Doctor alleges lawyer committed malpractice

Kelly Holleran Feb. 4, 2009, 1:50am

A doctor is seeking more than $700,000, alleging a lawyer forced him to sign a written agreement, then drew up a fraudulent written agreement and charged for services not part of the original agreement.

Jospeph P. Costello III hired Curtis L. Blood to represent him in an appeal and hired Blood to file an appeal on behalf of two corporations – SIPP Care and M.E. Meds – before Nov. 22, 1999, according to the complaint filed Jan. 28 in St. Clair County Circuit Court.

Blood was given a $6,000 retainer on Dec. 1, 1999, the suit states.

But in his appeal, Blood failed to present all issues presented in circuit court, Costello alleges.

"Pursuant to the attorney/client contract, defendant has failed and refused to provide legal services in accordance to the objectives and directive outlined in the discussion identified above and agreed upon," the suit states.

Blood failed in Costello's appeal, he alleges.

Blood induced Costello to sign a written agreement so that Costello would hire him for the corporations, according to the complaint.

"On December 10, 1999, defendant mailed a letter to defendant at defendant's and corporations' home at 213 West Waters Edge Drive, Belleville IL 62221, stating in part: 'You have not returned the signed representation agreement to me. I must withdraw from these appeals if you have not returned the signed representation agreement to me by Dec. 15," the suit states.

Because Costello knew it would be difficult to find an attorney for the corporations, he signed the written agreement, he claims.

"Blood even threatened Dr. Costello that if he did not do as he told him then he would make sure the corporations were forsaken and failed in their appeal," the suit states. "If Dr. Costello was told the truth and had free will in making his decision as to whether to agree to the terms of the agreement Dr. Costello would not have agreed to the agreement."

But after Costello signed the complaint, Blood changed it, according to the complaint.

In the complaint, Blood added "writing as to the Client, Appeal, Appellant, Appellee, Project and Amount of Retainer," the suit states.

Costello never received a copy of the changed agreement, nor did he authorize the complaint be changed, he claims.

Under the modified complaint, Costello was to pay for the corporations' appeals, something he claims he never agreed to.

So when Costello did not pay Blood his full attorney's fees, Blood filed suit against Costello, according to the complaint.

Because of Blood's actions, Costello is no longer able to obtain an attorney, he claims.

Blood placed his own personal interests over Costello's interests, according to the complaint.

In the 12-count suit, Costello is seeking $700,000, exemplary and punitive damages, plus costs, interest of 24 percent and other relief the court deems just.

He is also asking that the agreement be declared null and void.

Costello will be representing himself.

St. Clair County Circuit Court case number: 09-L-0049.

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