The prominent progeny of a south suburban developer have expanded their years-long legal fight over their late parents’ estate, bringing a lawsuit against an attorney they claim bungled their case against others of their siblings, who they have long asserted misled their mother into signing over large portions of the estate to his control following the death of their father.
On May 31, seven of the children of Palos Park developer Michael O’Malley – a group that includes former state Senator and Republican gubernatorial candidate Patrick O’Malley, now of Florida – filed suit in Cook County Circuit Court against attorney James Dahl and his firm, Dahl & Bonadies, of Chicago.
Other named plaintiffs in the action included Mary Shannon, of Zug, Switzerland; the Rev. Timothy O’Malley, of Chicago; Terrence O’Malley, of Oak Brook; Daniel O’Malley, of Wilmette; Eileen O’Malley, of Glen Allen, Va.; and Paul O’Malley, of Williams Bay, Wis.
They are represented in the action by attorney Michael C. O’Malley, of Evanston.
They have asked the court to order Dahl to pay them damages they believe will exceed $3 million.
According to the complaint, the seven O’Malley siblings hired Dahl in April 2009 to represent them following the death of their mother, Eileen. She had died about nine years after her husband, Michael.
Michael O’Malley had built an estate worth tens of millions of dollars, the complaint said. According to published reports, he had worked as a plumber, before heading into real estate in 1968. He became a successful developer, helping to create golf clubs and communities in the south suburbs, including the Palos Country Club in Orland Park. He had relocated to Palos Park in the 1980s, according to his obituary. Among his assets upon his death were “numerous real estate holdings,” the O’Malley siblings’ complaint said.
Since their father’s death in 2000, a number of his 11 surviving children have become entangled in litigation over his assets. The seven O’Malley siblings contended in their most recent filing that their father and mother had, prior to their father’s death, authorized an estate plan that divided the assets equally among their children.
However, after their father’s death, the siblings have argued their siblings, William, Tom and Joan, and their attorneys took advantage of their mother, alleging in court filings he misled her to sign over millions of dollars of assets to his control, effectively removing those assets from the estate and depriving the siblings of what they believed they should have received following their mother’s death.
The siblings said they became suspicious their parents’ estate had been “looted” and hired Dahl to press their claims for recovery of the assets in court.
However, they alleged in their complaint that Dahl did much too little to fight to regain control of assets, including not seeking “citations of discovery” against William, Tom, Joan and their associates; didn’t properly inform the siblings of the time limits governing any attempt to sue their mother’s attorneys; “took no action” on evidence the siblings said they uncovered concerning “improper property transfers;” did not file a lis pendens notice against their mother’s home and did not secure her personal property; delayed arranging meetings between the siblings and their mother’s accountants; and needlessly delayed depositions, slowing down the recovery process and litigation.
They alleged Dahl ultimately proved to be “unprepared for trial,” forcing them to hire other attorneys to represent them at trial in 2012.