Scott Holland Jul. 27, 2016, 5:01pm

Chicago attorney Jeffery M. Leving, who extensively advertises his expertise in fighting for “fathers rights,” has been accused by an area dad of billing “outrageous” amounts to represent him in a child custody dispute, and now an insurance company has said it wants no part of defending Leving against the malpractice allegations. 

On July 19, Wesco Insurance Company filed suit in Cook County Circuit Court, seeking a declaratory judgment to clarify it has no obligation to defend or indemnify Leving in the case. 

Charoun Chouskoglou, of Sycamore, hired Leving in February to represent him in child custody matters relating to his divorce. Legal proceedings took about six weeks, during which the lawyer and his eponymous firm, per Chouskoglou’s Cook County Circuit Court complaint filed in April, engaged in a “feeding frenzy” of billing totaling roughly $80,000. Chouskoglou paid about $39,000 of the total before formally accusing Leving of malpractice. 

According to his complaint, Chouskoglou “complied in all ways with all terms and conditions” of his oral agreement with Leving, “until his further performance was frustrated and made impossible by Leving’s charging of clearly excessive and outrageous legal fees.” 

Chouskoglou said Leving’s fees “were outrageous, unreasonable and for much unnecessary work,” including failure to track time spent on the case, billing “excessive amounts of times for tasks” that reasonably could have been completed much more quickly, repeatedly drafting routine documents at attorney rates instead of assigning the tasks to nonlawyers, billing attorney time for administrative duties, using multiple attorneys to review each other’s work without need, assigning work to other attorneys without Chouskoglou’s consent, billing excessive time for conferences and court appearances and failing to follow Chouskoglou’s instructions. 

According to Chouskoglou, the reasonable fee should have been $5,000 or less. In addition to a jury trial and legal fees, he wants his $39,000 returned and a finding that he owes no more money to Leving. 

Chouskoglou, as an interested party with respect to availability of insurance coverage, is a named defendant in Wesco’s motion for judgment. In its motion, Wesco argues that under Leving’s policy, the concept of “damages” is not applicable to disputes over attorney’s fees. Since Chouskoglou is only seeking to have his money returned — pursuing disgorgement instead of seeking punitive damages — Wesco argues it is not obligated to defend or indemnify Leving. 

Further, the insuring agreement in Wesco’s policy states “coverage is afforded only for claims arising from an act or omission in the insured’s performance of ‘legal services.’ ” Wesco said the Chouskoglou complaint against Leving is essentially a billing dispute, and therefore ineligible for an insurance claim. 

Wesco seeks a declaration supporting its assertions, relief as appropriate and compensation for its legal fees in the motion. 

Wesco is represented in this matter by Cozen O’Connor, of Chicago. 

Chouskoglou is represented in his case against Leving by the firm of Gauthier & Gooch, of Wauconda.

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Organizations in this Story

Law Offices of Jeffery M. Leving, Ltd. A Professional Corporation
19 South La Salle Street, Suite 450
Chicago, IL 60603

Cozen O'Connor - Chicago
123 N Upper Wacker Dr
Chicago, IL 60606

Gauthier & Gooch
209 S. Main St.
Wauconda, IL 60084

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