CHARLESTON - Chad Boggess' death raised more than a few questions for his surviving family. The handling of his estate, now, is their latest concern.
Boggess' mother, father and sister are now claiming that Boggess' estranged wife Wanda and her attorney Timothy Bailey have handled Chad's estate selfishly and unfairly in a lawsuit filed Feb. 2 in Kanawha Circuit Court.
"The defendant, Wanda Boggess, breached her fiduciary duty and obligations to the plaintiffs in her capacity as Administratrix in the administration and handling of the Estate of Chad Boggess," says the claim, which lists father Thaddeous, mother Joyce and sister Chastity as the plaintiffs.
Chad died on April 11, 2002, after being hospitalized for nearly a month. He had been beaten severely by guards at the Boyd County Jail in Kentucky, where he was serving a term.
Paramedic Marty Johnson was indicted and later acquitted of a murder charge in September of 2003, and deputy jailers Matthew Daniels and Douglas Raybourn were acquitted of first-degree assault.
Jurors believed that violent drug withdrawal was the cause of Chad's death.
Three days before Chad's death, though, Joyce petitioned the Kanawha County Mental Hygiene Commissioner for a change in the named guardian of Chad's estate. The Commissioner declined her petition, and a hearing was set for April 15, 2002. Chad's death four days before then, though, left wife Wanda the Administratrix of his estate.
Since then, the plaintiffs argue, Wanda agreed to work in a co-administrative capacity with them, yet "secreted herself to the Fiduciary Supervisor's office in Kanawha County and obtained a preferential appointment as Administratrix of the Estate of Chad Boggess in light of her status as his widow."
The plaintiffs learned of this on the evening news, they say, as Wanda and her counsel, Bailey, would not return their phone calls.
In May of 2005, the U.S. Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals stated that should Wanda receive and distribute proceeds in the underlying action without addressing the claims of the plaintiffs, that she would be subject to suit for breach of fiduciary duty, the claim states.
The plaintiffs charge that Wanda has received money which would qualify as an estate asset in the form of a settlement, and that she has failed to satisfy the debts properly owed to them.
The plaintiffs also claim that they paid for Chad's funeral and believed that money recovered in a lawsuit against the Boyd County Detention Center would reimburse them. Money from that settlement given to Wanda, they say, has not been used for reimbursement of the funeral expenses.
Adding confusion to the matter is the fact that it is unclear which state - Kentucky or West Virginia - would supply the distribution scheme for sums recovered as a result of claims filed for the death.
"Despite (the defendants') knowledge, they failed to address that issue, or give notice to the plaintiffs so that the plaintiffs would have an opportunity to bring the issue before the appropriate forum," the complaint states.
The complaint also claims that the defendants have wasted the funds recovered, and that Bailey aided Wanda in her efforts to conceal knowledge of those funds from the plaintiffs.
The plaintiffs demand: Compensatory damages jointly and severally against all defendants in an amount to be determined at trial; punitive damages in an amount to be determined at trial; reasonable attorneys' fees; all costs of the lawsuit; and all such other relief, legal and euitable, as is permitted by law.
They also hope that all financial institutions freeze all bank accounts in the defendants' names until further order of the court, and that other institutions deny access to the defendants.
Letisha R. Bika is representing the plaintiffs. Circuit Judge Paul Zakaib has been assigned the case.
Kanawha Circuit Court case number 06-C-186