Lawrence Smith Oct. 19, 2012, 7:45am
CHARLESTON – Conspicuously absent from the listing of lawsuits on Mark Hunt’s bankruptcy petition is one filed against him, and another Charleston attorney by a Jackson County woman for legal malpractice.
In his petition for bankruptcy filed Aug. 18, 2010, Hunt lists eight lawsuits filed the previous three years against either himself, his law firm or his wife, Tracy. Included in the listing are two foreclosure suits in Monroe County, Fla. on rental property the Hunts previously owned in Ft. Myers, and two collection suits in Kanawha Circuit Court by West Virginia Radio Corporation and WOWK-TV 13 for unpaid advertising.
Also, the listing includes one filed in 2008 by Huntington National Bank to collect on a loan given to the Hunt and Serreno firm. According to the petition, judgment was entered against the firm, Hunt and his former partner Anthony Serreno, personally, on Dec. 10, 2008 for $432,363.61.
However, Hunt failed to list a 2008 legal malpractice suit Wendy England filed against him, Serreno, the Hunt and Serreno firm and David R. Karr. In her suit, England accused them of missing deadlines to file a personal injury suit against a deputy U.S. Marshal.
According to her suit, England, a resident of Given, was injured when her car overturned at the Interstate 77/79 interchange just above Charleston following a collision with Richard B. Sellers, a resident of Cottageville, on Jan. 15, 2004. After retaining Hunt and Serreno, England’s case was assigned to Ed Steen, a legal assistant, who timely filed a claim under the Federal Tort Claims Act with the U.S. Marshals Service in Washington, D.C.
A letter from the USMS’ attorney dated Dec. 2, 2004, rejected the claim and reminded Steen he had six months to dispute the rejection in U.S. District Court. However, England alleges she was not informed of the rejection until almost a year later.
By this time, Hunt and Serreno dropped her as a client, and referred her to Karr.
Records show on Jan. 11, 2006, Karr did file a suit against Sellers, but in Kanawha Circuit Court. After it was transferred to U.S. District Court the next month, Judge Robert C. “Chuck” Chambers on Sept. 27 dismissed part of England’s suit, and remanded part of it back it state court where it was subsequently dismissed.
In addition to ones for legal malpractice against Hunt, Hunt and Serreno and Karr, England made a claim against Steen for practicing law without a license. Though they admitted he is not an attorney, a prior ruling of the state Bar’s Unlawful Practice of Law Committee found since he was closely supervised by one or more of Hunt and Serreno’s attorneys, Steen could render certain legal advice.
Following mediation on Oct. 30, 2009, Hunt and Karr agreed to settle England’s suit for $65,000 with Hunt agreeing to pay the lion’s share of $55,000.
The West Virginia Record attempted to get a comment from Frederick Delp, the Barboursville attorney the Hunts paid $900 to file their bankruptcy petition, why the England legal malpractice suit was not included in lawsuit listing. He did not return repeated calls by presstime.
Kanawha Circuit Court case number 08-C-3394 (England legal malpractice)