Attorney William Kohn (“Kohn”) represented Dr. Veerasikku Bommiasamy (“Bommiasamy”) in an employment matter. Two of the defendants in that matter moved for summary judgment on various counts of the complaint, but Kohn missed the deadline to file Bommiasamy’s response. The circuit court granted Kohn an extension. The next day, Kohn filed a motion for leave to respond instanter and to reset the briefing and hearing dates. The motion was denied, and summary judgment was granted after oral arguments in March, 2013. Kohn appealed, and sought multiple extensions of time to file the record on appeal. He then sought two extensions to file his brief, but then failed to file it at all. Consequently, Bommiasamy’s appeal was dismissed for want of prosecution in December, 2014.
Bommiasamy sued Kohn for breach of contract and professional negligence in February, 2017. Kohn, after receiving another extension, moved to dismiss. He argued that since the underlying case had been dismissed four years earlier, Bommiasamy’s complaint against him was barred by Illinois’ two-year statute of limitations for legal malpractice claims. 735 ILCS 5/13-214.3(b). Kohn’s motion was granted, and Bommiasamy appealed.
The First District reversed, holding that “the actions of Mr. Kohn in personally appealing the circuit court’s decision, seeking numerous extensions, and failing to file an appellate brief culminating in a dismissal of the appeal, estop any reliance by Mr. Kohn on the date that the circuit court entered the summary judgment order as the start of the limitations period.” Id. at ¶28. “To rule otherwise” it explained, “would force a client in Dr. Bommiasamy’s position to seek a second opinion regarding the legal strategy of the underlying case, which is unreasonable.” Id. Kohn argued in the alternative that Bommiasamy’s complaint was still untimely because it was filed more than two years after the appellate court affirmed dismissal of the underlying case. The First District disagreed on this point as well. It held that, per the discovery rule, “Bommiasamy’s affidavit contains sufficient facts to raise a factual question on whether the late discovery of the appellate court’s ruling tolled the statute of limitations.” Id. at ¶32. Among these facts were that “Kohn did not communicate the progress of the appeal, the failure to file a brief, or the dismissal of the case.” Id.
(This is for informational purposes and is not legal advice.)