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$2.4 Million Client Poaching Case Between Settles

Law Firm Dissolutions in Wisconsin and Illinois

[Judge et al. v. Kujawa et al., case number 2018-L-013610, in the Circuit Court of Cook County, Illinois]

An Illinois insurance defense law firm sued a former partner, claiming that when he left the firm, he poached many important clients, causing damage of $2.4M. In April of 2024, the plaintiffs agreed to drop the suit, and each side agreed to pay their own costs.

Details of the Underlying Case

Attorney Michael Kujawa (“Kujawa”) joined the Illinois insurance defense firm Judge James Hoban & Fisher LLC (“Judge James”) in 1998 and rose to become a partner. In 2016, he left the firm to join another firm, Schain Banks Kenny & Schwartz Ltd.

Kujawa took 70% of Judge James’ business with him to the new firm, including 16 clients who collectively had paid Judge James some $2.44 million the prior year. He also took some of the attorneys with him.

Judge James filed suit against Kuwaja and his new firm in 2018, claiming that Kuwaja had taken client contact information and other confidential data from Judge James’ servers before he left.

Judge James characterized this as “poaching” clients and sued Kujawa for breach of fiduciary duty, tortious interference with prospective economic advantage, and civil conspiracy. Schain Banks Kenny & Schwartz Ltd. was also a named defendant in the latter two charges.

Kujawa denied having approached the clients before he left the firm. He claimed that Judge James did not investigate the matter appropriately. He characterized the plaintiff’s behavior as “a jilted lover” lashing out.

The litigation was slowed down by discovery extension delays, a continuance due to COVID-19-related issues, and various other extensions. In April 2023, Kujawa was granted summary judgment on the civil conspiracy charge in April 2023.

The Settlement Agreement

The case was settled in April 2024. Judge James agreed to dismiss its claims, and both parties agreed to pay their own legal costs. No other details of the settlement were released publicly.