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Could incorporation have protected Cubs fan

Could incorporation have protected Cubs fan


The only thing Matt Smerge wanted was to raise money for his teenage son’s college fund. Instead, he would up in an altercation with a Chicago police officer suing his beloved baseball team and putting his personal finances at risk.

If Smerge’s business were incorporated, there would be little chance a judgment creditor could attach them to satisfy a judgment against the business.

Smerge’s saga started when he decided to raise money to send his son to college by publishing and selling a $2 baseball magazine outside of Wrigley Field as the Cubs were making a playoff run.

On a brisk April Opening Day, he hawked his wares among the faithful in the shadow of the stadium. He was ticketed for violating a Chicago ordinance restricting peddlers like Smerge from selling on the public sidewalk immediately next to the stadium. It is considered a “no peddling zone.”

Smerge sued, contending that the ordinance moving him to a less profitable location violated his rights. Specifically, he says his publication should be protected by the First Amendment. He thinks the Cubs don’t like that his magazine frequently criticizes the Cubs–and that it might cut into their profits.

“They have their kingdom and they want to protect it … .” he told the Associated Press.

It is yet to be determined whether Smerge’s claims prove to be constitutionally sound, yet one thing is certain: Smerge should protect his personal assets from litigation related to business transactions.

Suing a group of billionaire sports owners, courageous for a small, independent business person, is nonetheless risky. Business that are not incorporated put their owners’ professional assets at risk as well as their personal assets.

In other words, the Cubs may file a counter-suit and, if successful, pursue both the profits Smerge made from selling his magazine and his personal assets–even if they had absolutely nothing to do with his business.

Personal asset protection is one important reason small businesses–or any businesses–should incorporate. Incorporating ensures that owners’ personal assets will be protected from business debts, obligations and lawsuits.

Other reasons to incorporate include the increased credibility that comes from having “Inc.” or “LLC” after your business’s name, the ability to ensure that a business continues to exist even if you leave it and tax flexibility.

Is incorporation right for you? You’ll only know for sure if you consult with a highly qualified Chicago business lawyer.

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