KEYSER – A Mineral County woman is suing over claims she lost her house while her lawyer allegedly worked too slowly on her case.
Kelly S. Brown filed a lawsuit Dec. 1 in Mineral Circuit Court against James E. Smith, citing legal malpractice.
According to the complaint, Brown was still living with her ex-husband Randy V. Brown when he died, and Brown hired Smith in August 2012 to represent her in his estate. Brown says her ex-husband's son, Justin Brown, was threatening her in an attempt to get her to vacate her home on Wasterside Street in Ridgeley and hand over her belongings, so she gave Smith a copy of her divorce agreement and house deed and asked him to find out whether she was the beneficiary of various accounts of her late ex-husband's.
The complaint states Kelly Brown attempted to speak with Bank of America, the mortgage holder, but Justin Brown had told them not to speak with her, so she attempted to speak with Smith on a weekly basis, with his secretary telling her each time that he knew nothing more. After three months, Kelly Brown says Smith's secretary requested more money on his behalf because the matter was complicated, and when she met with Smith, he suggested she give up.
Eventually, Brown says, Smith's secretary informed her she was the sole owner of her house but she then received a letter announcing the foreclosure of her home. According to the lawsuit, the house did not sell at auction, but Brown did not move out, waiting to hear from Bank of America's lawyers. One day, Brown says, she returned home to find the house locked and a Century 21 for sale sign in the yard.
The complaint states Century 21 removed the lock box when Brown called but she was continually harassed, and Bank of America demanded $5,000 to reinstate the loan, which she could not afford. The lawsuit states Brown has suffered physically and emotionally from the trauma, which she says could have been avoided if Smith had timely researched the law regarding her home or informed her that she should find a new lawyer.
Smith is accused of legal malpractice and professional negligence, and Brown is suing for the value of her home and possessions she had to sell in addition to moving expenses and storage fees.
Mineral Circuit Court case number: 14-C-142