Accidental defendant asks to be dismissed

By Steve Korris | Apr 28, 2005

A. J. Bronsky

Gary Peel

An Alton attorney who made national news by accidentally suing himself has asked to be dismissed from the lawsuit.

The Record reported March 14 that a lawsuit boomeranged on Emert Wyss when Madison County Circuit Judge Phillip Kardis added Wyss as a third party defendant in a class action lawsuit, McLaughlin v. Alliance Mortgage.

In a motion filed April 8, Wyss' attorney said it was unfair for Alliance to include his client as a defendant.

"(It's) simply an attempt to harass Mr. Wyss and damage his professional reputation," said A.J. Bronsky of Brown and James in St. Louis.

The lawsuit started when Wyss invited Carmelita McLaughlin to his law office to discuss what he believed were improper $60 fax fees charged by Alliance Mortgage, which refinanced her mortgage.

Centerre Title, a company Wyss owned, closed the loan.

In preparation for filing a class action lawsuit, McLaughlin signed a retainer for Wyss, the Lakin Law Firm of Wood River, and three other firms. They filed in Madison County in 2003.

Arguing that if anything was wrong at closing, the title company should have picked up on it, Alliance asked that Centerre Title be declared a defendant.

In December, Kardis signed an order naming Centerre Title as a third party defendant. He went a step further, naming Wyss personally as a third party defendant. Alliance filed a third party complaint against Centerre and Wyss.

Bronsky took issue with Alliance saying the mortgage company admitted in deposition that it would have waived the fax fee if McLaughlin had protested.

“One does not, as a matter of routine, waive a fee that is reasonable and necessary," Bronsky wrote.

Bronsky's motion echoes arguments that Gary Peel of the Lakin Law Firm made for McLaughlin last year.

In response to Alliance's motion to dismiss the suit, Peel hammered the mortgage company.

"Alliance now admits its statements on the Payoff Statement were false, as it claims it really would have released plaintiff's mortgage even if she had not paid the $60 fax fee it demanded from her," Peel wrote in response to a deposition of Alliance's Michael Koster.

"Centerre Title had no way of knowing Alliance was lying when it vowed in its payoff statement not to release plaintiff's mortgage unless and until she paid the $60 fax fee."

The Record's original report turned up on, a website of oddities, with a link to the newspaper's website, which subsequently received more than 30,000 "hits."

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