Suspended attorney faces lawsuit from BB&T

By Lawrence Smith | Nov 26, 2012


CHARLESTON – Though his law license may be on hiatus, Charles L. “Dusty” Phalen’s legal problems aren’t.

Two months before the Court placed Phalen on a year-long suspension, Branch Banking and Trust named him as a co-defendant in breach of contract suit. In the complaint filed Sept. 21 in Kanawha Circuit Court, BB&T accused Phalen and his wife, Lee Ann, of defaulting on a loan to refinance their home on Skinner Drive in St. Albans

According to the suit, BB&T loaned the Phalens $31,713 on Jan. 13, 2006, under the condition they repay it over the next 120 months at 8.115 percent interest. Records show the last payment they made was on June 9, 2011, leaving a balance of $16,079.51.

In its suit, BB&T asked for judgment for the outstanding balance, plus seven percent post-judgment interest and court costs.

Nineteen days later, one of Phalen’s former clients, Jason Falbo, won default judgment against him in Kanawha Magistrate Court. Falbo, who was among the nine clients whose complaints were included in the statement of charges that resulted in Phalen’s suspension, filed suit on May 1 to recoup the retainer he paid Phalen to file a petition in Kanawha Family Court for modification of parenting time.

Initially, a trial was scheduled in Falbo’s case for Aug. 8. However, two days before, Phalen asked for a continuance on the grounds he got the dates confused, and had a prior commitment in Putnam County.

When Phalen failed to show for the re-scheduled Oct. 10 trial, Magistrate Kristen Viewig awarded Falbo judgment in the amount he was seeking, $2,200, plus $70 in court costs. Following Viewig’s ruling, Falbo admitted he may never see the money, but at least he gained a moral victory.

“I’m not ever going to get back what he owes me, but it’s a start,” he said.

Falbo was among the six clients to whom the Court ordered Phalen make retainer refunds as a condition of reinstatement of his license.

Kanawha Circuit Court, case number 12-C-1915 (BB&T)

Kanawha Magistrate Court, case number 12-C-1162 (Falbo)

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