Mascoutah law firm named in malpractice suit

Kelly Holleran Jul. 1, 2010, 2:23am

Two Highland residents have filed suit against a Mascoutah law firm and one of its attorneys, claiming the attorney failed to track expiration dates of continuation statements.

James and Dolores Richter claim they hired defendant Schroeder and Schroeder Law Offices to act as counsel in connection with their filing for the continuation of two financing statements. After filing for the continuation, attorney and co-defendant Mary T. Schroeder was supposed to monitor the continuations and apply for subsequent continuation when expiration dates approached, according to the complaint filed in St. Clair County Circuit Court.

Mary T. Schroeder originally filed for the continuation, which was filed by the Illinois secretary of state on May 29, 2003, and continued the perfection of the liens for an additional five years, the suit states. However, after the five years passed, Mary T. Schroeder allowed the continuations to expire, causing the liens to expire as well, the complaint says.

Mary T. Schroeder informed the Richters of the expiration, they claim.

On July 31, 2008, after the liens and continuations had expired, the Richters sold a herd of cows, which had served as collateral for one of the expired continuation statements, they claim. From the sale, the Richters received $304,158 that they used to pay off the loans secured by the continuation statements, according to the complaint.

First Mid-Illinois Bank filed suit in Clinton County Circuit Court against the Richters for conversion after learning of their sale of the cows. In the bank's case, which is still pending, the bank alleges it has a superior lien and superior right to the funds, the Richters' suit states.

On Sept. 22, 2008, the Richters claim they were forced to file Chapter 12 bankruptcy because of the debts on their promissory notes which were the subject of the continuation statements. In an auction sale, the Richters' farm and their farm equipment were sold, including equipment that they used as collateral on their second continuation statement, the complaint says.

The Richters claim they would not have faced a lawsuit from the bank, would not have lost their first lien position in collateral and would have been paid if not for the actions of Mary T. Schroeder.

They blame Mary T. Schroeder and Schroeder and Schroeder Law Offices for their troubles, saying the law firm and attorney failed to calendar the expiration dates of the continuation statements, failed to monitor the expiration dates of the continuation statements, failed to timely advise them of the impending expiration dates and failed to timely file and prepare new continuation statements.

In their two-count suit, the Richters are seeking a judgment of more than $100,000, plus costs.

Michael J. Diaz of the Law Offices of Michael J. Diaz in Greenville will be representing them.

St. Clair County Circuit Court case number: 10-L-264.

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