Illinois Attorneys Obtain Defense Verdict in Favor of Travel Agency Client in Breach of Contract, Breach of Fiduciary Duty Case
Chicago partners Michael L. Hahn and Peter C. Kim and attorney Victoria E. Vanderschaaf recently obtained a defense verdict in favor of their clients, a Chicago based travel agency and its principal. The plaintiff and multiple defendants entered into an oral agreement whereby, over the course of four years, the defendants transferred nearly $1 million of the plaintiff’s monies from the United States to the Kingdom of Cambodia. When the plaintiff’s intended recipient disappeared and ceased communications with the plaintiff, the plaintiff sought to hold defendants liable for the transferred funds asserting claims for breach of contract, conversion, unjust enrichment and breach of fiduciary duty.
At trial, the plaintiff argued that because the defendants failed to present records that they successfully transferred all of the roughly $1 million to the Cambodian recipient, the court should infer that the funds were never transferred and hold the defendants liable to the plaintiff.
Focusing on inconsistencies in the plaintiff’s evidence, the defense argued that the plaintiff sought to improperly shift the burden of proof onto the defendants and that it was far more likely that any loss sustained by the plaintiff were solely due to the acts of Cambodian recipient.
Through a bench trial judgment order, the Court agreed with the defense and ruled that the plaintiff failed to meet her burden of proof and, importantly, declined to issue an adverse inference ruling even though the defendants did not keep records of the funds transferred to Cambodia.