A state appellate panel has ruled an entrepreneur must pay
his former attorneys for representing him in an arbitration matter against
Giordano’s, which revoked his two franchise licenses after accusing him of
violating his non-compete agreement.
Law firm Condon and Cook LLC had filed suit nearly two years
ago against Theodore Mavrakis, a Chicago area businessman with a purported
history of legal troubles with the firm. Condon and Cook represented Mavrakis
in arbitration against Giordano's over allegations Mavrakis violated his franchise agreements with the pizza chain by helping to finance his relatives' purchase of the Leona's restaurant chain. An arbitrator ruled against Mavrakis in May 2015.
The firm itself had
sued Mavrakis for unpaid legal fees in November 2014. A trial court entered a
default judgment in the case of the legal fees, but in April 2015, Mavrakis
sought to negotiate a settlement to remove the default judgment that was
preventing him from closing an unrelated $5.1 million financing deal that his
new attorneys claimed was necessary to save him from bankruptcy.
According to court documents, Mavrakis’ new attorneys met
with two representatives of Condon and Cook on April 24, 2015, and said they were authorized to
quickly negotiate an oral settlement, because the financing deal was scheduled
to close that same afternoon. The four attorneys met for about 45 minutes and
reached an oral agreement, which Condon and Cook insisted must contain mutual
releases, court documents said.
However, Condon and Cook said the written agreement was
never sent to them as promised. On April 30, once the financing deal had
closed, Mavrakis claimed his attorneys were not authorized to add the mutual
release provision and refused to sign the agreement. After an evidentiary
hearing, a trial court ordered the agreement to be enforced, and Mavrakis
According to a bystander’s report from the evidentiary
hearing, one of Mavrakis’ attorneys, William Bazianos, claimed he was in phone
contact with Mavrakis throughout the oral negotiations. He emailed Mavrakis the
settlement terms minus the mutual release and showed the other three attorneys
an emailed reply approving the agreement. When Condon and Cook insisted that
any agreement must include a mutual release, the bystander’s report noted
Bazianos left the room to call Mavrakis. Upon returning to the room, he said
only, “OK, we have a deal.”
The three-justice panel of the Illinois First District
Appellate Court in Chicago found the evidence indicated Mavrakis authorized his
attorneys to negotiate the settlement quickly on his behalf, and by being in
contact with one of his attorneys the entire time, he “electronically projected
himself into the room.”
“He was certainly aware of the negotiations that were taking
place at his urgent request and for his benefit, and he stood silently by and
let them happen. Thus, defendant cannot now challenge the apparent authority
which he bestowed on his attorneys to negotiate a quick, oral settlement,” the
The court also noted it was convenient that Mavrakis and
Bazianos let the oral agreement stand just long enough for the bank deal to
close, and yet, on the same day the financing was secured, Mavrakis claimed the
deal did not have his consent.
The appellate court affirmed the trial court’s judgment that
Mavrakis owes Condon and Cook $115,935.05 plus $397 in costs.
The appellate opinion was written by Justice Robert E. Gordon,
with justices Bertina E. Lampkin and Jesse Reyes concurring.
In a separate lawsuit filed in Cook County court, Mavrakis is suing Condon and
Cook for malpractice in the Giordano’s arbitration, claiming the firm’s handling of the arbitration cost him millions. That case remains pending.