March 12, 2005

Illinois Lawyer Accidentally Sues Self

NO, WE'RE NOT KIDDING. We quote from The Madison County Record, an Illinois newspaper, which has the details on this "only in America" type of story. The paper writes:

Alton attorney Emert Wyss thought he could make money in a Madison County class action lawsuit, but he accidentally sued himself instead. Now he has four law firms after his money - and he hired all four.

Wyss’s boomerang litigation started in 2002, when he invited Carmelita McLaughlin to his office at 1600 Washington St. in Alton. Acting as her attorney when she bought a home in Alton and when she refinanced it, on both occasions she had chosen Centerre Title--a company that Wyss owned--to close her loans.

In the course of the attorney-client relationship, Wyss advised McLaughlin she might have a claim against Alliance Mortgage, holder of the first mortgage. Wyss believed Alliance Mortgage might have broken the law by charging a $60 fax fee when she refinanced.

But the story continues. After depositions in the case were taken and some fancy lawyering by the defense, according to the Record, the trial judge ordered that Counselor Wyss and his firm were to be added as third-party defendants in the case. That's because they collected those allegedly improper fees. Counselor Wyss then understandably quit the plaintiff's case, but is now still on the hook as a defendant.

OOPS. Gee, isn't this is a prime example of "loser pays?" Heh heh heh.

Interestingly enough, though, Madison County is one of those class-action-friendly types of places which the tort-reform crowd has long detested. Perhaps because of this, Counselor Wyss hasn't apparently been able to get out of the jam in which he finds himself; and despite the glee some might feel about Counselor Wyss being hoist on his own petard, he should get out of it. For based on the deposition testimony which the lead plaintiff in the case provided -- it's pretty pathetic -- we would be very surprised if there's a case here.

It's also interesting that, according to the newspaper, there are 61 companies in court next week alone in Madison County. As these entities range from CBS to General Electric, and from Honeywell to The Salvation Army, one can surmise one of two things.

Either the people of Madison County (and perhaps other Illinois locales) are the most maligned, downtrodden, unlucky people on God's green Earth, repeatedly subject to companies harrassing them and eating out their substance -- or some of these 61 cases aren't the shining examples of Fighting for the Little Guy we've been told such lawsuits involve.

Posted by Benjamin Kepple at March 12, 2005 08:01 PM | TrackBack