The Business Litigation Blog

Judge Rules in Favor of Law Firm for Attorney Fee Dispute in Legal Malpractice Case

 A Cook County Circuit Court ruled in the favor following a three-week trial of the Chicago law firm Ungaretti & Harris for $5.7 million in a fee dispute against its former client, the Gidwitz family.

Ungaretti & Harris had been retained by the Gidwitz family to represent the family against the city of Joliet in several lawsuits involving a low income housing complex owned by the Gidwitz family. The city of Joliet originally sued the Gidwitz family in 2005 to have the property condemned, but the family counterclaimed, alleging Joliet was violating the Fair Housing Act by seeking condemnation of the property.

Ungaretti & Harris eventually withdrew from the representation in 2014 claiming it was a result of two years of nonpayment by the family. Shortly thereafter, a jury found in favor of the Gidwitz family and awarded them $15 million against the city of Joliet for the family's loss of the housing complexes.

When Ungaretti & Harris pursued a fee petition against the family, the family filed a counterclaim for legal malpractice alleging that the fees were too high and that the original contract signed with the firm was superseded by another fee arrangement. The Cook County Circuit Court found that the original fee agreement governed the parties' relationship and that the family must pay the majority of the fees sought by Ungaretti & Harris, discounting approximately $500,000 for time entries that the judge found were not sufficiently specific to Ungaretti's representation.

If you are involved in an attorney fee dispute, Patterson Law Firm can help. 

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