Claim Barred By Statute of Repose Despite Alleged Fraudulent Concealment

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In 2019 plaintiff brought a legal malpractice claim against the lawyer who represented her in connection with her divorce, which was finalized in 2013. Plaintiff alleged that, in 2013, she was assured she would receive “permanent” maintenance from her husband. When her husband retired, however, maintenance stopped. Plaintiff alleged that she contacted her lawyer in 2017 and was reassured that her maintenance was permanent. She filed suit in 2019.

The circuit court dismissed on statute of limitations and statute of repose grounds.  The appellate court affirmed.

The court held that the lawyer’s “last act” of representation occurred in 2013, when the allegedly defective marital settlement agreement and divorce judgment were entered. Therefore, the six year statute of repose barred the claim.

The court held that the lawyer’s alleged continuing representation in 2017 did not toll the statute of repose because Illinois does not recognize the continuous representation doctrine. The court held that the lawyer’s alleged fraudulent concealment did not save plaintiff’s claim.   Plaintiff had actual knowledge of her claim in 2017 when another lawyer advised her she may have a claim.   At that time, 14 months remained within the statute of repose.   Because there was a reasonable amount of time left in the limitations period, she would not be give the benefit of the five year fraudulent concealment statute.

Christine Dema v. Corine O’Hara and Shuflit & O’Hara, 2021 IL App (1st) 201003-U

DISCLAIMER: Because of the generality of this update, the information provided herein may not be applicable in all situations and should not be acted upon without specific legal advice based on particular situations.

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