A Turkish Chicago restaurateur and businessman has filed
suit against a Chicago-based immigration and business law firm, alleging its
principals misled him into investing hundreds of thousands of dollars of his
money and time into promoting the law firm under the mistaken belief he would
be an owner of the firm, when they knew he, as a non-lawyer, could not be an
equity partner in the venture.
On July 15, Zengo S. Dogan – who elsewhere is also known as
Shaw Dogan – filed his complaint in Cook County Circuit Court against Atom Law
Group LLC and attorneys Togai K. Atac and Sohyoon L. Atac, a husband and wife
team identified in the complaint as members and managers of the Atom firm.
According to the complaint, the Atacs approached Dogan in
2007, discussing with him the chance to invest in their planned new law firm.
Dogan alleged at the time, he was promised an equal 34 percent ownership stake
in the new firm in exchange for his investment.
“Zengo said he did not know anything about the law business.
Togai and SohYoon said they were approaching Zengo for his business experience
and he knew how to open an office, and because Togai and SohYoon said that
Zengo knew many people in downtown Chicago and in the business community, Zengo
would be a rainmaker for the new law firm and bring in new clients,” Dogan’s
Dogan said they made a number of promises about securing an
ownership stake for him, despite knowing “that under Illinois law that Zengo, a
non-attorney, could never actually be an owner/part-owner of a law firm in
Dogan said he initially contributed $15,000, and later increased
his investment to $22,000, equivalent to the amounts contributed by the Atacs.
According to the complaint, Dogan said “the explicit
understanding of the parties” was that Dogan would serve as the firm’s “marketing
director” and “chief rainmaker.” Dogan said he “brought in several legal
clients, including two of Atom’s biggest clients, who continue to be clients of
Atom and who have brought additional matters and continued work for Atom.”
Dogan said he agreed to forego much of his salary, including
contributing a portion back into the firm “for advertising purposes.”
He said the Atacs “deflected” his requests for a written
partnership agreement until 2011, when they “finally told Zengo there never was
and never would be a partnership position for him in Atom.” He was then “fired”
from his position at Atom in July 2011.
In all, Dogan estimated he contributed about $216,000 in “time
and labor towards the success of Atom,” plus about $100,000 in “reinvested
salary” and $22,000 out-of-pocket.
Dogan has alleged fraud against the Atacs and unjust
enrichment against the firm.
He has asked the court to order the firm to account for his
investments and to order the firm to pay him back for the investments. He has
asked the court to appoint a receiver to govern the accounting and payment.
Dogan is represented by attorney David G. Sigale, of Glen
On an online profile, Dogan boasts of numerous
accomplishments, including establishing an international basketball academy,
founding restaurants in Chicago and helping to establish the “first Chicago based
Turkish law firm.”