A Chicago law firm accused of costing some of the adult children of a prominent Palos Park developer more than $3 million in a years-long legal dispute with their siblings over their father’s estate has asked a judge not to let the accusers simply retreat from the legal action, saying the plaintiffs engaged in “judge shopping in its most brazen form” in trying to sidestep the law firm’s motion to bring the matter to a close for good.
Later this month, Cook County Judge Sanjay Tailor is scheduled to hear arguments on dueling motions to dismiss a lawsuit brought by some of the heirs of south suburban businessman Michael O’Malley against lawyer James Dahl and his firm, Dahl & Bonadies, of Chicago.
Earlier this year, seven of Michael O’Malley’s children, including former state Senator and Republican gubernatorial candidate Patrick O’Malley, filed suit in Cook County Circuit Court against Dahl, alleging the lawyer did too little to fight to regain control of assets from their father’s estate, which this group of siblings asserted had been “looted” by others of their siblings. The plaintiffs said their other siblings, identified in the complaint as William, Tom and Joan O’Malley, had misled their mother to undo an estate plan which divided the estate’s tens of millions of dollars worth of assets among the children equally, and instead sign over large portions of the estate to the control of William and the others.
Other plaintiffs in the legal action against Dahl 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 O’Malley, of Evanston.
They asked the court to order Dahl to pay them damages they believe could exceed $3 million.
According to the original complaint, the seven O’Malley siblings had hired Dahl in April 2009 to represent them following the death of their mother, Eileen. Her husband and the siblings’ father, Michael, had died nine years earlier.
Since their father’s death, the various siblings have become entangled in litigation over his assets, which included “numerous real estate holdings,” the complaint said.
However, from 2009 to 2012, the plaintiff siblings alleged Dahl’s work left them “unprepared for trial,” and forced them to hire other lawyers at trial in 2012.
Shortly after the siblings filed suit against Dahl, he responded with a motion to dismiss, arguing the lawsuit fell outside the statute of limitations.
That motion was soon followed by a request from the siblings to voluntarily dismiss their lawsuit.
However, Dahl demanded the court hear his motion to dismiss first, and in June, Cook County Judge Bridget McGrath agreed, ultimately scheduling a hearing on the motion for Nov. 7.
However, after each side submitted written briefs on their positions on that motion, the plaintiff siblings in September asked McGrath to transfer the case to a different judge. While Dahl objected, arguing the O’Malley plaintiffs were “judge shopping” to avoid arguing Dahl’s motion to dismiss before their voluntary dismissal could be heard, McGrath agreed, and the case was transferred to Judge Tailor.
However, on Oct. 11, the O’Malley siblings filed yet another motion to voluntarily dismiss, with leave to file again within one year.
Dahl said this demonstrated the siblings used their right to substitute judges to simply thwart Dahl’s dismissal attempt, and use a new judge to obtain “from this Court what they could not get from Judge McGrath: a voluntary dismissal.”
Dahl argued this behavior “should not be countenanced in any form or under any circumstances, but more pointedly, it cannot be allowed given that the O’Malleys have brought no new matter to light and have engaged in such blatant judge shopping.”
“The O’Malley siblings became aware of their claim against the Defendants in April 2011, and put the Defendants on notice of it,” Dahl’s motion said. “The Court should not allow the O’Malleys to dangle it over the Defendants’ head for yet another year.”
On Nov. 17, Judge Tailor agreed to hear Dahl’s motion to dismiss first, set a briefing schedule for December, with a hearing on the motion scheduled for Dec. 23.
A month earlier, the judge had also granted a motion by Bridgeview Bank to apply a lien of $1.76 million on any proceeds plaintiff Terrence O’Malley may collect from the judgment.
Dahl is represented in the action by attorney Daniel B. Meyer, of the Meyer Law Group, of Chicago.