Plaintiff v. Defendant Lawyer and Law Firm

  • 06/25/2016
    Client: Defendant Lawyer and Law Firm
    Outcome: Verdict for the defense

Synopsis:

DBMS’s Don Brown secured a verdict for the defense in a complex legal malpractice suit dating back seven years with the potential for millions in damages.

The firm represented the defendant attorney and his law firm after they were sued for malpractice by omission for allegedly failing to include restrictive covenants in hiring agreements.

The plaintiff was a corporation owned by an anesthesiologist who had started a business providing anesthesiology services to surgicenters, where various outpatient surgeries were offered to the public.

The plaintiff had been also part of partnership which acquired interests in surgicenters that over the years grew its holdings to a number of surgicenters.  The company was subsequently sold to a separate corporation.

As part of this sale, the plaintiff corporation struck a deal with the new owner to be the exclusive provider of anesthesiology services at these surgicenters.  This contract was for three years, with an automatic renewal unless it was terminated by either party.

The plaintiff hired multiple anesthesiologists and nurse anesthetists to provide the services for these surgicenters. 

Near the end of the three-year contract term, the owner of the surgicenters put out a request for proposal for the provision of anesthesiology services on a single-year-term basis. Several of the anesthesiologists the plaintiff had hired responded to this request for proposal with a plan to provide anesthesiology services for the most financially solvent of these surgicenters, which was located in the River North neighborhood of Chicago.

The contract was awarded to these doctors, and the plaintiff ultimately sued DBMS’s clients for failure to advise the corporation to add a contract clause restricting these anesthesiologists from competing for this business.

The plaintiff claimed that as a result of losing the contract for services to the River North surgicenter, it was forced to close the entire business. The corporation claimed a loss of future profits in the millions, at one time claiming the amount to be in excess of $20 million.

At trial, pre-trial motions were granted that called for limiting the evidence to the potential damage of profit loss to two years of damages on the basis that any restrictive covenant language would have only been effective for that period of time. This significantly reduced the defendant’s potential liability. 

DBMS successfully argued for a directed finding on the basis that the plaintiff had not presented evidence to adequately prove damages. Consequently, the judge entered a verdict in favor of the defense without the defense presenting its evidence.