Recent Illinois Case: Webster Bank N.A. v. Pierce & Associates P.C.

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The Northern District of Illinois partially dismissed a legal malpractice claim. The court held that, where a claim remained viable after new counsel took over for the allegedly negligent lawyer, the client could not state a claim for legal malpractice or breach of fiduciary duty.

However, the court allowed the claims to proceed where the plaintiff had adequately alleged that the claims were no longer viable when turned over to subsequent counsel.

Webster Bank N.A. v. Pierce & Associates P.C., 2016 WL 6082356

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

Recent Illinois Case: Goldfine v. Barack Ferrazzano Kirschbaum & Perlman

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The Illinois Supreme Court addressed malpractice damages arising out of the negligent failure to preserve an Illinois Securities Law Claim. The Court held that, had the lawyers properly preserved the Securities Law Claim, statutory damages would have been awarded. Thus, actual damages in the malpractice action included the statutory damages, such as interest and attorneys’ fees, that would have been awarded pursuant to the Securities Law Claim.

The Court rejected the defendants’ argument that such damages were barred by Illinois’ prohibition on awarding punitive damages against attorneys. The Court also held that interest should be awarded from the date of the purchase of stock through the date that the plaintiff settled the underlying claim, not through the date of the malpractice judgment. Finally, the court held that interest should be calculated before the underlying settlement is deducted from the malpractice damages.

Goldfine v. Barack Ferrazzano Kirschbaum & Perlman, 2014 IL 116362

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

Recent Illinois Case: Rockford Structures Const. Co. v. Shriver

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In this unpublished order, the Second District affirmed the dismissal of a legal malpractice claim pursuant to the statute of limitations.

A law firm filed a complaint to recover fees from its client. After that case had been pending for some time, the client attempted to file a legal malpractice counterclaim. The trial court denied the client leave to file the counterclaim. The client then attempted to file a stand-alone malpractice complaint. By the time of that filing, the complaint was untimely under the two year statute of limitations.

The Appellate Court rejected the client’s argument that Section 13-207 of the Illinois Code of Civil Procedure, which allows an untimely counterclaim, saves an untimely complaint that the plaintiff originally attempted to file as a counterclaim.

Rockford Structures Const. Co. v. Shriver, 2016 IL App (2d) 160151-U

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

 

Recent Illinois Case: Reimann v. Hanley

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The Northern District of Illinois dismissed a criminal defendant’s legal malpractice claim against his criminal attorney. The court held that a malpractice claim arising out of a criminal conviction cannot be stated unless the plaintiff establishes his actual innocence by having his conviction overturned. Thus, because the plaintiff could not allege that his conviction had been overturned, his malpractice claim was dismissed.

Reimann v. Hanley, 2016 WL 5792679

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

Recent Illinois Case: Hyatt Johnson USA 2004 LLC v. Goldsmith

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In this unpublished order, the First District affirmed in part and reversed in part the trial court’s grant of summary judgment for the defendants.

The malpractice claims related to the drafting of investment documents and settlement documents. The Appellate Court affirmed dismissal of the claims based upon the investment documents. The plaintiffs asserted that the documents resulted in the appointment of a receiver and sought to recover the fees paid to the receiver. The court, however, held that the plaintiffs were not damaged because there was no evidence that the receiver’s fees were greater than the fees that would have been paid to a manager.

The court also held that the criminal theft of funds from the entity was an intervening cause prohibiting the plaintiffs from establishing proximate cause because there was no evidence that the theft was foreseeable.

The court reversed summary judgment on the malpractice claims related to the settlement documents. The court held that if the defendants’ negligence in drafting the settlement documents allowed funds to be transferred to an entity not entitled to the funds, the plaintiffs will be able to prove “specific and identifiable damages” associated with their efforts to recover those funds.

Hyatt Johnson USA 2004 LLC v. Goldsmith, 2016 IL App (1st) 151622-U 

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

Recent Illinois Case: Kirkliauskas v Vernor Moran LLC

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In this unpublished order, the First District reversed a grant of summary judgment. The court held that there were factual issues regarding whether defendants alleged malpractice caused plaintiffs’ losses. In particular, there were questions of fact regarding whether the plaintiffs would have been successful in recovering property they lost through a tax sale but for defendants failure to take timely action to protest a tax deed.

Kirkliauskas v Vernor Moran LLC, 2016 IL App (1st) 152470-U

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

Recent Illinois Case: Slater v. Freeman

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In this unpublished opinion, the First District vacated the order granting leave for an interlocutory appeal under Supreme Court Rule 308. The court held that the issues presented — when can an attorney be liable to a non-client, and is the discovery rule applicable to the statute of repose — were not appropriate for interlocutory review.

The court held that the first issue, as decided by the trial court, involved questions of fact, not questions of law, and therefore did not qualify for Rule 308 review. As to the second issue, the court held that Rule 308 review was inappropriate because there were no substantial grounds for difference of opinion regarding the statute of repose; the discovery rule does not apply.

Thus, even though the appellate court’s discussion of the statute of repose implicitly held that the trial court incorrectly denied summary judgment, the appellate court dismissed the appeal because it did not involve the “exceptional circumstances” required for an appeal pursuant to Rule 308.

Slater v. Freeman, 2016 IL App (1st) 143904-U

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