A Chicago landlord has raised the stakes in a legal battle with the lawyers who formerly handled his divorce case, as he has asked the court to punish lawyers he said illegally filed a lien against an apartment building his corporation owns in an attempt to lean on him to collect the amount the lawyers say he owes and has yet to pay.
On Feb. 16, the entity legally known as 914 W. Hubbard Inc., a corporation formed and owned by landlord and real estate developer Mark Fisher to own and manage an apartment building at that address in the city’s West Town neighborhood, filed suit in Cook County Circuit Court against the law firm of Anderson & Boback, of Chicago, and two of the firm’s attorneys, Kimberly Anderson and Jennifer Kobulsz.
Fisher, through 914 W. Hubbard, demanded unspecified compensatory and punitive damages against the lawyers. He is represented by attorneys Stewart T. Kusper and Giovanni A. Raimondi, of the Kusper Law Group, of Chicago.
According to the complaint, Anderson & Boback represented Fisher during his divorce proceedings, filed in March 2015, according to Cook County court records. While they represented him, Fisher said he disclosed to them details about his finances, including those of his company, 914 W. Hubbard. Specifically, the complaint said Fisher told the attorneys the property was worth more than $10 million, but had a mortgage pending against it, so he was afraid any action against him could result in that mortgage slipping into default and foreclosure.
However, the complaint said the relationship between Anderson & Boback and Fisher soon deteriorated and Fisher replaced that firm with the Kusper Group, court records indicated.
Anderson & Boback then demanded Fisher pay them for their work. The complaint did not specify the amount demanded, but Fisher said he disputed the amount and refused to pay.
The complaint said Anderson & Boback then responded by asking the judge presiding in the divorce case to order Fisher to pay. Fisher opposed that motion, as well.
However, next the complaint alleged Anderson & Boback responded by filing a lis pendens - or, a notice of a pending lawsuit - in Cook County court against 914 W. Hubbard Inc., a move Fisher characterized as an attempt “to try and coerce Fisher to pay the full amounts set forth in the A&B bill by and through unlawful means.”
“Defendants (Anderson & Boback) each also knew at the time that they caused the lis pendens to be prepared and recorded against the 914 Property that 914 did not owe any amounts to defendant A&B for any reason including for the amounts demanded in the A&B Bill for services provided solely to Fisher, and the defendants each also knew at that time and at all times thereafter that 914 could not be held liable under any theory to pay the amounts demanded as due from Fisher,” the complaint said.
Rather, Fisher said the lis pendens merely represented a gambit on the part of Anderson & Boback to place “a lien on the 914 Property” and threaten default against the mortgage on the apartment building.
The lis pendens filed against Fisher's property was removed on Jan. 21, 2016, according to a document filed with the Cook County Recorder's Office. According to the document, that lis pendens had been filed by Bobbie Fisher.
Fisher alleged the law firm took its actions based on the information about the property and the mortgage loan he had shared with them, purportedly in confidence when they represented him in the divorce proceedings.
“The lis pendens that was recorded against the 914 Property in fact caused a lien and thus a cloud on title to the 914 Property as the defendants each specifically intended and indeed wanted in order to further their respective pecuniary interests,” the lawsuit said.
The complaint said Fisher warned the defendants in the case “weeks and even months prior to this action being filed” of his opinion of their actions, and of his willingness to sue, if they did not remove the lis pendens against his company. However, “none of the defendants cared in the slightest since they steadfastly refused to take any steps to have lis pendens removed as a lien and thus cloud on title to the 914 Property,” the complaint said.
The complaint did not address the law firm's move to release the lis pendens more than three weeks before the lawsuit was filed.
An attorney with Anderson & Boback declined to comment on "any pending litigation or settlement efforts."