CHARLESTON - A Cross Lanes man has filed a breech of contract suit against a Charleston attorney for failing to buy the man's ownership interest in a farm.

On Jan. 6, Emmitt G. Adkins filed a lawsuit against Shannon M. Bland in Kanawha Circuit Court. In his complaint and suit, filed with the assistance of Marc A. Monteleone and Kristin A. Shaffer, Adkins alleges Bland owes him over $100,000 in failing to make good on his agreement to buy Adkins' 50 percent stake in Triple B Farms.

According to court records, a special meeting of the Triple B Farms, Inc shareholders was conducted at Bland's office on Kanawha Blvd. in Charleston on Sept. 27, 2002. During the meeting Bland agreed to purchase Adkins' stake in Triple B valued at $225,000.

The agreement, court records show, called for Bland to make annual payments of $22,500 over the next 10 years at 0 percent interest.

On Sept. 30, 2005, Adkins and Bland agreed to amend the agreement. Accounting for the $42,850 he already paid Adkins, Bland, in January 2006 was to begin making monthly payments of $1,875 until Adkins released the debt.

Despite Bland paying an additional $15,000 to him on Oct 17, 2008, Adkins alleges Bland failed to make good on his agreement to make 37 payments of $1,875 between Jan. 1, 2006 and Jan. 1, 2009 for a total of $69,375. Though he had paid $108,801.87 toward the purchase price of the farm by Jan. 5, Adkins alleges Bland is in arrears $3,423.13.

Because of the arrearage, Adkins is alleging Bland has defaulted on their agreement. As a result, Adkins is asking for judgment for the remainder of the purchase price, $116,198.13, costs, fees and "consequential damages."

Immediate response

Bland wasted no time in replying to Adkins' allegations. With the assistance of Charleston attorney C. Paige Harmrick, Bland filed both an answer and counterclaim to Adkins' suit the next day.

In his reply, Bland admitted only to Adkins and the other shareholders meeting in his office on Sept. 27, 2002. He denied the remainder of Adkins' allegations with the exception of admitting 37 times 1,875 equals 69,375.

Bland asserted a defense that it is Adkins, and not he, who was "failed to comply with the terms of the relevant agreements and as such has breached the contractual relationship."

In his counterclaim, Bland alleges he agreed to an oral contract with Adkins to represent him in a lawsuit against West Virginia Paving Inc. The agreement, Bland alleges, called for Adkins to pay him the legal expenses he incurred in pursing the suit.

According to Bland, his expenses totaled over $8,000. Despite a pledge to do so, Bland alleges Adkins has failed to apply the $8,000 toward the purchase price of the farm.

Bland also makes a claim for defamation in his counterclaim. Adkins's allegations Bland owed him $116,198.13 became "public knowledge" virtually the instant his suit was filed.

Along with a dismissal of Adkins' suit, Bland is asking he be awarded costs, fees and judgment in the amount of the legal expenses he incurred in the West Virginia Paving suit.

Initially, the case was assigned to Judge Jennifer Bailey Walker. However, on Feb. 3, she along with the remaining six other Kanawha Circuit judges recused themselves.

Court records show that Walker, along with judges Louis H. "Duke" Bloom, Charles E. King, James C. Stucky, and Paul Zakaib cited Bland's routine appearances in their courts for recusing themselves. In stating their reasons for recusal, judges Irene C. Berger and Tod J. Kaufman said that Bland's father is a juvenile probation officer, and due to a personal friendship they have with him it would be "ethically inappropriate for this Court to preside over this matter."

As of presstime, the state Supreme Court had yet to appoint a special judge to the case.

Kanawha Circuit Court case number: 09-C-22

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