ILLINOIS SUPREME COURT WIN IN CASE OF FIRST IMPRESSION
Pretzel & Stouffer partners Matthew Egan and Brendan Nelligan prevailed in the Illinois Supreme Court on behalf of the firm’s clients, an attorney and his employer, a union, in a legal malpractice case arising from the attorney’s representation of a police officer in a grievance arbitration proceeding at which the plaintiff, a union member, challenged the termination of his employment.
In a unanimous opinion, the Supreme Court adopted the arguments Brendan and Matt advanced and affirmed the dismissal of plaintiff’s complaint against both the attorney and the union. In a case of first impression in Illinois, the Supreme Court adopted the reasoning of the U.S. Supreme Court in Atkinson v. Sinclair Refining Co. and ruled that the union attorney was immune from suit for legal malpractice for his alleged actions because they were taken in connection with a proceeding established by the collective bargaining agreement between the union and plaintiff’s employer. The Supreme Court also affirmed the dismissal of plaintiff’s claim against the union on the grounds that it amounted to an unfair labor practice claim that was subject to the exclusive jurisdiction of the Illinois Labor Relations Board.
The Supreme Court’s ruling is significant because it brings Illinois in line with other jurisdictions that have considered the issue and places Illinois unions (and their attorney agents) on an equal footing with unions and their attorneys throughout the country. See, 2020 IL 125691.