Appeal from the Circuit Court of Cook County. No. 09 L 014582 Honorable Sanjay Taylor, Judge Presiding.
The opinion of the court was delivered by: Justice Hall
JUSTICE HALL delivered the judgment of the court, with opinion.
Presiding Justice Hoffman and Justice Karnezis concurred in the judgment and opinion.
¶ 1 Plaintiff Barry Schrager appeals from an order of the circuit court of Cook County dismissing with prejudice his second amended complaint against defendants James M. Bailey, David P. Schippers, and the law firm of Schippers and Associates (collectively the defendants). On appeal, plaintiff Schrager contends that the integration/nonreliance clause contained in the prior settlement agreement (the Agreement) between the plaintiff and the defendants did not bar his fraud complaint.
¶ 2 We conclude that the dismissal of the second amended complaint with prejudice was proper and affirm the order of the circuit court. The following facts are taken from the second amended complaint and the pertinent documents in the record on appeal.
¶ 3 PROCEDURAL BACKGROUND
¶ 4 I. Underlying Malpractice Suit and Settlement Agreement
¶ 5 In 2002, plaintiff Schrager filed a legal malpractice suit against the defendants and attorney James T. Hynes.*fn1 The suit alleged that the defendants committed legal malpractice when they took a voluntary dismissal of a federal suit they had filed on plaintiff Schrager's behalf. The suit was refiled in the circuit court of Cook County only to be dismissed with prejudice based on the single-refiling rule.
¶ 6 In June 2006, plaintiff Schrager agreed to dismiss the malpractice suit and settle his claim against the defendants based on their representation that they had relied on advice from attorney Hynes in deciding to dismiss the federal suit. As part of the settlement negotiations, plaintiff Schrager requested affidavits from the defendants to support their representation. The Agreement provided in pertinent part as follows:
"13. NO CONDITIONS PRECEDENT: Each of the parties to this Agreement
acknowledges that no conditions precedent and no promise, inducement,
or agreement not stated herein has been made to them in connection
with this Agreement except that it is
expressly agreed and understood that this Agreement is
contingent upon the entry of an order granting Defendants' motion for
Good Faith Finding in the Lawsuit.
14. INTEGRATION AND NO RELIANCE CLAUSE // AMENDMENT: This Agreement and the exhibits attached hereto constitute the entire understanding and agreement of the parties hereto and supercede any and all other written or oral agreements, representations or understandings. No representations, inducements, promises or agreements, oral or written have been made by SCHRAGER or Releasees or anyone acting on behalf of Releasees which are not contained herein, and any prior letters of intent, agreement, promises, negotiations, statements or representations not expressly set forth in this Agreement have not been relied upon in any respect and shall be of no force or effect. SCHRAGER agrees and warrants that in entering into this Agreement, SCHRAGER is solely relying upon the information contained in this Agreement and not in reliance upon any other information. No modification, amendment or alteration to this Agreement shall be effective unless in a writing signed by the Parties hereto."
The Agreement also contained an acknowledgment by the parties that they received independent legal advice as to the "effect and import" of its provisions. By June 30, 2006, the Agreement had been signed by all parties.
¶ 7 On July 6, 2006, the circuit court found the Agreement had been made in good faith and dismissed plaintiff Schrager's claims against the defendants. Also on July 6, 2006, attorney Bailey executed an affidavit, which stated in pertinent part as follows:
"I received a memorandum from James T. Hynes *** wherein Mr. Hynes set forth recommendations to be made to Mr. Schrager with respect to the various lawsuits then pending against [various defendants]. Schippers & Bailey used the memorandum from Mr. Hynes to me and relied in part on the recommendations of Mr. Hynes set forth therein in preparing the February 5, 1997 letter [signed by attorney Schippers] to Mr. Schrager."
¶ 8 On October 6, 2009, attorney Schippers provided an affidavit to attorney Hynes, in which he averred that attorney Bailey and he made all the litigation decisions relating to the federal suit, that in a February 5, 1997, letter to Mr. Schrager, attorney Schippers advised dismissing the federal suit and refiling the case in Cook County. He further averred that his recommendations were not based on any recommendation or advice from attorney Hynes, and he did not recall receiving a memorandum from attorney Hynes setting forth recommendations with respect to the federal suit. He further averred that attorney Hynes was not present at the meeting with Mr. Schrager, at which time it was agreed that the federal suit should be voluntarily dismissed and the state law claims pursued in state court.
¶ 9 Plaintiff Schrager's malpractice suit continued against attorney Hynes. Due to his failure to comply with discovery, plaintiff Schrager was precluded from presenting expert witness testimony. On February 2, 2010, Circuit Court Judge Daniel J. Pierce granted summary judgment to attorney Hynes due to the preclusion of the expert testimony necessary to prove plaintiff Schrager's legal malpractice claim. Plaintiff Schrager's motion for reconsideration was denied. This court affirmed the grant of summary judgment to ...