St. Clair County Associate Judge Andrew Gleeson on Friday ordered Edward Brennan to pay his former law partner Michael Constance $1.6 million in a dispute arising from a $10.5 million settlement reached with tennis star Jimmy Connors.
The Belleville firm Brennan, Cates & Constance, which dissolved in 1998, had represented Connors on various matters including his relationship with the proposed Alton Belle Casino. The firm had reached an agreement with Connors in 1992 in which Connors agreed to pay the partners 20 percent of the money he received in the Alton Belle and Argosy venture, according to court records.
Constance sued Brennan in April 2010, claiming he did not receive a fair share of the settlement.
In his ruling, Gleeson found Brennan had a duty to disclose to his partners that there had been a tender of stock by Connors, and that Brennan refused to accept the offer.
Gleeson also found Brennan concealed the offer from his partners.
"Any other finding would result in an injustice to Constance and would set a dangerous precedent for those inclined to withhold information from their fiduciaries to whom they owe the highest of duties," Gleeson wrote.
"Constance's failure to receive his share of the Connor's fee was a result of his reliance on Brennan's continuing breach of the duty he owed Constance.
"The evidence was clear and convincing that Brennan violated his fiduciary duty and it is equally clear that Constance's failure to collect his share of the Connors fee was based on his reliance on Brennan's statements."
Gleeson presided over an often contentious six-week bench trial that ended Oct. 13.
Brennan and Constance have 30 days to appeal the judge's decision.
"We all have important decisions to make in the next 30 days," Constance said of Gleeson's ruling. "It's a wait and see now. We don't have to make a two-day or a one-day decision on these things."
Constance is represented by Belleville attorney Bruce Cook.
Brennan's attorney, Jeffrey Muskopf of St. Louis, was unavailable for comment.
The case is St. Clair County case 10-L-213.