Legal malpractice suit claims attorney lost opportunity for work comp benefits

Kelly Holleran Aug. 24, 2012, 4:47am


A White County man has filed suit against his attorney, claiming he lost out on his opportunity to receive workers' compensation benefits after the attorney allegedly failed to reinstate a suit.

Charles Gwaltney claims he was injured while working on Aug. 10, 2003. Defendant Michael Miles of Womack Law Firm in Fairview Heights agreed to represent Gwaltney in his claim and filed an application for adjustment of claim for Gwaltney's injuries, according to the complaint filed Aug. 3 in St. Clair County Circuit Court.

However, on Sept. 19, 2006, Gwaltney's claim was dismissed for want of prosecution after Miles allegedly failed to appear at a docket call, the suit states.

On May 30, 2007, Miles filed a petition to reinstate Gwaltney's case, the complaint says. The petition was denied, but Miles filed an appeal to the workers' compensation commission, Gwaltney claims.

The appeal was denied. However, Gwaltney was not aware of the status of the claim until Aug. 9, 2010, according to the complaint.

As a result of the claim's denial, Gwaltney alleges he has suffered substantial damages, including uncompensated temporary total disability benefits, unpaid medical costs and uncompensated permanent total disability benefits.

He alleges the attorney negligently failed to monitor the case to determine that it was approaching the red line for dismissal of cases, failed to request a continuance of the case with arbitrator Dibble and failed to timely filed a motion to reinstate.

In his two-count complaint, Gwaltney is seeking a judgment of more than $100,000, plus costs.

Michael P. Murphy of Freeark, Harvey and Mendillo in Belleville will be representing him.

St. Clair County Circuit Court case number: 12-L-402.

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