*** Ted Dues: A legal career gone awry

By The West Virginia Record | Jun 5, 2009

CHARLESTON -- In Ted Dues' 30 years as a lawyer, records show better part than half of it was sent fighting legal, ethical and financial battles. Below, is a timeline of those battles compiled from previous stories published in The West Virginia Record.

The Record sent multiple messages to Dues via e-mail seeking a comment on what, if anything, important he felt he accomplished in his legal career. He offered no reply.


· May 24 - Dues is admitted to the West Virginia bar.


· In one of the first to be filed against Dues, the Bar dismissed a complaint filed by a St. Albans man, but not without citing him for "poor management skills."


·Sept. 11 - Dues is convicted in U.S. District Court on a misdemeanor charge of failing to file his 1985 tax return. He is sentenced to five years probation, and ordered to perform 150 hours of community service.


· Aug. 3 - The Bar files a one-count statement of charges against Dues resulting from his criminal conviction. Finding that Dues "engaged in conduct that adversely reflects on his fitness to practice law," the Bar asked the state Supreme Court to suspend him for three months.

·Citing health challenges both he and his wife, Mona, experienced between 1979 and 1986, the failure of the state of West Virginia to pay him for the two years he served as a hearing examiner for the Human Rights Commission and the IRS seizing his bank accounts as mitigating factors, the Court declined to adopt the Bar's suspension recommendation. Instead, by a 4-1 vote they publicly reprimanded him.

Justice William Brotherton casts the dissenting vote.


· The Bar dismisses two complaints against Dues, but, again, not without issuing a warning. In one instance he's told he needs to put any future non-refundable fee agreement in writing, and "to take appropriate measures to protect client interests during periods of illness" in an other.


· Former Charleston firefighter Jason Davis files a legal malpractice suit against Dues. In his suit, Davis alleges that Dues erroneously filed a wrongful termination suit on Davis' behalf in U.S. District Court. He did not find out the status of the suit until after the statute of limitations had lapsed.


·April 29 - Without her knowledge or consent, Dues dismisses a medical malpractice case Jeanettia Spencer filed in 2000 against a Charleston anesthesiologist.

·Sept. 15 - Bonnie K. Wolfe, a South Charleston-based certified court reporter, wins a $1,604.50 default judgment in Kanawha Magistrate Court after Dues failed to pay her for transcribing four cases.

·Sept. 29 - A jury finds that Dues committed legal malpractice in failing to timely file Davis' wrongful termination suit, and awards Davis $75,000. According to Davis' attorney, Ritchie Robb, Dues, as of June 2009, has only paid $1,000 toward satisfying the judgment. It continues to accumulate 10 percent annual interest.

· Nine of Dues' clients, including Spencer, lodge separate ethics complaints with the Bar.


* March 1 - An 11-count statement of charges is filed against Dues relating the complaints of the nine clients. The statement alleges Dues committed 39 violations of the Rules of Professional Conduct, including failure to respond to the Bar's inquiry.

* While awaiting the outcome of the Bar's disciplinary proceeding, Spencer files a legal malpractice case against Dues in Kanawha Circuit Court.


* May 17 - Katherine Rucker, a Clendenin resident, wins default judgment against Dues for $5,700 in Kanawha Magistrate Court. Despite paying him a $5,500 retainer in 2001 to file a sexual harassment suit against Bob Peden Chevrolet, Dues fails to take any action.

* Nov. 7 - LVNV Funding, a Greenville, S.C.-based debt consolidation firm, agrees to settle a lawsuit it filed in Kanawha Circuit Court to collect on a $14,277.79 in outstanding credit card bills Dues owned to Providian Financial Corp. Provided he make monthly payments of $500 not more than 10 days past the 30th of each month, LVNV agreed not to execute the judgment against him. However, Dues apparently failed to make good on his promise as on Dec. 27 LVNV filed a lien against Dues' home on Upland Ave. in South Charleston.

* Dec. 19 - The Court rules on the 11-count statement of charges filed against him by the Bar. Though it agrees to accept its recommendation that Dues pay the cost of the disciplinary proceeding and make $13,000 in restitution to the nine clients, it rejects the Bar's recommendation that he be suspended for 18 months. Citing his 2002 heart attack and subsequent bypass operation which led to his battle with depression, the Court votes 4-1 to restrict Dues' practice to hearing mental hygiene cases for 24 months. Justice Brent Benjamin casts the dissenting vote.


* January - Spencer agrees to settle her legal malpractice suit with Dues for $2,000. Justice Thomas McHugh, who was in private practice at the time, served as mediator.

* July - Records released by the Court show by the end of the 2005-2006 fiscal year, Dues was the highest paid mental hygiene commissioner in the state at $113,103.25.

* Sept. 14 - Believing Dues deceived her about his financial status, Spencer files a motion to reopen her malpractice suit.


* Jan. 17 - Nicholas Loan and Mortgage files suit in Kanawha Circuit Court alleging Ted and Mona committed fraud in refinancing a 2001 Infiniti QX4 and a 1989 Mercedes-Benz 420 SEL. In a collateral ethics complaint it filed against Ted with the Bar, Nicholas says when asked about the Mercedes' whereabouts following an attempt to repossess it, Dues claims his son, Ted III, "lost" it.

In their answer to Nicholas' suit, the Dues say that Ted III took the Mercedes to Huntington where it broke down. When Ted and Ted III attempted to locate it, with the help of the Huntington Police Department, they were unsuccessful.

* Feb. 12 - Berkeley Circuit Judge Christopher Wilkes, who was appointed to hear Spencer's malpractice case, denies her motion to reopen it.

* May - Records provided by the Huntington Police Department show Dues' Mercedes was towed to Cogan's Wrecker Service's lot on Aug. 21, 2002, after it was cited by police for being abandoned for 48 hours. HPD confirmed that Dues never made any inquires with them about the car or filed a stolen vehicle report.

* March 26 - Andrews Floor and Wall Covering, a South Charleston business, wins default judgment against the Dues for $2,086.68 in Kanawha Magistrate Court for failing to pay for new floor tiles installed in their home in December 2005.

* August - Dues ceases hearing mental hygiene cases.


* January - Dues is administratively suspended by the Bar following his failure to pay annual Bar dues, and disclose whether he has malpractice insurance.

* Oct. 30 - The Bar dismisses the complaint filed by Nicholas saying that the issues it raised are better addressed in the courts. However, the Bar called Nicholas' allegations "serious and disturbing" and Dues' "conduct in this matter clearly does not conform to the standard of conduct expected of attorneys."

* Dec. 19 - The Bar files a two-count statement of charges against Dues for failing to file legal actions for two clients despite being paid a retainer.


* Jan. 24 - The Dues agreed to a motion for summary judgment filed by Nicholas that they defaulted on the loan granted them in 2004. In addition to agreeing to repay Nicholas over $87,000, the Dues' stipulated that the Mercedes was not in their possession when Nicholas attempted to repossess it.

* March 31 - In response to the Dec. 19 statement of charges, Dues asks that to have his license voluntarily annulled.

* April 22 - The Bar files a petition with the Court asking for annulment of Dues' license.

* May 13 - The Court grants the Bar's petition to disbar Dues by voluntary consent.

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