Pleading

One Cause, One Count, One Judgment: Drafting and Judging a Complaint that Complies with 735 ILCS 5/2-603

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Adriana Mazutis (“Mazutis”) filed a multi-count complaint against Warren Lupel, Lawrence Karlin, and Lupel Wieninger, LLP (“Defendants”) for legal malpractice, among other things.  Two counts were dismissed, at which point Mazutis voluntarily dismissed her suit and re-filed a six-count complaint.  It included a count for legal malpractice.  Defendants moved for summary judgment based on Mazutis’ failure to establish proximate causation, statute of limitations, and lack of evidence to show any negligence or misconduct on their part.  The motion was granted, disposing of Mazutis’ case “in its entirety” despite the fact that the order only discussed the timeliness of the legal malpractice count and the question of proximate causation.  Id. at ¶7.  Mazutis appealed.

The appellate court noted at the outset that multiple counts within Mazutis’ complaint contained more than one cause of action and therefore violated 735 ILCS 5/2-603.  This made it “almost impossible to discern the facts that relate to each claim.”  Id. at ¶11.  However, Defendants only addressed Mazutis’ legal malpractice claims in their motion for summary judgment.  Consequently, the appellate court found “that the defendants’ motion and the circuit court’s order did not address all of the claims pled by the plaintiff, and it was, therefore, error to grant summary judgment on the entirety of the complaint.”  Id. at ¶12.  It then struck Mazutis’ complaint, and remanded with leave to file a new, concise complaint that complied with 735 ILCS 5/2-603.

Mazutis v. Lupel, 2019 IL App (1st) 173048-U

(This is for informational purposes and is not legal advice.)

 

Developers Surety and Indemnity Co. v. Lipinski, 2017 IL App (1st) 152658-U

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In this unpublished opinion, the first district dismissed a claim because the insurance carrier that covered the losses caused by the underlying legal malpractice was the real party in interest as the subrogee of the named plaintiff, but was not named as the plaintiff in the complaint.

 

Westlaw – WestClip legal malpractice (002)

 

 

Short v. Grayson

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The District Court for the Northern District of Illinois granted in part and denied in part motions to dismiss legal malpractice claims. The court dismissed the plaintiff’s claim that his attorneys committed malpractice by failing to bring derivative claims in the underlying action because the plaintiff had sold his stock in the relevant company before initiating the underlying litigation and, thus, lacked standing to bring any derivative claims on its behalf. The court further dismissed a claim that the plaintiff alleged should have been asserted against an individual because the statute of limitations on that claim had expired before the defendant attorney took over the underlying case for the plaintiff. The court denied the motion as to the plaintiff’s various other claims generally holding that the plaintiff had alleged sufficient facts to survive the motions to dismiss.

Short v. Grayson , No. 16 C 2150, 2017 WL 977001 (N.D. Ill. Mar. 14, 2017)

West Bend Mutual Ins. Co. v. Schumacher

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The Seventh Circuit affirmed the dismissal of a legal malpractice claim because it did not adequately allege causation and damages.   The court held that the allegations as to how the malpractice plaintiff would have prevailed in the underlying litigation but for the attorney’s malpractice were insufficiently specific to state a claim.

West Bend Mutual Ins. Co. v. Schumacher, Case No. 14-2731, 2016 WL 7395708 (7th Cir. Dec. 21, 2016)

(This is for informational purposes and is not legal advice.)

Cwik v. Law Offices of Jonathan Merel, P.C.

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In this unpublished order, the First District held that the plaintiff had failed to allege that he would have won his underlying petitions but for the defendant lawyer’s malpractice.   The court held it was not enough for the plaintiff to allege that he would have defeated the underlying defendant’s motions to dismiss but for the lawyer’s negligence, he needed to allege that he ultimately would have succeeded on the petitions themselves.

Cwik v. Law Offices of Jonathan Merel, P.C., 2017 IL App (1st) 153143-U

(This is for informational purposes and is not legal advice.)

Stevens v. Sharif

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The court held that the plaintiff failed to state a claim against a lawyer, in part, because she failed to allege the existence of an attorney client relationship.   The fact that the plaintiff was represented by other counsel made it implausible that the defendant lawyer represented her.   The court further held that the claim was barred by the statute of limitations.   The claim accrued when the underlying bankruptcy court made its initial decision; accrual did not depend upon the result of the subsequent appeal.

Stevens v. Sharif, No. 15 C 1405, 2017 WL 449175 (N.D. Ill. Feb. 2, 2017)

(This is for informational purposes and is not legal advice.)

Recent Illinois Case: Moreno v. Martin

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In this unpublished opinion, the Second District affirmed the dismissal of legal malpractice and breach of contract claims. The court held that the legal malpractice claim was properly dismissed because the plaintiff failed to plead that the attorney owed him a duty to give the “missing” advice because the lawyer’s retainer agreement limited the scope of his representation. The court held that the allegations in the complaint conflicted with the terms of the retainer agreement and the terms of the retainer agreement control. The court affirmed the dismissal of the breach of contract claim because the complaint failed to plead that the plaintiff had fully performed his obligations under the contract.

Moreno v. Martin, 2016 IL App (2d) 150729-U

(This is for informational purposes and is not legal advice.)