Johnson & Bell, Ltd. (Chicago, Illinois): Carlos A. Vera Secures Summary Judgment for Attorney/Law Firm Client in Legal Malpractice Case Seeking $3 Million

Johnson & Bell Shareholder, Carlos A. Vera, recently secured summary judgment in a heated legal malpractice dispute. In this case, plaintiff beneficiaries of a trust sued the former trustee and the trust’s attorney alleging that the trustee breached fiduciary duty to the trust by self-dealing, or otherwise mismanaging the trust and caused more than $3 million in losses. Plaintiffs also claimed that our law firm client committed professional negligence in failing to properly advise the trustee of his duties and by failing to inform the beneficiaries that the trustee was mismanaging the trust in breach of his fiduciary duty.

At the close of fact discovery, defense moved for summary judgment arguing that there were no facts from which plaintiff could prove that the law firm of the trust owed a duty to the plaintiff beneficiaries. Plaintiffs opposed the motion for summary judgment, but also tried to sidestep the duty issue by amending the complaint to add a cause of action for aiding and abetting the trustee’s tortious conduct. Mr. Vera argued that the motion for leave to amend was untimely and that all of the factors set forth in Loyola Academy v. S.S. Roof Maintenance, 198 Ill. App. 3d 799 (1st Dist. 1990) favored denying plaintiffs’ motion to amend. The court agreed and denied plaintiffs’ motion to amend. The court then granted our motion for summary judgment.