Grochocinski v. Mayer, Brown, Rowe & Maw, LLP, No. 11-3597 (7th Cir. 2013)Annotate this Case
Spehar, hired by CMGT to assist in finding financing for its business, sued CMGT over a dispute related to this agreement and obtained a $17 million default judgment against CMGT, which had no assets. Spehar Capital devised a plan to: force CMGT into bankruptcy; convince the bankruptcy trustee to bring a malpractice action against CMGT’s law firm on the theory that but for the firm’s negligence, Spehar would not have obtained the default judgment; win the malpractice action or force a settlement; obtain a share of the payment to the bankruptcy estate. The bankruptcy trustee sued CMGT’s law firm, Mayer Brown. The district court granted Mayer Brown summary judgment, reasoning that the doctrine of judicial estoppel barred the inconsistencies in the suit, based on undisputed facts. The Seventh Circuit affirmed. If the trustee were to prevail, there would be a clear impression that a court was misled. It would be “absurd” for Spehar to recover when proving the causation element of malpractice would require the trustee to prove that Spehar was not entitled to prevail in the earlier suit.