WILLIAMSON – A woman is suing a Mingo County attorney and House of Delegates member after she claims his law firm committed professional conduct violations and caused her damages.
Attorney Justin J. Marcum, Marcum Law Office, Darrell Dotson and American Modern Home Insurance Company are named as defendants in the suit. Marcum is a Democrat who represents Mingo County in the West Virginia House of Delegates.
In April 2016, Lora Cline possessed one-half undivided interest in a mobile home trailer in Mingo County that burned and was totally destroyed, according to a complaint filed Feb. 5 in Mingo Circuit Court.
Cline claims she had a fire insurance policy with American Modern Home Insurance Company that was exclusively in her name.
At the time of the loss of the mobile home, Cline was a single, unmarried person and Darrell Dotson, her former companion who had previously resided with Cline in the mobile home, possessed the other one-half interest in the mobile home, according to the suit.
Cline claims Dotson conspired with Marcum and his law office to defraud her.
After the fire loss, Cline timely notified AMH of the loss and it investigated and agreed to pay her the insured claim amount of $134,634.24 for the loss of the mobile home, according to the suit.
Cline claims she and Dotson agreed that he would receive his fair share from the insurance proceeds once she received them and, subsequent to Cline’s claim settlement and agreement with AMH, she called to inquire when she could expect the settlement proceeds and was told the payment was delayed because there was an attorney involved.
On May 23, 2016, Cline received a telephone call from Marcum asking that she come down to his law office and, at the time, she did not know him or his office, nor had she ever been in contact with him prior to that telephone call, according to the suit.
Cline claims two days later, she went to Marcum’s office and he took her and Dotson into a conference room and demanded that Cline sign a paper authorizing him to represent her.
Before Cline received her insurance settlement checks, she discovered that Dotson had retained Marcum to represent him for his claimed losses in the mobile home fire and inquired of him why he would hire an attorney because they had already reached an agreement and that she had settled with AMH, according to the suit.
Cline claims Dotson informed her he was afraid she would not pay him for his claimed loss because he had no insurance and thus, he retained Marcum and his law office.
Marcum presented Cline with retention services papers to sign and engaged in threats, intimidation, coercion and compulsion to encourage her to sign the papers and, reluctantly, while frightened and intimidated, she did sign the papers, according to the suit.
Cline claims on June 21, 2016, she went to Marcum’s office because she had received another phone call from him that he had a check for her.
When she arrived at Marcum’s office, she received a check for $55,336.16, which was substantially less than the $134,634.24 that Cline and AMH had agreed upon, according to the suit.
Cline claims the law office informed her that if she did not sign the settlement sheet, netting the defendants a total of $44,933.20, as attorney fees and costs, and netting Dotson $33,364.88, that she would have to wait until Marcum could discuss the matter with her before she could receive her check.
The plaintiff was facing homelessness and reluctantly signed the settlement sheet under coercion, pressure, duress and intimidation, because she was homeless, frightened and fearful of Marcum and his law office because Marcum was an attorney, House delegate member and assistant prosecutor, according to the suit.
Cline is seeking compensatory and punitive damages. She is represented by W. Stephen Flesher of the Law Office of W. Stephen Flesher.