Judge ends 'ironic' bid to nix malpractice case over lawyer's blown deadlines

A businessman waits to cross a street. REUTERS/Yuriko Nakao
  • Lawyer claimed lawsuit over missed deadlines also missed a deadline
  • But judge said filing period for malpractice claims was triggered later

Feb 4 - A Chicago lawyer accused by a former client of ignoring numerous deadlines to file workplace bias claims cannot shake a malpractice lawsuit that he, in turn, said was filed too late, a federal judge ruled on Friday.

While noting that "irony is no barrier to a motion to dismiss," U.S. District Judge Steven Seeger in Chicago rejected Charles Lee Mudd's claim that the case against him was untimely because it was filed more than two years after he allegedly missed the window to bring a lawsuit on behalf of the client, Michael Koumjian.

The judge said Koumjian, a former ExpressJet Airlines pilot, had two years from the time he learned that he could no longer sue the company, rather than from when the deadline to sue had actually passed, to bring malpractice claims against Mudd. Seeger said it was not clear when that happened and allowed the lawsuit to proceed.

John Duffy, a lawyer for Mudd, said "we look forward to the actual facts being presented rather than unsubstantiated allegations."

Mudd heads a five-lawyer firm where he focuses on "Internet and space law and policy," according to the firm's website.

Thomas Gooch, who represents Koumjian, said he was pleased with the decision.

Koumjian had accused ExpressJet of firing him for complaining about harassment based on his ethnicity, according to court filings. But he said Mudd sat on his claims for more than two years, ultimately missing every opportunity to file a lawsuit on his behalf. ExpressJet did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Koumjian is seeking at least $2 million in damages from Mudd.

The case is Koumjian v. Mudd Law Offices, U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Illinois, No. 1:21-cv-03455.

For Koumjian: Thomas Gooch of The Gooch Firm

For Mudd: John Duffy of Swanson Martin & Bell

(Editor's Note: This article has been updated to include a statement from John Duffy, Mudd's lawyer.)

Our Standards: The Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.

Thomson Reuters

Dan Wiessner (@danwiessner) reports on labor and employment and immigration law, including litigation and policy making. He can be reached at daniel.wiessner@thomsonreuters.com.