A Burr Ridge-based trucking company has sued its ex-lawyers for malpractice, asserting they should pay for allegedly mishandling the trucking firm’s defense in a personal injury lawsuit in Texas, resulting in a jury order to pay $32 million.
In December, Dillon Transport, and its owner, Jeff Dillon, filed suit in Cook County Circuit Court against Chicago-based law firm Tannen Law Group P.C. and the firm of Naman Howell Smith & Lee, which operates from four offices in Texas, including San Antonio and Austin.
The lawsuit was removed to Chicago federal court on Jan. 22.
According to Dillon’s lawsuit, the trucking firm hired the Tannen firm’s Michael Tannen, and Larry Warren of Naman Howell, to represent his company after it was sued in connection with a March 2013 traffic crash involving a motorcycle and one of Dillon’s trucks. According to other published reports, the crash occurred on Highway 188 in San Patricio County, near Aransas, Texas, north of Corpus Christi. According to reports, the truck veered over the center line of the road and struck the motorcycle being driven in the opposite direction, causing it to crash.
According to Dillon’s website, the firm operates a trucking terminal near San Antonio, about 130 miles from Aransas Pass.
The crash resulted in severe injuries to Theresa Gamez and Miguel A. Garcia Sr., who were riding on the motorcycle. Injuries purportedly included amputations, traumatic brain injuries, multiple fractures, disability and disfigurement, among others.
In September 2015, Dillon’s complaint said, Warren allegedly evaluated the case and concluded it “would be defensible at the trial,” which was slated for December 2015. Dillon alleged Warren estimated damages of around $5.8 million, which lined up with Dillon’s $5 million limit on its insurance policy, the complaint said.
However, in December 2015, a jury in Nueces County, Texas, which includes Corpus Christi, instead ordered Dillon to pay $32 million.
A settlement later reduced the damages, but still compelled Dillon to “pay $2.5 million in personal monies above the limits of Dillon Transport’s $5 million liability insurance policy limits,” just to “save the trucking company from the financially ruinous $32 million judgment.”
Dillon alleged he ultimately “suffered losses much greater than $2.5 million.”
Dillon asserts in his complaint Tannen and Warren cost him the money because they didn’t seek to negotiate a settlement before the case went to trial, which, he said, would have reduced “the likelihood of a ruinous adverse verdict.”
He also accused Warren and Naman Howell of mishandling his defense at trial.
The lawsuit does not specify how much Dillon is asking the court to order Tannen and Naman Howell firms to pay, saying he is seeking “an amount that will fully and fairly compensate (Dillon and Dillon Transport) for all of their losses.”
Dillon is represented in the action by attorney Barry Bollinger, of Chicago.