Fayette man receives judgment against S.C. attorney's son over destroyed car

By Lawrence Smith | Mar 20, 2009

CHARLESTON - A Fayette County man has received judgment against the son of a South Charleston attorney and former Kanawha County judicial officer alleging he not only failed to pay for a car he bought from him, but also destroyed it.

On March 5, Donald L. White, of Deepwater, received default judgment in a small claim suit he filed against Theodore R. Dues III in Kanawha Magistrate Court. Records show Magistrate Jack Pauley granted the motion for default judgment filed by White's attorney Belinda Morton on Feb. 18 after giving Dues over five months to respond.

In West Virginia, a small claim suit involves disputes under $5,000. Default judgments are granted when the defendant has failed to answer the suit's allegations.

In the complaint he filed on Sept. 2, White, 74, alleged that he sold a car to Dues, 25, on Feb. 3, 2008 for $1,5000. Though the make and model of the car is not specified in court records, Morton told The West Virginia Record that it was a 1997 Nissan.

The terms of the sale, records show, called for Dues "to make monthly payments of $150.00 per month." When Dues "never made [a] payment," White "made numerous calls to [Dues] about payments all to no avail."

In addition to failing to render payment, White alleged Dues "abandoned and destroyed the vehicle."

According to Morton, White received a call from authorities in Ohio that the Nissan was found abandoned outside Columbus. The reason White received the call, Morton said, is that Dues never registered the tags and title in his name.

Shortly after receiving the call, Morton said White traveled to Columbus in hopes of reclaiming it and selling to someone else. However, when he arrived he found the car in no shape to be returned to West Virginia.

"It had been gutted and stripped," Morton said.

White was notified about the car being in Columbus in August, Morton said. A month later he filed his suit.

Records show that Dues was personally served notice of White's suit at the home of his parents, Ted Jr. and Mona Dues, on Upland Drive in South Charleston. By law, he had 20 days to answer White's complaint.

Second calamity

The incident with White is not the first time he's had a calamity with a car. Dues is responsible for the disappearance of an other vehicle to which his parents had a dubious title.

In 2007, Nicholas Loan and Mortgage of Summersville filed suit in Kanawha Circuit Court against Ted and Mona, who where then working as a mental hygiene commissioner and juvenile referee, respectfully, in Kanawha County alleging they defaulted on a loan given to them in 2004 to refinance their 2001 Infiniti QX 4 and 1989 Mercedes-Benz 420SEL. Though Nicholas was successful in repossessing the Infiniti, it had no such luck with the Mercedes.

According to Court records, Ted Jr. said that, despite his instructions to keep the Mercedes in the Charleston-area due to its "dilapidated" condition, Ted III took it to Huntington where it broke down. Because he was ill at the time, Ted Jr. said he was not immediately able to go with Ted III to the place where the Mercedes "was believed to have been left."

In his answer to Nicholas' lawsuit, Ted Jr. maintained eventually he and Ted III went to Huntington to retrieve the Mercedes. Despite employing the assistance of the Huntington Police Department, Dues said the search was "to no avail."

However, there are no records of Dues either filing a stolen vehicle report or making any inquiries to HPD about the Mercedes' whereabouts. An HPD incident report shows that the Mercedes was cited for "sidewalk and curb violations" on the 1100 block of 10th Street starting on Aug. 13, 2002, after it was left unattended for 48 hours.

It was eventually impounded and towed by Cogan's Wrecker Service eight days later. The whereabouts of the Mercedes remains a mystery.

In addition to defaulting on the loan, Nicholas leveled allegations of fraud against the Dues since they refinanced the loan in 2004 despite losing possession of it two years earlier. However, as part of an agreement for summary judgment they reached in January, Nicholas dropped the fraud claim when the Dues stipulated that "At the time of the attempted repossession of the Mercedes Benz, the Defendants were no longer in possession of the same."

Currently, Ted Jr. is suspended from practicing law for failing to not only pay his 2008 and 2009 dues to the state Bar, but also for not disclosing whether he has malpractice insurance. In addition to failing to complete a two-year restricted practice hearing only mental hygiene cases, Dues has failed to make over $13,000 in restitution to clients as ordered by the state Supreme Court in December 2005.

A e-mail message left with Dues seeking comment from either himself or Ted III concerning the default judgment against the latter was not returned by presstime.

Kanawha Magistrate Court case number 08-C-2788

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