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Village Spends $453K To Settle With Law Firm for $470K

Village agrees to settle with former village attorney after costly litigation.

agreed to end the dispute with its former legal counsel after some village trustees accused the firm of malpractice and overbillings.

Oak Lawn trustees settled with Tressler, Soderstrom, Maloney & Priess for $500,000 during the village board’s executive session on Tuesday.

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Tressler served as the village counsel from October 2005 to September 2009. , with some village board members criticizing Mayor Dave Heilmann for his reluctance to fire the Tressler attorneys because he had friends at the firm.

after members of Querrey’s municipal litigation team joined a new firm that has since taken over as Oak Lawn’s legal counsel.

READ the settlement offer.

Under the terms of the confidential agreement, Tressler will pay the village a settlement of $500,000. The third-party administrator that handled some of the village’s legal claims—CCMSI--is to pay the village $20,000.

in legal bills that it has owed Tressler since 2009 by paying $50,000. Tressler will forgive the remaining balance of $46,360.

The agreement marks the end of a multi-year battle with political underpinnings that has cost the village $453,541 to resolve, including a pair of legal investigations by two different firms.

Village Manager Larry Deetjen placed the settlement at $566,000, including the forgiven debt balance to Tressler of $46,360.

“It should be noted that the unpaid invoices held back by the village since 2009 because of overall billings concerns discovered by the village were unrelated directly to the investigation,” Deetjen said by email Wednesday evening. “[They] were recorded on the village books as accounts payable and due if the village had not successfully secured a ‘global settlement.’”

Attorney Burt Odelson was hired by the village board in January 2010 to lead an audit investigation into possible overbillings and mishandling of such high profile cases as the , and a female village firefighters’ sexual harassment lawsuit.

, and lacerated the mayor and his attorney friend and partner in community theater productions Norm Chimenti, who handled some of the village’s labor contract negotiations.

A month later, to conduct a second investigation.

Godfrey and Kahn, that touts white collar investigations and defense as one of its areas of expertise, helped broker the out-of-court settlement with Tressler.

A breakdown of the total $453,541legal fees to date include:

  • Godfrey and Kahn, $436,672
  • Odelson and Sterk, $10,477
  • Querrey and Harrow, $6,392

The settlement payout—not including the forgiven $46,360 debt balance to Tressler—totals $470,000.

“In January 2010 I did recommend that the board consider trying to get the [outstanding] fees [owed to Tressler] waived for $96,000 without incurring additional legal fees,” Heilmann said. “If we had done that we would have had a net of $96,000, instead of paying up to $450,000+.”

Both parties agreed to not sue each other for future damages. In addition, each party would pay its own legal fees.

“The village sought a thorough and factual investigation and settlement,” Deetjen said. “We received exactly what we sought.”

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Dave W. April 17, 2012 at 09:43 PM
Andy, I agree with you totally about needing an engaged electorate...I sort of wonder, not saying I know, but, does anybody feel that the whole 95th and Cook debacle really killed off whatever was left of the enthusiasm in Oak Lawn? I remember those meetings being PACKED, but the old board and VM and mayor were as crooked as the letter 'z'. It seems since then, when the wants of the people were TOTALLY disregarded by those people that everybody FINALLY realized that Kolb and cohorts had been shady for years and were going to do what they wanted to do. After that, there was major change, in that we got new trustees in most wards, a new mayor, no more Faber, etc. Even though the town was sort of stuck with the developments, I do remember (I think) the current mayor getting a couple of floors lopped off the tops of those condos (could you imagine THAT, two more levels?), but the village's hands were largely tied. Anyway, it feels like after that big change, the passion for who runs what in town has waned and people hardly care. I'm sure there are people who post on here that don't vote, because that would require them leaving their chair. Easier to complain from a distance.
andy skoundrianos April 18, 2012 at 04:38 AM
Dave you are right I was there back in the Day. One floor was taken off the development and once the housing market tanked the village had to pay to get the other parking lot back behind the vfw hall,that was included in the old tif district!!!! One of many lousy development " choices " by the old coalition party..
LucyEve April 18, 2012 at 07:33 PM
And the men who hold high places Must be the ones who start_ To mold a new reality closer to the heart_ The Blacksmith and the Artist reflect it in their art; forge their creativity ctth_ Philosophers and Ploughmen each must know his part to sow a new mentality ctth. You can be the Captain and I will draw the chart_Sailing into destiny Closer To The Heart
Thirdidstrictguy April 19, 2012 at 12:46 PM
Oak Lawn Guy says he knows a couple of people that didn't vote who were pro-Sodaro. Big Deal! Don't you think some of the people that stayed home were Pro-Streit?
JohnEggert April 19, 2012 at 01:59 PM
Thanks, Andy. Don't forget the infamous comment made by the then business development director. He told me to my face that if my wife and the other property owners on her block (South side of the 5200 block of 95th) persisted in their refusal to sell to Mid-America, the Village would either condemn them all or just build on that parking lot, deprive all of those businesses (the VFW, Deja Brew, Angelo's, Goalpost, Annie's and then Mal's) of their parking and - I quote here - "they can just die and rot on the vine." That was the level of contempt the Village officials had for the people who built the businesses that had been there for decades. If Heilmann, Quinlan, Phelan and Olejniczak had lost that 2005 election, that project would have continued, and those places would all be gone. My wife took tons of grief then from a lot of people, but she stood up for what she thought was right and stood against what she thought was wrong. I know that nobody is perfect - not Dave, Tom, Alex, Bob or Larry - but we have come a very long way on what I think is the right path.

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