In 2009, Hanmi Bank (“the Bank”) filed six foreclosure actions in an Illinois circuit court and one in the Northern District of Illinois. All were voluntarily dismissed without prejudice in July, 2011. The same month, it filed a new foreclosure complaint in the Northern District of Illinois and a concurrent foreclosure action in the Eastern District of Wisconsin. It then replaced its counsel with Chuhak & Tecson, P.C. (“Chuhak”), which was aware that the 2009 suits had been voluntarily dismissed. Meanwhile, the defendants filed a declaratory judgment action against the Bank, to which the Bank filed a counterclaim. When the Bank voluntarily dismissed its July, 2011 lawsuit, the defendants successfully moved to dismiss the counterclaim. Summary judgment was then granted against the Bank in the Eastern District of Wisconsin for res judicata. Chuhak assured the Bank that both rulings would be reversed on appeal, but neither was. In the meantime, Chuhak allegedly had an internal discussion about whether it had committed malpractice, and notified their insurer.
The Bank sued Chuhak for legal malpractice in March, 2017, accusing it of professional negligence in the voluntary dismissal of the Bank’s suit in the Northern District of Illinois, which made it impossible for the Bank to foreclose on the properties involved. It further alleged that Chuhak breached its fiduciary duty in making misrepresentations to the Bank to conceal its potential malpractice. Chuhak successfully moved to dismiss, arguing that the Bank’s claims were barred by the two-year statute of limitations for legal malpractice. The Bank moved to file an amended complaint that would assert Chuhak was estopped from raising the statute of limitations argument due to its false assurances that “lulled the Bank into waiting to file its legal malpractice complaint.” Id. at ¶17. The Appellate Court reversed, holding that the Trial Court came to the wrong conclusion as to “whether the proposed amendment will cure the defective pleading.” Id. at ¶21-22. Indeed, it found that the Bank’s proposed amendment would cure its defective complaint and that “the trial court abused its discretion by denying the Bank leave to file.” Id. at ¶29. “While the trial court does have wide discretion,” it explained, “any doubt as to whether a plaintiff should be granted leave to file an amended complaint should be decided in favor of allowance of the amendment.” Id. at ¶21.
(This is for informational purposes and is not legal advice.)