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Trials & Litigation

Sued for Malpractice, Law Firm Fires Back with Fraud Claim, Seeks Freeze on Former Client Assets

Posted Aug 7, 2012 11:52 AM CDT
By Martha Neil

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As a Chicago law firm tells the story, it got stuck with a client from hell.

Kenneth and Wendy Brown were difficult to reach and rejected legal advice when James Koch of Gardiner Koch Weisberg & Wrona represented them in a Securities and Exchange Commission matter, Koch says in a pro se lawsuit (PDF posted by Courthouse News) filed in Cook County Circuit Court.

Plus, Kenneth Brown, "unbeknownst to Koch, was offering bribes to witnesses to change testimony," the suit contends. It says Koch and his firm rejected the Browns' request for help shielding assets by putting them into the names of their children after they nixed the attorney's advice to settle a securities complaint by the SEC and lost their case at trial.

Meanwhile, as they pursued a malpractice case against their former counsel, the defendants "told Koch that they had filed suit against each and every law firm they had hired so as to shake down insurance companies," the suit contends. His firm was no exception; the Browns filed a malpractice case against Gardiner Koch late in 2009.

Now Koch is filing suit, too. Asserting claims of breach of contract, fraud, breach of fiduciary duty and civil conspiracy in his Thursday complaint, he seeks a freeze and constructive trust on his former clients' assets as well as over $5 million in damages.

Naming the Browns, unidentified John and Jane Doe defendants and a lawyer who represented the Browns in other matters but is not listed as a defendant, the suit claims that they "creat[ed a] false and malicious complaint against the plaintiffs, including the filing of knowingly false complaints against the plaintiffs with the sole intent to forced [sic] shakedown of the plaintiffs and their insurance company."

It also alleges that the group acted tortiously and/or unlawfully because they knew Kenneth Brown "was engaged in the wholesale theft, fraud and conversion of his client's monies and has made a lifestyle out of defrauding people, including plaintiffs."

Hat tip: Courthouse News.

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