Our panel of leading appellate attorneys review Thursday's Illinois Supreme Court opinions in the civil cases Stevens v. McGuireWoods, LLP, Lake Environmental Inc. v. Arnold, Seymour v. Collins, The Village of Vernon Hills v. Heelan and O’Toole v. The Chicago Zoological Society.
By Michael T. Reagan, Law Offices of Michael T. Reagan
The court’s unanimous opinion in Stevens v. McGuireWoods, LLP, is grounded on the established points that legal malpractice plaintiffs must be able to establish actual monetary loss as damages, that such a plaintiff cannot be in a better position by bringing suit against the attorney than if the underlying action had been prosecuted successfully, and that damages obtainable in a corporate derivative action belong to the corporation, and not to plaintiff shareholders.
The plaintiffs here are former minority shareholders in an LLC. They had retained the defendant law firm to bring claims against managers of the LLC as well as its majority shareholder. Those claims were brought in both individual and derivative capacities. Substituted counsel brought additional claims against the LLC’s corporate counsel. Those claims were dismissed for various reasons, including standing and statutes of limitations and repose. The plaintiff shareholders settled the underlying case, and relinquished all ownership interest in the LLC.