Law firm sued over ads

By John O'Brien | Oct 20, 2006

CHARLESTON - A South Charleston nursing home is accusing a Texas-based law firm of defaming it on a Charleston television station.

Glenmark LLC, doing business as Valley Center, filed its lawsuit Oct. 13 in Kanawha Circuit Court against Pulaski and Middleman of Bellaire, Texas.

The suit is a petition for a temporary restraining order to stop the commercial from airing. In the alternative, Glenmark seeks a preliminary injunction.

Glenmark claims the firm unfairly singled it, while Adam Pulaski says his firm did nothing wrong. Teresa Toriseva, of Wexler, Toriseva and Wallace in Wheeling, says a solution should be quickly achieved.

According to the suit, the commercial, which airs on WCHS, says: "Do you know how to spot the signs of nursing home abuse or neglect, bed sores, broken bones, unexplained injuries or even death? Has one of your loved ones been a victim of nursing home abuse or neglect at Valley Center, Blueridge Care and Rehabilitation Center, or any other nursing home?

"Let our law firm assist you in filing a claim for money damages against a nursing home if they provide bad care and have injured your loved one."

Glenmark also claims that the words "Valley Center" appear on the screen throughout the commercial.

"Defendant's assertions that the viewers' loved ones are being neglected and are abused at Valley Center are baseless and false," the complaint says.

Glenmark says the commercial begain airing Oct. 2 and also invades its privacy by creating publicity that places Valley Center in a false light.

"The subject commercial meets the essential elements of defamation," the complaint says.

Glenmark seeks compensation, claiming damage has been done to its business reputation, opportunity, relations and contracts with customers.

Pulaski says his firm never officially retained local counsel and does not plan to, though Wexler, Toriseva and Wallace is involved in settlement talks, and that no one from the state Bar Lawyer Advertising Committee contacted him.

"We did nothing wrong. We didn't need anyone (local) representing us," Pulaski said. "We comply with all Bar rules."

The firm works with Wexler, Toriseva and Wallace on state cases. Toriseva is talking with Glenmark on behalf of Pulaski and Middleman about a solution.

"I think something will be worked out that won't necessitate a hearing," she said. "Having said that, I think the ad is appropriate and there is nothing wrong.

"Sometimes it's easier to work things out instead of to litigate over insignificant issues.

She says the two sides are "very close" on an agreement.

"The ad itself seeks to reprsent consumers harmed, abused or neglected in nursing-home settings, including at the nursing home that filed the TRO," Torisava said.

Rochelle Brightwell is representing Glenmark. She works for Pietragallo, Bosick and Gordon in Weirton and was unavailable for comment, as was Elliot Hicks, the head of the state Bar's Lawyer Advertising Committee.

This year, Glenmark has been sued twice in Kanawha Circuit Court for alleged abuse and neglect. Neither case is being handled by Pulaski and Middleman.

Judge Irene Berger has been assigned the case.

Kanawha Circuit Court case number 06-C-2135

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