Our successes are yours. Here are a few that we’ve piled up over the years.
When a well-known Chicago Blues musician discovered that an even more well-known hip-hop artist had lifted a sample of the Blues musician’s work for his latest album, the Blues musician filed a copyright action against the hip-hop artist. The case was eventually dismissed because the sample had been produced before the availability of copyright for audio recordings and, in addition to losing an expected $2,000,000 in royalties, the blues musician was sanctioned with the hip-hop artist’s attorney’s fees nearing $350,000. When he sued his attorney and argued that the attorney had fraudulently concealed the legal malpractice action from him, Dan and Ted defended the attorney on the notion that, concealment or not, the Blues musician still discovered his cause of action within the original statute of limitations period and with enough time left in that period to initiate the litigation, but he failed to do so. The trial court agreed and dismissed the litigation. The Blues musician chose not to appeal that judgment.
At the conclusion of lengthy divorce proceedings, the ex-wife of a wealthy Chicago investment banker sued three of the six lawyers that represented her during pre-decree and post-decree proceedings, contending that their malpractice caused her to lose in excess of $1,000,000 in marital assets. Dan and Ted represented two of the divorce lawyers. On behalf of one of the pre-decree lawyers, Dan and Ted obtained summary judgment and, when the client filed a notice of appeal, they negotiated a walk-away settlement agreement: the ex-wife agreed to dismiss her appeal and the lawyer agreed to dismiss his counterclaim for unpaid attorney’s fees. On behalf of one of the post-decree lawyers, Dan negotiated another walk-away settlement agreement: the ex-wife agreed to dismiss her lawsuit and the lawyer agreed not to pursue sanctions for meritless litigation.
When a wealthy widow discovered that her “financial advisor” had embezzled more than $400,000 of her assets and created more than $1,000,000 in liabilities in her name before disappearing, she sued her lawyer for legal malpractice, contending that he was vicariously liable for the man’s embezzlement because the lawyer purportedly referred the widow to the man. During discovery, Dan and Ted learned that the man had served time in prison, and that his cell-mate was the widow’s son (having served time himself for embezzlement). After obtaining bank records of the widow, her son, and the embezzler, Dan and Ted discovered that most of the embezzled funds had found their way into her son’s accounts. A nominal settlement quickly followed.
One morning, during rush hour, a man was arrested in DuPage County, Illinois for driving under the influence and for causing an accident. When the victim of the accident later died as a result of his injuries, the driver was indicted on manslaughter charges and eventually pled guilty, receiving a lengthy prison sentence. From prison, he sued his criminal defense attorney, claiming ineffective assistance of counsel related to the length of his prison sentence. Dan and Ted defended the lawyer by arguing that the client could not maintain a legal malpractice claim unless he could prove he was actually innocent of all charges, and that he was legally precluded from trying to prove his innocence unless and until his guilty plea was vacated. The trial court agreed and dismissed the case, and the appellate court affirmed.
Within weeks of a Lake County, Illinois woman filing for divorce, her husband (an Egyptian national) began secretly transferring marital assets from the couple’s joint accounts in Illinois to his own individual accounts in Egypt. All told, nearly $7,000,000 left the country, and her husband eventually followed. In the midst of this, she hired and then fired her first lawyer, hired and fired a second lawyer, and finally hired a third. When her husband failed to appear in court, his dissipation was soon discovered, and she then filed a legal malpractice claim against her first and second lawyers, claiming that they breached their duties of care in failing to obtain an order from the divorce court freezing the couple’s bank accounts. Dan and Ted defended the first lawyer on two grounds: first, that very little money left the country during the first lawyer’s representation and nothing the husband did would have given rise to a special freeze order, and second, that most of the money left during successor counsel’s representation, and it was his negligence that caused the loss of that money. Just before the parties were to pick a jury, the client agreed to a nuisance-level settlement.
The owner of a Lake County dog kennel bought a general liability insurance policy through a local insurance producer. Before the policy issued, the producer informed the kennel owner that dog bites were specifically excluded under the policy and that if the owner wanted such coverage, the producer would be able to obtain it; the owner never responded. Inevitably, a customer was later bitten by one of the dogs being boarded at the kennel and filed a personal injury action. When the insurer declined coverage, the kennel owner filed a lawsuit against the producer for failing to obtain proper coverage. Dan defended the producer on the theories that the producer faithfully informed the kennel owner of the lack of dog bite coverage, and offered to procure such coverage. Because the kennel owner claimed that she had, in fact, requested coverage for dog bites, the case proceeded to trial. Dan’s position ultimately prevailed and the jury entered a verdict in favor of the producer.
Three weeks after issuing a liability policy to a Central Illinois farm, the insurer received notice that one of the farm’s employees had been involved in a head-on accident with a minivan carrying a mother and her child. The insurer later discovered that the employee had been arrested at least five times for driving under the influence, and that the mother and her child had collectively undergone at least twelve surgeries and incurred in excess of $1,000,000 in medical treatment. When the personal injury lawsuit against the farm arrived, the insurer filed a declaratory judgment and rescission action, citing multiple material misrepresentations in the policy application. The farm filed a third-party action (in the declaratory judgment proceeding) against its insurance producer, alleging that the producer allowed the application to be submitted with material omissions. The insurance producer hired Dan to represent him and Dan learned that, during the underwriting process prior to issuing the policy, the insurer had independently learned of the facts behind each material misrepresentation it claimed. For the purpose of summary judgment, Dan dropped down into the shoes of the farm and prepared, briefed and argued the summary judgment motion that prevailed.
When a large Peoria, Illinois-based company decided to liberalize the distribution rules of its employee stock ownership plan (based upon then-recent changes in the Internal Revenue Code), it hired a local financial advisor to explain the new rules to its employees in a seminar-style meeting. Several management-level employees misunderstood the rules and, without seeking independent financial planning or tax advice, took pre-mature distributions from the ESOP, resulting in collective interest and penalty liabilities exceeding $2,000,000. When the company (holding assignments from its affected employees) filed a lawsuit, Dan defended the financial advisor on the proximate cause and damages elements of the claim, negotiating a mediated settlement that reflected a significantly reduced damages claim.
After a not-for-profit organization on the south-side of Chicago dedicated to the redevelopment of the local neighborhood discovered that its operations manager had embezzled nearly $1,000,000 in corporate assets over the course of three years, the organization’s board turned to its auditors with one question: how did you not discover this embezzlement during your audits? Dan defended the auditors by reminding the board that the auditors had consistently warned the board that the organization’s internal controls were insufficient, particularly given that all audit materials were provided to the auditors by a single person – the operations manager – and that the board had taken no action on the auditors’ recommendations regarding internal controls. After the parties’ experts were deposed, Dan negotiated a settlement for pennies on the dollar.
There’s nothing like family money to make emotions run high and blood boil. When the founder of a large Wisconsin manufacturing concern passed away, his children fought like barbarians for their “fair share” of his considerable estate. They fought each other. Then they fought dad’s lawyers. And then his investment advisors and tax accountants. Dan represented one of the tax preparers against specious claims that he mismanaged dad’s investments and gave dad negligent estate planning advice. Thankfully, the accountant had prepared a carefully drafted engagement letter with dad, specifically carving investment and estate-planning advice out of the relationship. Dan used the letter as the crucial exhibit to the accountant’s motion for summary judgment and the focal mediation tool to push liability away from his client.
When an employee sued her former employer for constructive discharge in federal court, the dispute was put to an arbitrator, who ultimately ruled in favor of the former employer. The employee then filed a federal court action against the arbitrator, alleging discrimination and bias and what appeared to be an “arbitrator malpractice” claim. The national dispute resolution firm hired Dan to defend the arbitrator, and the district court quickly disposed of the claim on grounds of quasi-judicial immunity.
When a Central Illinois man’s son was pulled from the pitcher’s mound during a junior high baseball game, he stormed the field and punched his son’s coach several times in the face. When the school district banned him from school property and school events as a result of this conduct, he sued the school district alleging various violations of due process and equal protection. Midway through discovery, Dan negotiated a settlement in the low five-figures. The settlement agreement required the money to be placed in a trust, administered by the son’s maternal grandparents, for the benefit of the son.
When a large pharmaceutical company and its marketing agent found themselves staring down the barrel of a class action lawsuit seeking more than $50 Million in damages under the Telephone Consumer Protection Act (“TCPA”) following an ill-advised mass facsimile advertising campaign, the finger-pointing quickly followed. The direct defendants filed third-party claims seeking contribution from our client, the data list provider who supplied the subject fax numbers. Deciding an issue of first impression, the Court found that no right to contribution exists under either the TCPA or federal common law. The TCPA is silent as to contribution, so we highlighted that the existence of a treble damages provision revealed an intent to punish past, and to deter future, unlawful conduct, not to ameliorate the liability of wrongdoers. The Court agreed and dismissed the defendants’ contribution claims. Our data list provider continues to receive the occasional subpoena for documents, but the third-party contribution claims are a thing of the past.
After a nurse staffing agency fired a nurse-supervisor, she began separate administrative proceedings for discrimination and for wage-and-hour claims, and later filed a civil action alleging discrimination and wrongful termination. When none of those proceedings panned out, the staffing agency filed a malicious prosecution claim against her and her lawyer, contending that the multiple proceedings were meritless, were made in retaliation for her termination and caused it special damages in the form of $200,000 in attorney’s fees and a damaged reputation. Dan and Ted defended the lawyer, arguing that under the factual circumstances the staffing agency did not plead and could never prove special damages, a required element in malicious prosecution actions. The trial court agreed, the Illinois Appellate Court affirmed, and the Illinois Supreme Court declined the staffing agency’s petition for leave to appeal.
In a hotly contested election to a southwest suburban municipal board, a local news article suggested that a non-incumbent candidate was involved in corruption within the municipal district. The article was purportedly based upon an investigative report prepared by the district’s outside legal counsel. Having lost the election, the candidate filed a defamation and false-light action against the newspaper, the district and the district’s law firm. Dan and Ted defended the law firm on the ground that there was no evidence that the reporter’s article was sourced from the report, or that the report contained any defamatory statements. After the trial court dismissed the action and the candidate appealed, the parties entered into a settlement agreement involving a nominal exchange of money.
After working in a southern Illinois coal mine for decades, a man who had used various benzene-containing products during the course of his employment sued the manufacturers and distributors of those products, alleging that his exposure had caused myelodysplastic syndrome. One of the manufacturers hired Dan and Ted to defend it. After they disclosed an expert to testify that their client’s product contained less benzene (by ppm) than Kool-Aid, the plaintiff agreed to dismiss Dan and Ted’s client from the litigation.
Faced with massive liabilities arising from their manufacture and distribution of synthetic popcorn butter flavoring, which resulted in diacetyl-induced bronchiolitis obliterans for those exposed to it, a group of defendants filed a series of third-party actions against a specialty chemical company that manufactured cleaning products used in the same facilities where the butter flavoring was used, contending that the cleaning products, and not the butter flavoring, caused the lung condition. The chemical company hired Dan and Ted to defend it against these claims. After Dan and Ted disclosed a preeminent researcher in this field and deposed the defendants’ experts, the defendants withdrew their claims and have yet to make another.
When the founder of a manufacturer of refractory systems passed away, his children from his first marriage and his second wife struggled for control of the company, eventually entering into a settlement agreement whereby the children would take ownership and the second wife would receive life-time royalties on the sales of certain systems. When the children later stopped paying those royalties, the second wife hired Dan and Ted to enforce her rights under the settlement agreement. While the motion for summary judgment that Dan and Ted filed was pending, the parties negotiated a settlement providing for nearly full recovery by their client.