Jay Edelson of Edelson, PC
A judge has sealed financial records and other court filings in the divorce case of leading Chicago class action lawyer Jay Edelson, in response to Edelson's fear his wife’s attorneys might feed sensitive information from the divorce to the Chicago firm Johnson & Bell, which is suing Edelson on alleged grounds he wrongfully disparaged their practice.
Cook County Circuit Judge Debra Walker recently granted Edelson's request to seal financial material, and associated court filings, deemed confidential by Edelson. The information either has been or may be acquired via subpoena by his wife's attorneys with the firm of Schiller, DuCanto & Fleck, of Chicago, Edelson has said.
Edelson has described his firm, Edelson PC, as a “nationally recognized plaintiffs’ law firm that focuses on class, mass, and governmental actions.” The firm has reaped many millions in fees from class actions against businesses and employers, mainly centered on technology and privacy. Targets have ranged from Facebook and the National Collegiate Athletic Association, to tech startups and other smaller companies.
In court papers, Edelson said he was afraid Schiller, DuCanto & Fleck would pass on his financial information to the Chicago firm of Johnson & Bell, which is suing Edelson for allegedly disseminating “lies," about Johnson & Bell's allegedly inadequate data security, to the publications Wall Street Journal and American Lawyer. In addition, Johnson & Bell alleged Edelson has violated ethical duties, abused court processes and preyed on businesses with nuisance suits to extort settlements.
Edelson contended he and his firm have done no wrong.
Edelson said Schiller, DuCanto & Fleck and Johnson & Bell are linked, because Schiller, DuCanto & Fleck has relied on Johnson & Bell for counsel in connection with "actual or potential" malpractice suits. In addition, Schiller, DuCanto & Fleck has subpoenaed, in the divorce case, the Edelson firm's financial records, which Johnson & Bell tried unsuccessfully to acquire in the disparagement suit, according to Edelson.
A confidentiality order has been in place since August, but Edelson said the order permitted either party to share information with outside professionals, who may be consulted in connection with the divorce proceedings. In Judge Walker's recent action, she clarified that the existing confidentiality order bars disclosure of any information that "relates to or otherwise affects the financial stability of any privately held business entity in which either party has an ownership interest."
Edelson had told Walker disclosure of his firm's records to Johnson & Bell, could damage his firm and present a potential marital liability to him and his wife, which could, in turn, financially harm their children.
Walker also prohibited the attorneys for Edelson's wife from conveying to Johnson & Bell the "substance of any document(s) or information," which has been designated confidential.
Edelson is represented in his divorce case by the Chicago firm of Dussias Wittenberg Koenigsberger LLP.
The Chicago firm of Funkhouser, Vegosen, Liebman & Dunn is defending Edelson in the suit by Johnson & Bell.