Hedgesville woman sues former counsel for mishandling her case

By Kyla Asbury | Jul 29, 2011

Santa Barbara

MARTINSBURG – A Hedgesville woman is suing her former counsel after she claims he and his law office were negligent in handing her personal injury claims after she was injured on a trolley.

Michael S. Santa Barbara and Santa Barbara Law Offices, PLLC, were named as defendants in the suit.

Dorothy Elaine Wright was injured when riding on a trolley on June 16, 2007, and the defendants were to represent her in her negligence claim for personal injuries against the Berkeley County Roundhouse Authority and the trolley driver, according to a complaint filed June 14 in Berkeley Circuit Court.

Wright claims the defendants were negligent in the handling of her personal injury claim by failing to ascertain the extent of her lost income, wages and reduced Social Security income.

The defendants were also negligent in failing to file a lawsuit against all those responsible for Wright's injuries, namely the Berkeley County Roundhouse Authority, according to the suit. The defendants instead only filed the suit against the trolley driver, Juanita McJilton.

Wright claims under the West Virginia Governmental Tort Immunity Act, McJilton was statutorily immune from liability for the claims and damages, so the defendants were negligent in filing the suit against a person who was "immune from liability for the claims asserted in the suit."

Eventually, Wright discharged the defendants as her counsel and hired her counsel, according to the suit.

Wright claims the defendants breached their contract with her and were negligent in representing her properly.

Because of the defendants' negligence, Wright's claims were "worth no more than nuisance value," according to the suit.

Wright is seeking compensatory damages with pre- and post-judgment interest. She is being represented by Charles S. Trump.

Berkeley Circuit Court case number: 11-C-479

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