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Friday, July 12, 2024 | Back issues
Courthouse News Service Courthouse News Service

Chicago Lawyer Blamed|for Messy Estate Spat

CHICAGO (CN) - Six siblings led by a priest claim in court that their former attorney complicated their efforts to recover $47 million in assets other siblings looted.

The Rev. Timothy O'Malley filed the complaint Monday with three brothers and two sisters.

They say three of their siblings began looted their parents' assets in late 2000, after their father's death, depleting the estate of $47 million by the time their mother died in February 2009.

Premier among their mother's assets was the Palos Country Club in Orland Park, according to the complaint.

The plaintiffs say their siblings all but drove this club into the ground while their mother was sick.

Though they hired an attorney in April 2009 to contest their mother's will, the plaintiffs say Frederick Cappetta and his firm, Cappetta & Associates, "proved to be ineffective counsel," according to the complaint.

Ultimately with new counsel, the plaintiffs secured a 2012 jury verdict finding that the will they had challenged "was a product of undue influence."

"Soon after, plaintiffs rightfully regained control of the estate," the complaint states. "Since the will contest, plaintiffs have, at great personal cost, undertaken a tremendous effort to sort out nearly a decade of professional abuse of their mother's legal and financial affairs."

The plaintiffs blame Cappetta's failings for having been later forced "to undertake legal actions at substantial personal cost to recover property, documents and information which should have been recovered years earlier."

The Rev. O'Malley says his "self-serving" siblings created a "legal and financial boondoggle."

"But for Cappetta, and his firms' [sic] negligent acts and/or omissions, plaintiff [sic] would have prosecuted her [sic] underlying claim against" certain attorneys who helped their unscrupulous siblings, according to the complaint.

Such claims would have netted damages for the O'Malley plaintiffs, they say.

The five O'Malley siblings say Cappetta supposedly had expertise in estate litigation but "undertook no action against the attorney's [sic] and professionals for their improprieties."

A six-month statute of limitation bars malpractice and fraud claims in Illinois estate cases, but "Cappetta was unaware of and failed to inform plaintiffs" of that hurdle, the complaint states.

The plaintiffs seek at least $3 million in damages for Cappetta's alleged breach. They are represented by Michael O'Malley of Evanstown. O'Malley declined to give an interview for this article.

It is unclear from the complaint if he is a relative of the plaintiff O'Malleys.

Cappetta has not returned a phone call seeking comment.

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