Cook County Record

Sunday, December 8, 2019

McGuireWoods seeks $400K-plus from former clients-turned-opponents in ongoing litigation

By Ashley Perry | Dec 4, 2014

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A law firm with a Chicago office is suing a group of former clients it claims owes more than $400,000 in legal fees, the latest move in ongoing litigation between the two parties.

McGuireWoods LLP filed a breach of contract complaint Nov. 25 in Cook County Circuit Court against James R. Stevens, Arbor Research Holdings Inc., Richard L. Chambers, the Estate of Clyde C. Harrison, Fred D. Handler, Paul Taylor and The Worth Trust.

The firm's claims were originally lodged as counterclaims in a 2011 breach of fiduciary duty lawsuit Stevens and the other named defendants here -- all of whom are former minority shareholders of commodity trading firm Beeland Management-- brought against the firm, but were voluntarily dismissed in 2013 and are now being filed as a separate suit.

The shareholders had hired McGuireWoods to represent them in an action against Beeland’s founder and majority owner, commodities trader Jim Rogers, alleging he had misappropriated assets and breached his duty by damaging the company for his own personal gain in a bad financial deal at the shareholders' expense.

After settling with Rogers, the shareholders sued McGuireWoods, claiming their lawyers breached their fiduciary duty by failing to bring certain claims against another law firm. They claim that, and other alleged failures of their lawyers, forced them to collect far less in the settlement than than they believed they should have been entitled to.

A Cook County judge dismissed the shareholders' lawsuit against the firm, but a panel of the First District Appellate Court in a Sept. 30 unpublished order overturned the dismissal and remanded the matter.

According to the complaint McGuireWoods filed late last month, the firm represented the defendants for many years in various corporate and other legal matters and, as part of this representation, entered into an agreement for payment in exchange for services rendered.

This agreement was honored until January 2007, the suit states, when Arbor breached its obligations to McGuireWoods by failing to pay all fees and expenses owed. The firm says it has submitted five unpaid corporate invoices totaling $40,865.51 and 11 unpaid litigation invoices totaling $376,784.96, according to its lawsuit.

McGuireWoods seeks a final judgment of the amounts it asserts is owed, plus 5 percent prejudgment interest and court costs.

The law firm is represented by attorneys Frederick J. Sperling, David C. Giles and Adam J. Diederich of Schiff Hardin in Chicago.

Cook County Circuit Court case number: 2014L012283.

This is a report on a civil lawsuit filed at Cook County Circuit Court. The details in this report come from an original complaint filed by a plaintiff. Please note that a complaint represents an accusation by a private individual, not the government. It is not an indication of guilt and it represents only one side of the story.

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