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Billek and Chipko Succeed in Motion for Summary Judgment & on Appeal

March 15, 2021

Max Billek (Partner-Florham Park, NJ) and Mike Chipko (Partner-Florham Park, NJ) obtained summary judgment and were affirmed on appeal in a legal malpractice action arising from an underlying commercial litigation. In the underlying matter, it was discovered that plaintiffs had likely forged the operating agreement and related documents at issue. Plaintiffs’ counsel then filed a motion to be relieved approximately three months before trial. The motion was granted and plaintiffs’ obtained new counsel. Plaintiffs’ claims were ultimately dismissed at trial and the underlying trial judge made several adverse rulings that plaintiffs had in fact forged documents and sought to misled the court. Thereafter, plaintiffs filed suit against their former counsel alleging that he had not adequately prepared the case such that they could not fend off the forgery allegations and related issues at trial. In the legal malpractice action, summary judgment was granted both on proximate cause and collateral estoppel grounds. As such, it was determined that plaintiffs’ former counsel could never be found to have been a “substantial factor” in any damages suffered by plaintiffs and they were estopped from seeking to re-litigate the forgery issues below. That opinion was then affirmed in full on appeal.

 

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