The trustee of a truck driver's estate has filed suit against his employer and his insurance company, over their alleged failure to pay for his attorney fees incurred following a collision.
Maureen Scully, trustee for the estate of Ethan D. Maiden, alleges Maiden was working for defendant Jack Cooper Transport Company on July 11, 2007, when he was involved in a collision with Gail and Kurt Carnes.
The Carneses filed a lawsuit against Maiden, then attempted to amend the complaint to add a claim for punitive damages, according to the current complaint filed Nov. 3 in Madison County Circuit Court.
On Oct. 8, 2008, defendant Liberty Mutual selected attorney Gregory Cerullo for Maiden and disclaimed coverage for punitive damages, telling Maiden he could be responsible for the punitive damages claim, the suit states.
After being assigned to the case, Cerullo wrote a letter to Liberty Mutual, advising them of a conflict of interest between JCT and Maiden, the complaint says.
"Nonetheless, Liberty Mutual required Cerullo to continue with the defense of Maiden and would not permit Maiden to retain at Liberty Mutual's expense separate counsel," the suit states.
Maiden hired Brian Wendler to represent him but Liberty Mutual refused to pay for Wendler because it had already appointed Cerullo, the complaint says.
Liberty Mutual then threatened to void any coverage whatsoever for Maiden, he alleges. Feeling threatened, Maiden allowed Cerullo to serve as back-up counsel to Wendler, according to the complaint.
"As a result thereof, Mr. Maiden has become liable for substantial attorney fees to his counsel, Brian Wendler, incurred in the defense of the claims brought against him by the Carnes family," the suit states. "In addition, the failure of Liberty Mutual to recognize these conflicts, called to their attention by the defense attorney they hired to defend the case, is vexatious and unreasonable entitling plaintiff to damages for a vexatious and unreasonable refusal to pay the claim."
Maiden eventually was forced to file for bankruptcy protection, the complaint says.
In her complaint, Scully seeks a judgment of more than $75,000, plus attorney fees and costs. Attorney Ronald A. Roth, of Roth Law Offices in Granite City, will represent Scully.
Madison County Circuit Court case number: 14-L-1490.