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Secured dismissal of a federal lawsuit filed against a credit union client.  The lawsuit claimed that the credit union’s website violates the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) because it is not accessible to people who are blind.  The plaintiff, who is permanently blind, alleged that the credit union’s website was inaccessible because it could not be used through screen reading software.  The plaintiff sought an injunction, as well as attorneys’ fees.

Johnson & Bell filed a motion to dismiss the lawsuit for lack of standing.  We argued that the plaintiff failed to allege an injury-in-fact since he did not fall within the field of membership of our client credit union and was ineligible to use its services.  Therefore, even if the credit union’s website was made accessible to people who are blind, any increased accessibility would not benefit the plaintiff.  The district court agreed with defense’s arguments and granted dismissal without prejudice.  On appeal, the Seventh Circuit affirmed the district court’s ruling and rejected the plaintiff’s argument that injury to his dignity was sufficient to establish constitutional standing.

The plaintiff’s law firm has filed or threatened to file numerous lawsuits against credit unions across the country asserting identical ADA claims.  The credit union industry is contesting these suits vigorously and hopes to use this decision to support other dismissal orders.

Prevailed in court when the 1st District Appellate Court affirmed the dismissal of a legal malpractice lawsuit a man filed against a former attorney he hired to sue a different former attorney. In 2008, the plaintiff accused his father of inducing his mother to exclude him from her will – an estate the plaintiff believed was worth $75 million.  The plaintiff settled the lawsuit with his father for $1 million, then proceeded with a breach of contract lawsuit against the law firm he hired to represent him in the estate dispute.  The attorney he hired to file the breach of contract lawsuit is represented by Johnson & Bell.

A Cook County judge dismissed the breach of contract lawsuit against the plaintiff’s first law firm.  The dismissal was affirmed by the 1st District in 2013.  Then the plaintiff filed a legal malpractice lawsuit against Johnson & Bell’s client, asserting that he negligently failed to pursue a legal malpractice claim in the underlying breach of contract suit against his attorneys from the estate dispute.  Johnson & Bell obtained summary judgment in favor of their client in December 2017.  The 1st District affirmed the dismissal in a unanimous opinion based upon the doctrine of collateral estoppel.

Secured a defense jury verdict in favor of J. Richard Hisaw and his law firm in a legal negligence case involving a foreclosed commercial property. The plaintiff asked for $500,000 in damages.  Our attorneys achieved the jury verdict despite the fact that two of their three key witnesses, including their client, are deceased. Mr. Hisaw passed away unexpectedly on December 5, 2017. In addition, George Collins, who served as Mr. Hisaw’s attorney and witnessed certain underlying events relevant to the dispute, passed away in October 2016.

In this case, the plaintiff, who is a chiropractic doctor, and her father owned a commercial property.  They had a “balloon” payment at the end of their commercial mortgage that they didn’t pay.  The bank foreclosed on the property and obtained a deficiency judgment for $210,000 against the plaintiff, which she paid.  The plaintiff claimed our client didn’t advise her and she didn’t otherwise know that she could have sold the property before the foreclosure occurred.  The plaintiff estimated that she could have sold the commercial property for a $270,000 profit.  Because of the foreclosure judgment against her, the lost value of the potential property sale and other expenses, the plaintiff sought $500,000 in damages.

The defense countered that Mr. Hisaw did in fact advise the plaintiff that she could and should sell the commercial property.  The defense also asserted that the plaintiff was contributorily negligent when she refused repeated requests by her father to sell the property before and after the foreclosure suit had been filed.   This defense was bolstered by the testimony of plaintiff’s brother, who described various attempts by him and his father to convince the plaintiff to sell the property in light of the mortgage default.  After eight days of trial, the jury reached a verdict in favor of J. Richard Hisaw and his firm, J. Richard Hisaw & Associates. The case is Maryanne Tadros v. Christine Marte, et al., 16 L 1191.

Secured dismissal without prejudice of a lawsuit filed against his credit union client.  The lawsuit claimed that the credit union’s website violates the Americans with Disabilities Act because it is not accessible to people who are blind.  In this case, plaintiff is permanently blind and uses screen reading software to access websites.  Unless a website is designed to be read by such software, a person who is blind cannot fully access the website and plaintiff alleged that the Credit Union’s website cannot be accessed by screen reading software.  However, Mr. Jalalpour argued that the plaintiff failed to allege an injury as he is not eligible to be a member of the credit union and does not dispute the credit union’s assertion of ineligibility. Moreover, since plaintiff can’t be a member, even if the credit union’s website was made accessible to people who are blind, any increased accessibility of the website would not benefit the plaintiff.  Since the relief plaintiff seeks would not benefit him, plaintiff has failed to allege an injury.  Mr. Jalalpour filed a motion to dismiss the lawsuit for lack of standing.  The court agreed with defense’s arguments and granted dismissal without prejudice. The plaintiff’s firm bringing this action has brought ADA suits against credit unions across the country alleging the same theory. The credit union industry is contesting these suits vigorously and hope to use this decision to support other dismissal orders.

Obtained summary judgment on behalf of our client in a hotly contested legal malpractice case. Johnson & Bell represented a commercial litigation firm based in Chicago and two of its partners who previously represented a woman who claimed she rightfully owned a gentlemen’s club in Bridgeview, Illinois, following the death of her husband. However, the woman’s husband did not officially appear on any of the ownership documents for the gentlemen’s club as his lengthy criminal record prohibited him from obtaining a liquor license and officially owning the club. Consequently, a dispute arose between the woman and the person who “officially” owned the club. Johnson & Bell’s client represented the woman and filed a lawsuit on her behalf to obtain ownership of the club. Johnson & Bell’s client was eventually forced to withdraw from the case and the woman ended up settling the lawsuit regarding ownership of the club. Thereafter, she filed a lawsuit against her previous lawyers – Johnson & Bell’s client -- claiming legal malpractice that she would have obtained more in settlement if not for the alleged negligence of her lawyers. The woman claimed she sustained $19 million in damages as a result of the alleged malpractice, which represents the value of the gentlemen’s club. After lengthy discovery and several years of litigation, Johnson & Bell was able to obtain summary judgment on behalf of the law firm and its partners. The woman who filed the legal malpractice claim testified at her deposition that she chose to settle the lawsuit regarding ownership of the gentlemen’s club for reasons having nothing to do with any alleged malpractice by her lawyers. The court therefore found that the element of proximate cause was lacking in her legal malpractice claim and granted summary judgment to Johnson & Bell’s client. The court also found that summary judgment was proper based on the two-year statute of limitations applicable to legal malpractice claims. The court found that the woman was aware of the alleged negligence by her lawyers and that she had sustained damages in the form of increased attorney’s fees more than two years prior to filing her legal malpractice claim.

Successfully defended an Illinois attorney charged with malpractice. Johnson & Bell’s client was charged with malpractice by the co-owner of a former private equity business. Our client represented the owner in an underlying business dispute with his former partner. When the two former partners terminated their business relationship, a lawsuit was filed concerning the division of more than a million dollars in fees for outstanding projects. The former partners eventually settled the litigation without their respective lawyers. However, the former co-owner later alleged that Johnson & Bell’s client breached his obligations by failing to properly advise him regarding his exposure in the litigation. At trial, Marconi and Jalalpour successfully dismantled the defendant’s expert witness testimony and established that the defendant’s allegations were without merit. After five days of trial, the jury returned a verdict of not guilty on the former client’s malpractice claim against Johnson & Bell’s client. In addition, the jury awarded our client $54,000 in fees owed by his client, the co-owner of the former private equity business. The jury also asked the court whether they could award punitive damages to our client. However, the court instructed the jury that punitive damages were not allowed in the claims submitted to the jury.