from the Stark County Court of Common Pleas, Case No. 2017 CV
Plaintiff-Appellant: RICHARD C. ALKIRE DEAN NIEDING
Defendants-Appellees Robert E. Soles, Jr. and the Law Offices
of Robert E. Soles, Jr. TIMOTHY T. BRICK MONICA A. SANSALONE
SHANE A. LAWSON Gallagher Sharp LLP
William B. Hoffman, P.J. Hon. Patricia A. Delaney, J. Hon.
Earle E. Wise, Jr., J.
Plaintiff-appellant Globalcor Associates, LLC
("Globalcor") appeals from the July 9, 2018
Judgment Entry of the Stark County Court of Common Pleas
granting the motion for summary judgment of
defendants-appellees Robert E. Soles, Jr. and the Law Offices
of Robert E. Soles, Jr. (collectively "Soles").
AND PROCEDURAL HISTORY
represents Globalcor in Kelev and foreclosure litigation
This case arose in 2017 as a refiled legal malpractice case.
Jeffrey Melton ("Melton") is described as a
property developer, manager, and owner who operates through
various corporate entities including, e.g., Globalcor. In
2011, Globalcor purchased property in Akron, Ohio known as
the "Bank Building," including a liquor license and
bar equipment for a nightclub that operated on the first
floor of the building. Globalcor obtained financing to
purchase the Bank Building from a lender known as Kelev
After the purchase, Globalcor renovated the Bank Building and
operated The Bank Nite Club. According to Globalcor, a buyer
named Sam Oliver came forward and entered an agreement with
Globalcor to operate The Bank Nite Club in October 2011.
Oliver purportedly intended to purchase the Bank Building,
but before the transaction could take place, Kelev
"wrongfully took possession of the Bank Building and
locked Globalcor out, killing the deal with [Oliver]."
Soles points out that Globalcor failed to pay the mortgage or
taxes on the property, never found a buyer, and defaulted on
the high-interest loan from Kelev.
Soles represented Globalcor during ensuing litigation with
Kelev and in a subsequent tax foreclosure action filed by the
Summit County Fiscal Officer.
Globalcor, via Melton, acknowledged satisfaction with
Soles' representation in the Kelev litigation and in the
tax foreclosure proceeding. When asked whether Soles
"did a good job" for Globalcor in the Kelev
litigation, Melton said "yes," and when asked what
Soles should have done differently, he said,
"Nothing." When asked whether Soles was negligent
in his representation of Globalcor throughout the foreclosure
proceedings, Melton responded, "No."
Globalcor did not pay the back taxes on the Bank Building and
a sheriff's sale was scheduled for March 17, 2015. Soles
notified Melton of the sheriff's sale on March 3, 2015,
via an email which Melton read on March 6, 2015.
The parties agree that bankruptcy was discussed as an option
to prevent the sheriff's sale. At this point the
parties' accounts diverge.
option of bankruptcy is raised
On March 16, 2015, Melton went to Soles' office to
discuss options to save the Bank Building. Soles told Melton
bankruptcy was an option, but he did not litigate
bankruptcies, although "someone in [his] office"
did. Soles escorted Melton into the office of attorney John
Globalcor asserts Soles told Juergensen that Melton needed
more time to "complete a sale" of the Bank
Building, and that both Soles and Juergensen determined that
a Chapter 11 bankruptcy should be filed.
Soles asserts Globalcor was separately represented in the
bankruptcy by John Juergensen of John L. Juergensen Co., LPA,
and that Juergensen filed a "skeleton Chapter 11
petition that intentionally omitted related schedules"
because Melton ultimately hoped the bankruptcy would be
Soles left Melton in Juergensen's office to discuss the
bankruptcy. Melton agreed to pay Juergensen $500 to file a
"bare bones" Chapter 11 petition. Juergensen filed
the Chapter 11 petition the same day and sent notice of the
filing to the Summit County Sheriff's Department.
Globalcor acknowledges its "immediate goal was to delay
the Sheriff's sale until a sale or refinancing of the
Bank Building could occur, [thus] pursuing a Chapter 11 was
Globalcor's best option to pay off its creditors and
maintain control of its most valuable asset, the Bank
Building." (Brief, 9). Nevertheless, Globalcor argues
the strategy of filing a skeletal Chapter 11 petition was
doomed to fail; therefore Soles breached the duty of care in
purportedly failing to refer Globalcor to bankruptcy counsel
until shortly before the sheriff's sale and contributed
to Juergensen's alleged failure to meet the standard of
care in filing the Chapter 11 petition.
Ultimately, the Chapter 11 bankruptcy was converted to a
Chapter 7 and the bankruptcy trustee sold the Bank Building
In the wake of the bankruptcy, Globalcor argues the
negligence of Soles and Juergensen resulted in the loss of
deals which could have led to purchase of the Bank Building
and/or paid creditors. Globalcor also argues Soles was
responsible, at least in part, for disparaging him to a
potential lender. The details of that allegation are reviewed
in more detail infra in the affidavits of Attorney Anthony J.
DeGirolamo and Michael P. Sanderson.
relationship between Soles, Juergensen, and Globalcor
Globalcor maintains that throughout Juergensen's
representation in the bankruptcy, Melton believed Juergensen
was "one of Soles' attorneys" because there was
no new or different fee agreement once Juergensen became
involved; Juergensen was listed in the February 1, 2012 fee
agreement as a "professional assigned to perform legal
services for the Client" and assigning him an hourly
rate; there was no signage indicating Juergensen's
practice was separate from Soles'; and Melton received
Juergensen's fax transmissions via Soles' fax
From 2008 until April 30, 2012, Juergensen was an "of
counsel" member of the Law Offices of Robert E. Soles,
Jr. During that period, Soles maintained malpractice coverage
Soles no longer maintained malpractice coverage for
Juergensen as of April 30, 2012. Juergensen's separate
legal malpractice coverage lapsed in March 2016. Globalcor
was not advised of the changes to Juergensen's coverage.
After the "of counsel" relationship ended,
Juergensen continued to maintain his office within the Soles
building and to pay rent. Juergensen used copiers in the
building with his own code and was billed therefor. He used
the Soles postage meter and tracked his own postage. He had
his own fax machine but sometimes used the Soles fax machine
with a code and was billed for the usage. He also used some
portions of the common areas such as a refrigerator and the
conference room. Juergensen shared a computer network with
Soles until March 2016 with each able to access the
Soles responds that Juergensen was employed by John L.
Juergensen Co., L.P.A., and never met Melton, or had any
involvement in any Globalcor litigation, before the referral
in March 2015. Juergensen's firm was separately
incorporated and has had separate signage at the street and
at the building entrance since "mid-2012."
Juergensen had separate business cards, conspicuous
letterhead, and signed his pleadings with a Juergensen Firm
On May 13, 2016, Globalcor filed a complaint in legal
malpractice against, e.g., Soles, Juergensen, and John L.
Juergensen Co., L.P.A. (collectively "Juergensen")
as case number 2016 CV 01133 in the Stark County Court of
Common Pleas. Globalcor voluntarily dismissed the action
prior to filing of any dispositive motions.
The instant action was refiled on December 21, 2017, and the
trial court incorporated the filings from the 2016 case.
Soles and Juergensen filed motions for summary judgment.
Globalcor filed a response which included, e.g., the
affidavits of Attorney Anthony J. DeGirolamo and Michael P.
Sanderson. These affidavits are relevant to the
parties' arguments in the instant appeal.
DeGirolamo's affidavit executed on May 2, 2017 states the
following in pertinent part regarding Globalcor's claims
Affidavit of Anthony J. DeGirolamo
* * * *.
1. I have been licensed to practice law in the state of Ohio
since 1992. My practice is concentrated in the area of
2. My practice almost exclusively is commercial bankruptcy. I
have been a Chapter 7 panel trustee for the Bankruptcy Court
since August of 2003. I have been a Trustee in Chapter 7
cases, thousands of times with 101 new cases being assigned
to me in the month of March, 2017. I have prosecuted chapter
11 cases for 50 companies or individuals in my career.
3. In connection with the opinions I have in this matter, I
have reviewed the following documents and records:
a. Affidavits of Michael Sanderson, Shawnte Davon Hardin,
Jeffrey Melton and John Juergensen.
b. The deposition transcripts of Jeffrey Melton, John
Juergensen, Robert Soles, and all deposition exhibits.
c. The expert report of Timothy Hefty.
d. Email of John Juergensen with cellphone records attached.
4. It is my opinion that John Juergensen fell below the
applicable standard of care of an attorney representing a
company in ...