Legal malpractice suit claims lawyer gave incorrect info regarding VA suit

Kelly Holleran Mar. 3, 2010, 10:35am

A man claims he became the victim of legal malpractice when an Illinois law firm he hired to represent him voluntarily dismissed his medical malpractice complaint, which prevented him from filing a similar complaint.

Michael K. Biggs filed a lawsuit Feb. 4 in St. Clair County Circuit Court against John P. Womick and Womick Law Firm.

Biggs claims on May 21, 2006, he hired Womick and Womick Law Firm to investigate and prosecute claims against the United States. Biggs intended to sue the United States after he says he received substandard care at the Veterans Administration Hospital in Marion.

Biggs visited Dr. Mohammad Jabbar at the Veterans Administration Hospital because of anal pain he began experiencing prior to Aug. 5, 2004, according to the complaint.

On Aug. 5, 2004, Jabbar performed surgery on Biggs, but failed to diagnose an anal fistula, which is a tiny channel that develops in the presence of inflammation, the suit states. In addition, during the surgery Jabbar failed to protect the anal sphincter, which is a muscle surrounding the anus. Because he failed to protect the anal sphincter, Jabbar dissected it during surgery but failed to recognize the damage he caused, the complaint says.

Because of the incident, Biggs claims he became sick, sore, lame and disordered; experienced fecal incontinence, pain, suffering, disfigurement, disability and a loss of his enjoyment of life; and incurred medical costs.

After Biggs contacted Womick following the surgery, the attorney filed a lawsuit Sept. 5, 2007, in U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Illinois against the United States, according to the complaint. On Feb. 4, 2008, Womick dismissed the complaint and told Biggs he could re-file his claim within one year, the suit states.

However, Womick was incorrect in his statement that Biggs could re-file the complaint because the Federal Tort Claims Act does not contain a state savings clause, the complaint says.

As a result, Biggs' complaint against Jabbar and the United States has been barred, and he claims to have suffered personal and pecuniary damages.

"That but for the negligence of Womick, Biggs would have recovered fair and reasonable compensation from the Defendant United States of America in the underlying action," the suit states.

In the six-count suit, Biggs seeks a judgment of more than $300,000, plus costs and other relief the court deems just.

D. Jeffrey Ezra, Sarah D. Smith and Shaun M. Lieser of Ezra and Associates in Collinsville will be representing him.

St. Clair County Circuit Court case number: 10-L-51.

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