Lawyers at DBMS successfully litigate a wide variety of civil cases and argue appeals in some of the most challenging jurisdictions in the country.

Professional Liability

Plaintiff v. Architect

11/01/2019
Client:

Defendant Architect

Synopsis:

In a one-week jury trial involving alleged breach of contract where a real estate developer sought $3.1 million from an architectural firm, DBMS attorneys obtained a defense verdict. The trial presented $3 million exposure. This was the first architectural malpractice case DBMS has tried to verdict.

The jury returned a verdict in favor of the defendant architectural firm and found that the plaintiff real estate developer failed to present sufficient evidence demonstrating that the architect breached the contract and deviated from the standard of care.

The real estate developer retained the defendant architectural firm to design a hotel at an existing building on Michigan Avenue. During the design phase, and before the city would issue a construction permit, the real estate developer was required by the City of Chicago to obtain an air rights easement from its neighbor, the Stone Container Building. The real estate developer alleged that the architectural firm should have interpreted the Building Code as requiting an easement and notified him before the start of the permit process.

The real estate developer sued the architectural firm to recover costs allegedly accrued in reliance on the architectural firm’s contract performance. The real estate developer sought $3.1 million he spent trying to build a hotel.

This breach of contract matter proceeded to a one-week jury trial in Cook County before the Honorable Thomas R. Mulroy. DBMS attorneys proved at trial that the architectural firm did not breach the contract. They proved that the City of Chicago’s permit process was a fluid one and that the easement was required within the city official’s discretion, and not required by any aspects of the building code. The architectural firm did not deviate from the standard of care by failing to notify the real estate developer of the easement earlier in the design process.

After about 1.5 hours of deliberation, the jury returned a defense verdict in favor of the architectural firm.