Law School Case Brief
Davis v. Loftus - 334 Ill. App. 3d 761, 268 Ill. Dec. 522, 778 N.E.2d 1144 (2002)
Ill. Sup. Ct. R. 304(a) authorizes an Illinois appellate court to hear an appeal from a final judgment as to one or more but fewer than all of the parties or claims, if the trial court expressly finds no reason to delay enforcement or appeal from the judgment.
Terry Davis and several corporations he controlled filed a complaint against Michael Loftus, Donald Engel, and the partners in the law firm of Gottlieb & Schwartz, alleging that Loftus and Engel committed legal malpractice in connection with a real estate transaction. Two counts of the complaint sounded in negligence, while two other counts repeated the same allegations as breach of a contract to provide competent legal representation. The trial court struck the contract counts and part of the damages claimed in the negligence counts. The court also dismissed a claim against the income partners of Gottlieb & Schwartz. The court held that income partners did not qualify as partners, and therefore they did not share liability for the acts of partners and employees of the law firm. Davis appeals from the rulings.
Did the court err in holding that malpractice and contract claims were essentially the same and the dismissal of the contract claims did not result in a final appealable order under Ill. Sup. Ct. R. 304?
The appellate court held that because the malpractice and contract claims were essentially the same, the dismissal of the contract claims did not result in a final appealable order under Ill. Sup. Ct. R. 304, nor did the trial court's striking of certain claims for damages that were redundant of claims being made against the joint venturer. Finally, since those lawyers who were designated as income partners were paid flat salaries and had no role in managing the law firm, they were not liable for any judgment that might be entered against the partnership. In the case of several partners who claimed income partner status, however, the record was inadequate to determine whether that was in fact their status.
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