Madison - St. Clair Record

Thursday, September 19, 2019

Jersey County couple alleges legal malpractice led to failed adoption

By Molly English-Bowers | Dec 9, 2015

A Jersey County couple is suing a lawyer and a business, alleging legal malpractice and conflict of interest in their attempt to adopt a baby.

Greg Warren and Janet Warren filed a a lawsuit Nov. 20 in Madison County Circuit Court against Deborah Crouse-Cobb and Family Choices.

According to the complaint, on Nov. 22, 2013, the plaintiffs entered into a contractual relationship with Crouse-Cobb to provide legal services related to the adoption of a child. The suit says the defendant did not properly disclose her relationship with the defendant Family Choice. She is required by the legal profession to disclose an apparent conflict of interest, which she did not do, the suit states.

Further, the suit alleges, Crouse-Cobb prepared a surrender document for the signature of the natural parents but that document improperly designated Family Choices as the recipient of the child. The defendant also said it was necessary to appoint an agency to investigate the adoption of the child, while state statute has no such requirement if that child is related to the adopters, the suit says.

These actions caused unnecessary delays, protracted legal proceedings and additional costs, the suit says. This delayed the resolution of the case for more than 12 months, rendering the parental surrenders irreversible and resulting in the placement of the child with Family Choices, the lawsuit states. 

The adoption petition of the Warrens was ultimately dismissed.

Both plaintiffs individually charge Crouse-Cobb with legal malpractice and Family Choices for civil conspiracy for allegedly working with Crouse-Cobb to thwart the adoption.

Each plaintiff seeks at least $50,000 in compensatory damages and $50,000 in punitive damages as well as court costs. They are represented by attorney John J. Hopkins of John J. Hopkins & Associates of Alton.

Madison County Circuit Court case number 15-L-1518.

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