Putnam attorney named again in malpractice suit

By Lawrence Smith | Dec 22, 2011


WINFIELD -– A Putnam County attorney once again is accused of waiting too long to file a medical malpractice suit against a disgraced doctor.

Frank Armada is named as a co-defendant in a legal malpractice lawsuit filed Dec. 8 by Roger and Mary Spencer in Putnam Circuit Court. In their complaint, the Spencers allege Armada, and his former law partners, J. Robert Rogers and William D. Thompson, missed the statute of limitations on filing a lawsuit against John King, a former osteopath at Putnam General Hospital.

According to their suit, the Spencers say they approached the Armada, Rogers and Thompson firm sometime prior to January 2005 about filing suit against King for his mistreatment of Roger. The suit does not specify what King did or didn't do except that it occurred sometime in 2003.

Nevertheless, Armada filed suit against King, and PGH on Oct. 24, 2006. In the suit, Armada made claims for, among other things, negligent credentialing/privileging/retention, fraud, intentional and negligent infliction of emotional distress, lack of informed consent, trespass, assault and battery and civil conspiracy.

However, a year later, Judge O.C. "Hobby" Spaulding dismissed the suit on the grounds it was filed past the two-year statute of limitations when King's alleged malpractice took place. According to the complaint, though he allowed for additional pleadings, Spaulding on March 5, 2010, denied a motion to reconsider his decision.

In their suit, the Spencers allege as a result of Armada's, Rogers' or Thompson's negligence and carelessness, they were unable to recoup damages they incurred from King's alleged malpractice. They seek unspecified damages, attorneys fees and court costs.

Similar suit

The Spencers' case is similar to one James and Peggy Carrey of Hurricane filed against Armada in April. In their suit, the Careys allege James incurred $19,000 in unnecessary medical bills for follow-up surgeries he had in May and August 2003 to remove screws King and his assistant, David McNair, left in his right ankle following his visit to the PGH emergency room on March 27, 2003.

Like with the Spencers, Armada filed the Careys' medical malpractice suit against King on Oct. 24, 2006 only to have it dismissed on Nov. 7, 2007.

The Careys' and Spencers' suits were one of 110 filed against King in late 2006 alleging medical malpractice, and wrongful death during his time at PGH from November 2002 until June 2003. After an additional 12 suits were filed, they were split between Spaulding and then-Putnam Circuit Judge N. Edward Eagloski, and later sealed in June 2007.

Following his move to Alabama, where he was still able to practice medicine, and changed his name to Christopher Wallace Martin citing identity theft, King declared bankruptcy in November 2007 putting all the lawsuits against him on hold. According to the Alabama Board of Medicine, his license was revoked in 2008.

Records show they also denied King's petition for reinstatement of his license last December. Between 2004 and 2006, King, 53, either surrendered or lost his license in West Virginia and eight other states.

According to court records, Armada on May 23 answered the Careys' suit. Along with denying their allegations, he asserted that their suit against him was filed past the statute of limitations.

On Aug. 26, the Careys filed an amended complaint to include Rogers, Thompson and the Armada, Rogers and Thompson law firm. However, Thompson, who now lives in Ponte Verde, Fla., and Rogers, who shares an office with Armada in Teays Valley, have asked the amended complaint be dismissed since the firm was dissolved in 2005, and service on them through Armada was defective.

Records show Armada, Thompson and Rogers are represented by Timothy Barber and former Kanawha Circuit Judge A. Andrew MacQueen, Christopher J. Heavens and Michael J. Farrell and Tamela White, respectively.

Though he has been assigned the Spencers' case, Spaulding has recused himself from the Careys' case citing the rulings he made in dismissing the original medical malpractice suit. Ohio Circuit Judge James P. Mazzone was appointed to hear the case by state Supreme Court Chief Justice Margaret A. Workman in July after Judge Philip M. Stowers recused himself citing Armada's regular appearances in his court.
Bruce Freeman with the Charleston law firm of Freeman and Chiartas represents both the Spencers and Careys.

Putnam Circuit Court case number 11-C-357 (Spencer) and 11-C-108 (Carey)

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