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.