CHICAGO (CN) – The 7th Circuit volleyed the final serve in the 13-year legal battle between former tennis star Jimmy Connors and his former attorney, rejecting the lawyer’s attempt to seek indemnification from Connors.
“Jimmy Connors is known throughout the tennis world for many things: his fierce two-handed backhand, his numerous Grand Slam singles titles (eight, on three different surfaces), and his fiery competitive spirit, to name just a few,” Judge Terence Evans wrote for a three-judge panel. “In addition to holding the men’s number one world ranking for 160 consecutive weeks (1974-77), he is known for his longevity, performing well later in his career against players like Björn Borg, John McEnroe, and Ivan Lendl and reaching the semifinals of the 1991 U.S. Open at the age of 39. More recently, Connors has been engaged in an equally long-running battle off the court – or rather, in court – against his former attorney, Edward Brennan.”
Brennan represented Connors until his firm dissolved in 1997, then sued Connors a year later, alleging that Connors had breached their contract by terminating their representation agreement without transferring his shares of a casino-operating company to Brennan.
Though the suit settled 11 years later for $10.5 million, the match wore on. Michael Constance, a former partner of Brennan, Cates & Constance, sued Brennan for cheating him out of a portion of the shares. He claimed Brennan refused to accept Connors’ shares before the firm dissolved and concealed the attempted transfer.
Brennan sought a declaration that the settlement agreement entitled him to indemnification by Connors if he was found liable to Constance.
U.S. District Judge Patrick Murphy dismissed the claim in Illinois’ Southern District, and the 7th Circuit affirmed Thursday.
The indemnity clause was invalid because it created an infinitely repeating loop of liability, according to the nine-page decision.
The language of the agreement provides that “Connors must indemnify Brennan for Constance’s claim, but then … Brennan must indemnify Connors for the costs resulting from Connor indemnifying Brennan,” Judge Terence Evans explained.
The court also found that agreements to indemnify against intentional misconduct are generally void in Illinois as against public policy.
“In sum, the indemnity provision does not apply to this matter, and even if it did, we would find it unenforceable under Illinois public policy. Game, set, and match to Connors,” Evans wrote.