-

Zombro v. Jones, 2018 IL App (4th) 170442-U

Posted on Updated on

The third-party plaintiff, Vicky Jones, sued the third-party defendant, attorney Kevin Hammer, for legal malpractice in a real estate transaction where Hammer had represented her.

Jones alleged that Hammer had grossly understated the price of her land in the contract he drafted, threw the contract at Jones during a meeting, and lambasted the deal in front of the buyers, thereby inducing Jones to sell her land for one eighth its supposed market value. Conversely, Hammer and the buyer alleged that Hammer had correctly stated the agreed-upon price in the contract, and that Hammer didn’t throw anything at Jones. Hammer also said Jones had read the final contract and asked him questions before signing.

The Trial Court granted summary judgment in Hammer’s favor. When Jones appealed, Hammer argued that he had not breached any duty to Jones, because he had technically performed the two tasks she had hired him to do. The Appellate Court rejected this “scope-of-engagement” argument, holding that Hammer, as Jones’ attorney and therefore his agent, was not merely obligated to perform certain tasks, but also owed Jones a fiduciary duty “to treat his principal with the utmost candor, rectitude, care, loyalty, and good faith—in fact to treat the principal as well as the agent would treat himself.” Id. at ¶41. This fiduciary duty extended to all tasks he was hired to perform and “all matters connected” with those tasks. Id.

Nevertheless, the Appellate Court found that there was no genuine issue of material fact with respect to one critical element of Jones’ claim: damages. Specifically, the deal Hammer allegedly ruined didn’t actually exist, since the deal Jones claimed she had hired Hammer to pursue differed from the deal the buyers believed they were entering into. In fact, the buyers swore that they could not have afforded the land at the price to which Jones believed they had agreed. Moreover, the Court explained that even if it were to assume “for the sake of argument, that Hammer did indeed bully Jones into selling the land for only $5,000, it appears she suffered no resulting harm, because […] Jones presented no admissible evidence that the land was worth more” and “the arm’s-length transaction […] is evidence of the highest rank to determine the true value of property.” Id. at ¶55. Summary judgment was therefore affirmed.

Zombro v. Jones, 2018 IL App (4th) 170442-U

(This is for informational purposes and is not legal advice.)

 

 

Alonso v. Weiss, 301 F. Supp. 3d 885 (N.D. Ill. 2018)

Posted on

Limited partners in investment funds filed suit on their own behalf and derivatively on behalf of their funds against a court-appointed receiver, alleging she had violated the Investment Advisers Act and Securities and Exchange Commission Rules, breached her fiduciary duties and engaged in legal malpractice. Among other things, the plaintiffs asserted that the receiver had failed to pursue certain litigation opportunities or needlessly pursued others, all to the detriment of the receivership estate.

The Northern District of Illinois granted summary judgment in favor of the court-appointed receiver. The court held that the plaintiffs failed to demonstrate that any of the receiver’s allegedly improper actions had been intended to harm the receivership estate.

Alonso v. Weiss, 301 F. Supp. 3d 885 (N.D. Ill. 2018)

(This is for informational purposes and is not legal advice.)

Atkins v. Robbins, Salomon & Patt, Ltd. , 2018 IL App (1st) 161961

Posted on

The First District reversed a directed finding in favor of a malpractice defendant.   The trial court had found that a professional corporation paid all of its “income” as salaries and therefore had no “profit.” As a result, it could not prove it was damaged by malpractice that allegedly caused it to lose income.   The Appellate Court reversed and allowed the corporation to prove its shareholder’s lost income as a method of proving damage to the corporation.

Atkins v. Robbins, Salomon & Patt, Ltd. , 2018 IL App (1st) 161961

(This is for informational purposes and is not legal advice.)

Estate of Hudson By Caruso v. Tibble , 2018 IL App (1st) 162469, appeal denied sub nom. Estate of Hudson v. Tibbie, 98 N.E.3d 29 (Ill. 2018)

Posted on Updated on

The First District reversed a trial court opinion that granted summary judgment to an attorney.   The trial court held that an attorney hired by the administrator of an estate did not owe a duty to the estate, only the administrator.   The First District reversed and held that the symbiotic relationship between and administrator and an estate meant that the attorney owed duties to both.

Estate of Hudson By Caruso v. Tibble , 2018 IL App (1st) 162469, appeal denied sub nom. Estate of Hudson v. Tibbie, 98 N.E.3d 29 (Ill. 2018)

(This is for informational purposes and is not legal advice.)

Doe v. Williams McCarthy LLP , 2017 IL App (2d) 160860

Posted on

In this lawsuit, the plaintiff sued the lawyers of a trust for various claims, including invasion of privacy, intentional infliction of emotional distress, and violation of the Illinois Mental health and Development Disabilities Confidentiality Act (the “Act”). The trial court dismissed all claims against defendants. The three above claims were addressed on appeal, where the second district affirmed in part and reversed in par. Specifically, the court affirmed the dismissal of invasion of privacy and intentional infliction of emotional distress claims against the attorney and his law firm, finding that the absolute-litigation privilege barred the claims. The court, however, reversed the dismissal of plaintiff’s claim under the Act, holding that the litigation privilege did not bar such a claim. In so doing, the court looked at the legislative history of the Act to determine that the absolute-litigation privilege does not provide a shield for a party charged with violation of the Act.

Doe v. Williams McCarthy LLP, 2017 IL App (2d) 160860

(This is for informational purposes and is not legal advice.)

Johnson v. Stojan Law Office, P.C. , 2018 IL App (3d) 170003, reh’g denied (Feb. 22, 2018), appeal denied sub nom. Johnson v. Stojan Law Office, P.C, 98 N.E.3d 51 (Ill. 2018)

Posted on Updated on

The Third District affirmed the grant of summary judgment on a legal malpractice claim brought against a lawyer related to a trust dispute.  It held that the lawyer did not owe a duty to a beneficiary of a trust because the possibility that he could benefit from the trust is insufficient to create a duty.  The court also held that the plaintiff never actually became a trustee to whom the attorney would owe a duty because the trust was amended before the plaintiff would have become a trustee.

Johnson v. Sojan Law Office, P.C., 2018 IL App (3d) 170003, reh’g denied (Feb. 22, 2018), appeal denied subnom. Johnson v. Stojan Law Office, P.C., 98 N.E. 3d 51 (Ill. 2018)

(This is for informational purposes and is not legal advice.)

 

Killian v. Minchella, 2017 IL App (1st) 163429-U, appeal denied, 98 N.E.3d 65 (Ill. 2018)

Posted on Updated on

In this unpublished opinion, the First District affirmed the dismissal of a legal malpractice case. The court examined whether unpaid judgments constituted damages to the plaintiff. Although the court noted that an unpaid judgment could damage a malpractice plaintiff, it held that the malpractice complaint failed to state a claim because it failed to allege that the plaintiffs had paid or would have to pay a judgment in excess of what they would have paid in the absence of negligence.

The court also affirmed on statute of limitations grounds. It held that the entry of a non-final summary judgment order put the plaintiff on notice of the alleged malpractice. Thus, the statute began to run at that time. The court rejected the argument that the statute of limitations did not run until the summary judgment became final and appealable.

Killian v. Minchella, 2017 IL App (1st) 163429-U, appeal denied, 98 N.E.3d 65 (Ill. 2018)

(This is for informational purposes and is not legal advice.)