Firm Ranked in Chambers USA 2019

Gair Eberhard Nelson Dedinas has again been recognized as a leading law firm in Illinois by the new Chambers USA 2019 guide.  The firm is recognized by the international publication for its General Commercial Litigation and White-Collar Crime and Government Investigation practices.

Additionally, Chris Gair and Jeff Eberhard were individually recognized in the guide: Gair for his commercial litigation and white-collar and government investigation work, and Eberhard for his commercial litigation work.

Chambers and Partners, the global leader in law firm research, employs more than 170 full-time editors and researchers, and conducts year-round interviews of law firms and their clients to produce its rankings. Chambers’ rankings are trusted by more in-house counsel than any other law-firm researcher.

Billboard company wins permit fight with City of Chicago

In 2016, the Chicago City Council passed ordinances requiring the issuance of permits to billboard operator Image Media Advertising for signs along the Kennedy Expressway.  City officials subsequently refused to honor the ordinances, and the City Council later passed an ordinance purporting to repeal the earlier ordinances approving the permits.

Gair Eberhard filed a complaint in federal court in Chicago alleging that the City’s actions amounted to a taking of private property under the Fifth Amendment and a violation of due process and deprived its client of vested property rights under Illinois law. The complaint sought damages, injunctive and mandamus relief. After a year and a half of contentious litigation, the City settled and issued the two permits to Image Media. 

Real-estate management company wins summary judgment

On February 5, 2019, global real estate investment company Kennedy Wilson Properties Ltd.  won summary judgment on a series of breach of contract claims brought by Chicago real estate developer Berger Realty.  Berger had sought damages in excess of $3.5  million for a series of supposed breaches of a property management agreement and an alleged breach of fiduciary duty.  Several claims were eliminated on a motion to dismiss and all but one minor issue were decided by the court in favor of Kennedy Wilson just weeks before a scheduled jury trial. 

Pharmaceutical executives win dismissal of civil conspiracy claim

In 2017, Savis, Inc., an engineering consulting firm in the pharmaceutical industry filed a 12-count complaint against 18 defendants, alleging a variety of tortious conduct, statutory violations and civil conspiracy.   Savis claimed its former employees started a competing enterprise in violation of their duties and that one of its former clients (a pharmaceutical company) and the client’s executives conspired with Savis’ former employees to commit the tortious acts. Gair Eberhard defended the pharmaceutical company executives and won dismissal of the original and amended complaints.

Firm wins $2.2M jury verdict

Gair Eberhard Nelson Dedinas’ latest victory is featured in today’s Chicago Daily Law Bulletin. The case was previously featured in Crain’s.

By David Thomas, Law Bulletin staff writer

A Chicago neurosurgeon owes $2.2 million in damages for trying to defraud his next-door neighbor.

A Cook County jury on Monday awarded the estate of Virginia “Ginny” Rogers damages against Dr. George Dohrmann III.

Dohrmann initially sued Rogers’ estate in 2007 trying to enforce a contract that would have awarded him Rogers’ large Lake Shore Drive apartment and $4 million in cash upon her death. Her estate counter-sued for fraud.

In July 2012, then-Cook County circuit judge Mary L. Mikva dismissed Dohrmann’s claims. The 1st District Appellate Court affirmed the dismissal in 2014, finding the contract Rogers signed was unenforceable because of how unfair their “vastly different bargaining positions” were.

Jurors deliberated for less than an hour on the estate’s counter-claim against Dohrmann, according to a press release from Gair Eberhard Nelson Dedinas Ltd., the Rogers estate’s attorneys.

The damages awarded to the estate stemmed from attorney fees and legal costs spent defending against Dohrmann’s lawsuit.

“What Dr. Dohrmann did to Mrs. Rogers was beyond appalling. We are very gratified that justice prevailed,” Thomas R. Heisler, one of the estate’s attorneys, said in a written statement.

Dohrmann, a neurosurgeon at the University of Chicago Medical Center, plans to appeal the jury verdict, said one of his attorneys, Robert J. Slobig of Torshen Slobig & Axel Ltd. The trial lasted six days before Cook County Circuit Judge Jerry A. Esrig.

Rogers was 89 years old at the time she entered the contract on April 1, 2000. She was widowed and had no children.

Under the terms of the contract, Dohrmann agreed to legally change his kids’ names to include “Rogers” so the family name would continue past her death. Dohrmann added “Rogers” as a middle name for two to his sons two months after the contract was signed. They were minors at the time.

Rogers never consulted her longtime attorney, Thomas E. Swaney, when she entered this contract. Swaney, the estate’s independent executor, didn’t know about the contract until just before Dohrmann filed suit.

In February 2000, about two months before Rogers signed the contract, Dohrmann met with an estate-planning attorney, “inquiring what one would do if he wished to receive something in exchange for something after a person died,” according to the appellate court decision.

“This attorney drafted a ‘skeleton’ agreement for him,” Justice James Fitzgerald Smith wrote in Dohrmann v. Swaney, 2014 IL App (1st) 131524. “These facts clearly show that the creation of this contract involved gross inadequacy of consideration as well as circumstances of unfairness.”

In 2002, Rogers was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease. In 2004, she transferred the ownership of her apartment to her trust. Three years later, Dohrmann’s suit sought to reverse that transfer.

In 2008, Rogers was declared by the probate court to be a disabled person unable to manage her estate or financial affairs.

She died in January 2013 at the age of 101.

According to an estate plan Rogers created prior to her deal with Dohrmann, Rogers planned to give her money to friends and distant relatives, as well as seven Chicago-based charities and her alma mater, Milikin University in Decatur.

Although Dohrmann and Rogers first met in 1984, they began to socialize more in the 1990s. “From the record, it appears Mrs. Rogers initially enjoyed Dohrmann’s attention, but then became concerned that he was befriending her in order to get her property upon her death,” Fitzgerald Smith wrote in 2014.

At one point, Dohrmann tried to get Rogers to formally adopt him as a son. He rented an apartment in Arkansas, a state that grants adult adoptions for residents, but Rogers never signed the paperwork adopting him.

Slobig told the Daily Law Bulletin he was disappointed with the jury’s decision, saying he believed there were “so many other plausible explanations for what happened.”

“I didn’t think the evidence could sustain the [fraud] claim under the clear and convincing standard,” Slobig said.

Slobig added he thought they had to try the case “with one hand tied behind our back” because of the state Dead Man’s Act, which prevents parties in a case involving a deceased or disabled person from offering up testimony or evidence about conversations with that person.

That meant that Dohrmann was barred from testifying about his conversations with Rogers — unless Rogers’ estate “‘opens the door’ by introducing such evidence,” Slobig said. “We thought they did,” but they were overruled by Esrig.

Slobig said his client believes the attorney fees the Rogers estate incurred could not be recovered as damages under Illinois law.

The Rogers estate was also represented by Kristi L. Nelson of Gair Eberhard Nelson Dedinas Ltd.

The case is George J. Dohrmann III v. Thomas Swaney, et al., No. 07 L 1602.

Firm wins $1.6 million settlement for whistleblower

Gair Eberhard Nelson Dedinas Ltd. represented a senior-level in-house counsel in his whistleblower and retaliation claims against his former employer, a large healthcare network.  During pre-merger due diligence, our client uncovered compelling evidence of billing practices and physician compensation arrangements that violated federal health care laws, including the Stark Law, Anti-Kickback Statute, False Claims Act and HIPAA. After raising concerns about the matters and urging the company to take remedial measures, the healthcare network terminated our client’s employment. 

Chris Gair and Kristi Nelson represented the client.  We obtained a $1.6 million pre-suit settlement of his whistleblower and retaliation claims.

Firm Recognized by Chambers USA 2018 Guide

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Gair Eberhard Nelson Dedinas has been recognized as a leading law firm in Illinois by the new Chambers USA 2018 guide.  The firm is recognized by the international publication for its General Commercial Litigation and White-Collar Crime and Government Investigation practices.

Additionally, Chris Gair and Jeff Eberhard were individually recognized in the guide: Gair for his commercial litigation and white-collar and government investigation work, and Eberhard for his commercial litigation work.

Chambers and Partners, the global leader in law firm research, employs more than 170 full-time editors and researchers, and conducts year-round interviews of law firms and their clients to produce its rankings. Chambers’ rankings are trusted by more in-house counsel than any other law-firm researcher.

Firm wins $2 million jury verdict

The Daily Southtown is reporting that a federal jury returned a verdict of at least $2 million in favor of Gair Eberhard Nelson Dedinas' client, a south suburban doctor, who was cheated by a former business partner out of hundreds of thousands of dollars over a period of years.  

After an eight day trial, the jury found in favor of our client on every count, finding that he had been defrauded, and that the managing partner of the medical practice had breached his fiduciary duties, as well as breaching our client's employment contract with the business. Key to the case was Chris Gair exposing that the medical practice's managing partner, Martin Hall, lied repeatedly on the witness stand, just as he had to his business partners, to siphon their profits into his own pocket.

Certain legal claims remain outstanding, and will be decided by the court in the coming months, and could add hundreds of thousands of dollars in additional damages.

Firm wins dismissal with prejudice of RICO case against Lehman

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Counsel for certain defaulters on real estate loans sued Lehman Brothers Holdings, Inc. and Lehman Brothers Bank, FSB for racketeering, fraud and other causes of action.  Gair Eberhard Nelson Dedinas Ltd. responded with motions for both summary judgment and dismissal.  Faced with these motions, counsel for the plaintiffs dismissed their claims with prejudice less than two months after filing them.  Delaware Motel Associates v. Lehman Brothers Bank, FSB et al., 17cv1715 (Kennelly, J.) Counsel for Plaintiffs also agreed to dismiss with prejudice parallel claims in state court proceedings in DuPage County.
 

Firm Wins Judgment In Forged Non-Compete Case

On March 15, 2017, Gair Eberhard Nelson Dedinas Ltd. won an agreed judgment on consent in a case involving a forged non-competition agreement in the United States District Court for the Southern District of Indiana.

The firm’s client is an event promoter who had a long-term equipment lease with the defendant and his company.  After relations soured between the parties, they negotiated a rescission and mutual release agreement which called for a payment of $20,000 to the lessor.  The promoter emailed the lessor an executed settlement agreement, and the lessor agreed verbally and by email to the terms.  However, after delivering a $20,000 cashier’s check to the lessor and receiving what purported to be a fully-executed copy of the settlement agreement, the promoter learned that the lessor had created a different settlement agreement which included a five-year, worldwide non-competition agreement, secretly inserted it in the agreement, and copied and pasted the promoter’s signature from the true agreement.   That spurious agreement would have prevented the promoter from obtaining financing, contracts with venues, and advertising contracts and would have led to the imminent destruction of the business. 

The firm filed an action for fraud and declaratory judgment in federal court in Indianapolis along with a motion for a TRO and preliminary injunction.  Confronted with these filings and the proof of fraud, the lessor agreed to a consent judgment declaring that the initial agreement constituted the contract between the parties and that the non-competition agreement was not part of the agreement and was unenforceable. 

Kristi Nelson Named to Chicago Volunteer Legal Services Advisory Board

Partner Kristi Nelson has been named to the Chicago Volunteer Legal Services Advisory Board, whose members serve as ambassadors of CVLS in the legal community by working with the Board of Directors and CVLS management to build, maintain, and strengthen relationships with law firms, legal entities, the judiciary and other related groups and organizations in the legal community. 
 
Kristi has been involved with CVLS for many years, including serving the maximum term as a member of its Board of Directors.  As part of her involvement, she has represented clients pro bono in immigration, employment, unfair housing, criminal, and civil rights matters.

Firm Successfully Limits Guarantor Liability of Public REIT in CMBS -Lending Issues of First Impression

On February 4, 2016, the Northern District of Illinois ruled in favor of Gair Law Group’s client, a publicly-traded REIT in the hotel industry, on important issues involving its guaranty of a non-recourse loan that was part of a commercial mortgage-backed securities (CMBS) trust. The case was brought by the lender Wells Fargo, through its special servicer Torchlight Loan Services, against the REIT, which had served as guarantor for a non-recourse loan made to its subsidiary LLC.  After Torchlight foreclosed on the hotel in Indiana state court,  it then filed suit in federal court and moved for summary judgment against the guarantor REIT, contending that certain non-recourse “bad boy” carve-out provisions in the loan agreements had transformed the loan into a full recourse liability, rendering the guarantor liable to Torchlight for the entire deficiency judgment.

Seventh Circuit Issues Landmark Fraudulent Transfer Decision In Sentinel Litigation

On January 8, 2016, the Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals reversed the district court's entry of judgment in favor of the Bank of New York and against GLG client Frederick J. Grede, the trustee of Sentinel Management Group, Inc.  The case, originally tried by GLG partners Chris Gair and Jeff Eberhard while at Jenner & Block, was part of a larger constellation of litigation they led stemming from the collapse of Sentinel, a cash manager and investment advisor, in August 2007.  With the victory against the Bank, the trustee's litigation team has recovered over $260 million for Sentinel's customers.  

Firm Wins Dismissal of Action Against Public REIT

On December 22, 2015, the Honorable Gene A. Zmuda of the Court of Common Pleas in Toledo, OH dismissed an action brought by a telecommunications company against GLG's client, a publicly traded hotel REIT.

The plaintiff sued the REIT for breach of contract and unjust enrichment and sought damages of approximately $2 million. GLG moved to dismiss, crafting an argument that allowed the Court to interpret the contract as a matter of law and dismiss the action in its entirety at the pleadings stage. The Court adopted GLG’s arguments and dismissed the case with prejudice, representing a complete victory for the client.  The client lauded GLG for its “aggressive” and “creative” strategy. 

Gair Law Group Wins Trial for Henning-Carey Proprietary Trading

On June 9, 2015, after a week-long jury trial in the Circuit Court of Cook County, GLG clients Henning-Carey Proprietary Trading and its principals Charlie Carey and Joe Niciforo obtained a verdict in their favor on claims brought by a former trader associated with the firm. The verdict represented a complete victory for Henning-Carey and ended five years of contentious litigation in which the plaintiff sought millions of dollars in damages. The jury soundly rejected the plaintiff’s claims and exonerated Henning-Carey of any wrongdoing.

SEC Problems Can’t Be Fixed By Judges

By Chris Gair

From the Chicago Daily Law Bulletin, June 12, 2014

In the wake of our most profound financial crisis since the Great Depression, citizens, elected officials and commentators of various political stripes have condemned what they see as a tepid response to the crisis by law enforcers. The Securities and Exchange Commission and the Department of Justice, which have primary jurisdiction to enforce the securities laws, have (perhaps justly) been criticized for not sufficiently pursuing charges and punishment against banks, brokerage firms and their individual employees for fast-shuffle, self-interested conduct that contributed to the loss of tens or hundreds of billions of dollars by investors.