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Carolina Casualty seeks rescission of lawyer's liability policy

By Molly English-Bowers | Jan 24, 2016

BENTON—An Iowa insurance company is suing an Illinois attorney who allegedly violated rules of conduct.

Carolina Casualty Insurance Company filed the suit on Jan. 13 in U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Illinois against Robert S. Forbes and Robert S. Forbes, PC, an Illinois corporation; and Earnest Bates and his wife.

The plaintiff is making clear in this suit that the case is against defendant Forbes and his company, not the Bates defendants. They are named merely to the extent that they may have an interest in the issues being raised.

According to the complaint, in May 2014, Forbes allegedly signed a form for lawyers liability insurance with the plaintiff avowing that he had not broken any rules of conduct. Based on his signature, Carolina Casualty issued a liability policy to Forbes.

On Nov. 14, 2014, the Illinois Supreme Court struck Forbes' name from the Roll of Attorneys authorized to practice law in the state, the lawsuit alleges. The suit said the action was taken after the defendant allegedly misappropriated nearly $9,400 from the state in 2006 and then concealed his misconduct.

The state had issued workers compensation checks, and the defendant had allegedly signed them, even though the client was deceased. Essentially, the suit says, the defendant forged the name of the deceased.

In addition, the defendant allegedly falsely stated that the administrator of the  estate had authorized him to cash the checks and that he had given the money to the administrator. The administrator allegedly professed no knowledge of the checks or the money.

The Bates situation centers on a workers compensation claim with Earnest Bates, who received a workers compensation award in 2010. Forbes allegedly failed to file the proper paperwork and, as a result, Bates lost the $383,000 awarded to him, the suit says.

Carolina Casualty wants the court to declare a judgment saying that it has no duty to defend or indemnify the Forbes in connection with the Bates situation. It further requests that the court determine the rights and liabilities of the parties with respect to the insurance policy and grant the plaintiff other relief that the court deems proper. The plaintiff also seeks rescission of the lawyers liability insurance policy.  

The plaintiff is represented by Kyle C. Oehmke, James H. Kallianis Jr. and Laurence J. Tooth of Hinshaw & Culbertson LLP of Belleville.

U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Illinois case number 16-cv-40

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Illinois Supreme Court U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Illinois East St. Louis

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