Pretzel & Stouffer

Defense Verdict in Legal Malpractice Trial

Jim Sipchen prevailed at trial on a legal malpractice claim that alleged his client was negligent in handling a commercial real estate closing for a below-grade commercial unit located in a high rise residential condominium building in Chicago’s Gold Coast neighborhood. The plaintiffs alleged that the attorney committed malpractice by not investigating the property’s zoning prior to closing, which in turn, caused them to purchase space that could not be leased to any tenant because the unit was zoned only for residential use. Jim successfully argued to the jury that the attorney was not engaged to investigate the property’s zoning, the zoning for the property could be changed, and the plaintiffs did not aggressively pursue such a zoning change, but rather, allowed the property to fall into foreclosure. The plaintiffs asked for over $600,000 in damages, but the jury returned a verdict for the defense after deliberating for about an hour-and-a-half.

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