The Chicago Teachers Union and one of its lawyers have been served with a $5 million legal malpractice lawsuit brought by a Chicago Public Schools teacher who alleged the lawyer didn’t properly represent her in hearings surrounding CPS’ efforts to fire her.

On Jan. 20, CPS teacher Ida Hindmon filed her complaint against attorney Graham Hill and CTU Local 1, which employs Hill as staff legal counsel, alleging counts of legal malpractice and negligence against the lawyer and the union, respectively.

According to a database of public employees’ salaries maintained by the Better Government Association, Hindmon worked as a special education teacher for CPS, earning a salary of $70,000 per year, as recently as 2014.

However, according to her complaint, Hindmon faced unspecified disciplinary action. CPS then moved to fire her with cause, the court document said.

According to the complaint, Hill then contracted with Hindmon to represent her in the proceedings, with the bills to be paid by the CTU under the terms of Hindmon’s member agreement with the CTU.

Hindmon alleged Hill advised her to resign her position as a tenured teacher “immediately,” even though Hindmon said she told Hill she intended to appeal the CPS decision to fire her. According to the complaint, Hill told Hindmon “she could still appeal despite any resignation.” Hindmon’s complaint said this is not true, and cost her the opportunity to “exercise her right or insist that certain rights that she had as a tenured teacher be exercised.”

Further, Hindmon’s complaint alleged Hill did not properly represent her during the proceedings, allegedly failing to conduct pretrial discovery, failing to cross-examine the CPS’ witnesses against Hindmon, failing to advise Hindmon of her rights in the matter and failing to advise Hindmon “of the conflict of interest between himself (Hill) and the CTU Local 1.”

Because of Hill’s alleged actions, “the charges against Ida Hindmon were sustained and she was improperly advised to resign eliminating any possibility of appeal,” costing her “benefits and salary she would have earned as a teacher and … any retirement benefits she would have received as a result of a tenured teacher.”

She said the CTU is complicit in the case because it was also the CTU’s “duty … to properly advise (Hindmon) of any conflict of interest and that the representation of Graham Hill might not be adequate in that he had certain shortcomings and inabilities as an attorney to represent the members of the CTU Local 1 and more particularly Ida Hindmon.”

She alleged the CTU neglected to tell her “Hill’s representation would be primarily on behalf of the CTU” and that “Hill was not knowledgeable in certain important aspects such as resignations,” leading him to “improperly” advise Hindmon to resign.

Hindmon is represented in the matter by attorneys with the firm of Cohn & Cohn, of Chicago.

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Chicago Teachers Union Cohn & Cohn

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