21
Jun2017

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

Following the trial, a Cook County Circuit Court ruled in favor of Ungaretti & Harris, a Chicago Law Firm. The trial revolved around a fee dispute with its former client, the Gidwitz family.

The Gidwitz family hired the firm to represent them against the city of Joliet in several lawsuits. The lawsuits involved a low-income housing complex the family owned. Joliet originally sued the family in 2005 to have the property condemned, but the family counterclaimed. They alleged Joliet violated the Fair Housing Act by seeking condemnation of the property.

Ungaretti & Harris eventually withdrew from the representation in 2014 as 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. They alleged the fees were too high and that their contract with the firm superseded another fee arrangement.

The Cook County Circuit Court found that the original fee agreement governed the parties’ relationship. 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, contact us at (312) 223-1699.

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