Cook County Record

Tuesday, August 20, 2019

Chicago couple says Chicago Tenants Rights lawyers mishandled $3,400 deposit suit, owe $86K in fees


By Cook County Record | Apr 29, 2019

A Chicago couple has asked a Cook County judge to order the Chicago Tenants Rights Law firm to pay more than $86,000, accusing the firm of mishandling their case against a landlord over a $3,400 security deposit and leaving the couple on the hook for tens of thousands of dollars in attorney fees.

On April 23, plaintiffs Richard and Stacey Pandolfi filed suit in Cook County Circuit Court against the Chicago Tenants Rights Law firm and attorneys Charles Drennen and Michael Ohlman, of Chicago.

The Pandolfis are represented in their current action by attorneys with the firm of Grogan Hesse & Uditsky P.C., of Chicago.

The Pandolfis’ most recent lawsuit centers on the fallout from a court fight with a former landlord.

According to the complaint, the landlord had sued the Pandolfis in 2015 for breach of their lease. In response, the Pandolfis hired attorney Berton Ring and countersued the landlord for breach of contract and violating the Chicago Residential Landlord Tenant Ordinance.

Under the Chicago RLTO, winners in court are allowed to recover attorney fees and damages up to two times their security deposit, plus interest.

However, Ring withdrew from the case after two years, and the Pandolfis hired the Chicago Tenants Rights firm to represent them.

At trial, the judge ordered the landlord to pay $3,400 to the Pandolfis.

However, the judge ruled the RLTO “did not apply to either parties’ claims.”

After sorting out a clerical error in the judgment, the Pandolfis said the Chicago Tenants Rights lawyers indicated they would appeal the judge’s ruling pertaining to the RLTO, to seek an appellate order allowing the Pandolfis to also petition for attorney fees.

However, the landlord’s lawyers challenge the appeal, saying the Pandolfis did not file the proper notice of appeal in the proper amount of time.

In October 2018, the appeal was dismissed, and the Pandolfis said they are now facing demands for more than $86,570 in attorney fees, including $58,000 from Ring.

They contend those fees would have been covered, presuming they had prevailed on appeal and the landlord had been ordered to pay their attorney fees.

They blame the Chicago Tenants Rights lawyers for not filing their appeal on time.

They are seeking punitive damages and attorney fees from the action.

Cook County Circuit Court Case No. 2019L004349

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Berton N. Ring PC Circuit Court of Cook County

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