Editor's Note: This article has been updated, with further comment from attorney Joel Brodsky, below.
A lawyer who led the defense of Drew Peterson has launched a
court fight with a pair of prominent Chicago patent litigation lawyers, saying
the Chicago firm of Niro McAndrews owes him more than $32 million for allegedly
horning in on a patent lawsuit against the makers of supermarket canned soup
dispensers, while maneuvering to secure a chunk of a financing deal through
leading lawsuit financier Gerchen Keller Capital, and cutting him and another
attorney out of the case altogether.
On Aug. 8, Joel Brodsky filed suit in Cook County Circuit
Court against the Chicago intellectual property firm of Niro McAndrews LLC, as
well as attorneys Raymond P. Niro Jr. and Matthew G. McAndrews individually.
Other named defendants in the action include Brodsky’s
former client, Terry Johnson, president and majority stockholder in Gamon Plus
and Gamon International. The businesses, based in Bensenville, produce “specialty
packaging and point-of-purchase displays,” according to the lawsuit.
In response, Niro McAndrews has asked a Cook County judge to
remove the complaint from the public record, and order all of Brodsky’s filings
sealed. Niro McAndrews cites a federal judge’s decision to seal proceedings related to the
lawyers’ fight over Brodsky’s continued
claims to represent the Gamon companies
in the patent case, despite having been removed from the Gamon legal
In the motion filed Aug. 11, Niro McAndrews described Brodsky’s
conduct in relation to his recently filed lawsuit against them as “retaliatory,
unethical and illegal.”
According to Brodsky’s complaint, he was retained in 2014 by
Johnson and his Gamon companies to launch a legal action against Campbell Soup
Company and retailers Meijer and Kroger for using supermarket canned soup
dispensers made by New Jersey-based Trinity Manufacturing, which the Gamon
companies said infringed their patents for “multi-chute gravity feed dispenser
The complaint said Brodsky, whose website advertises his
services as a criminal defense lawyer, brought in a New York patent attorney,
identified in the court filing as Andrew Tiajoloff, to assist with the case.
According to Brodsky’s Cook County complaint, the retainer
agreement purportedly guaranteed Brodsky a fee worth 40 percent of any judgment
the Gamon companies might collect, and purportedly granted him an attorney lien
on the potential judgment.
The agreement also purportedly allowed them to retain
additional attorneys to assist with the case “at their discretion.”
Brodksy said he and Tiajoloff then enlisted the aid of Niro Jr.
and McAndrews, purportedly to bring in more expertise in patent litigation and land
potential third-party financing for their case against Campbell’s and the other
large corporate defendants.
Niro Jr. is the son of noted patent trial lawyer, Raymond P.
Niro. The elder Niro, who co-founded prominent IP litigation firm Niro, Haller
& Niro, died Monday, Aug. 8, while vacationing in Italy, according to
Niro Jr. and McAndrews, who is the son of George P.
McAndrews, who founded the IP firm McAndrews, Held & Malloy, each practiced
in the Niro Haller law firm until January 2015, when they launched Niro
According to Brodsky’s lawsuit, Niro Jr. and McAndrews were
added to the Gamon legal team in January 2015, after an independent analysis
determined the Gamon companies’ patent claims made for an “extremely strong
Based on that analysis, Brodsky said he estimated the
lawsuit would be worth “many tens of millions of dollars,” and estimated he
could earn a fee worth $7.5 million, based on his retainer agreement with the
According to Brodsky’s lawsuit, the Niro McAndrews firm
eventually enlisted the aid of Chicago-based litigation financier Gerchen
However, after the Gamon legal team launched their action
against Campbell’s and the other defendants in Chicago federal court, Brodsky
alleged Niro McAndrews began to alter their relationship, beginning with a “terms
sheet” presented to Johnson by Niro McAndrews which Brodsky said would
essentially guarantee the Niro McAndrews firm a “commission” from Gerchen
Keller’s loan. Brodksy asserted the retainer agreement did not allow for such a
payment, as any loan supporting the litigation was only to cover the lawsuit’s
costs and not fees, which Brodsky claimed were only to be paid on a contingency
According to the lawsuit, the term sheet also allegedly
guaranteed Gerchen Keller a 350 percent return on their loan, plus 3 percent of
any judgment awarded to Johnson and his companies. The complaint did not
specify the amount of the loan.
Brodksy said he objected to the terms sheet signed by
In response, Brodsky said he sought to remove Niro McAndrews
from the case. Instead, Johnson fired Brodsky, a decision Brodksy alleged came at
the guidance of Niro McAndrews, who, Brodsky alleged wished “to prevent Mr.
Johnson from getting any independent advise (sic) and counsel in this case, and
to start to get Brodsky, and later (Tiajoloff) out of the patent case so that
Niro and McAndrews could steal their fee.”
The lawsuit includes counts alleging breach of fiduciary
duty and intentional interference with a prospective economic advantage against
Niro Jr., McAndrews and their firm, and counts alleging Johnson and the Gamons
companies aided and abetted
He has requested $7.5 million in damages, plus an additional
$25 million in punitive damages against Niro Jr., McAndrews and their firm, as
well as against Johnson and the Gamon companies.
Brodksy is representing himself in the lawsuit.
In an interview, McAndrews said the allegations in Brodsky’s complaint were “absolutely
without merit,” adding: “Joel Brodsky cannot escape his
own rank dishonestly and hopeless incompetence any more than the leopard can
change its spots.”
In the memorandum supporting the Aug. 11 motion, McAndrews said he intended to seek sanctions against Brodsky in this case, including for civil and criminal contempt, for filing the lawsuit which "improperly divulges to Gamon’s codefendants, their counsel, and the public
Gamon’s highly-confidential business information as well as communications and information
subject to the attorney-client privilege and work product immunity."
He asserted he has already complained of Brodsky's actions in the patent case to the Illinois Attorney Registration and Disciplinary Commission, and intended to similarly complain of Brodsky's latest lawsuit in federal court.
McAndrews’ Aug. 11 Cook County motion referenced
Brodsky’s “long history of professional misconduct.”
According to the ARDC’s records, Brodksy’s law license was
suspended for three months in 2004 for allegedly signing a deceased estate
executor’s name on bank documents to release funds contained in a probate
Brodsky also was reprimanded from the bench by a judge in
2013 in the Drew Peterson case for using a television news interview to blame
Peterson for his decisions in the high profile defense of the former
Bolingbrook Police officer accused of killing his ex-wife. The judge in that
case also referred Brodsky’s actions to the ARDC.
UPDATE: Brodsky has replied to the assertions leveled against him by McAndrews and Niro. In a motion filed in August in Cook County court, Brodsky asserted none of the information he presented in his lawsuit should be placed under seal.
In the motion, he described McAndrews' and Niro's assertions against him as "extreme and outrageous misrepresentations," and he said his opponents merely desire to "make threats" against him, to "obtain orders ... that they can use in a campaign to try to intimidate (Brodsky) to walk away from his very large million dollar plus dollar (sic) case against them."
In a statement provided to The Cook County Record, Brodsky added to his response further.
"Facts are a stubborn thing, and the facts show that Ray Niro and Matthew McAndrews are client pilfering lawyers who tried to steal the fees of over a million dollars in a referred case," Brodsky said. "They are upset, as all thieves are, that they got caught and are being called to account. They can complain to the ARDC, the FBI, CIA, DEA, or the NAAPC, it does not matter.
"My lawsuit is based on solid detailed facts that I can prove and long established law, and I am very confident that I will prevail.”