Appellate: South Loop condo developers' suit vs. ex-lawyers over parking space flap not too late
A state appeals court has given a new lease to a legal malpractice suit brought by the developers of a South Loop condo building, saying the plaintiffs were not too late in filing their legal action amid a squabble with the condo building's association over parking space rights six years after the developers thought required legal documents had been filed.
Earlier this month, a three-justice panel of the Illinois First District Appellate Court reversed the ruling of Cook County Judge Janet Brosnahan, who had dismissed the lawsuit brought by plaintiffs Casablanca Lofts LLC and Michael and Roberta Weir, agreeing with defendant attorney David Chaiken and his firm, Cameron and Chaiken, that the lawsuit had been filed too late, outside the so-called statute of repose.
The appellate justices, however, ruled that two of three counts were filed on time.
Justice Jesse Reyes authored the court's opinion, with justices Bertina Lampkin and Mary Rochford concurring.
The plaintiffs alleged Chaiken and his firm did not correctly support their legal goals in an initial declaration filed in 2005. According to court documents, the Weirs sought to preserve their rights to add condo units to the building at 1700 S. Michigan Ave., Chicago, and retain rights to parking spaces to be associated with those units.
The building, however, reverted to control of the association, and when the Weirs presented plans for the new units, the association challenged their rights to build the units and their claim to the parking spaces, saying no such declarations had been filed.
The Weirs and Casablanca then sued their lawyers, asserting they had mishandled the declaration process.
After plaintiffs filed an initial legal malpractice complaint in 2012, Chaiken said on deposition that “there were steps we anticipated doing that were not done," according to the appellate decision. However, the defendant asserted the lawsuit was filed too late, since they were filed six years after the declaration was filed.
On appeal, the justices said the Weirs claims related to the rooftop units were filed outside the statute of repose, which would have given them until December 2011 to bring their claims.
The court, however, said because the Chaiken firm lawyers never filed any document related to the parking spaces, the Weirs should be allowed to press those claims.
"By Chaiken’s own admission, the parties anticipated that plaintiffs would complete construction of the rooftop units and defendants would assign four parking spaces to those units or to Casablanca Lofts prior to the sale of the final unit," the justices wrote. "According to this method of assignment, there would not be any remaining unassigned parking spaces for defendants to address in the declaration. When the rooftop units were not constructed and the four parking spaces remained unassigned common elements, Chaiken admitted 'there were steps we had anticipated doing that were not done.'
"The language defendants allege should have been included in the declaration would not have been necessary but for defendants’ subsequent failure to assign the parking spaces."
As a result, the lower court's orders on the two counts related to the assignment of parking spaces were reversed.
According to Cook County court documents, the Weirs are represented by the firm of Konicek & Dillon P.C., of Chicago.
The Chaiken defendants are represented by the firm of Hinshaw & Culbertson, of Chicago.