Alton attorney accused of accepting settlement without client's approval

Kelly Holleran Aug. 5, 2010, 5:19am


A man has filed suit against an Alton attorney who he claims settled a lawsuit without his permission and allegedly failed to file a different lawsuit on his behalf before the statute of limitations expired.

David Hodges claims he hired defendant Theodore R. Diaz to represent him in a personal injury claim against his employer, Hoosier Marine.

Hodges sustained the injuries after falling from a ladder while working as a seaman on a river barge operated by Hoosier, according to the complaint filed July 26 in Madison County Circuit Court.

On Feb. 17, 2006, Diaz filed the case on Hodges' behalf, the suit states. In response, Hoosier offered to settle the suit for $30,000, the complaint says. However, Hodges claims he refused to accept Hoosier's settlement offer as he sought at least $300,000 for medical costs he incurred.

Despite Hodges' refusal to settle the complaint, Diaz allegedly told Hoosier's attorney he would be willing to settle for $30,000, leaving Hodges with the belief that he had no other option except to settle, according to the complaint.

Meanwhile, Hodges had asked Diaz to represent him in a separate complaint he had intended to file against Dr. Gregory P. Daus and Alton Memorial Hospital.

In this complaint, Hodges endeavored to seek reimbursement for the $300,000 he says he incurred after undergoing two knee replacement surgeries following his work-related injuries.

Hodges planned to blame Daus for causing him to endure the two surgeries, saying Daus failed to correctly perform his first knee replacement. After the knee replacement, Hodges continued to experience pain and visited a second doctor, who said he would need a second knee replacement to correct the first surgery, according to the complaint.

Diaz agreed to represent Hodges in his medical complaint, but failed to ever file the suit, the suit states.

Diaz also filed a claim to obtain Social Security benefits for Hodges, but allegedly took about $16,500 for his own use, the complaint says.

In his complaint, Hodges is seeking costs and the money he claims he is owed.

Roy C. Dripps of Armbruster, Dripps, Winterscheidt and Blotevogel in Alton will be representing him.

Madison County Circuit Court case number: 10-L-780.

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