Summary

Eric is a construction lawyer, counselor, litigator, and mediator, concentrating on construction law, mechanics liens, litigation and dispute resolution. Eric negotiates design and construction agreements and litigates disputes concerning all aspects of construction, title insurance, injunctions and use of real estate and the built environment, as well as other commercial matters.  Eric provides general counseling to design and construction professionals, owners, lenders, title insurers and other parties engaged in the business of design, construction and improvement of real estate.

In the area of construction law, Eric has counseled clients in transactions and disputes involving professional errors and omissions claims; concealed, differing site condition and extra work claims; delay and impact claims; construction insurance and surety bond disputes; bond and payment claims; copyright infringement claims relating to architectural works; Occupational Safety and Health Administration liability of design professionals and construction managers; and injuries during construction. In addition, Eric represents owner lenders, title insurers, contractors, subcontractors, and architects in the prosecution and defense of mechanics lien, mortgage and surety bond claims, from perfection of liens through trial or arbitration.

Eric drafts, negotiates, and counsels clients involved with construction and design agreements, project delivery options, construction insurance programs, and risk planning, and construction dispute avoidance and resolution options. His practice also includes commercial and business litigation matters and real estate-related disputes, including litigation of boundaries and easements, foreclosures of commercial mortgages and other liens, injunctions, actions to quiet title, and realization of a variety of collateral in commercial loans.

In Fall 2023, Eric Completed the Illinois State Bar Association’s 40-hour mediation/arbitration training program.

Construction and Real Estate Litigation Examples

  • Defense of injunction for Trade Secrets Act Claims against former employee: Represented new employee of demolition contractor accused of violations of Trade Secrets Act leaving former employment, in expedited discovery and trial of preliminary injunction; case resolved on favorable terms during trial.
  • Defense of design joint venture: Represented design joint venture of four architecture and engineering firms with respect to mechanical and code claims on a major public hospital construction; investigated, negotiated and resolved nearly $40 million in claims concerning “clean steam” piping and Illinois Department of Public Health code interpretations resulting in change orders and delay claims by trade contractors; settlement was well within limits of project’s professional liability policy, without litigation and without inflammatory publicity
  • Defense of architectural copyright claims: Defense of design professionals in copyright infringement claims, including claim arising out of civil engineering footprint for large residential subdivision and in design of custom hotel lobby carpet and furnishings; issues of first impression in civil engineering case involved copyrightability of plans incorporated into annexation plats; defeated copyright owner’s motion for temporary restraining order without an evidentiary hearing; case settled thereafter for nominal amount, substantially less than originally sought
  • Liens arising from loan defaults: Represented construction lender in two multifamily construction loan defaults resulting in liens in excess of $6 million; both projects involved same developer, lender, general contractor and successor general contractor but different subcontractors; contractor, successor contractor and subcontractor lien claims raised complicated lien priority, perfection and proof issues making a global resolution difficult and cumbersome; following discovery and motion practice, cases were mediated together for more than six months of complex negotiations and ultimately settled and resolved; total settlement was confidential but a small fraction of total claims
  • Easement Claims: Defending developer and owner of private parking facility in implied easement claims of adjacent
    condominium building arising from original condominium development’s zoning restriction.
  • Represented owner of commercial business in dispute over neighbor’s construction of new building on area encumbered by utility access easement; obtained temporary restraining order and, following evidentiary hearing, preliminary and permanent injunction to prevent construction and preserve the easement
  • Enforcement of restrictive covenant in commercial lease: Represented national restaurant chain concerning landlord’s expressed intention to lease to competitor in violation of a restrictive use clause in a recorded lease; alleging landlord’s effort to evade the clause, restaurant claimed that landlord subdivided the shopping center and transferred the client’s restaurant parcel to a new owner, attempting to lease one of the remaining parcels to the client’s competitor; action for temporary restraining order resolved following mediation
  • Defense of design professionals: Defended architect in nursing home’s claim for replacement of through-wall air conditioning and heating units based upon conflicting life safety code interpretations by Illinois Department of Public Health and the NFPA
  • Defended engineer in residential retaining wall failure and avoided litigation by immediately retaining consulting expert and utilizing mediation before suit was filed
  • Commercial mortgage foreclosure, workouts and forbearance: Represented commercial lender in liquidation of collateral and foreclosure of real estate encompassing an ice rink, a bagel franchise in three states, and residential real estate pledged as additional collateral in various loans; representing secured lenders in workouts, forbearance agreements, title claims and priority disputes
  • Change order claims: Represented owner and operator of fiber optic backbone network in arbitration and resolution of contractor change order claims; case settled for little more than retention following informal discovery and mediation.
  • Represented excavation subcontractor in builder’s risk and extra work claim resulting from project flooding; project was a $200 million, seven building, parking and infrastructure improvement to the State Farm Corporate Center in Bloomington, Ill.; construction began during the summer that the Mississippi River flooded; extricated client from 30 party litigation by negotiating arbitration agreement with general contractor, including guaranteed “high/low” provisions
  • Represented commercial drywall subcontractor in mechanics lien claims on high rise construction and defense of water infiltration claims
  • Surety claims: Represented church congregation following literal disappearance of general contractor for new church
    construction; perfected notice to performance and payment bond surety, negotiated “takeover” agreement and ultimately negotiated final resolution of bond claims; damaged and vandalized work successfully tendered to builder’s risk carrier; achieved a positive resolution, with the project completed and in use, and without any lien claims
  • Warranty claims: Defended large residential homebuilder in warranty, consumer fraud and related claims for defective sunrooms in condominium development; successfully tendered defense to general liability carrier, alleging “collateral property damage” and “advertising injury” coverage; also cross-claimed against window manufacturer and defeated manufacturer’s summary judgment motion; claims were settled with significant contributions from window manufacturer and builder’s general liability carrier
  • Public bidding: Represented municipality in prequalification, bidding, drafting and negotiating of construction agreements and bid documents for large parking structure construction and ultimately negotiated successful project close-out without disputed liens or litigation

Construction and Design Contract Examples:

  • Hospitals and Healthcare: Negotiated and drafted design and construction management agreements for $400 million replacement hospital and subsequent cancer center addition
  • Negotiated and drafted program manager, construction management and design agreements for new community hospital, approximately $110 million in construction costs.
  • Negotiated and drafted “bridging” design and design/build agreements for a university-based microhospital.
  • Secondary and higher education: Negotiated and drafted agreements for design, construction and maintenance of college, university and secondary education renovations, class room buildings, museums, libraries, parking facilities, gymnasium facilities and dormitories
  • Commercial and industrial: Negotiated and drafted agreements for design and construction or design/build construction of warehouses and industrial buildings ranging from $5 million – $50 million

Title insurance claims and coverage examples:

  • Title insurance coverage in developer fraud: Represented national title insurer in declaratory judgment action and defense of counterclaims concerning coverage under lender’s policy of title insurance for securitized mortgage loan following developer fraud; trustee and special servicer for holders of securitized loans administered construction draws for hotel purchase, renovation and conversion to condominiums; developer indicted for fraud in connection with loan and Trustee tendered nearly $6 million in mechanics lien claims after developer’s bankruptcy
  • Title agent defalcation: Represented national title insurer in connection with termination of title agent and defense of title claims following agent’s mortgage fraud and misuse of agency escrow; properties were repeatedly traded, mortgaged and refinanced among confederates without satisfaction or release of prior mortgages, with funds diverted to third parties and new title policies waiving prior mortgage exceptions; Ice Miller obtained an injunction to terminate agent’s operations, pursued fraud and conspiracy claims against agency’s principals, and defended, negotiated and resolved title and closing protection letter claims associated with the subject properties; title agent and co-conspirators pleaded guilty to federal charges and are awaiting sentencing; also represented title insurance underwriter in declaratory judgment action against agent’s insurer on claims arising from defalcation.

Awards

  • Honoree, Lawyer of the Year, Best Lawyers®, Construction Litigation, Chicago (2017)

  • Honoree, Best Lawyers in America®, Construction Law, Construction Litigation (2005 – present)

  • Honoree, Illinois Super Lawyers, Construction Litigation (2008 – present)

  • Honoree, Chambers USA: America’s Leading Lawyers for Business, Construction (2015 – present)

  • AV-Preeminent, Martindale-Hubbell, Peer Review Ratings

Education

  • University of Chicago Law School (1988)

    J.D.

  • University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign (1985)

    B.A., Sociology

Admissions

  • State - Illinois
  • Federal - Northern District of Illinois

Notable Matters

Reported and Representative Cases

  • Trumbull-Great Lakes-Ruhlin v. Veritas Steel, LLC, No. 1:18 CV 745, 2018 WL 6589872 (N.D. Ohio Dec. 14, 2018)
  • Onsite Engineering & Management, Inc. v. Illinois Tool Works, Inc. et al. 319 Ill. App.3d 362, 744 N.E.2d 928 (1st District, 2001)
  • Intergovernmental Risk Management v. O’Donnell Wicklund, Pigozzi & Peterson Architects, Inc., 295 Ill. App. 3d 784, 692 N.E. 2d 739 (1st District, 1998)
  • Ocean Atlantic Woodland Corp. v. DRH Cambridge Homes, Inc., 02 C 2523, 2003 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 16737, Copy. L. Rep. (CCH) P28,688, 2004 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 4698, 2004 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 19732; Copy. L. Rep. (CCH) P28,789 (N.D. IL, 2004)
  • Beggerow v. Affiliated Insurance Consultants, Inc., 1996 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 5303 (N.D. IL 1996)

Speeches and Publications

  • Presented “Working for Yourself” at AIA Chicago Practice Management Knowledge Kickoff Event with Industry Insights and Expert Panel, June 18, 2024.
  • Presented “The Sky Is The Limit” at AIA Custom Residential Architects Network’s National Symposium, Chicago, May 16, 2024.
  • “Why is Legal Advice About Contracts Like Cockroaches and Twinkies?”, with Karen Erger, Structure Magazine, NCSEA, January 2024.
  • Presented “Risk and Insurability When Subcontracting Design Services in Design/Build Delivery, with Karen Erger and Laura Schwarz, Construction Superconference, November 29, 2023.
  • Presented “Liability and Risk Management for the Small Firm” to AIA Northeast Illinois’ Small Firm Forum, May 9, 2023.
  • Presented Construction Law program with Justin Weisberg to Innovation DuPage and HACIA’s Owner to CEO program, March 2023 (and previous three years’ programs).
  • Quoted in The Dotted Line: Reviewing construction contracts with recession in mind,” Joe Bousquin, Construction Dive, February 28, 2023.
  • Presented “Why is Legal Advice About Contracts Like Cockroaches and Twinkies?”, with Karen Erger, Structural Engineers Association of Utah Annual Education Conference, Salt Lake City, February 27, 2023; NCSEA Summit, Chicago, Illinois, November 1, 2022; American Council of Consulting Engineering Companies Fall Conference, Colorado Springs, Colorado, October, 2022.
  • Presented “Avoiding Contract Disputes” with John Wolf, Anthony Alleman and Shahara Byford, Chicagoland Associated General Contractors’ “It All Starts With Your Contract” program, Oakbrook Terrace, Illinois, January 26, 2023.
  • “Time for Construction Companies to Review Recession Mitigation,” Law 360, November 2, 2022.
  • Presented “The Changing Landscape of Risk in Construction” to Chicago Build Expo, with Laura Schwarz, Terry Klingele and Thomas Carrano, Chicago, Illinois, October, 2022.
  • Presented “Lessons Learned: The FIU Pedestrian Bridge Collapse,” to the ABA Forum on Construction Law Fall Meeting, with Deborah Cazan, David E. Suchar, and Benjamin Cornelius, Memphis, Tennessee, September 30, 2022.
  • Presented “Construction Administration and Risk Management” to the AIA Custom Residential Architects Network Symposium, with Melissa Roberts, Chicago, Illinois, September 8, 2022.
  • Faculty presenter for Construction Law Essentials, ABA Forum on Construction Law Regional Program, Chicago, Illinois September 30, 2021.
  • Presented “Remote Mediations and Depositions,” with Hansel Rhee, Ice Miller LGBTQ+ Law Virtual Conference, June 17, 2021.
  • “Special Defenses to Construction Claims,” Construction Dispute Litigation, Illinois Institute for Continuing Legal Education, 2013 and subsequent updates, with Ryanne Dent and Michael Pisano.
  • “Construction Litigation,” Real Estate Litigation, Illinois Institute for Continuing Legal Education, 2010 and subsequent updates with Ryanne Dent and Michael Pisano.

Professional Affiliations

  • American Bar Association

    Member

  • ABA Forum on Construction Law

    Member

  • Illinois State Bar Association

    Member

  • DuPage County Bar Association

    Member

  • American Institute of Architects (AIA) - Chicago Chapter
    • Affiliate Director (2023-2025)
    • Professional Affiliate Member
    • Former Director
    • Member, National Convention Planning Committee
  • American Institute of Architects (AIA) - Northeast Illinois

    Professional Affiliate Member

  • American Institute of Architects (AIA)

    Allied Member

  • Society of Illinois Construction Attorneys

    Member