By Kim Janssen for Chicago Tribune
Peter Francis Geraci may have used his ever-present TV ads to build a small empire in the bankruptcy courts, but 2017 hasn’t exactly been a banner year for his highly litigious family’s own legal battles.
First Geraci’s spouse, Holly, lost her appeal against a jury verdict that she’d attacked a dog walker in the couple’s River North condo building — an embarrassing reversal after the Geracis had spent four years and a small fortune trying to pin the blame on the walker.
Now Geraci himself has lost a seven-year, multimillion-dollar battle with a former employee he accused of stealing trade secrets.
A federal jury last week rejected Geraci’s claim against R. William Amidon, a computer coder who once worked for him, and Thomas G. Macey, a rival bankruptcy attorney who Geraci alleged paid Amidon to steal computer programs.
Geraci, who testified during the seven-day trial, had been seeking as much as $90 million (though the judge knocked his claim down to $2 million before the jury rejected it), claiming the software was the key to his business.
Geraci — whose $8.63 million Near North penthouse at the Ritz-Carlton Residences is reputed to be the most expensive unfinished Chicago home ever sold — accused Chicago Inc. of missing the “real story,” in an email. He went on to state, “Sadly, your mission has been to ridicule me, for reasons of your own.” Macey’s attorney Tim Elliott said that, given the case’s long history, he would be surprised if Geraci did not appeal.
Attorneys who previously represented Geraci in the case in state court were sanctioned by a DuPage County judge and ordered to pay $100,000 for including spyware in emails they sent to the defendants’ lawyers.
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Rathje Woodward Wins Jury Trial in Software Trade Secret Case.
After a seven-day trial, a federal court jury found in favor of a Rathje Woodward client on a trade secret misappropriation claim brought by his competitor. In the lawsuit, originally filed in August 2010, Chicago bankruptcy attorney Peter Francis Geraci alleged that Thomas Macey, the founder of Chicago bankruptcy law firm Legal Helpers, P.C., stole Geraci’s practice management software. Before trial, Geraci had demanded $90 million in damages. The jury rejected Geraci’s claims and returned a verdict in favor of Macey and a co-defendant. Attorney Emily Shupe states that, “We are pleased that the jury carefully considered all of the evidence and definitively found that Mr. Macey did not engage in any illegal or improper conduct. After seven years of litigation, we are glad that Mr. Macey has finally been vindicated and that we could bring this matter to a successful conclusion.” Macey was represented by a Rathje team consisting of Tim Elliott, Emily Shupe, David Hollander and Nicole Winters.