A Court Victory: This is How SFNR Takes Care of Its Clients

by | Nov 7, 2016

After more than five years of litigation, Firm partner, Norm Finkel, successfully resolved a noteworthy case stemming from the 2008 financial collapse, in which Buffalo Grove-based American Enterprise Bank sought a $60 million recovery against Arnold Becker, its former chairman.  The case concluded with an agreement by the bank to pay Becker’s estate attorneys’ fees and costs incurred in successfully defending the case both in the trial and appellate courts

Norm defended Becker from the inception of the case in 2011.  The bank’s suit against Becker and its former president, David, Schroeder, claimed that they had breached their fiduciary duties to the bank in connection with $60 million of loans that went bad during the 2008 economic meltdown.  In April 2016, Akash Brahmbhatt, a former bank officer, pleaded guilty to bank fraud in connection with some of the loans, and he is awaiting sentencing.

After a 17-day bench trial, Lake County Circuit Judge Christopher C. Starck entered judgment in January 2015 in favor of Becker and Schroeder.  In January 2016, the appellate court affirmed the judgment.  On remand, the trial court ruled that Becker and Schroeder were each entitled to an award of fees and costs.  This week, just prior to the hearing on Becker’s $1.5 million fee petition, the bank agreed to pay Becker’s estate an undisclosed sum.  The bank previously reached an agreement to pay Schroeder an undisclosed sum for his fees and costs.

In November 2009, after he was asked to resign from the bank, Becker was unable to find employment in the community banking field where he had spent his entire career. Although Becker could no longer pay his fees or even costs prior to trial, the Firm agreed to continue to defend him.  As a sad epilogue to the case, Becker passed away in November 2015 at the age of 65, without the knowledge that he would be further vindicated by the appellate court.