CHARLESTON – A federal bankruptcy judge has remanded the case against a prominent Charleston attorney back to Kanawha County.
In 2014, Jim Humphreys and James F. Humphreys & Associates were sued by a Virginia couple who claim he and his firm mishandled their flood damage case.
And last year, Humphreys and his firm were accused in a class action lawsuit of mishandling a mass tort asbestos exposure case against Celotex. The number of potential plaintiffs exceeds 500, according to the complaint.
On July 15, Judge Frank W. Volk of U.S. Bankruptcy Court for the Southern District of West Virginia filed a memorandum opinion and order remanding the flood damage case of Ira and Mavis Horne against Humphreys individually back to Kanawha Circuit Court. The firm’s bankruptcy means it won’t be remanded back to Kanawha County, Volk wrote.
“It is apparent that both discretionary abstention and equitable remand are appropriate as to the claims against Mr. Humphreys,” Volk wrote in the opinion and order. “It is, accordingly, ordered that the Hornes’ motion to remand be, and hereby is, granted to the extent of the claims pled against Mr. Humphreys …
“Judge (Jack) Alsop may proceed immediately with the adjudication of those claims.”
At attorney for the Hornes said he was pleased with Volk’s order.
“Jim Humphreys can run, but he can’t hide,” Charleston lawyer Rod Jackson said. “Even with all of the bankruptcy and machinations he’s attempted, he’s been exposed again. The fraud and the truth will come out.”
In January, Humphreys said his law firm had filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy. The firm entered bankruptcy to “resolve all pending and potential claims against the firm in one forum and in a timely and equitable manner,” according to a statement from the firm.
In the statement, Humphreys said the filing should not affect the day-to-day operations of the firm and cases it currently is handling. He said he hopes the issues can be “sorted out quickly and effectively in bankruptcy court, ultimately enabling the firm to continue offering effective legal representation.”
“Our first and foremost obligation is to our clients,” Humphreys said. “As painful and as difficult as it is to take this step, this action will allow us to move quickly and transparently to identify and pay these obligations, and settle any legitimate claims against the firm.
“I profoundly regret any inconvenience this situation has caused and I am determined to make sure each and every one of these clients is made whole.”
In October, Humphreys and his firm were listed in a class action by people who allege the firm mishandled a mass tort asbestos exposure case against Celotex. The number of potential plaintiffs exceeds 500, according to the complaint.
In the Celotex complaint, McCormick claims Humphreys and his firm negligently failed to follow procedure for properly submitting the plaintiffs’ claims against Celotex.
That came after a 2014 lawsuit in which Humphreys and his firm allegedly “failed completely” to pursue claims that an elderly Virginia couple’s home and property were damaged by flooding and rains resulting from Hurricane Camille in July 2001.
Jackson is representing both the Celotex plaintiffs and the Virginia couple in their claims against Humphreys.
After the firm filed for bankruptcy, Humphreys’ bankruptcy lawyers asked that the bankruptcy court blanket extend it to Humphreys. That happened. But Jackson and his team of attorneys moved that the case in total be moved back to Kanawha.
What Volk did in his order was allow the Horne case to proceed against Humphreys individually in Kanawha Circuit Court, but not against the law firm.
Jackson said he expects a hearing with Alsop on the case against Humphreys individually soon.
“I believe since he was ready to try the case in February, I’m optimistic the court will have a hearing to set a new trial date,” Jackson said. “I don’t know that, but I’m hopeful he will do so. Judge Alsop is very efficient.”
Humphreys is a former member of the West Virginia House of Delegates and state Senate. He also ran for the U.S. House of Representatives in 2000 and 2002, losing to Shelley Moore Capito both times.
U.S. Bankruptcy Court case number 2:16-ap-02004 (Kanawha Circuit Court case number 14-C-1684)