Kansas company sues W. Va. law firm

By John O'Brien | Jul 14, 2006

CHARLESTON - A Kansas-based company is suing Madison law firm Shaffer and Shaffer, claiming the firm is guilty of legal malpractice.

Bennett and Daughter Security Associates filed the lawsuit July 6 in Kanawha Circuit Court against the firm and attorney Susan Cannon-Ryan.

Barrett and Daughter says it obtained a judgment in a Kansas courtroom against Paxton K. Spencer, Jr. on Aug. 10, 1999 in the amount of $163,340. Spencer, though, turned up in Boone County, causing Barrett and Daughter to retain the services of Shaffer and Shaffer for the purposes of collecting the award.

The judgment was domesticated in Boone Circuit Court on June 21, 2001, the lawsuit says.

However, the lawsuit says Spencer admitted to transferring all his interests in real estate to his wife Nola Jane after the Kansas judgment was obtained and before it was domesticated in West Virginia.

Thus, Bennett and Daughter blames Shaffer and Shaffer for not filing for a notice of lis pendens against the Spencers. A notice of lis pendens is a recorded legal document that gives notice that a legal action concerning a particular property has been filed.

In May, attorney Robert Wolpert was hit with a case by a Charleston couple who allege he did not remove the lis pendens from their property and caused them to take a more expensive loan.

The lawsuit says Paxton Spencer transferred six parcels of land, and Nola Jane transferred two.

On March 25, 2002, it adds, Nola Jane sold a portion of the Spencer's properties to Incubator Services Corp. for $68,000. After a civil action was filed against them in Boone Circuit Court, the lawsuit says two more parcels were sold for $84,000, and Shaffer and Shaffer again failed to file for a lis pendens.

"The defendants breached their duty to Bennett and Daughter by failing to file a notice of lis pendens against Nola Jane Spencer after learning of the property transfers in Nov. 2001; waiting until August of 2002 to file a motion to set aside conveyances after being put on notice that the Spencers were adept at making conveyances to shield their property from collection on the judgment; and by failing to file a notice of lis pendens upon the filing of the August 2002 civil action," the complaint says.

Charleston attorney Sherri Goodman is representing the plaintiff, which is seeking compensatory damages.

Judge Louis Bloom has been assigned the case.

Kanawha Circuit Court case number 06-C-1319

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