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Blythe Holdings, Inc. v. Deangelis

United States Court of Appeals, Seventh Circuit

April 21, 2014

BLYTHE HOLDINGS, INCORPORATED, et al., Plaintiffs-Appellants,
v.
JOHN A. DEANGELIS, et al., Defendants-Appellees

Argued, January 24, 2014

Appeal from the United States District Court for the Northern District of Illinois, Eastern Division. No. 06 C 5262 -- Robert M. Dow, Jr., Judge.

For Blythe Holdings, Incorporated, CHICAGO 100, INCORPORATED, an Illinois corporation, Plaintiffs - Appellants: Tomas Petkus, Craig D. Tobin, Tobin & Munoz, Llc, Chicago, IL.

For John A. Deangelis, Defendant - Appellee: James L. Kopecky, Kopecky Schumacher Bleakley Rosenburg PC, Chicago, IL.

For Michael Brown, Glenn Udell, Michael S. Pomerantz, Defendants - Appellees: Terry D. Weissman, Kyle D. Rettberg, Neal, Gerber & Eisenberg Llp, Chicago, IL.

Before BAUER, EASTERBROOK, and WILLIAMS, Circuit Judges.

OPINION

Page 654

Bauer, Circuit Judge

Blythe Holdings, Incorporated (" Blythe" ) entered into a contract with Tracy Williams (" Williams" ) of Flawless Financial to pursue the acquisition of vacant lots on the south side of Chicago. Blythe also contracted with attorney John DeAngelis (" DeAngelis" ) to assist with the transaction; he submitted an application on behalf of Blythe to the City of Chicago. Before the application process was complete, Blythe brought suit against DeAngelis and his firm, Brown Udell & Pomerantz, Ltd. (" Brown Udell" ), claiming legal malpractice and unjust enrichment. The district court granted summary judgment in favor of DeAngelis and Brown Udell on the legal malpractice claim and granted Brown Udell's motion for summary judgment on the unjust enrichment claim. Blythe now appeals to this court. For the reasons that follow, we affirm.

I. BACKGROUND

Stephanie Hill (" Hill" ) formed the corporation Blythe in order to pursue the acquisition of several hundred vacant lots located in Chicago's 16th Ward. Hill was the sole owner and employee of Blythe.

On October 25, 2005, Blythe entered into a consulting agreement with Williams of Flawless Financial. In this agreement, Williams was to " deliver up to 400 residential building lots to Blythe Holdings, Inc. or assigns for $1 million or $2,500 per lot in a minimum 6-9 months time period." The agreement required Blythe " to pay legal fees for a total of $50,000 to the attorney recommended by Flawless Financial and deliver a retainer fee of $25,000 to begin the process." Williams recommended attorney DeAngelis to assist Blythe with the acquisition of the lots.

Page 655

Pursuant to this recommendation, Blythe entered into a representation agreement with DeAngelis, who agreed " to provide legal and consulting services in connection with [Blythe's] acquisition of approximately 400 vacant lots" and " to provide such consultation and advice ... as is necessary in connection with fostering the successful conclusion of the Application [to the City of Chicago]." At the time, DeAngelis was employed as an attorney with Brown Udell. DeAngelis drafted the retainer agreement with Blythe on Brown Udell letterhead, but never informed anyone at Brown Udell of his decision to represent Blythe. On December 1, 2005, Blythe paid DeAngelis a $25,000 retainer fee pursuant to the terms of the agreement. The check was made payable to " John DeAngelis, Esq.," and was deposited by DeAngelis into the " John A. DeAngelis Client Fund Account" at Northern Trust ...


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