The Plaintiff for more than 25 years operated a successful auto body and mechanic shop in Chicago. Having outgrown his facility, the Plaintiff decided that he wanted to own his own shop. He engaged the Defendant, a licensed real estate broker to assist him in purchasing a new property for his expanded auto shop. The broker found a suitable location and the Plaintiff agreed to purchase it. After that, things went wrong.
The Defendant, rather than purchase the property in the Plaintiff’s name, as he was supposed to do, put his own name on the purchase agreement instead. The Defendant then lied to the Plaintiff, telling the Plaintiff that he was required to pay the Defendant on a monthly basis as part of the purchase agreement for the property. When the Plaintiff, suspecting that something was wrong, stopped paying the Defendant, the Defendant claimed that he was the Plaintiff’s landlord and that the Plaintiff owed him back rent. By the time the Plaintiff retained David A. Axelrod & Associates, the Defendant had succeeded in having the Plaintiff evicted from the property he thought he owned. In addition, the Defendant confiscated many of the Plaintiff’s business and personal belongings, which the Plaintiff had kept at the property.
Led by Mr. Axelrod, the firm argued numerous legal bases for recovery on behalf of the Plaintiff, including the legal claims of fraud and breach of fiduciary duty, and sought the equitable remedy of a constructive trust. Agreeing with the legal theories presented by Mr. Axelrod, the trial court ruled that the Defendant had unlawfully obtained the Plaintiff’s eviction and had improperly taken his possessions. Mr. Axelrod convinced the court that the real estate broker was a fiduciary, requiring that the Defendant should have placed the interests of the Plaintiff before his own interests. Instead, the broker sought to enrich himself at the Plaintiff’s expense.
Ultimately, the verdict in favor of the Plaintiff included damages in the total amount of $783,906 to compensate the Plaintiff for the value of his business and personal property that was taken, the amount that he had paid to the Defendant, and to disgorge from the Defendant the profit he had realized on the property. Further, Mr. Axelrod convinced the court that the conduct of the real estate broker required more than just compensatory damages for the Plaintiff’s lawsuit. As a result, the court awarded an additional $300,000 in punitive damages. The Defendant appealed and lost. The Plaintiff collected the judgment.
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