Sedgwick’s lawyers withdraw from lending lawsuit in River Forest

Developer is facing a series of legal challenges in one of its Chicago-area projects, and allegedly “failed to fulfill obligations to counsel.”

Sedgwick’s Lawyers Withdraw, Claiming Developer Fell Short
Sedgwick Properties' Marty Paris and a rendering of 7601 Lake in River Forest (Getty, Sedgwick Properties)

Marty Paris’ legal and financial troubles are showing no sign of slowing down.

In a motion filed Friday in Cook County court, attorneys pulled out from defending Paris and his firm Sedgwick Properties in a lawsuit with a lender on a long-stalled suburban Chicago condo project.

The attorneys, Craig Penrose and Bill Toliopoulos with Laurie & Brennan LLP, are asking the court to withdraw their previously filed appearances because Paris and his company “have substantially failed to fulfill its obligations to counsel.”

Sedgwick has multiple legal conflicts stemming from a development-ready site in downtown River Forest that has been eyed for condos for years by the developer. But the project has so far failed to make significant construction progress, resulting in numerous skirmishes, including with the village, which yanked the firm’s construction permit for the property last month.

The lawyers’ motion to withdraw doesn’t say what Paris’ missed obligations are or specify if they are financial payments to the law firm, and neither attorney nor Paris responded to requests for comment. The motion said the law firm has made “repeated requests” to Paris in writing to fulfill the obligations.

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The move by Paris’ own attorneys to leave the foreclosure case is the latest in a series of challenges for the developer. He is currently being sued by the lender on the River Forest development and is facing foreclosure of the property, and has lost his construction permit for the project, after years of delays and setbacks.

The developer initially planned a four-story, 22-condo project with prices starting around $1 million, plus 14,000 square feet of ground floor commercial space at Lake and Lathrop streets in the village’s downtown.

Its lender, an affiliate of Wintrust, has sued to claw back $4.2 million from the $20 million line of credit it issued last year to Sedgwick. Attorneys for the lender also did not respond to a request for comment.

The developer is also on the hook for unpaid property taxes to River Forest and a slew of mechanic’s liens on both the suburban project and Sedgwick’s similarly long-delayed high-end housing project in Chicago’s River North neighborhood along LaSalle and Erie streets.

After the firm failed to meet a September 15 deadline and River Forest pulled its permits, Paris still had faith that the project will make it to the finish line, even though his firm failed to set up new financing before the deadline. Paris cited banking failures and economic stagnation as reasons for the financial struggles, but nonetheless, he was focused on recapitalizing the development to move it forward.

At its last meeting, the village revealed that the property is now in receivership, indicating that Paris no longer has control over it.