Third legal malpractice suit related to John King filed against Putnam attorney

By Lawrence Smith | Apr 27, 2012

WINFIELD – For the third time in a year, a Putnam County attorney and his former law partners are accused of being asleep at the wheel in pursuing a medical malpractice case against Dr. John King.

WINFIELD – For the third time in a year, a Putnam County attorney and his former law partners are accused of being asleep at the wheel in pursuing a medical malpractice case against Dr. John King.

Frank M. Armada is named as a co-defendant in a legal malpractice suit by Judson Cottrell, Barbara Cottrell Hudson and Ruby C. Cottrell. In their complaint filed April 13 in Putnam Circuit Court, the Cottrells allege that Armada and his former partners J. Robert Rogers and William D. Thompson missed the deadline to file suit against King for his mistreatment of Ruby nearly a decade ago.

Since last April, two other families have filed suit against Armada alleging either his, Rogers' or Thompson's inattentiveness resulted in their inability to pursue their claims of malpractice against the now-disgraced osteopath. Rogers, Thompson and the now-defunct Armada, Rogers and Thompson law firm are named as co-defendants in all three suits.

According to the suit, Ruby was treated by King at Putnam General Hospital sometime in 2003. No specifics are provided as to what King did or failed to do.

Nevertheless, Judson and Barbara, to whom Ruby gave a durable medical power of attorney, contacted the firm in October that year about filing suit against King. A suit was filed on Oct. 25, 2006.

However, just over a year later, the suit was dismissed on the grounds it was filed at least a year past the two-year statute of limitations. Following a motion to reconsider, the judge again dismissed Cottrell's suit on March 5, 2010.

The judge assigned Cottrell's medical malpractice suit in not specified.

Her suit was one of more than 100 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 judges O.C. "Hobby" Spaulding and N. Edward Eagloski, and later sealed in June 2007.

In the 2008 general election, Phillip M. Stowers upended Eagloski's bid for re-election. In next month's primary election, Eagloski is attempting a comeback by seeking the Republican nomination to fill the unexpired term of Spaulding, who announced his retirement late last year following his diagnosis with Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, commonly known as Lou Gehrig's disease.

Following his move to Alabama, where he was still able to practice medicine, King -- who changed his name to Christopher Wallace Martin citing identity theft -- 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 in December 2010. Between 2004 and 2006, King, 54, either surrendered or lost his license in West Virginia and eight other states.

Eventually, PGH was sold by Hospital Corporation of America to Charleston Area Medical Center and renamed CAMC-Teays Valley.

The Cottrell's suit mirrors allegations made by James and Peggy Carrey, and Roger and Mary Spencer in their respective legal malpractice suits filed last April and in December. Like the Cottrells, the Carreys and Spencers allege they timely approached the firm about filing suit against King only for Armada to miss the filing deadline.

In their legal malpractice suits, the Carreys and Spencers maintain, like the Cottrells, their suits were filed in October 2006 only to be dismissed first in Nov. 2007, then again in March 2010 following a motion to reconsider.

Records show, the Armada, Rogers and Thompson law firm was dissolved in 2005. Currently, Thompson lives in Florida, and Rogers shares office space with Armada in Teays Valley.

In their suit, the Cottrells seek unspecified damages, attorney fees and court costs. They are represented by Charleston attorney Bruce L. Freeman, who also represents the Carreys and Spencers.

Putnam Circuit Court case number 12-C-117

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