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Legal Malpractice Claim Against Real Estate Lawyer Barred by Statute of Limitations

This is an unpublished decision of the Illinois Appellate Court, captioned Ilija Vasilj v. Harvey Teichman, 2015 IL App (1st) 133955-U. The Appellate court affirmed a decision to grant summary judgment to the lawyer on statute of limitations grounds.

The complaint alleged that in 2007 Vasilj purchased the first floor of a building located at 2650 West Belden in Chicago, Illinois. The first floor was undeveloped, but the second and third floors had existing condominiums. Vasilj intended to develop 12 condominiums for resale. At the time of the purchase, “the second and third floors of the building were part of the existing Brau Haus Condominium Association … and subject to the Declaration of Condominium Ownership. The declaration did not include the first floor of the building as a part of the condominiums. The association, in an attempt to incorporate the first floor, passed the first amendment to the declaration which included the first floor in the association. However, the association did not record a new plat of survey reflecting the changes. The failure to record a new plat survey resulted in a defective title to Vasilj’s property. ¶ 6.

Vasilj alleged that he retained Teichman to represent him in the purchase of the Belden property and that “prior to closing, Teichman did not review the amendment to the declaration, nor did he know that a new plat survey was never filed and recorded with the amendment. The resulting defective title to Vasilj’s property would prohibit him from selling the condominiums that he would later develop. Unaware of the defective title, Vasilj closed on the Belden property and began development of the condominiums.” ¶ 7.

Later in 2008 Vasilj entered into contracts with buyers to sell the condominium units. However, due to the defective title, the sales did not close and were cancelled.

On January 3, 2011, Vasilj sued Teichman for legal malpractice. Vasilj alleged that Teichman breached the duty of care by failing to ensure that Vasilj received good title to the property.

The trial court granted summary judgment on statute of limitations grounds. The trial court held that Vasilj knew he was injured no later that August 25, 2008.

The Appellate Court held that “when contracts to purchase his condominiums did not close in July and October of 2008, Vasilj should have been aware that he suffered an injury resulting from the defective title.”  The court explained that “the discovery rule does not delay the running of the statute of limitations until one has actual knowledge of negligent conduct. …Instead, it begins when one ‘has a reasonable believe that the injury was caused by wrongful conduct thereby creating an obligation to inquire further.'” ¶ 20.

This case is a straightforward application of the two-year statute of limitations.

Edward X. Clinton, Jr.