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When Plaintiff’s “Double Dip” Effort Fails, He Sues Law Firm. Vera, Sedia Secure Summary Judgment in Favor of the Law Firm in a LegalMal Dispute

September 14, 2021

Johnson & Bell Attorneys, Carlos A. Vera and Adam J. Sedia, secured summary judgment in a legal malpractice case filed in Cook County based on application of foreign law. Our law firm client represented a New Zealand flight attendant in an unsuccessful lawsuit alleging that he sustained “significant” injuries in an airplane accident that occurred over the Indian Ocean between Singapore and Australia. Under New Zealand’s comprehensive no-fault accident compensation scheme, plaintiff received benefits for his injuries under New Zealand’s Accident Compensation Act (the “NZACA”). Under the NZACA, this meant that plaintiff was barred from bringing claims for compensatory damages in New Zealand courts. Plaintiff brought the underlying lawsuit in the Circuit Court of Cook County seeking to circumvent the NZACA’s statutory bar and to pursue compensatory damages under Illinois law. Plaintiff’s lawsuit was ultimately unsuccessful and he sued his attorneys for negligence. We argued that the trial court correctly decided in the underlying litigation that a conflict of law existed and that plaintiff’s claims were barred as a matter of New Zealand’s substantive law. As Illinois courts cannot take judicial notice of the laws of foreign jurisdictions, expert testimony was submitted to prove the proper interpretation of New Zealand law. The Court agreed that New Zealand law applied and barred plaintiff’s claims. As such, plaintiff could not prove that any act or omission by our client caused him the loss of his claims in the underlying litigation.


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