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Legal malpractice suit alleges Belleville attorney advised doctor not to settle wrongful death suit; Jefferson County jury awarded plaintiff $3.75M verdict

By Michael Abella | Aug 12, 2016

EDWARDSVILLE — An Illinois physician filed a legal malpractice suit against a Belleville attorney following a $3.75 million jury verdict, alleging the attorney failed to advise the doctor to settle the wrongful death suit.

Dr. Manoj Desai, a Mt. Vernon urologist, filed a complaint on July 22, in St. Clair County Circuit Court against Belleville attorney Terry Brown, alleging breach of duty.

According to the complaint, Desai was a defendant in a 2011 wrongful death lawsuit, in which a Jefferson County jury awarded plaintiff Marie Clayton a $2.75 million verdict against Desai (11-L-66). Clayton filed her wrongful death lawsuit on behalf of decedent Robert Clayton.

In his legal malpractice suit, Desai claims Clayton offered to settle the case within the policy limits of the liability insurance maintained by Desai.

In response, Desai hired Brown to advise him on how to respond to Clayton’s settlement demand and to advise Desai’s insurance carrier to settle the case in order to avoid exposing his personal assets. Desai claims Brown told him that it was in his best interests not to settle the Clayton case.

Desai claims he followed Brown’s advice and chose not to respond to the settlement offer or press his insurance carrier to respond.

However, a jury later ruled in favor of Clayton and awarded the wrongful death plaintiff a $3.75 million verdict, which was $2.75 million more than the liability limits maintained by Desai’s insurance.

As a result of the jury verdict, Desai claims his personal assets are at risk of loss.

“As Dr. Desai’s attorney, Mr. Brown had a duty to Plaintiff to represent him as described above, with said representation to be performed in a timely, nonnegligent (sic), responsible, competent, and zealous fashion, all while exercising ordinary skill and knowledge,” the complaint states.

Desai alleges Brown failed to investigate the claim against Desai, failed to advise him to settle the case, failed to press his insurance carrier to settle the case and failed to monitor the progress of the case.

Desai seeks compensatory damages of more than $50,000 and all relief the court deems proper. He is represented by attorney Christopher Cueto of the Law Office of Christopher Cueto Ltd. in Belleville.

St. Clair County Circuit Court case number 16-L-387

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