Attorney general seeks to convert restraining order against Suburban Express to preliminary injunction

Attorney general seeks to convert restraining order against Suburban Express to preliminary injunction

CHAMPAIGN — The Illinois Attorney General's Office is seeking to convert its temporary restraining order against Suburban Express into a preliminary injunction while the two sides continue to discuss a settlement.

The bus company and its owner, Dennis Toeppen, have been under a series of temporary restraining orders that have been extended on a monthly basis as the two sides work toward resolution.

If approved, the preliminary injunction would "maintain the status quo," Assistant Attorney General Matthew Chimienti wrote in a court filing Friday. "Suburban Express is already in material compliance with the terms of the TRO, and complying with a preliminary injunction with nearly identical terms would impose no hardship on it."

Attorney General Lisa Madigan sued Suburban Express and Toeppen in April for alleged discrimination and harassment against its customers.

At the time, U.S. District Judge Andrea Wood approved a temporary restraining order requiring Suburban Express to take down personally identifying information from its website, stop retaliating against customers for negative reviews and remove language from its contract that prohibits negative reviews.

Three of the requirements — concerning notifying courts and customers about personally identifying information — would be removed because they have been met, Chimienti said.

When the lawsuit was filed, Madigan said she wanted to force Toeppen and Suburban Express to either comply with the law or go out of business.

The lawsuit stems from an email advertisement Suburban Express sent in December saying its benefits included "Passengers like you. You won't feel like you're in China when you're on our buses."

That led to a swift backlash, apologies and a subpoena from Madigan's office to determine whether Suburban Express had violated the Illinois Human Rights Act.

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