Breach of contract suit friviolously filed, firm partner says

By Lawrence Smith | Nov 23, 2009




CHARLESTON - A recently dismissed lawsuit against a Charleston law firm, and one of its associates should never have been filed in the first place, says one of the firm's partners.

The law firm of Lewis, Glasser, Casey and Rollins and attorney Mark Sadd, a full equity member of the firm, were named in a three-count breach of contract suit by PHH Mortgage Company of Mt. Laurel, N.J., on Nov. 4 in U.S. District Court. In its suit, PHH alleged Lewis Glasser, and Sadd failed to timely forward $77,147.73 in proceeds from a St. Albans property sold in foreclosure before the sale was later disputed by the original owner, Audrey Ross.

Records show the suit has since been dismissed by Judge Thomas E. Johnston. The dismissal came on Nov. 17 at the request of R. Terrance Rodgers, PHH's attorney.

Though no reason is stated for the dismissal, Martin J. Glasser, Lewis Glasser's managing partner, said the suit was without merit. Since Sadd was assigned to assist Riverside Trustee Company, the substitute trustee of the foreclosed property in October 2007, both he and the firm have done everything in accordance with PHH's wishes.

"PHH Mortgage's civil action was completely baseless both in fact and law," Glasser said. "We showed Mr. Rodgers's law firm [Allen Guthrie and Thomas] documentary evidence that PHH Mortgage's counsel had given written consent to our law firm's proposed handling of funds from the closing on property that had been sold at a foreclosure sale.

"We were puzzled, shocked and angered that PHH Mortgage and its lawyer, R. Terrance Rodgers, would file a lawsuit against us when the facts of the case clearly show that PHH Mortgage had expressly approved our actions based on its counsel's written consent."

According to Glasser, Sadd turned the money over to the lender financing Kathy Stepp's purchase of the property on Woodhill Drive in St. Albans. Records show Stepp bought the property on Oct. 2, 2007, following a foreclosure sale conducted by the trustee.

The now-dismissed suit alleged PHH was harmed when Sadd failed to forward the proceeds before Ross filed a Lis Pendens, and collateral civil suit in Kanawha Circuit Court disputing the foreclosure sale. There was never any indication anything was wrong with Sadd's, or anyone else's, handling of the foreclosure, Glasser said, until a story about PHH's suit appeared in a recent edition of The West Virginia Record.

"PHH Mortgage should never have filed the lawsuit because Mr. Sadd and our law firm handled the proceeds in accordance with PHH Mortgage's written instructions in the midst of litigation," he said.

U.S. District Court for the Southern District of West Virginia, case number 09-cv-1212

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