Lawyers Misconduct

Attorney Lawrence Ordower Objects to $10.2M Jury Verdict for Legal Malpractice in Illinois

A former client and real estate investor alleged he was swindled in a real estate deal by his own lawyer. The jury believed the investor.

Attorney Says Court Errors Led To $10.2M Malpractice Verdict

A lawyer and his firm urged an Illinois federal judge Tuesday, June 15, 2021 to unwind a jury’s $10.2 million malpractice verdict over claims that he swindled a former client in a real estate deal, arguing that several pretrial rulings denied him a fair trial.

Chicago Jury Hits Attorney With $10M Malpractice Verdict

MAY 19, 2021 | REPUBLISHED BY LIT: JUN 17, 2021

An Illinois federal jury has reached a $10.2 million verdict against an attorney in a malpractice lawsuit brought by a former client who alleges he was swindled in a real estate deal.

Following a five-day trial, jurors on Tuesday awarded about $10.2 million to investor Joseph Mizrachi, who alleged real estate lawyer Lawrence Ordower and his firm, Ordower & Ordower PC, fumbled their work for him in a $1.3 million investment that was supposed to leave him with a significant interest in an entity that owned rent-generating warehouse properties in Colorado and North Carolina.

Instead, Ordower and another client-investor “exploited” the firm’s own failure to properly document the deal and “the absence of fully-executed operating agreements” to claim ownership of Mizrachi’s interests, according to the suit, which was filed in 2017.

Mizrachi accused Ordower and the firm of legal malpractice and breach of fiduciary duty, and sought at least $15.8 million in compensatory damages, along with interest and attorney fees and costs.

Counsel for the parties did not immediately return requests for comment on the verdict on Wednesday.

Ahead of the trial, in August of last year, U.S. District Judge Matthew Kennelly granted Ordower partial summary judgment in the case, ruling that Mizrachi couldn’t recover legal expenses he incurred against Ordower in other lawsuits and that he could not recover punitive damages on either of his claims.

In his bid for summary judgment, Ordower had argued there was no attorney-client relationship between him and Mizrachi and therefore no breach of a fiduciary or attorney-client duty. But the judge found genuine factual disputes concerning the existence of that relationship between Mizrachi and Ordower, and Ordower’s alleged breach of duties, leaving those questions up to the jury.

And he held that Mizrachi couldn’t recover putative damages on his fiduciary duty claim, saying the allegations underlying it involved legal malpractice, for which punitive damages can’t be recovered under Illinois law.

Ordower also later sued Kilpatrick Townsend & Stockton LLP, claiming that because the firm had advised Mizrachi on the matter, it should thus bear some responsibility for any adverse result that came out of the Mizrachi’s lawsuit, according to court documents. But the court threw out that case in February 2019, determining that it did not have jurisdiction.

Mizrachi is represented by Lee H. Rubin and Abigail M. Bartine of Mayer Brown LLP.

Ordower and his firm are represented by John D. Dalton, Mary Kay Morrissey and Molly J. Blaase of O’Hagan Meyer.

The case is Mizrachi v. Ordower et al., case number 1:17-cv-08036, in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Illinois.

About Lawrence Ordower, Ordower & Ordower, P.C. (Linkedin)

Ordower & Ordower P.C. specializes in all forms of commercial real estate with a major emphasis on representing developers and closely held corporations. The firm has been involved in project development from acquiring raw land, through construction, financing, zoning, sales, condominium conversions and leasing. The firm has represented developers with high-rise apartment buildings, downtown office building and “power” strip shopping centers. These transactions over a a 40 year period involved hundreds of millions of dollars.

The firm also does estate planning, work for closely held corporations and litigation. The firm has been involved in most types of litigation, including commercial suits, declaratory judgment litigation, injunctive relief, jury trials, and litigation before governmental agencies, including the Government Board of Contract Appeals.

The firm has handled appeals before the Seventh Circuit, the Illinois Court of Appeals and the Illinois Supreme Court including successful representation in Pippin v. Chicago Housing Authority 78 Ill.2d 204 (1979).

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Attorney Lawrence Ordower Objects to $10.2M Jury Verdict for Legal Malpractice in Illinois
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