Companies and individuals sued in an Illinois state court (Drury Litigation) as the manufacturers of Chinese herbs that allegedly contained aristolochic acid (AA ) and caused the kidney failure and death of a consumer have filed a legal malpractice action against the firm and attorneys they retained to defend them. Life Rising Corp. v. Probst, No. 2014L005633 (Cook Cnty. Cir. Ct., Ill., filed May 27, 2014).

Alleging legal malpractice, breach of fiduciary duty and fraud, the plaintiffs contend that the attorneys incorrectly designated them as the product manufacturers in pleadings; ignored a motion to compel discovery responses; failed to respond to requests to admit, a motion for discovery sanctions or a motion for partial summary judgment; and engaged in mediation and signed a $2.5- million settlement agreement, all without allegedly informing the plaintiffs. They have, to date, been unable to reverse any of the adverse rulings entered against them and seek to recover the costs incurred in that effort.

According to the complaint, “Any liability in the Drury Litigation is solely the result of Defendants’ malpractice. Plaintiffs had viable defenses in the Drury litigation that are now foreclosed by the sanctions and orders described above. . . . None of the defendants are the manufacturers of the products at issue and should have been dismissed from the product liability counts under the distributor statute. Post-suit testing by Plaintiffs of their products shows no AA present in any product, and while the Drury plaintiff claims to have one lab result showing the presence of AA , Plaintiffs are now foreclosed from testing that claim in any way much less disproving it.” The plaintiffs also allege that one of the attorneys they have sued said under oath that she had never handled product-liability litigation before and she was “overwhelmed by pressure and froze.”