A Roselle man has filed suit against his former lawyers, demanding they pay him more than $1.2 million for allegedly misleading him into relinquishing his claim to a $1.2 million judgment in a settlement with a Chicago real estate developer.
On Dec. 15, Subhash Saluja filed a pro se complaint in Cook County Circuit Court against attorneys Blake Hannafan and James McGuiness, and their firm Hannafan & Hannafan, of Chicago, alleging professional malpractice.
According to the complaint, Saluja and his wife in 2002 had attempted to purchase property at 1501 W. Madison Avenue in Chicago from a group, identified as Sky West LLC, led by Chicago developer James Engel.
However, the deal fell apart, resulting in a lawsuit brought by the Salujas against Engel and his company. Saluja’s complaint said he was awarded a judgment in 2009 of $452,808 from that lawsuit, and was allowed to back out of the purchase of the property.
But Saluja said he was never able to collect that judgment, alleging Engel had “fraudulently transferred the Property to his wife … to avoid paying the judgment.”
Saluja then again sued Engel, his wife and related business entities, demanding payment of the judgment, plus interest and other costs.
After Saluja’s initial attorneys withdrew from the case, Saluja purportedly hired the Hannafan attorneys in September 2013.
By the time the case was set for trial in late 2014, Saluja said he believed his claim was valued at $1.2 million.
To end the litigation, Saluja alleged Engel’s group proposed a settlement under which Saluja would be allowed to purchase the property for its value, minus the amount of his claim.
Even though Saluja said he wanted the money and pushed for a trial, he said his attorneys advised him and later “pressured” him to take the deal.
Saluja said he eventually relented, agreeing to pay $642,000 for the property, which an appraisal pegged at a value of $1.8 million.
However, upon later review, Saluja said the property was revealed to be worth only about $1.185 million. He alleged he should have had to pay only about $27,000 for the property, meaning he paid $615,000 too much for the real estate.
He blamed his attorneys for pressuring him to take the deal, and relying on the allegedly faulty appraisal, which allegedly overvalued the property.
Saluja asked the court to award an unspecified judgment “in an amount to fully compensate him.”