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Representative Cases

Successfully defended Crimson AV, LLC against charges of patent infringement and misappropriation of trade secrets. In a case tried to a jury and presided over by Judge Joan H. Lefkow, Johnson & Bell represented Crimson AV, a small manufacturer and distributor of television wall mounts based in Glenview, IL that was sued by Peerless Industries, Inc. Peerless Industries claimed that Crimson AV’s wall mount design infringed its patent and further claimed that the company had misappropriated its trade secrets obtained while Crimson AV’s Chinese supplier had previously served as a manufacturer for Peerless Industries. The Johnson & Bell trial team had to overcome a prior ruling by the court that Crimson AV’s products infringed the plaintiff’s patent, leaving Johnson & Bell to prove that the plaintiff’s patent was invalid. In addition, the court entered a discovery sanction against Crimson AV that shifted the burden of proof on the trade secrets claim. After two weeks of trial, the jury deliberated for two days and returned a verdict finding the patent invalid and finding no trade secrets were at issue. Peerless Industries sought over $4 million in damages plus fees. Peerless Industries was represented by Foley & Lardner. (2016)

Successfully defended a home healthcare provider against an alleged breach of contract claim. Plaintiff claimed that it was entitled to a $1.7 million finder’s fee in exchange for information that led to a $5 million per year VA contract. Prior to any disclosure of the purported confidential opportunity, our client entered into the contract, agreeing to pay a 5% finder’s fee to plaintiff, if it secured the business. The finder’s fee claim centered around two allegations: 1) that plaintiff performed its obligation by providing our client with confidential and proprietary information which ultimately led to the procurement of the business opportunity; and 2) as a result, the contract obligated our client to pay plaintiff 5% of gross revenues generated for as long as the business opportunity existed. Our attorneys contended that the information provided by plaintiff was a matter of public knowledge and was neither confidential nor proprietary. We also successfully argued that even if the contract was enforceable, any fee owing to the plaintiff was cut off by the sale of our client’s assets, including the finder’s fee contract. Finally, we demonstrated that the claimed 5% should be construed to apply to net profits and not gross revenues, as claimed by plaintiff. Since plaintiff only sought 5% of gross revenues and plaintiff did not offer any evidence as to what net profits were generated by the business opportunity, the court found that plaintiff did not prove its damages and was not entitled to collect anything. (2015)

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. (2015)

Successfully defended a real estate law firm being sued for malpractice.  Our client represented the buyer of a golf course property.  On the day before the deal was to close, the acquirer of the golf course told our client that, as part of the transaction, they had negotiated an additional $250,000 note which was to be secured by a mortgage on a separate vacant lot in Frankfort, Illinois. It soon became apparent that the signatures necessary for the mortgage on the $250,000 note and mortgage could not be procured in time for the closing. Our client proceeded with the closing of the transaction after being given assurances that proper signatures on the $250,000 mortgage would be provided soon after the closing. Our client followed up after the closing, but was unable to procure the necessary signatures and record the $250,000 mortgage.  The property that was subject to the $250,000 mortgage was eventually sold pursuant to a tax sale and the buyer of the golf course was unable to collect on the $250,000 note and mortgage.  The buyer then sued our client, seeking $1 million relating to lost profits associated with the property and other damages.  The jury in the malpractice case returned a verdict awarding damages to the plaintiff of less than $1200. (2013)

In re the Estate of O’Malley Case No. 09 P 1884.  Jury trial finding the decedent’s will and trust was invalid as it was made as a result of the undue influence of one of the decedent’s children. (2012)

Oak Brook Bank v. Crowley Barrett & Karaba, Case No. 04 L 1249 Circuit Court of Cook County, Law Division.  Two week jury trial. Defended a real estate law firm in this legal malpractice action where the lender sued its lawyers after a construction loan went sour. The plaintiff sought $17 million in damages and demanded the policy limits of $5 million for settlement. The jury returned a verdict of not guilty against all defendants. (2010). The case is on appeal.

John Deere & Co., Funk Manufacturing Co. v. Ohio Gear, a South Carolina Corp. and Regal-Beloit, a Wisconsin Corp.; Court No. 02-4011 (USDC – Peoria, IL).  One week jury trial on the issue of damages following summary judgment on liability in the U.S. District Court in Peoria, Illinois. Defended a supplier to John Deere who was being sued to recover $4.8 million for the costs of a John Deere product recall and replacement of defective parts. (2010). The case is on appeal.

Valley Air Service, Inc. v. Southaire, Inc., Case No. 06 C 0782 (N.D. Ill.). Two week jury trial. Defended an airplane dealer against fraud and breach of contract claims alleging that Cessna aircraft sold and used in charter operations was defective. The plaintiff demanded $4.3 million immediately before trial. Jury returned a verdict of not guilty on fraud count and $40,696 on breach of contract count. (2009). The case is on appeal.

Victory Energy Operations LLC v. Connelly Roberts & McGivney, Case No. 02 L 342, Circuit Court of Cook County, Law Division.  Three week jury trial. Defended a law firm in this legal malpractice action regarding the formation of a business and litigation following the formation. The demand was $8.2 million. The jury returned a verdict of not guilty on behalf of all defendants. (2008). This verdict was affirmed on appeal.

Kramer v. Schiller, DuCanto and Fleck.  Jury trial in the Circuit Court of Cook County which resulted in a directed verdict in favor of the defendants at the close of plaintiff's case (2011).

Unilever United States Inc. v. Landau Omahana Tucker & Progar, LLC, Case No. 02 L 12323, Circuit Court of Cook County, Law Division. In a two-week jury trial, defended a defense firm in this legal malpractice action. Negligence was admitted while causation contested. The plaintiff sought $2.5 million. The jury returned a verdict in favor of the plaintiff in the amount of $798,000. The trial court entered judgment notwithstanding the verdict in favor of the defendant. (2006).

Citizens Financial Services FSB v. David M. Richmond, William H. Metz, William H. Metz & Associates, Inc., Case No. 00 L 13629, Circuit Court of Cook County, Law Division.  After six days of plaintiff’s case before a jury, the court entered a directed verdict. Defended an appraiser who was sued by the bank claiming that the property was over-valued at the time a loan and mortgage was placed. (2005). Affirmed on appeal.