Roth/Fioretti LLC Awarded 12.8 Million Jury Verdict Against Commonwealth Edison

(CHICAGO-December 6, 2016)

After deliberating for less than an hour, a jury awarded a client of the law firm of Roth/Fioretti a judgement of $12,864,874 in a claim against the Commonwealth Edison Company, the exact amount requested at trial.

On May 12, 2007, Commonwealth Edison was found negligent in causing an extra-alarm fire involving more than 100 firefighters at the client’s rented warehouse. The fire, electrical in nature, was caused immediately after employees of Commonwealth Edison tested the warehouse’s electrical system, changed fuses in the main fuse panel and were fully aware of a dangerous condition but restored power to the warehouse’s electrical system anyway. The fire destroyed the building, and all of Chicago Import’s millions of dollars of merchandise.

“We are committed to fighting for small business companies such as Chicago Import,” Bob Fioretti, managing partner of litigation for Roth/Fioretti noted. “Prior to litigation, Commonwealth Edison offered our client only $50,000 in compensation”.

Mark Roth of Roth/Fioretti was the trial attorney for Chicago Import. This is Roth/Fioretti’s, second multi-million dollar jury verdict this year.

Roth Fioretti LLC Collects Goods for the Baton Rouge Flood Victims

Last week Roth Fioretti LLC contributed bottled water, hygiene products, diapers and other items to help aid the victims of the Louisiana flood.

The humanitarian drive was co-sponsored by Operation PUSH and radio WVON. The severe flooding in Baton Rouge has killed at least 13 people, destroyed homes and caused thousands to flee for their lives […]Read More

Partner Mark Roth Comments on Law 360 Article re. Warehouse Fire Verdict

Judge Won’t Undo $5M Warehouse Fire Verdict

Law360, New York (August 17, 2016, 2:26 PM ET) — An Illinois federal judge on Tuesday refused to scrap a $5 million verdict against American States Insurance Co. for failing to reimburse a Chicago-based import company after a warehouse fire, striking down the insurer’s claim that erroneous evidence warranted a new trial or immediate judgment.

U.S. District Judge Manish S. Shah denied American States’ bid for a new trial, judgment as a matter of law or a lowered verdict award, after an Illinois federal jury in March sided with Chicago Import Inc. on its claim that the insurer breached its contract after denying coverage of a 2007 warehouse fire. The judge on Tuesday also nixed Chicago Import’s attempt to collect prejudgment interest.

Judge Shah was unpersuaded by American States’ argument that numerous evidentiary mistakes were made during the trial, starting with Chicago Import’s electrical engineer expert being allowed to testify even though his opinions were speculative because he never personally inspected the fire scene. In actuality, that expert’s role was to rebut testimony that an electrical fire couldn’t possibly have caused the blaze, and he was more than qualified to offer that opinion, Judge Shah ruled.

Even without that electrical expert’s opinion, there was plenty of other evidence at trial that the electrical system could not be ruled out as a cause, for example the testimony from a ComEdemployee on scene that the fire broke out within minutes of their replacement of a blown fuse.

American States had also argued that the court wrongly barred evidence related to prior fires and subsequent insurance claims by Chicago Import’s company president, Ashokkumar Punjabi, which it said should have been admissible to prove motive and lack of accident.

Judge Shah wasn’t buying it, writing Tuesday that the evidence was excluded because American States had presented no evidence to establish there was something suspicious about the prior fires or claims, or that there was something specific about the claims that would motivate Chicago Import to pursue an improper claim in the future.

“General familiarity with insurance claims was a weak and overbroad theory to show motive, and the miniscule value of this evidence was substantially outweighed by the unfair prejudice that could potentially result from a jury drawing an improper propensity or general bad character inference,” Judge Shah wrote, defending his earlier decision.

American States had issued Chicago Import a $5 million commercial property policy that was in effect in May 2007 when a fire devastated a rented Chicago warehouse. The importer filed a claim saying the fire destroyed that much value in inventory losses and debris removal costs, which the insurer denied, and Chicago Import sued. In March, an Illinois federal jury awarded it $5 million.

Along with the evidentiary issues American States voiced, the insurer also argued that judgment as a matter of law was warranted because Chicago Import allegedly made misrepresentations in its proof of loss, and that it failed to segregate its damages.

Neither of those efforts persuaded Judge Shah, who wrote Tuesday that there was evidence in the record from which the jury could reasonably conclude that Chicago Import’s damages were $5 million, including testimony from American States’ own hired salvager, who valued the lost merchandise at about $5 million.

For that same reason, Judge Shah also denied American States’ bid to knock the jury’s award down to $1.5 million.

“The award is not excessive and is rationally tied to the evidence,” Judge Shah wrote. “American States’s motion for remittitur is denied.”

Chicago Import attorney Mark Roth of Orum & Roth LLC told Law360 Wednesday they were “always confident that the district court’s rulings, both before trial and during trial, were correct. We also fully expect that the district court’s denial of American States’ post-trial motion will be affirmed on appeal.”

Representatives for American States on Wednesday did not immediately return a request for comment.

Chicago Import is represented by Mark Roth of Orum & Roth LLC.

American States Insurance is represented by Cheryl Mondi, Peter Kanaris, David Heiss, Nicole Gallagher, Christopher Ransel and Jefferson Patten of Fisher Kanaris PC.

The case is Chicago Import Inc. v. American States Insurance Co., case number 1:09-cv-02885, in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Illinois.

Lauren Roth of Roth Fioretti Attends All Chicago Handbags for Homeless Event



Last week, Lauren Roth of Roth Fioretti attended All Chicago’s Handbags for Homes event at the Women’s Athletic Association. All Chicago helps countless of Chicago’s citizens in need of a home find places to live by working with immediate resources and long term strategies to fight homelessness.

13483050_10154180045753346_3562269182792447681_oGuests bought raffle tickets for a chance to win a variety of different handbags. From high-end Prada bags to a special handmade, local custom made bag, there was something for everyone.


The event served custom hors d’oeuvres and cocktails while participants placed their tickets in for their favorite

bags. As the night progressed, award winning news anchor Sylvia Perez Emceed the event to give away the bags. Ms. Perez also created a powerful video pertaining to how All Chicago, and the Handbags for Homeless event,

helps so many in our community.



At the end of the night, Lauren won a beautiful bag for a good cause and celebrated with the CEO’s family at Pops for Champagne, a champagne bar located in Gold Coast.