Update: According to Cook County court records, this case was settled and dismissed on Oct. 19, 2016.
A Schaumburg lawyer is suing a Barrington father-and-son law firm for defamation, claiming they engaged in “despicable” and “disturbing criminal sociopathic behavior,” allegedly including entering his office without permission to peek at confidential files and telling others he was “bi-polar.”
James J. Ayres Sr., is seeking $1.1 million in compensatory damages from John P. Curielli and his son, Peter J. Curielli, as well as from Cathy Curielli, a paralegal, who is John’s wife and Peter’s mother. Ayres filed suit April 8 in Cook County Circuit Court, alleging the family trio conspired to defame and disparage him and his law practice.
Ayres also alleged the father and son interfered with his law business and trespassed to his office, and the son allegedly breached a contract with him.
From 2010 to 2014, Ayres rented space in a two-story building at 126 S. Northwest Highway in Barrington. The building is owned by John Curielli, the complaint said, with the Curielli law firm also having offices in the building.
Peter Curielli, who is also a licensed real estate managing broker, was investigated in 2013 by the Illinois Department of Professional and Financial Regulation over allegations he acted as an attorney and a real estate broker in the same transaction, according to state records. Eventually, the younger Curielli hired Ayres to defend him in the proceedings. During the next several months, Ayres’ representation included filing a court action against the state, preparing appeals and representing him before the IDPFR.
Ayres said his bill came to $97,691, but he was never paid. One of the complaints in his suit seeks this payment.
While Ayres was representing Peter Curielli, he said he suspected an intruder had entered his office after business hours. Ayres then set up a motion-activated video system to surveil his office. Ayres alleged footage captured by that system showed the father and son trespassing in his office numerous times. These alleged intrusions also occurred during a period when Ayres and the Curielli firm were representing clients with adverse interests.
Ayres said, in light of the video, he stopped representing Peter and moved out of the building, fearing for the security of confidential materials in his office. Ayres is also suing for the return of his security deposit.
Shortly after Ayres moved his office, all three Curiellis named in the complaint allegedly made false statements maligning Ayres to clients and mutual acquaintances of Ayres. The alleged statements, allegedy delivered in person, as well as by email and telephone, asserted Ayres was a liar, was not trustworthy, was no longer professionally competent and was “bi-polar,” according to Ayres.
In addition, Ayres claimed defendants encouraged some of his former clients to make unfounded complaints about him to the Illinois Attorney Registration and Disciplinary Commission – complaints against which he had to expend resources to defend.
Ayres contended John and Peter launched this campaign against him because they knew their wrongdoings were about to be exposed. Ayres pointed to another lawsuit filed earlier this year – Cecchini v. Curielli, et. al. – which also alleged they committed improper conduct.
No hearing date has yet been scheduled for Ayres’ suit.
Ayres has been licensed to practice law in Illinois since 1984. He has no record of disciplinary action, according to the ARDC. Chicago lawyer Joseph T. Gentleman is representing Ayres.
John P. Curielli has been licensed as a lawyer in Illinois since 1973 and Peter J. Curielli since 2000. Neither one has any disciplinary record, but Peter’s license as a real estate managing broker was suspended Feb. 5, according to state records.