabetes.

    Lower testosterone levels have been linked to higher risk of cardiovascular problems. Again, it’s not clear if low testosterone levels actually cause heart problems, testosterone therapy can dramatically affect a man’s quality of life. Besides its sexual benefits, TRT can improve a man’s mood and energy level while reducing irritability and anger.

    Testosterone therapy can raise a man’s red blood cell count. This can lead to a thickening of the blood, which may make stroke and clotting more likely.

    Finally, there’s the question of prostate cancer risk. Research over the past few decades has shown little evidence of a link between testosterone replacement therapy and prostate cancer. However, the question has not been entirely laid to rest.

    In January, a federally funded study of 45,000 men suggested testosterone therapy could double the risk of heart attacks in men 65 and older.

    In addition to the boxed warning, Public Citizen wants the agency to delay an approval decision on an experimental, long-acting testosterone injection called Aveed. The agency is scheduled to make a decision on the Endo Pharmaceuticals drug by Feb. 28 2014. Public Citizen’s petition comes amid a marketing blitz for testosterone gels, patches and injections targeting men who report fatigue, low sex drive or other symptoms commonly associated with aging.

    U.S. prescriptions for testosterone therapies have increased more than five-fold in recent years, with sales over $1.6 billion.

    FDA labeling on the drugs indicates they are only to be used for men who have abnormally low testosterone caused by a medical condition. Drugmakers and many doctors claim testosterone therapy can reverse some unpleasant side effects of aging — ranging from insomnia to erectile dysfunction. Those claims are mostly based on short-term studies. The top-selling product in the field is Abbvie’s Androgel, which is applied to the shoulders and arms.




  • Potential Risk In Using Baby Powder

    Nothing is more refreshing than a warm shower followed by a little sweet smelling powder. Whether you use a generic baby powder or a name brand perfumed brand, you probably have never considered that you could be putting yourself at risk for cancer.

    Powder in the United States used to contain asbestos; asbestos is a substance that is known to cause cancer, especially in the lungs, but talcum powder has not contained asbestos since the 1970s.  Many powders do contain talc, a natural derived mineral made up of magnesium, silicon and oxygen. Talc is used in many adult and baby powders as well as facial powders. Recently, scientists have begun investigating whether women who regularly apply powder to their genital area have an increased risk of ovarian cancer.

    In October of 2013, a federal jury found that Johnson & Johnson failed to warn consumers of link between ovarian cancer & talc-based body powder for feminine hygiene products but also determined that the product was not defective without the warning and ruled that Johnson & Johnson was not liable for the plaintiff’s ovarian cancer and therefore awarded no damages.

    The Campaign for Safe Cosmetics  has requested that Johnson & Johnson as well as other cosmetic companies such as Avon and Proctor & Gamble remove all carcinogens and other toxic chemicals from its baby and adult products. Investigations by state officials continue and while the product may not be removed it is hoped that these cases and consumer boycotts will force manufacturers including John & Johnson to place warning labels on their products.

    The American Cancer Society website has published results of some of the research being conducted on the possible link between talcum powder and cancer of the ovary. While studies seem to suggest that the overall increase in risk is small, because talc is used in a variety of products including sanitary and some birth control products, research continues to determine the overall lifetime risk. If you wish to avoid any possibility of increasing your risk you may wish to avoid or limit your exposure to talc based powder and opt instead for cornstarch-based cosmetic products instead.




  • Are App Based Car Services Safe?

    If you live in Chicago and use taxis there is a good chance you have heard about Uber, Side Car and Lift. If you think that these car services are a good deal and cheaper than a cab, you may want to think again! The price may be right but the real problem is the drivers may not have proper training or similar licenses to those of taxi or limo driver. Over a year ago, Uber was sued by the taxi and livery companies in Chicago. According to the press release, Uber was accused of violating the Chicago and Illinois laws designed to protect public safety, provide consumer protection and promote fair practices.

    The taxi industry, which has labeled companies like Uber as a rogue app, has lobbied City Hall for help. The Department of Business Affairs and Consumer Protection proposed a rule that would have banned livery vehicles from using devices such as smartphones to calculate fares based on distance; if passed it would have shut Uber and its competitors down. The proposal is on hold pending the outcome of the federal lawsuit.

    What makes Uber interesting is that it is a venture capital startup transportation network company, based in San Francisco and valued at 4 billion dollars. Many of these new tech companies are known in revolutionary terms as the SHARING ECONOMY! The company’s app is a marketed as a match-maker in various cities and countries. Cars are reserved by sending a text message or by using a mobile app.

    The City is working to fill the regulatory vacuum that has given ride-sharing companies an unfair advantage over taxicabs, while providing no safeguards or protections for consumers. A 20-page ordinance is being introduced in a City Council meeting that would license ride-sharing companies as “transportation network providers” and require them to pay an annual $25,000 fee, plus $25 per driver.

    UberX, Lyft, SideCar and other ride-sharing companies that allow drivers to offer rides in their personal vehicles to passengers who order them on their smartphones also would be required to pay the city’s $3.50 a day per vehicle ground transportation tax, the same tax already imposed on cabs. To guarantee passenger safety, the ordinance would require licensed ride-sharing companies to properly train drivers as well administering drug tests to their drivers, conducting regular criminal background checks and make sure that their ride-sharing vehicles pass an annual 21-point inspection.

    Ride-sharing companies also would be required to secure “general liability” and “commercial auto liability” insurance with limits no less than $1 million per occurrence that would apply whenever the driver has their smartphone on and is trolling for fares. With all of its new regulations, the ordinance still preserves the distinction between ride-sharing vehicles and cabs.





  • Apps Based Car Services-The Question is Insurance

    The drivers of app based car services are considered to be independent contractors, not employees and not on the clock unless there is a passenger in their car. If you examine the car service model, on paper these drivers aren’t employees of either the car service or the tech company. The million-dollar insurance policies that many of these services carry only kick in when the driver has a passenger.

    The biggest legal exposure is that of accident liability. What if a driver has an accident that injures the passenger?  Sadly, the only recourse for the injured passenger may be the driver’s personal automobile insurance.

    The liability could be directly with the service if the plaintiff claims that the company didn’t adequately screen drivers and/or properly train drivers. In one recent suit, Uber is being sued, along with a driver whose individual insurance policy has a $750,000 limit. On New Year’s Eve, an Uber driver killed a six-year-old girl in a San Francisco crosswalk as well as injuring several members of her family.  Because there was no passenger in the Uber car, the car service claims they are not liable. The company asks drivers to hang out on the streets during peak times such as New Year’s Eve so they can respond to new requests quickly. Drivers are rated in part by their response time. This is where it gets tricky; the drivers are out there for the economic benefit of both Uber and themselves. Therefore, if Uber shares in the profits, they should share equally in the responsibility,

    Uber and other services such as Side Car and Lift use social media to match drivers and passengers; they are match makers not taxi services. The question to be considered is this; when someone is injured or killed by someone they have met through a social media site that charges a fee for that service, will the courts take this type of case and use it to set a precedence with other social media business models?

    Tech companies consider themselves to be information content providers and therefore exempt from the same liability as a traditional car service. A close parallel can be found in suits involving independent contractors such as many traditional taxi and delivery services.

    When considering services such as Uber, the legal limits of liability may be tested. Among other factors, many cases look primarily at:

    • The employer’s control over the worker
    • The worker’s opportunity for profit or loss
    • The worker’s investment in facilities
    • The worker’s skill set
    • The length of the relationship

    It is too soon to determine how these liability issues will be decided, and the answer seems unlikely to be an easy one. But as more of theses accidents occur, there will be more legal squabbling over how the old laws apply to new models in the techno age; we will see more and more ordinances developed to protect the public from these new app based Silicon Valley companies.


  • War On Potholes

    Winter is causing a lot of potholes and problems for drivers in the Chicago metro area. Many auto repair shops and insurance adjusters are experiencing a backlog of work as autos experience flat tires or more expensive repairs such as transmission damage.

    As a driver you should be aware of the fact that the City does compensate motorists for damage. Claims are handled by the Chicago City Clerk’s office. Car owners are directed to the website . Once there, go to the section labeled Auto Damage (caused by pothole, accident with a city vehicle, etc.). Download, compete and sign the Damage to Vehicle claim form. The form includes basic information including the date, time and location of the incident. Submit this form along with a copy of the paid receipt for the repairs performed to the car OR a copy of two written estimates for the cost of repairing the damage as well as a copy of a police report for the incident that caused the damage. While you do not have to report damage from a pothole to the police, anything you can do to substantiate your claim, such as including photographs, is helpful in moving your claim through the approval process. The documents must be submitted by mail or in person at any of the three City Clerk’s offices.

    Once received, the City Council’s Finance Committee reviews the claims. Their staff is available to update car owners on the status of their claim(s). The City sets aside some of the money generated from annual city sticker sales to pay for the repair of cars damaged by city streets. Drivers who properly file a claim and are approved can expect to wait up to a year, though often they are paid only a portion of the repair cost.

    While waiting for your check, you can follow the Pot Hole Tracker . The site, along with the new Plow Tracker, offers viewers the ability to see the potholes that the Department of Transportation has patched within the last seven days. Pothole repairs are based on calls to Chicago’s City 311 service request number. Pothole season ends in March or April, depending upon the weather. If you are in serious car accident, do not hesitate to contact Ankin Law Offices.

  • What Does Product Liability Mean Anyway?

    Ralph Nader worked as a lawyer while he researched his 1965 book Unsafe at Any Speed. The book focused on the Chevrolet Corvair, but many of the problems he detailed, including the lack of standard seatbelts, metal dashboards and steering wheels, and car doors that popped open or off in an accident, applied to every auto involved in highway smash-ups.

    In response to the book, Congress passed the Traffic and Motor Vehicle Safety Act of 1966. Since that time seat belts, air bags, crash tests and manufacturers’ recalls can be traced to Congress and to Nader’s book. Nadar has continued to work for consumer protection, founding the U.S. Public Interest Group (PIRG) as well as Center for Auto Safety, the Disability Rights Center, the Pension Rights Center, the Project for Corporate Responsibility, and the Clean Water Action Project. His groups were instrumental in helping to pass the Safe Drinking Water Act, the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) of 1974 and the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), the Environment Protection Agency (EPA), and the Consumer Product Safety Administration.

    Today, the Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) investigates product problems, and once it determines that a product is unsafe, CPSC issues a recall. Often, by the time a recall is issued, the dangerous products are already for sale in stores and on websites. Once a recall is issued, stores and retailers are required to remove the product from their shelves, disallow the product to be sold to customers and post a written notice that the item(s) have been recalled. If the product is sold through a website, the merchant or seller must disallow customers from purchasing the product, post a warning or recall notice on their home page and contact the customers via their email or shipping address. Even second hand and resale stores must comply with this law, posting notices of recalled products and not allowing them to be sold or purchased.

    In Illinois, the Illinois Attorney General enforces the Children’s Product Safety Act. The Act requires manufacturers and retail suppliers to keep recalled products off the market and also to inform consumers who have already purchased the product with notice that the product has been recalled. Illinois law defines a child product as any item designed for the use or care of a child under the age of 9 years old. Products include toys and nursery products including cribs and car seats.

    One of the most recent product recalls is the Playtex brand Pacifier Holder Clip due to its potential as a choking hazard. On January 22, 2014, consumers were advised by U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) to immediately stop using this product as the clips can crack and the small broken pieces pose a choking hazard to the small children using them. This $3 item was sold at major retailers including Walmart and Target and online at Amazon.com, among others, starting in July 2010 through October 2013.

    This recent recall follows a December 2013 recall of the Playtex brand Hip Hammock Infant Carrier after the corporation received more than 85 reports that the buckles on the straps that wrap around the carrier’s hips and shoulders cracked or broke. There were two reported injuries including one that required an emergency room treatment. This product was sold at major national juvenile and baby stores as well as online beginning in June 2004 through December 2008 for between $40-60 depending upon the model.

    In addition to receiving recall notices directly from manufacturers and retail stores, you should regularly check several websites that list recalled children’s products. These include the Illinois site at www.idph.state.il.us, www.recalls.gov and Kids In Danger at www.kidsindanger.org.

    If you or your child suffers an injury due to a product malfunction or misleading instructions, consider contacting Ankin Law Offices.



  • Do You Have To Shovel Your Sidewalk?

    It’s the law in Chicago, and many suburban municipalities, that you must keep sidewalks shoveled. According to Chicago’s code, “Every owner, lessee, tenant, occupant or other person having charge of any building or lot of ground abutting upon any public way or public space shall remove the snow and ice from the sidewalk.” Residents who do not follow this rule could face fines of $50. Businesses can be fined $250-500 per day. More details on Chicago’s rule and tips on how to keep your sidewalks clear are below.

    When should I shovel?

    If the snow stops before 4PM in Chicago, your sidewalk needs to be cleared within 3 hours, unless it is Sunday. After 4PM, or on Sundays, you’ll need to clear the walk by 10AM the following day. The municipal code recommends clearing a 5-foot-wide path, wherever possible. Both snow and ice need to be removed.

    What should I use?

    Compacted snow quickly turns to ice; timely removal is important. During a snowstorm, you should shovel the walks frequently to prevent build up. A sharp, metal snow shovel is the most effective tool for removing snow that has been walked on or otherwise compacted.

    How much snow do I need to clear to comply with the ordinance?

    The City of Chicago municipal code requires individuals to clear a 5-foot wide path along the sidewalk, where conditions allow. This width allows pedestrians in wheelchairs, people with children in strollers, students walking to school, and individuals with assisted devices mobility and access.

    What is the best way to remove snow from the sidewalk?

    • Remove snow along ALL of the sidewalks adjacent to your property.

    • Move snow to your yard or the parkway adjacent to your property.

    • Do not push snow from the sidewalk into the street.

    • Do not cover the crosswalks with snow.

    • Do not block alley entrances with snow

    What if a sidewalk is not cleared?

    Chicago residents can report un-cleared sidewalks to the City’s 311 service line.  This is only for snow on sidewalks, not on streets or in parking lots.

    What if I am unable to shovel? 

    Chicago has a Snow Corps for helping seniors and people with disabilities.  (Chicago Snow Corps is a new program that connects volunteers with residents in need of snow removal – such as seniors and residents with disabilities.) While winter can be hazardous for everyone here in the City of Chicago, it can be especially difficult for elderly and physically disabled residents who may not have the ability or resources to remove snow from their sidewalks and walkways. Chicago Snow Corps aims to help minimize potential heavy-snow emergencies by pairing volunteers on blocks where elderly and disabled citizens have requested help.

    Keeping sidewalks ice-free is an important way to protect yourself and other pedestrians from injury.  Safety is important; too many people have fallen on black ice this year and broken a hip or a hand; emergency rooms have been crowded. You don’t want someone to fall on your property and sue you for negligence.






  • IDOT Delayed in Speed Limit Sign Installation

    As of January 1, 2014, Illinois drivers can now legally drive up to 70 miles per hour on portions of some highways including I-280, I-74, I-80 and I-88. IDOT has been delayed in the installation of new speed limit signs due to the cold weather and unexpected snowfall totals.

    According to the Illinois State Police, drivers cannot start driving at 70 mph until signs are posted. The new law allows for faster speeds on four-lane divided highways in rural areas.  Driving at higher speeds requires your full concentration, especially on highways that serve as major trucking routes. Semi-tractor trailer trucks require at least 100 yards to come to a complete stop when traveling at only 55 mph.

    In the most recently released National Traffic Highway Safety Administration Traffic Safety Facts report, Illinoissaw a 1% decrease in traffic fatalities from 2010 to 2011.  Males, between the ages of 16-24, comprise the largest group of speeding drivers involved in fatal car crashes. Across the United States, speeding is a major factor in over 30% of all fatal car crashes.

    Speeding on highways is widespread. According to the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety 2012 report, almost 50% of the drivers surveyed say they have driven at least 15 mph over the speed limit on a highway; one in four claimed that they considered it acceptable to do so.

    Remember, Illinois has a Basic Speed Law that forbids drivers from going faster than is reasonable and proper based on road conditions, traffic and weather, no matter the posted speed limit. Exercise your proper judgment at all times when driving. If you are in a car accident, consider contacting Ankin Law Offices.

  • The Marketplace Fairness Act Would Grant States the Authority Regarding Online Sales Tax.

    The Marketplace Fairness Act would require remote sellers, including online businesses, with gross receipts over $1 million, to collect sales tax in qualifying states — even in states where a business has no physical presence. This case, Performance Marketing, Inc. v Brian Hamer (IL 114496), was brought to the Illinois Supreme Court prior to Congressional approval of the Marketplace Fairness Act, which aims to level the playing field between online retailers and brick-and-mortar businesses.

    At the end of October the Illinois Supreme Court issued its ruling in the case Performance Marketing, Inc. v Brian Hamer (IL 114496). The case concerned a complaint seeking declaratory and injunctive relief in which Performance Marketing claimed that specific portions of the Illinois Public Act 96-1544 were preempted by federal law and violated the commerce clause of the US Constitution.

    Performance Marketing Association, Inc., filed a complaint seeking declaratory and injunctive relief against the defendant, Brian Hamer, in his capacity as Director of the Illinois Department of Revenue. Plaintiff alleged that portions of Public Act 96-1544, a so-called “click-through” nexus law, were preempted by federal law and violated the commerce clause of the United States Constitution.

    Illinois sales tax has two parts; the occupation tax which taxes the sale of tangible personal property and the second, use tax. Use tax prevents people from making out-of-state purchases to avoid paying the retailers’ occupation tax. The rates for these taxes are identical. While the responsibility for paying use tax is on the consumer or purchaser, it is difficult to collect tax from individual buyers so collection is imposed on the out-of-state retailer “maintaining a place of business in this State” 35 ILCS 105/2, 3-45 (West 2010).

    In 2011, Public Act 96-1544 (eff. Mar. 10, 2011) amended the definition of a retailer or serviceman maintaining a place of business in this state to include any retailer/serviceman having a contract with a person located in this State. This meant that they were required to collect tax if they had a contract with any person in Illinois that displayed a link that connected an Internet user to the remote out-of-state web site (also called affiliates). The Act did not make any distinction that sales had to be made to Illinois residents or that the computer server hosting the Illinois affiliate had to be physically located in Illinois. The Act did limit the definition to referral contracts that generated more than $10,000 per year.

    The marketing term for the relationship is performance marketing. This is defined as marketing or advertising where a person or organization that displays an advertisement for a retailer is paid when a sale is completed allowing the retailer to track the success of the campaign. This type of advertising is used in print and broadcast media as well as the Internet.

    The plaintiff in this case claimed that the definitions in the Act were unconstitutional because they authorized the collection of use tax for activities that that did not primarily occur within the State. The plaintiff also claimed that the Act preempted the Internet Freedom Act, which prohibits discriminatory taxes on electronic commerce.  The specific portions required online retailers such as Amazon to collect sales tax if they have in-state web affiliates while it did not require broadcasters and print advertisers with similar performance based marketing contracts to collect use taxes. The plaintiff claimed that the Act, by only targeting on-line Internet electronic commerce, was in fact discriminatory and the court agreed.

    More than a dozen states have passed laws requiring online commerce companies to collect state sales tax under a variety of different circumstances. Most states require their residents to pay state tax on all purchases but many customers under-report their tax liability for on-line purchases. While the matter has been decided in Illinois, it is likely that this case, or a similar case in a different state, will wind up being heard by the U.S. Supreme Court.


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    Our firm handles workers' compensation and personal injury claims in Chicago, Berwyn, Joliet, Cicero, Waukegan, Chicago Heights, Elgin, Aurora, Oak Park, Oak Lawn, Schaumburg, Bolingbrook, Glendale Heights, Aurora, Niles, Schaumburg, Arlington Heights, Naperville, Plainfield and all of Cook, DuPage, Lake, Will, McHenry, LaSalle, Kankakee, McLean and Peoria Counties.