Legal Malpractice Suits Against Attorneys Must be Filed in a Timely Manner
Appellate court dismisses legal malpractice suit filed by Area Wide
September 11, 2013 by Julie Harrison
The First District Appellate Court recently upheld a Cook Country Circuit Court judge’s ruling dismissing a legal malpractice lawsuit brought by a local land development company against its former legal representation.
Justice Maureen E. Connors agreed with Cook Country Circuit Judge Sanjay Taylor who said that Faysal Mohamed, an area land developer, and his group Area Wide waited too long to file suit against long-term attorney Francis Keldermans of Holland & Knight LLP.
Mohamed formed Area Wide in 2008 in order to develop a property at W. 79th St. and South Western Avenue in Chicago. The plan included the construction of a Walgreens store in additional to a partially constructed outlot that would be sold to TCF Bank for future branch development.
The plan required Reciprocal Easement Agreements from both TCF Bank and Walgreens to allow TCF customers access to Walgreens’ parking and drive areas. Without the REAs, the TCF site would be inaccessible.
Area Wide hired Mohamed’s attorney, Francis Keldermans, and his law firm Holland & Knight LLP to represent Area Wide during the project. Keldermans, according to court documents, had represented Mohamed and his business plans for more than 20 years at the time.
Mohamed alleged that Keldermans failed to include a clause in the lease contract that would require Walgreens to grant the appropriate REAs to TCF. At the time the mistake was uncovered, all parties had already signed the lease.
Construction on the propert had also commenced at the time of the discovery. Additionally, the sale agreement with TCF had also already been executed, however, when TCF learned that Walgreens would not provide REAs, it cancelled its contract with Area Wide.
According to court documents, without the sale to TCF, the entire development project dissolved.
Mohamed and Area Wide did not file the malpractice suit against Keldermans and Holland & Knight until April 2012. Malpractice claims against attorneys must be brought within two years of the date of accrual. As a result, Taylor found the statue of limitations barred Mohamed’s claims.
The appellate court order, written by Connors, concurred.
Connors wrote that Mohamed knew in May 2008 that Keldermans’ negligence cost Area Wide the sale price of the TCF contract. Time limits specific by law, according to the justices, must apply to the case.