Case mishandled says FELA claimant, sues lawyer

Steve Gonzalez Dec. 21, 2005, 8:29am

Robert Loehr filed a legal malpractice suit against Eric Holland, Dennis Rathmann, Bruce Cook and the law firm of Cook, Ysursa, Bartholomew, Brauer and Shevlin claiming his Federal Employees Liability Act (FELA) lawsuit was mishandled.

According to Loehr, he sustained injuries on June 12, 2000, as a result of a collision between a locomotive owned by Norfolk Southern Railway and a passenger vehicle driven by Christopher Campbell.

Loehr claims that on March 29, 2001, Dennis Rathmann or Eric Holland of Rathmann & Francis filed a lawsuit on his behalf in St. Louis against the railroad and Campbell.

According to the complaint, Holland or Rathmann sent a letter offering to settle the lawsuit for $970,000 causing the railroad to send an offer that Holland and Rathmann advised Loehr to reject because it was too low.

Loehr claims that sometime after Jan. 23, 2002, Holland had a meeting with him in Belleville where he made clear with Holland that he wanted the case handled by attorney Francis who was leaving the firm that employed Holland.

According to Loehr, Holland convinced him to change his mind and then authorized Holland and his firm to prosecute his case against the railroad and Campbell.

Loehr claims on Jan. 23, 2003, he wrote a letter to Holland ending the attorney-client relationship with Holland and Rathmann, then hired Bruce Cook of Cook, Ysursa, Bartholomew, Brauer and Shevlin to handle his suit.

Cook sent a letter to Holland on Dec. 12, 2003, instructing Holland to voluntarily dismiss Loehr's suit, causing Holland to file the pleading on Dec. 19, 2003.

Then, Cook filed suit in Madison County on Feb. 17, 2004, against the railroad and Campbell, however Circuit Judge Philip Kardis dismissed the suit as time barred.

After the dismissal of the second lawsuit, Cook sent a letter to Patrick O'Brien requesting that he file a lawsuit on Loehr's behalf in St. Louis City, however that suit was also dismissed as time barred by Judge Ohmer permanently foreclosing on Loehr's ability to collect any compensation from the railroad.

Loehr claims the defendants caused his first lawsuit in St. Louis to be voluntarily dismissed when he knew that the dismissal would have the effect of permanently foreclosing his chance to recover monetary damages from the railroad unless promptly remedied and failed to file motions to nullify the effect of the dismissal.

Seeking damages in excess of $100,000, Loehr is represented by David Nelson and John Fredrick, Jr. of Nelson and Nelson in Belleville.

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