Lawyer v. Serviceman

By The West Virginia Record | Sep 9, 2006

John Tugman wasn't at his Wirt County home when the summons arrived.

He was instead training at Camp Lejeune in North Carolina, where he's preparing as a member of the U.S. Navy for a January 2007 deployment to the conflict in Iraq.

About then, lawyers for ex-State Supreme Court Justice Warren McGraw, who is suing Tugman over a 2004 fender bender he blames for indirectly ending his political career, will have to start mailing their correspondence with extra stamps. Tugman's Second Marine Division -- otherwise known as the "Follow Me Division" -- sits at the tip of our spear near Fallujah, the country's most dangerous locale.

We don't believe servicemen should be relieved of their legal obligations just because they're servicemen. But it's hard to avoid the blood-boiling contrast of a 23 year-old West Virginian set to defend our nation by putting himself in harm's way, being sued by a self-important career politician all-consumed with his own reputation.

McGraw's feelings are hurt because average folks don't call him "Justice" anymore. They don't look at him with the same admiration at the Tidewater Grille when he's in Charleston. And it's this soldier's fault.

"Due in part to (Tugman's) actions, Mr. McGraw lost the election, whereby losing his job and his yearly salary for the 12-year term," reads the complaint, which demands $100,000 minimum in damages.

Consider the audacity of this extrapolation. John Tugman allegedly caused a car accident that hurt McGraw's back. And that back injury knocked McGraw off his A-game, sealing his fate at the polls.

No, it wasn't McGraw's activist antics on the court or disgust with the "jackpot" justice system he so cherished that turned voters off. It wasn't his pitiable "Scream from Racine" performance, which no doubt begged many West Virginians to question how they could elect him dog catcher, much less to their state's highest court. Rather, it was Tugman, who had the misfortune of accidentially rear-ending one of the most litigious egomaniacs in the Mountain State.

Our scarce state court resources shouldn't be wasted on McGraw's self-serving crusades, and neither should John Tugman's peace-of-mind.

For all of our sake, Mr. McGraw, please drop this frivolous lawsuit and shelve your sour grapes. It's time to put away your lawyers and get on with your life.

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