CHARLESTON - Though John Lutz's legal career may be over, his legal troubles aren't.
Two weeks after he entered a guilty plea to forging a legal document in Connie and Merrill Bergstedt's lawsuit, Lutz, and two of his former law partners, were hit with a legal malpractice suit by another former client. In her complaint filed July 15 in Kanawha Circuit Court, Ann M. Davis alleges Lutz, J.W. Riccardi and Raymond G. Dodson failed to timely file a civil suit against a stock broker who Davis says swindled her out of nearly $100,000.
According to court records, Davis came to Lutz to file suit against James Sullivan with Lehman Brothers. Though records are unclear as to when, Davis alleges Sullivan "fraudulently and negligently" invested $99,000 for her.
Likewise, records are unclear as when Davis retained Lutz to bring a suit against Sullivan. However, she alleges, possibly due to his disbarment, Lutz, "individually, and in his capacity as partner with defendants with J.W. Riccardi and Raymond G. Dodson ... has executed valid instruments extending the statute of limitations for filing this complaint through July 15, 2009."
In November, the state Supreme Court accepted Lutz's petition for voluntary annulment of his license. Lutz filed his petition in the midst of allegations he forged Kanawha Circuit Judge Irene C. Berger's signature to a proposed settlement in the Bergstedt's case, and the Bar beginning an investigation into complaints filed by four other clients.
Though Davis does not include any of the purported requests for extensions Lutz filed as exhibits to her suit, she, nevertheless, alleges they were insufficient to get her suit against Sullivan filed in time. As a result of not only Lutz's, but also Riccardi's and Dodson's negligence, Davis maintains she has suffered inconvenience and mental anguish.
For that, she is asking to be awarded $100,000 in compensatory and $300,000 in punitive damages.
Davis is represented by South Charleston attorney Timothy Barber.
The case is assigned to Judge James C. Stucky.
Kanawha Circuit Court case number 09-C-1275