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Radtke v. Murphy

March 31, 2000

THOMAS RADTKE, PLAINTIFF-APPELLANT,
v.
THOMAS J. MURPHY, DEFENDANT-APPELLEE.



ON APPEAL FROM THE CIRCUIT COURT OF COOK COUNTY No. 96 L 5298

THE HONORABLE JOSEPH CASCIATO, JUDGE PRESIDING.

PRESIDING JUSTICE COUSINS delivered the opinion of the court:

Plaintiff, Thomas Radtke, filed a two-count complaint alleging legal malpractice and breach of an agency agreement against defendant, attorney Thomas J. Murphy, in the circuit court of Cook County. Plaintiff alleged that defendant's negligence caused him to be sued in a federal court action that was settled and dismissed without any pecuniary obligation on plaintiff's part. Plaintiff sued defendant seeking reimbursement for the fees and costs attendant to defending himself in the federal case as well as for emotional distress, anxiety, and loss of reputation. Defendant filed a motion for summary judgment, which the trial court granted. On appeal, plaintiff contends that the lower court erred in granting defendant's motion because he sufficiently presented genuine issues of material fact relative to his legal malpractice and breach of agency claims.

We affirm.

BACKGROUND

For the greater part of 1993, plaintiff was the president and a member of the board of directors of the North State, Astor, Lake Shore Drive Association, a Chicago neighborhood association located in the area in which plaintiff lived. Defendant was general counsel for the association.

In 1993, a dispute arose between the Tizes family, who owned two properties in the area, and plaintiff, other area residents, and the association. The Tizes wanted to rezone and make certain improvements to their abutting properties located at 1401 North Astor Street and 38 East Schiller Street. The City of Chicago zoning administrator approved the Tizes' development plans and, thereafter, the building commissioner issued the Tizes a building permit.

Defendant, on behalf of plaintiff and the other opposing property owners, appealed the zoning administrator's decision to the Zoning Board of Appeals of the City of Chicago (Zoning Board of Appeals). The Zoning Board of Appeals affirmed the zoning administrator's decision in February 1994.

Plaintiff then told defendant that it appeared that no further recourse could be taken. Defendant informed plaintiff that the next and last step was to challenge the result of the Zoning Board of Appeals by filing an administrative review proceeding. Plaintiff states that defendant told him that he and the individual members of the association were required to be named as parties to this administrative review process.

Plaintiff alleges that he told defendant that he would not have anything to do with any suits against the Tizes for money damages or for any relief which sought to enjoin the Tizes' use of or changes to their property. Plaintiff alleges that defendant assured him that such claims were not involved and that the only issue in the administrative review proceeding would be the propriety of the Zoning Board of Appeals' decision. Plaintiff authorized defendant to seek administrative review of the Zoning Board of Appeals' decision.

On March 4, 1994, defendant, on behalf of plaintiff (as board member and former president of the North State, Astor, Lake Shore Drive Association), Stephen Alport, Catherine Alport, Joseph R. Curcio, Bonnie Herman Radtke, Mary Lou Maher, Curtis Cohen, and Susan Cohen filed a five-count complaint in chancery court. Alport v. City of Chicago, No. 94 CH 1987 (hereafter Alport). Plaintiff was joined solely in Counts I and II. In count I, the plaintiffs sought injunctive relief. In count II, the plaintiffs sought review of the Zoning Board of Appeals' decision as well as preliminary and permanent injunctive relief.

In count III, plaintiffs Steven Alport, Catherine Alport, and Joseph R. Curcio sought compensatory damages in excess of $30,000 and punitive damages in the sum of $1,000. In count IV, a nuisance claim, plaintiffs Steven Alport, Catherine Alport, and Joseph Curcio sought a temporary restraining order that would bar the Tizes from proceeding with construction as well as a preliminary injunction that would stop the Tizes from proceeding with construction. The plaintiffs also sought a permanent injunction and the costs for removal of an existing structure. In count V, Steven Alport, Catherine Alport, and Joseph Curcio sought a judgment in excess of $30,000.

On March 4, 1994, the chancery court judge issued a restraining order that precluded the Tizes from proceeding with their renovation plans. The restraining order was dissolved in January 1995.

Plaintiff stated that he first learned of the lawsuit from reading a newspaper article. He withdrew from the ...


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