PARKERSBURG - Despite records showing no direct involvement, a Wood County attorney wants an Parkersburg nursing home to pay him for legal work he performed in a 2004 wrongful termination case.
Richard A. Hayhurst on April 2 filed suit in Wood Circuit Court against Eagle Pointe, and Scott Morrison. In his suit, Hayhurst alleges Eagle Pointe, and Morrison owe him over $2,000 for legal services he rendered to Debra Lynn Wingrove relating to her involvement a suit filed against Eagle Pointe, and its former administrator, Pat Westfall, by Randy Wright alleging wrongful termination.
However, court records show Wingrove was never a party to the suit, and Hayhurst never filed any notice of appearance in the case.
According to his suit, Wright was hired as Eagle Pointe's director of social services on March 1, 2001. He was later promoted to administrator in training on Dec. 31, 2002, after Westfall announced she "intended to retire within the next couple of years."
Following his promotion, Wright maintains he addressed concerns with Westfall including call lights not being answered, staffing shortages and "inappropriate behavior" of Joanne Emerson, the director of nursing. The only specified allegation Wright made about Emerson in court records is that she allegedly falsified information on patient charts.
After believing Westfall was not taking his concerns seriously, Wright says he addressed them with Eagle Pointe's parent company, American Senior Communities, in Indiana. Records are unclear when he communicated with ASC, and what action, if any, they took.
Nevertheless, Wright alleges Wingrove on March 5, 2004, stuck him three times on the back of the head, and once on the face. After reporting the incident to Westfall, Wright says the only action she took was to move him out of the office he shared with Wingrove to another place in the facility.
A month after the altercation with Wingrove, Wright alleges he was terminated following a visit by Dan Benson, ASC's vice president for operations. Two months after he was fired, Wright filed his lawsuit.
Records show the case was settled over a year later on Aug. 18, 2005. The terms of the settlement were not disclosed.
Though never listed nor added as a co-defendant, Wingrove's name did come up again in the case. Records show both ASC, and Wright included her on the respective witness lists filed on April 25 and May 2, 2005.
In his suit, Hayhurst does not specify the role he played in the Wright case. Instead, he cryptically states that he "performed appropriate legal services for the benefit of the Defendants pursuant to his engagement and obtained a result satisfactory to all."
Regardless, Hayhurst maintains that from the unspecified date he began working on the case until Feb. 9, he performed $2,235 in legal services.
Fraud alleged, recanted
On April 29, Eagle Pointe, and Morrison, ASC's corporate attorney, filed their answer to Hayhurst's suit. Through their attorney C. Blaine Myers, they denied his allegation except that he was Wingrove's attorney.
Among the defenses they assert is that Hayhurst's suit was filed past the two-year statute of limitations. Also, they maintain Hayhurst is "not entitled to recover on his claims against Defendants because the alleged debt was a result of Plaintiff's fraud."
However, a month later Myers would have to recant the fraud allegation as following a motion Hayhurst filed on May 3 to strike it, he "conced[ed] they [ASC and Morrison] have no evidence that the Plaintiff committed any species of fraud in connection with the cause of action."
The West Virginia Record attempted to get specifics on Hayhurst's connection to the Wright case. However, Hayhurst was unavailable for comment as he's currently incarcerated at the Hazelton Penitentiary in Bruceton Mills.
Twelve days after filing his suit, Hayhurst was convicted on a charge of tax evasion, and sentenced to 21 months in prison and ordered to pay the IRS $500 a month once he's released in December 2011. As a result of his conviction, the state Supreme Court on June 2 suspended Hayhurst's license indefinitely pending completion of an ethics investigation by the Office of Disciplinary Counsel.
When contacted, Morrison acknowledged that Wingrove did retain Hayhurst during the course of the Wright suit. Hayhurst's role, Morrison said, was to advise her when she was deposed as a witness.
Neither he nor Eagle Pointe has any intention of paying Hayhurst, Morrison said, as the case was settled five years ago, and there is no record agreeing to pay him for representing Wingrove.
"He contacted us for the first time 4 1/2 years later and we have no record of agreeing to pay him," Morrison said.
According to C. Blaine Myers, the Parkersburg attorney representing Eagle Pointe and Morrison, said Hayhurst has relented, and filed a voluntary motion to dismiss the suit with Judge J.D. Beane.
Wood Circuit Court case number 10-C-135