News & Events

News – December 1, 2022


Leahy, Eisenberg & Fraenkel is pleased to welcome Michelle Bracke as a Partner in the Firm’s Insurance Coverage Practice Group. Michelle joins the Firm after more than twenty-five years at large, national law firms, where she practiced in the area of insurance coverage, counseling and litigation.

Michelle’s practice focuses on advising insurers and litigating coverage matters in cases involving most types of policies and coverages, including professional liability, errors and omissions, first party coverages, fine art, general liability, automobile coverages, and policyholder misrepresentation and fraud. Michelle has litigated myriad coverage issues, in both federal and state venues countrywide, and has developed a wide-ranging catalogue of favorable decisions for insurers. Over her career, Michelle has developed strong industry relationships, not only from her work as an attorney, but also as an insurance company claim representative and broker, both in the United States and at Lloyds of London, London, England. Ms. Bracke is also a certified mediator. Michelle serves as a volunteer mediator at the Center for Conflict Resolution, where she mediates Cook County cases and handles private mediations.

Michelle’s hire is the latest in a series of prominent hires for the Firm. We look forward to building our future with Michelle.

News – June 1, 2022

LEF Prevails on Motion to Dismiss a Multi-Million Dollar Lawsuit Arising From First-Party Partial Roof Collapse Claim

Thomas Finn, Annalise Castner, and James Holevas successfully obtained a dismissal, with prejudice, of a highly-contested lawsuit filed against a national, multi-line, mutual insurance company. Following a partial roof collapse claim, the parties agreed to appraise the loss pursuant to the policy’s appraisal provision. After the appraisal panel made an award for construction damages, rent loss and lost business income, the insurer paid the remaining balance owed, per the appraisal award. Following the appraisal, however, the insured subsequently filed suit against the insurer, arguing that it was entitled to additional funds from the insurer for alleged breach of contract, vexatious and unreasonable delay, claimed bad faith refusal to settle, and common-law and statutory fraud. LEF convinced the court that the insured’s claims for breach of contract damages, vexatious and unreasonable delay and statutory damagesmust be dismissed because the insurer issued payment per the express terms of the policy’s appraisal provision. LEF further contended that insured’s claims for refusal to settle must also be dismissed because an insurer’s duty to settle in Illinois only arises in third-party claims, not first party claims. LEF also successfully argued that insured’s fraud claims failed to plead the requisite level of particularity and were not otherwise actionable as plead.

News – May 1, 2022


LEF successfully defended a treadmill manufacturer against a class action claim alleging misrepresentations of its motor power ratings, in which Plaintiffs demanded $42M and sought to certify a nationwide class.  After defeating Plaintiffs’ motion for nationwide class certification, in favor of two single-state classes, Thomas A. Gamache negotiated a nationwide settlement for a $3.65M Common Fund and a $100 gift card.  For comparison, a nearly identical action against a competitor manufacturer involving approximately half the number of class members was recently settled for a $4.25M Common Fund and a fitness app subscription valued at $150.

News – March 1, 2022


Leahy, Eisenberg & Fraenkel is pleased to announce that once again, Robert Ostojic has been included on the 2022 Illinois Super Lawyers® list. For more than a decade, Robert has been repeatedly selected as one of Illinois’ Super Lawyers (2011 - 2022).

Super Lawyers® is a rating service of outstanding lawyers from more than 70 practice areas who have attained a high-degree of peer recognition and professional achievement. Super Lawyers® selects attorneys using a rigorous, multiphase rating process. Peer nominations and evaluations are combined with third party research. Each candidate is evaluated on 12 indicators of peer recognition and professional achievement. Selections are made on an annual, state-by-state basis.

Congratulations to Robert and all of the attorneys named to a 2022 Super Lawyers list.

News – October 1, 2021


Gerard Fosco and Jeff Pavlovich successfully defended a property preservation corporation hired by Chase Home Finance, and two independent property preservation contractors, in an action brought by a Chase mortgagor alleging intentional and negligent trespass, assault and negligence. The plaintiff/mortgagor contended she experienced extreme, debilitating emotional distress resulting in years of mental health treatment, and demanded a mid-seven-figure settlement. After obtaining a successful result before the Illinois Supreme Court on plaintiff’s prior interlocutory appeal as to plaintiff’s negligent and intentional infliction of emotional distress actions (Schweihs v. Chase Home Fin., LLC, 2016 IL 120041), the lawsuit was remanded to the trial court for proceedings on plaintiff’s intentional and negligent trespass actions, which had been held in abeyance. After remand, plaintiff added actions alleging assault and negligence. Following extensive discovery, plaintiff voluntarily dismissed her negligence action, and plaintiff’s assault action was dismissed on res judicata grounds. The parties appeared for trial of plaintiff’s trespass actions. Prior to jury selection, the trial judge denied plaintiff’s motion to request punitive damages and granted defendants’ motion in limine to bar admissibility of defendants’ internal procedures as evidence of trespass because the source of defendants’ right to enter plaintiff’s property was the mortgage contract plaintiff signed, and defendants’ internal procedures were not part of that contract. Based on the pre-trial rulings and related proceedings, the trial judge dismissed plaintiff’s intentional and negligent trespass actions, and plaintiff appealed the trial judge’s rulings and prior dismissal of plaintiff’s assault action. The appellate court affirmed the trial judge’s rulings regarding punitive damages and inadmissibility of defendants’ internal procedures. Although the appellate court disagreed with dismissal of plaintiff’s assault action on res judicata grounds, the court held that motions for summary judgment as to plaintiff’s assault action that were denied by the trial court should have been granted. The summary judgment motions asserted the absence of evidence of an essential element of an assault action, i.e., intent on the part of defendants to cause plaintiff to apprehend an immediate battery.   Accordingly, the appellate court disposed of all remaining actions against the defendants. Schweihs v. Chase Home Fin., LLC, 2021 IL App (1st) 191779 (Jun. 29, 2021).

News – August 16, 2021


Thomas A. Gamache, Adam L. Fraenkel, and Daniel J. Offenbach were successful before the United States Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit in defending an appeal of a denial of class certification. Plaintiffs suffered property damage following a fire caused by a nearby lightning strike. Plaintiffs alleged the fire was caused by defective gas piping installed in the property, claiming that it caused the structure to be electrically energized such that the energy created a hole in the piping, resulting in fire. Plaintiffs sought nationwide and state-specific class certification on behalf of property owners in which the gas piping was installed; LEF, representing the manufacturer of gas piping, opposed class certification. The District Court for the Western District of Pennsylvania denied Plaintiffs’ motion for class certification, ruling that Plaintiffs had failed to meet the standards for class certification under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 23. The Third Circuit granted Plaintiffs’ Rule 23(f) petition for permissive appeal, but, following hearing, affirmed the District Court, agreeing that Plaintiffs had failed to satisfy necessary elements of Rule 23, thereby precluding class certification.

News – July 1, 2021


Jon Schaefer and Jeff Pavlovich successfully argued before the Illinois Third Appellate District in the defense of a restaurant owner sued for property damage to the neighbor plaintiff’s building caused by a patron’s negligent driving. After exiting the restaurant, the patron drove his pick-up over a parking spot concrete bumper, and into the plaintiff’s wall. The plaintiff claimed that LEF’s client failed to erect barriers and arrange the parking spaces on his lot to prevent “unauthorized encroachments of vehicles invited to his restaurant” onto the plaintiff’s land. The trial court granted LEF’s motion to dismiss on the ground that the restaurateur owed no duty to the neighbor for the patron’s negligent driving. The Third District agreed, noting that the parking lot posed no danger absent the independent, negligent act of the patron, and the ensuing damage to the building was not reasonably foreseeable. The Court further noted that the magnitude of the burden required to guard against the occurrence would be intolerable. Since the complaint failed to plead a legally cognizable duty owed by the restaurant owner to the plaintiff, the Third District upheld the trial court’s dismissal of the complaint with prejudice. Guyon v Hernandez, 2021 IL App (3rd) 200141-U (Rule 23 order).

News – June 16, 2021


Matthew J. Kowals recently secured a summary judgment in Kosciusko County, Indiana on behalf of a restaurant and bar. The plaintiff claimed that she fell down a step leading to the bar seating area of the restaurant. She filed suit alleging that the step constituted a dangerous condition and that the bar/restaurant had failed to warn her of the condition and safeguard against it. The plaintiff alleged that her fall caused fractures to her left ankle and right shoulder, in addition to a right shoulder rotator cuff tear, and necessitated open reduction/internal fixation surgery to the right shoulder as well as right rotator cuff repair. LEF convinced the judge that the step constituted a known and obvious condition and that the bar/restaurant had not breached any duty to the plaintiff. The order granting summary judgment was entered May 27, 2021. Case No. 43D04-1910-CT-000071 (Kosciusko County, Indiana).

News – April 22, 2021


Congratulations to Thomas J. Finn of Leahy, Eisenberg & Fraenkel, who recently won a live 4-day jury trial in favor of his client, a fire sprinkler inspection company. The case involved claimed damages of more than a million dollars, allegedly caused when a sprinkler pipe in the attic of a commercial building froze and burst, allowing water to flow into the building. Tom successfully convinced the jury that his client's actions were not the cause of the burst pipe and further, that his client had no liability, resulting in an award of zero damages to the plaintiff. Plaintiff did not file any post-trial motions and did not contest defendant's petition for fees and costs.

News – October 31, 2020


LEF OBTAINS SUMMARY JUDGMENT FOR MOTOR CARRIER: Howard B. Randell and Scott Wing received a favorable ruling from the United States District Court for the Northern District of Illinois granting our client's Motion for Summary Judgment. In that case, the firm represented a motor carrier which had been named as a party defendant in a lawsuit filed by a shipper for pharmaceutical product valued in excess of $500,000 that was damaged in transit. The damage to the cargo was due to a fire that resulted from the insured's use of a blowtorch to remove a placard from the trailer. Following limited discovery, we filed a Motion for Summary Judgment arguing that our motor carrier client, retained to provide domestic, inland transportation, could take the benefit of the upstream ocean waybill - specifically, a claim notification period. After briefing the issue, the Court granted our Motion for Summary Judgment and dismissed the complaint. The principal legal take away from the case, is that the motor carrier was able to benefit from the terms of an upstream transportation contract that the motor carrier was not a party to and had no privity of contract with the shipper. By looking beyond the specific terms of the motor carrier contract and considering other transit documents, we were able to turn a clear liability case into a successful defense and dismissal with no indemnity. Elco Insurance Company Limited, a/s/o Eli Lilly and Company v. Spirit Trucking Company, Case No. 18 C 6800 (N.D.Ill. Oct. 29, 2020).

News – November 4, 2019


CATHERINE A. O’CONNELL and MELISSA L. MCENDREE have joined the firm, bringing more than forty years of collective experience defending employers and litigating and resolving casualty, workers’ compensation and other civil matters.

For more than two decades, Ms. O’Connell, a casualty litigator, has been defending employers throughout Illinois and her practice specializes in third-party defense. For almost two decades, Ms. McEndree has been defending employers at arbitration, before the Illinois Workers’ Compensation Commission and in Illinois’ circuit and appellate Courts.

Catherine and Melissa have and continue to serve as trusted defense counsel to a wide-range of clients and employers, including construction companies, both general contractors and subcontractors, trucking and logistics companies and product manufacturers.  Both have extensive trial experience.

Ms. O’Connell and Ms. McEndree are the latest in a series of prominent hires for the Firm and follow the recent addition of a top casualty defense litigator and the 2018 addition of a National Premier Maritime firm. We look forward to building our future with Catherine and Melissa.

News – August 15, 2019


Leahy, Eisenberg & Fraenkel, Ltd. is pleased to announce that two of its partners, Steven B. Belgrade and John A. O’Donnell, have been included in the 26th Edition of The Best Lawyers in America in the practice area of Admiralty & Maritime Law. In addition, Steven Belgrade was recognized by his peers as the 2020 "Lawyer of the Year" in the practice area of Admiralty and Maritime. Best Lawyers is one of the oldest and most highly regarded peer review publications in the legal profession, where lawyers are recognized for their top legal talent. Messrs. Belgrade and O’Donnell will be featured in various regional and national publications, including The Wall Street Journal, The New York Times, The Los Angeles Times, The Washington Post, Dallas Morning News, TheChicago Tribune and Chicago Magazine. Again, congratulations to Steven and John.

News – April 1, 2019


Congratulations to Susan Chae Corcoran and Sara Spratt who prevailed on behalf of a Boutique Hotel after a four day jury trial in Cook County. Plaintiff, a 56 year old corporate executive, slipped in the hotel’s shower in 2016. Plaintiff filed suit alleging that the negligently designed shower caused a displaced, fractured clavicle.  He claimed continuing pain, disability, loss of normal life (avid golfer), and disfigurement.

LEF’s trial team convinced the jury that the shower was not unreasonably dangerous contrary to plaintiff’s retained expert’s opinions and further argued that plaintiff’s injuries were not as severe as claimed by plaintiff’s orthopedic surgeons and retained medical expert. Plaintiff’s counsel asked for a verdict in excess of $590,000. Six of the jurors provided feedback to both the plaintiff’s and defendant’s attorneys explaining what evidence they found compelling. Case was tried February 19-22, 2019. Case No: 17 L 1333 (Cook).

News – March 15, 2019


Partner Jeff Pavlovich, with the pre-trial assistance of Maggie Gosselin, won a defense verdict ("not guilty") on behalf of the client, a condominium Association located in Cook County, IL. Plaintiff alleged that the Association breached its Bylaws in failing to properly clear their parking lot of ice and snow, resulting in plaintiff's fall and shoulder injury resulting in surgery. Plaintiff requested $285,000 from the jury. The jury deliberated for approximately one hour before returning the defense verdict and awarding plaintiff $0. Afterwards, the jury highlighted the following points in supporting their award for the defendant: 1) plaintiff's failure to report the incident; 2) weather data which supported defendant's position; and 3) plaintiff's knowledge of the conditions. The case was tried before Judge Thomas Lyons. Constance v. Horizon House, Inc. Case No.: 16 L 011930 (Cook)(Feb. 26, 2019).

News – February 5, 2019


Susan Chae Corcoran has joined the firm’s Commercial, Liability and Transportation Practice groups as a Partner, bringing more than twenty-five years of experience litigating and resolving casualty and commercial civil matters.

For more than two decades, Susan has served as trusted defense counsel to a wide-range of clients, from Fortune 500 companies to individuals. She has extensive trial experience, including actions involving premises liability, general negligence, breach of contract disputes, construction defect and liability claims, automobile defense, insurance related matters, and civil rights litigation.

Ms. Corcoran has served as a member of numerous professional organizations, including the Korean-American Bar Association, Korean-American Womens’ Association, Asian-American Bar Association, National Asian Pacific, American Bar Association, Illinois State Bar Association, Chicago Bar Association and the Chicago Young Lawyers’ Association. Susan is also actively involved with The Misericordia Womens League of Hinsdale, Autism Speaks, Muscular Dystrophy Association, and St. Isaac Jogues Catholic Womens Charity. Ms. Corcoran is also fluent in Korean.

Susan is the latest in a series of prominent hires for the Firm and follows the 2018 addition of a National Premier Maritime firm.

Susan received her J.D. from The John Marshall Law School and her B.A. from Loyola University of Chicago.

News – December 19, 2018


Congratulations to Howard Randell and Roland Keske, who recently secured a judgment on the pleadings in connection with a shipment of dairy and soy based products that spoiled during their shipment from Illinois to New York. Shortly after the insured signed for and accepted the load, its driver admittedly set the refrigerated truck (reefer) temperature at 53° F, not 35° F. Upon its arrival in New York, the shipper rejected the load and subsequently sued the insured for, among other things, exposing the products to higher temperatures than set forth in the shipping instructions. LEF convinced the Court that the policy only provided coverage for "spoiling, freezing or other change in temperature" to the extent such loss or damage was "directly caused by a sudden and accidental mechanical failure or breakdown" of the refrigeration equipment. Further, Howard and Roland were able to convince the court that no discovery was necessary in light of the insured driver's admissions that he incorrectly set the reefer temperature and that the truck was "fine." Sentry Select Insurance Company v. An Enterprise, Inc. et al., 2017 CH 07390 (Cook).

News – September 24, 2018


Leahy, Eisenberg & Fraenkel recently obtained summary judgment in the United States District Court for the Central District of Illinois on application of the "Continuous or Repeated Seepage or Leakage of Water" exclusion in a commercial property policy. Insured, a hotel, brought a claim against its property insurer for water damage discovered behind the drywall of over 30 of its rooms which resulted in approximately $1M in property damage and business income damages. The insurer disclaimed coverage based on a faulty workmanship/faulty construction exclusion in the policy, and reserved its right to rely on additional policy provisions to further deny coverage. Expert testimony in the case established that the water infiltration was the result of faulty workmanship/faulty construction of the hotel. The insured attempted to rely on the ensuing loss provision of the exclusion to argue that the ensuing water damage should still be covered. However, under Illinois law, there is no coverage for an ensuing loss where the ensuing loss is, itself, excluded from coverage. Relying on the "Continuous or Repeated Seepage or Leakage of Water" exclusion, the insurer took the litigation position that the ensuing water damage was also excluded based on evidence in the record demonstrating the water infiltration occurred over a long period of time. The insured challenged the position as barred by Illinois' "mend the hold" doctrine which prevents an insurer from taking a litigation position not previously raised in its denial of coverage. The Central District of Illinois agreed with the insurer that its reservation on other potential provisions in the policy, and its affirmative defense based on the "Continuous or Repeated Seepage or Leakage of Water" exclusion at the onset of litigation, properly raised the coverage issue and did not implicate the "mend the hold" doctrine. The Court also agreed with the insurer that the ensuing loss language in the policy only applied to the faulty workmanship/faulty construction exclusion and did not impact the application of the "Continuous or Repeated Seepage or Leakage of Water" exclusion. Summary judgment in favor of the insurer was granted and the case was dismissed. Tracy Holdings LLC v. West Bend Mutual Ins. Co., 2018 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 162363, 2018 WL 4571859, __ F. Supp. 3d __ (C.D. Ill. Sept. 24, 2018).

News – August 2, 2018


Congratulations to Robert Ostojic, who recently prevailed at trial on behalf of a property insurer of a commercial cold-storage warehouse. During trial, the insured claimed that a walk-in freezer door was inadvertently left open, which allowed humid air to enter one of the freezers.  Sometime thereafter, the insured noticed that the freezer floor had heaved, and submitted a property claim. The insurer's experts, however, determined that the cause of the loss was the freezing and expanding of the soil underneath the freezer. Consequently, the insurer denied coverage based upon a policy's "Earth Movement" exclusion. During Mr. Ostojic's cross-examination of the insured's three experts, the experts admitted that the cause of the loss was, in fact, the freezing and expanding of the soil beneath the freezer. Following the close of the evidence, the insured requested an award totaling more than $1M. Though the jury awarded a fraction of the requested damages, the trial court threw out the jury verdict and entered judgment in favor of LEF's client, the insurer. The trial court accepted LEF's position that the claimed loss fell squarely within the plain and unambiguous language of the policy's "Earth Movement" exclusion, which broadly excluded coverage for "rising or shifting soil caused by freezing or expansion."  The case remains pending on appeal.  4220 Kildare, LLC v. Regent Insurance Company, 16 L 10618 (Aug. 2, 2018, Cook).

News – July 24, 2018


Congratulations to John O'Donnell, Sr., Sara E. Spratt and John O'Donnell, Jr. who recently obtained summary judgment for the client, a sailing club. The sailing club operated a bar during a sailing regatta, and during discovery it was revealed that it had violated its liquor license by selling alcohol outside the confines of its building.  At some point during the regatta and related social events, the plaintiff (a minor) alleged that she was sexually assaulted by another regatta participant.  The plaintiff sued the sailing club, the alleged assailant and another regatta sponsor, alleging, among other things, negligence and premises liability.  While businesses invite patrons onto their premises and therefore undertake a duty to provide reasonably safe premises, the undertaking of such a duty does not extend to unforeseeable criminal acts. Mr. O'Donnell highlighted the fact that there was no evidence that the sailing club served the participant with alcohol, was aware of participant's allegedly intoxicated state, or knew that any of the regatta competitors had any violent propensities. In so doing, Mr. O'Donnell successfully convinced an Ohio state court that the sailing club had no duty to protect regatta participants from allegedly intentional and criminal acts because they were unforeseeable. Furthermore, the trial court also agreed and found that the alleged criminal sexual assault was not a natural and probable consequence of the sailing club's technical liquor license violation. Essi v. Shockey, et al, Case No. 16CVH-4365 (Jul. 24, 2018, Franklin County, OH).

News – June 15, 2018


Leahy, Eisenberg & Fraenkel, Ltd. is pleased to announce that two of its partners, Steven B. Belgrade and John A. O’Donnell, have been included on the 2018 Chicago Admiralty & Maritime Law - Best Lawyers in America. Best Lawyers is one of the oldest and most highly regarded peer review publications in the legal profession, where lawyers are recognized for their top legal talent. Messrs. Belgrade and O’Donnell will be featured in various regional and national publications, including The Wall Street Journal and The Chicago Tribune.

News – May 1, 2018


Congratulations to William P. McElligott who prevailed on behalf of the Defendant in a jury trial held in Cook County, Illinois at the Daley Center. Plaintiff slipped and fell on an accumulation of ice at a shopping center back in 2011. Plaintiff sued the owner and property manager of the shopping center. The ice accumulated as a result of a fire sprinkler test performed by the Third-Party Defendant just hours before Plaintiff's accident. Bill successfully argued that the owner and property manager did not have actual or constructive notice of the accumulated ice that caused Plaintiff's fall. Bill was also successful in a pre-trial motion which barred Plaintiff from alleging that the fire sprinkler company was an agent of the owner or property manager.

News – March 14, 2018


Congratulations to Steven B. Belgrade, who recently won summary judgment on behalf of the client, an Insurer-Subrogee, arising from damages caused when a railcar full of sheet metal collided with a railcar loaded with Manufacturer's mining equipment. Pursuant to its policy, Insurer paid Manufacturer $1,686,194.67 for the damaged mining equipment, which was subsequently salvaged for $763,250.00, thereby reducing Insurer's total damages to $922,944.67. Insurer filed suit against two Railroads under the Carmack Amendment, 49 U.S.C. §14706(a)(1)-(2) ("Carmack"). Under Carmack, Insurer was required to prove delivery of the goods to the shipper in an undamaged condition, arrival of the goods in damaged condition and damages. When these are proven, the burden then shifts to the carrier to demonstrate that it was free of negligence and that the damages were due to an act of God, public enemy, an act of the shipper, public authority, or the nature of the goods themselves. When these elements were proved, Railroads argued that they had limited their liability to $25,000.00 through a private rate agreement between Railroads and Manufacturer. Mr. Belgrade successfully demonstrated to the United States District Court that the parties had let the rate agreement lapse and that Railroads had failed to follow the necessary steps to effectively limit their liability. Starr Indemnity & Liability Co. v. BNSF Railway Co., et al., Case No. 1:15-cv-1068 (C.D.Il, Mar. 14, 2018).

News – February 1, 2018


Congratulations to David Walters for his recent win in the Illinois Court of Appeals for the First District. The Illinois Court of Appeals recently affirmed a grant of summary judgement in favor of LEF's client, the owner of the suburban strip mall that leased space to a well-known health club franchise. Pursuant to the terms of the lease agreement with its tenant, the client-owner was responsible for plowing/removing snow and ice from the walkways and adjoining parking lot.  Plaintiff was injured when she slipped and fell in the parking lot, allegedly on unplowed snow, while walking to entrance of the health club.  Plaintiff could not, however, identify anything that would establish that the snow had been negligently plowed and could not establish the existence of an unnatural accumulation of snow and ice.  The trial court granted summary judgment concluding that Plaintiff was unable to establish a prima facie case of negligence because she was only able to establish that her injuries were caused by a natural accumulation of snow and ice. On appeal, Plaintiff argued that while Illinois Natural Accumulation Rule provides a defense in tort, liability could still be imposed against the landlord under a breach of contract claim.  The First District Appellate Court clarified the law on this issue and held that liability could be imposed upon a landlord for injuries caused by natural accumulations of snow and ice only in situations wherein there was contractual agreement to plow and/or remove snow and ice and the landlord failed to perform any measure of snow plowing or removal after a storm event; however, in cases wherein snow plowing activities were initiated and completed, a plaintiff is still required to establish that the landlord caused or contributed to the cause of  an unnatural accumulation of snow and/or ice through negligent snowplowing activities. Mr. Walters convinced the Illinois Appellate Court that his case fell in the latter category and affirmed summary judgment.  Robin Allen, v. Cam Girls, LLC , et al.,2017 IL App (1st) 163340,2017 Ill. App. LEXIS 820 (December 26, 2017).


News – December 14, 2017


We are pleased to announce that, effective January 1, 2018, Steven Belgrade and John O'Donnell, of Belgrade and O'Donnell, P.C., will join Leahy, Eisenberg & Fraenkel, Ltd. as partners. Steven and John bring over 60 years of litigation experience, with an emphasis in maritime law, and have dedicated their legal careers to representing the insurance industry. Belgrade and O'Donnell, P.C. has long been recognized as a premier, national maritime firm, and they are listed Correspondents for several P&I Clubs in the United Kingdom. Additionally, their remaining practice parallels ours, with a focus on insurance coverage, professional liability, trucking litigation, mass casualty litigation, wrongful death and personal injury claims, and appellate law. 

Attorneys  Patrick Cullinan and John O'Donnell, Jr. will also join the firm, and, with Steven and John, will strengthen Leahy, Eisenberg & Fraenkel, Ltd. and enable us to offer a wider scope of services, particularly in the maritime arena. We will maintain the same commitment to provide cost-effective and high quality legal representation, and we are excited for the new opportunities the relationship creates.

Please join us in welcoming Steven, John, Patrick and John, Jr. 

News – November 2, 2017


LEF SAVES INSURER MILLIONS IN POLICY DISPUTE: Thomas J. Finn and Scott Wing successfully defended an insurer in a first-party property loss eight-day jury trial, in the United States District Court for the Northern District of Illinois, Eastern Division. The Plaintiff-insured sustained a property loss caused by a third party's negligent sand-blasting in a building that housed the insured's architectural and design offices, studio and storage space. After the insurer paid full replacement cost business personal property limits of approximately $1.2 million and approximately $500,000 for twelve months of business income loss, Plaintiff-insured sought approximately $4.8 million in extra expense and additional business income loss. The plaintiff claimed that the insurer's delayed claim handling estopped the insurer from asserting the policy's 12-month extra expense and business income limitations and that plaintiff's approximate $2 million in expenses allegedly spent to equip and operate a new studio were necessary expenses incurred to avoid or minimize the suspension of plaintiff's business. After the insurer's $1.2 million offer to settle the claim was rejected by the plaintiff, the case was tried. The jury rejected the bulk of the plaintiff's claims and awarded plaintiff $1.3 million in damages.  The case was tried before the Honorable Ronald A. Guzmán.  Jordan Mozer & Assocs. v. Gen. Cas. Co. of Wis., Case No. 14 CV 10264, (N.D. Ill., Chicago, October 24, 2017 through November 2, 2017). 

News – October 4, 2017


In October 2017, Thomas J. Finn prevailed on behalf of Allstate Insurance Company (“Allstate”). In the summer of 2015, the Gary Fire Department responded to a 911 call and a fire at Plaintiff’s home. Plaintiff testified that he left the home at 12:40 a.m. to spend the night at his girlfriend’s residence and that the home was locked and secured when he left. Allstate’s investigation indicated that the fire was intentionally set and denied Plaintiff’s claim. Plaintiff sued, alleging that Allstate did not have any reasonable grounds to deny Plaintiff’s claim and that Allstate’s denial was a breach of the insurance contract. Though Plaintiff denied any involvement, Mr. Finn successfully convinced the jury that the fire was set with Plaintiff’s consent and authority and that Plaintiff made material misrepresentations regarding his insurance claim. Specifically, Tom elicited testimony from the Gary Fire Department, who testified that the doors to the home were closed, but unlocked at the time of the fire. Tom also presented expert testimony indicating two separate areas of origin in the home, as well as evidence showing that Plaintiff’s Akita dog was later found in the rear yard, unharmed. The jury returned a verdict in favor of Allstate, found no breach and awarded Plaintiff no damages. The case was tried before the Honorable Magistrate Judge Andrew P. Rodovich in the United States District Court for the Northern District of Indiana. Davion Allen v. Allstate Insurance Company, 2:16 CV 003110 (U.S. Dist. Ct. N.D.Ind., Hammond, October 2, 2017 through October 4, 2017). 

News – August 1, 2017


Patti M. Deuel and Jeffrey S. Pavlovich of LEF recently presented to a major property and casualty insurer on “Additional Insureds" and "Conflicts of Interest.” The program focused on additional insured endorsements, tenders of defense and the limited circumstances under which “choice of counsel” must be granted. NOTE: Not all reservations of rights create a conflict! Contact LEF if you want to know more.   

News – July 1, 2017


Howard B. Randell and Peter T. Cahill of LEF recently won summary judgment as to all counts of a Complaint filed against LEF's client, an insurer which had issued a property insurance policy to the Plaintiff. The Complaint alleged that LEF’s client improperly denied coverage after business personal property at the insured premises was damaged during severe rainstorms that hit Chicago on April 17-18, 2013. According to Plaintiff’s experts, rainwater overcharged the City’s mixed sewer-stormwater system, causing water to backflow through floor drains at the insured premises. LEF leveraged this testimony in support of an argument that the backflow of stormwater through the municipal drainpipe system was not covered by an endorsement for damage “solely caused” by water that backs up from a sewer or drain, but rather, coverage was properly declined by the insurer under the “flood” exclusion. The Circuit Court of Cook County agreed, and awarded summary judgment as to all counts of Plaintiff’s Complaint, terminating the case in its entirety.

News – June 1, 2017


David I. Walters recently conducted an educational seminar at the pre-convention Tabletop Show and Dinner hosted by the American Rental Association of Chicagoland, a nonprofit trade association for equipment rental businesses and manufacturers and suppliers of rental equipment.  The event was well attended by the owners and operators of equipment rental facilities throughout the Chicagoland area and Northern Illinois.  The seminar included an analysis of the recent amendments to the Illinois Theft Statute, which now make the theft of rental equipment and revenue a crime. Mr. Walters also provided a general overview and tutorial of the litigation process, with an emphasis on risk reduction and damage mitigation. 

News – April 19, 2017


Congratulations to Roland S. Keske and Patti M. Deuel, who vindicated the insurer-client's handling of an underlying UM claim in a contentious first-party breach of contract / bad faith suit, which was recently arbitrated in the Circuit Court of Cook County Illinois' commercial calendar mandatory arbitration program.  The commercial arbitrator entered a finding of no-liability and an award in favor of the insurer-client and awarded no damages. The Notice of Award was entered in the Circuit Court on April 19, 2017. Jennifer Arias v. American Family Mutual Ins., 2016 L 003329 (Apr. 19, 2017, Cook County).

News – January 31, 2017


On December 15, 2016, Gerard A. Fosco of Leahy, Eisenberg & Fraenkel, Ltd. appeared before the Illinois Supreme Court on behalf of his client, a home inspector and repairman, in the case Schweihs v. Chase Home Finance, LLC, et al., arguing the continued viability of the "impact rule", which is a requirement for alleged victims of emotional distress. Illinois' high court agreed with Mr. Fosco and affirmed the dismissal of the plaintiff's claims. The defendants timely filed a petition for rehearing, which is presently under consideration in the Illinois Supreme Court.

News – January 31, 2017


On December 15, 2016, Gerard A. Fosco of Leahy, Eisenberg & Fraenkel, Ltd. appeared before the Illinois Supreme Court on behalf of his client, a home inspector and repairman, in the case Schweihs v. Chase Home Finance, LLC, et al., arguing the continued viability of the "impact rule", which is a requirement for alleged victims of emotional distress. Illinois' high court agreed with Mr. Fosco and affirmed the dismissal of the plaintiff's claims. The defendants timely filed a petition for rehearing, which is presently under consideration in the Illinois Supreme Court.

News – September 1, 2016


The Snow Removal Service Liability Limitation Act (P.A.099-0889) changes the relationship between snow removal contractors (“service providers”) and those who contract with them (“service receivers”).  In the past, snow removal contracts shifted liability one way or the other - typically requiring the service provider to assume the risk - and enabled a property owner/operator to contract away its liability and defense costs for injuries related to winter weather problems on property.  This new Act renders these absolute liability-shifting provisions “void”.  Specifically, the Act voids snow removal / ice control services contracts that require the service provider to indemnify, defend, or hold harmless the service receiver from damages resulting from the acts or omissions of the service receiver.  Likewise, the Act voids those contracts that require the service receiver to indemnify, defend, or hold harmless the service provider from damages resulting from the acts or omissions of the service provider.  The Act applies to snow removal and ice control services contracts entered into on or after 8/25/16, but does not apply to contracts concerning public roads, public bodies, and public utilities.  EDITORS NOTE: This Act does not prohibit additional insured contract requirements. The Act is similar to the Construction Contract Indemnification for Negligence Act, which voids construction contract provisions purporting to indemnify or hold harmless another person from their own negligence. Consultation with counsel familiar with this Act is imperative to ensure that contracts entered into after the Act’s effective date are not rendered void.

News – January 1, 2016


Leahy, Eisenberg & Fraenkel, Ltd. is pleased to announce that two of its partners, Robert Ostojic and Scott Wing, were recently included on the 2016 Illinois Super Lawyers® list.

News – December 1, 2015


Congratulations to Roland S. Keske who obtained summary judgment in favor of the insurer in a first party / breach of contract suit filed in the Circuit Court of Cook County arising from an alleged holdup and jewelry theft. The Court agreed that no coverage was owed due to several misrepresentations in the insured's  application for insurance regarding the insured's residence, roommates, alarm system, safe and travel habits.  The insured, who incidentally claimed to be a trainer to several current and former NBA players, argued that coverage was owed because the misrepresentations were not significant and were wholly unrelated to the loss. However, Mr. Keske convinced the Court that a dismissal was warranted because the insured's misrepresentations materially affected the insurer's acceptance of the risk. No appeal was filed. McCray v. Jeweler's Mutual Insurance Company, Case No. 13 CH 15238 (Cook County) 

News – March 1, 2015


PETER A. SINK JOINS LEAHY, EISENBERG & FRAENKEL, LTD. : Leahy, Eisenberg & Fraenkel, Ltd. welcomes partner Peter A. Sink to the Firm to chair the Firm's Workers' Compensation department.  Peter joins Leahy, Eisenberg & Fraenkel, Ltd. from an established Chicago firm, where he represented insureds and self-insureds before the Illinois Workers' Compensation Commission, Illinois Circuit Courts, Illinois Appellate District Courts and the Illinois Supreme Court.  Peter brings over twenty-five years of experience defending work-related injuries.  We look forward to our shared future, as Peter significant experience and established reputation for excellence and enthusiasm will serve the firm and our clients well.

News – February 1, 2015


Congratulations to Howard Randell and Scott Wing who were recently awarded summary judgment with regard to an insurer's duty to indemnify its insured in a matter arising out of the theft of a shipment of cellular phones valued at more than $2 million. The insured, a motor carrier and logistics provider, was initially hired to transport the shipment from Illinois to Pennsylvania; however, due to a shortage of equipment, the insured retained a separate motor carrier to actually perform the transit. After accepting the load for delivery, the driver parked his truck near his home to take a brief rest, at which point the load was stolen, along with the cargo inside. Suit was filed by the owner of the cargo against its logistics provider which, in turn filed suit against the insured to recover the value of the stolen cargo. The insured tendered its defense and indemnity to its motor truck cargo insurer, which accepted the tender, subject to a reservation of its rights. LEF filed suit for declaratory judgment and, during the early stages of litigation, secured a summary judgment with regard to the insurer's duty to defend, with the court acknowledging that the subject policy extended the insurer a right, but not a duty to defend, at which point the insurer was able to withdraw its defense of the underlying case prior to extensive discovery and motion practice. The underlying case ultimately settled on the eve of trial, at which point LEF moved for summary judgment with regard to the insurer's duty to indemnify, citing the policy provision requiring that covered property be within the insured's "care, custody, and control" and a policy exclusion for the insured's liability as a "transportation broker." Following lengthy briefing and oral argument, the court agreed with LEF's position on both the "care, custody, and control" and transportation broker issues, ruling that the insurer had no duty to indemnify its insured for the underlying settlement. Hartford v. Atlas SN, Inc. et al., Case No. 12 CH 1633 (Cook). 


News – January 1, 2015


LEF OPENS INDIANA OFFICE - Leahy, Eisenberg & Fraenkel, Ltd. is pleased to announce the opening of our newest office at 1112 U.S. Route 41, Suite 101, Schererville, Indiana 46375.  We are excited for the opportunities this expansion will create, and look forward to providing cost-effective and creative legal representation to our valued clients.  As we have in Illinois for more than 40 years, we will offer services in all our insurance practice groups. 

News – January 1, 2014


Leahy, Eisenberg & Fraenkel is pleased to announce that five of its attorneys, Kevin Carlson, Steve Frew, Roland S. Keske, Robert Ostojic and Scott Wing, were recently included on the 2014 Illinois Super Lawyers® list.

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