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Professional Liability Representative Cases

  • Defended an Illinois attorney 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, we 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.
  • Successfully defended a real estate law firm being sued for malpractice.  The lawsuit stemmed from a real estate deal to buy the Tuckaway Golf Course in Crete, Illinois for $4 million.  Our client represented the buyer of the 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 by the seller 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.
  • Defended a local matrimonial law firm against allegations of legal malpractice.  In this matter, the Plaintiff claimed that he received inadequate advice from the Defendant about the settlement of a divorce involving a $12 million estate.  The Plaintiff further claimed that the drafting of the Marital Settlement Agreement caused him to become involved in significant post-dissolution litigation.  At trial, the Plaintiff claimed damages in excess of $1 million.  Defendants filed a motion for directed verdict on the issues of causation and the statute of repose.  The court granted the Defendants’ motion for a directed verdict finding that the Plaintiff had failed to show that Defendants should be prevented from receiving the protections of the statute of repose.  On this basis, the court granted judgment in favor of the Defendants on all counts.
  • Secured a defense verdict in a breach of contract case seeking $1.7 million in damages against an inspecting architect. In this case, the plaintiffs, who were first- time developers, were converting a three-flat building into condominiums. The “gut rehab” was nearing completion in 2009 when the contractor left the job, and the project was never finished. Shortly thereafter, the development was foreclosed upon by the bank financing the project. The plaintiffs filed lawsuits against the general contractor and the inspecting architect, among others. The lawsuit against our client alleged that the inspecting architect approved payment for work that wasn’t done or was done defectively and that these approved payments led to the failure of the development project. Defense argued that the inspections were not performed for the plaintiffs’ benefit and that there was no breach of contract. In addition, defense argued that the foreclosure was caused solely by plaintiffs’ conduct. After a three-week trial, the plaintiffs’ counsel asked the jury for $1.7 million. The jury deliberated for 4 hours before returning a defense verdict.
  • Received verdict of not guilty after two-week jury trial on behalf of attorneys who represented bank that made $19 million construction loan for development of condominium complex that defaulted.  The bank sued its lawyers for legal malpractice claiming that the lawyers failed to adequately protect its interests in drafting the construction loan agreement and in closing the loan.  Oak Brook Bank v. Crowley, Barrett & Karaba, Ltd., Cook County Case No. 04 L 1249 (2010)
  • Received verdict of not guilty on behalf of attorney and law firm charged with negligently representing start-up company and its incorporators in setting up business and pursuing corporate opportunity of one of incorporator’s former employer.  Plaintiff sought $19 million in damages in trial that lasted three weeks.  The jury’s verdict was later affirmed on appeal.  Victory Energy Operations, LLC v. Connelly, Illinois Appellate Case No. 1-09-1116 (1st Dist. 2010)
  • Obtained directed verdict after six days of jury trial on behalf of two real estate appraisers charged with breach of contract stemming from their alleged negligent appraisal of an office building.  Plaintiff, a national bank, alleged that it made a loan based on the negligent appraisal that subsequently went into default.  Case was later affirmed on appeal.  Citizens Financial Services, FSB v. Richmond, Illinois Appellate Case No. 1-05-1694 (1st Dist. 2008)
  • Successfully defended law firm charged with malpractice stemming from its representation of former client in the sale of an internet business. The former client charged that the law firm failed to provide for a “cashless exercise” of securities that were given in exchange for the business, thereby triggering a one-year holding period under applicable securities laws before the securities could be sold. After a two-week trial, a jury returned a “not guilty” verdict that was later upheld on appeal.  Ritchey v. Nations, Illinois Appellate Case No. 1-04-3889 (1st Dist. 2006)
  • Obtained summary judgment on behalf of Illinois attorney who was sued by purported beneficiaries of an OBRA trust set up by attorney.  The court ruled that plaintiffs did not have standing to assert their claims and that claims were barred by statute of limitations.  Roth v. Spain, Cook County Case No. 06 L 3729 (2009)
  • Obtained dismissal of defamation complaint filed against Illinois attorney who was charged to have defamed parties who were defendants in arbitration hearing.  The court ruled that the attorney’s statements were absolutely privileged.  Skender Constr. Co. v. Kubes, Cook County Case No. No. 06 L 011073 (2007)

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Johnson and Bell