WINFIELD – As Margaret Workman prepares for another term as Justice of the Supreme Court of Appeals, a Missouri woman has sued in Putnam County seeking to recover money Workman received from a client in a contest over control of an estate.
George Morrone of Ranson Law Offices in Charleston filed the suit Dec. 3 on behalf of Eugenia Moschgat of Lebanon, Mo.
Moschgat didn't sue Workman. She sued her own aunt, Diana Savilla of Hurricane.
"Savilla, with the assistance of Margaret Workman, intentionally and maliciously sought out to destroy the character and integrity of Ms. Moschgat," Morrone wrote.
The suit seeks compensatory, punitive and general damages from Savilla for replacing Moschgat as administratrix of the estate of Linda Kinnaird, Moschgat's mother.
Kinnaird drowned after her employer, Speedway SuperAmerica, called her to work in a flood in 2000. A Charleston city rescue team picked her up but their boat capsized.
Kanawha Circuit Judge Paul Zakaib appointed Moschgat to handle the estate, and she hired lawyer Michael Ranson of Charleston to sue Speedway and the city.
Workman persuaded Zakaib to remove Moschgat and appoint Savilla.
Workman then tried to persuade the Supreme Court of Appeals that Moschgat deserved nothing from the estate because she and her mother were estranged.
Workman argued that Moschgat's 10 aunts and uncles deserved the proceeds.
The Justices identified Moschgat as the only beneficiary, but instead of giving her everything they appointed Savilla as administratrix.
That meant Moschgat had to pay Ranson and Workman.
This October, Zakaib settled a $80,000 fee dispute between Workman and Ranson by awarding 97 percent of it to Workman. Workman received $76,500, and Ranson $3,500.
Moschgat and Ranson then took their case to the courthouse at Winfield.
Morrone's complaint alleged that Savilla conspired with brothers and sisters "to launch a cruel and vicious public attack" on Moschgat.
He wrote that Savilla directed Workman to attack Moschgat. He wrote that Savilla breached a fiduciary duty to Moschgat by agreeing to pay Workman "substantial sums of money."
"Ms. Savilla is seeking to require Ms. Moschgat to pay legal fees and expenses Ms. Savilla owes to Margaret Workman for activity from December 14, 2000, to September 9, 2007, all of which were actually expended on behalf of the defendant," Morrone wrote.
He wrote that Savilla's malicious actions had a significant impact on the value of Moschgat's claim for damages. He wrote that Savilla's actions wasted the assets of the estate.
The case has been assigned to Circuit Judge Ed Eagloski.
Putnam Circuit Court case number: 08-C-389