Two Chicago area personal injury lawyers are squaring off in Cook County court over an attempt by one of the lawyers to leave the other in the dark on the true status of referred cases, potentially shorting his colleague hundreds of thousands of dollars or more in attorneys' fees he may be owed under a referral agreement between the two.
Naperville-based personal injury lawyer Barry R. Rabovsky filed a complaint on Oct. 5 in Cook County Circuit Court against Craig Manchik, a Chicago trial lawyer specializing in medical malpractice and similar cases. Rabovsky's complaint has alleged six counts against Manchik, including common law fraud, breach of contract and unjust enrichment.
Rabovsky is being represented in the action by attorneys with the firm of Karlin, Fleisher & Falkenberg, of Chicago.
The complaint centers on an agreement dating back to 2005 between the two lawyers.
According to the complaint, at that time, Rabovsky, a lawyer who advertises his services to potential victims in personal injury cases throughout the Chicago area, and particularly in suburban DuPage, Kane and Cook counties, agreed to refer "potential medical malpractice, nursing home negligence, personal injury and wrongful death cases" to Manchik.
Manchik, managing partner of the Law Offices of Craig L. Manchik & Associates with offices on Chicago's Near West Side, has practiced law since 1994, according to his firm's website. His website notes numerous jury verdicts worth millions racked up by his clients in cases against health care providers, nursing homes and others.
In exchange for the referrals from Rabovsky, Manchik was to pay the suburban lawyer 20-25 percent of all attorneys' fees collected as a result of settlements and verdicts reached in the cases Rabovksy referred to Manchik.
According to his complaint, Rabovsky said he referred about 3,500 such cases to Manchik from 2005-2015. The cases, Rabovsky alleged, came from numerous northern Illinois counties, including Cook, DuPage, Kane, Will and Rock Island counties, among others. Rabovsky said each client he referred to Manchik completed an agreement specifying the referral.
Rabovsky asserted Manchik was responsible for supplying regular reports on the status and outcomes of the various referred cases subject to the referral agreement.
"The report would indicate whether a referral had been accepted, whether the case was still pending and whether the matter had been dismissed, settled or adjudicated to trial," Rabovsky's complaint stated.
Rabovsky has alleged, however, Manchik's reports were not entirely truthful. In his complaint, Rabovsky said he first became aware in April that Manchik had resolved several referral cases "without Mr. Rabovsky's knowledge and without paying Mr. Rabovsky his portion of the attorneys fees recovered in those cases."
He said Manchik's reports would indicate those cases were still pending.
As an example, Rabovsky pointed to a case he referred to Manchik in 2008, in which a client sued Cook County John Stroger Hospital and other defendants. In 2012, Manchik settled the case for about $1.3 million, Rabovsky's complaint said, meaning Rabovsky should have been paid about $87,000.
However, as recently as March 2014, Rabovsky said Manchik continued to report the case to him as "pending." And Rabovsky said Manchik has yet to pay him what he believes he is owed from that case.
Rabovsky said he has identified about two dozen other cases in which Manchik has similarly sought to "defraud" him.
Rabovsky has asked the court to award him damages including unspecified compensatory and punitive damages from Manchik, as well as all of the money Rabovsky said Manchik owes him from the referred cases.
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