In Damor America v. Henry Gonzalez, 2016 IL App. (1st) 143685-U (1st Dist. 2016), the First District Appellate Court of Illinois held that the Plaintiff brought its legal malpractice action late against their former attorneys and, therefore, the claim was barred. In the underlying case, Plaintiff retained the Defendants to bring an action against a shipping company that had damaged $1.3 million worth of Plaintiff’s pharmaceutical goods. However, Defendants botched the case due to failing to review the relevant shipping agreement terms.
Defendants filed the Plaintiff’s claim in the wrong jurisdiction and it became untimely as a result. The shipping agreement stated that claims had to be filed within one year of the loss of cargo in England’s High Court of Justice. The loss occurred in February 2005 and, the Defendants filed the claim in February 2006 in federal court in New York City.
After filing, the shipping company raised this issue as an affirmative defense. In 2006, the claim was settled for $20,000 in part because of the affirmative defense and, additionally, because the Defendants advised the Plaintiff that $20,000 was the shipping company’s insurance policy limit. But, instead, after Plaintiff’s subsequent review of the shipping agreement, it found that the shipment was covered for $1,205,000.
After learning about these provisions in the shipping agreement, Plaintiff sued their former attorneys in April 2014. Plaintiff alleged in its legal malpractice suit that it would have never settled the underlying case if it had known about the potential $1.2 million in coverage and other relevant provisions in the shipping agreement. However, Defendants argued that Plaintiff failed to timely file the claim and, therefore, the claim was barred by the two-year and six-year statutes of limitations and repose. In rebuttal, the Plaintiff alleged that the statutes were not applicable because the Defendants had fraudulently concealed their legal malpractice by failing to provide Plaintiff its file (by stating it was destroyed) and, attempting to mislead the Plaintiff by providing mischaracterizations of facts. However, the court ultimately concluded that the legal malpractice claim was filed untimely and, the Plaintiff’s claim did not meet the standards of fraudulent concealment.
Alex Passo and the Patterson Law Firm frequently handle legal malpractice actions. If you have a potential claim you may contact me at: 312-750-1820 or firstname.lastname@example.org.