Madison - St. Clair Record

Tuesday, September 17, 2019

Legal malpractice suit seeks attorney fee assessment and cost to defend protracted battle

By Ann Maher | Jan 25, 2017

O'Fallon attorney Amanda Kelton Bradley Verett, suspended for 90 days in 2008 for her handling of a family law matter, is being sued for allegedly putting her client "in an extemely worse position legally and financially" than before she represented him.

Christopher Nolan filed a complaint on Jan. 17 in Madison County Circuit Court against Verett, alleging she deviated from the standard of care of a reasonable attorney by filing and obtaining ex parte relief against his ex-wife and a Missouri hospital despite knowing she was not entitled to do so.

Attorney Michael E. Reid also is named as co-defendant.

The Illinois Supreme Court suspended Verett in October 2008 on the recommendation of the state's Attorney Registration and Disciplinary Commission (ARDC) which charged her with making a false statement in a Missouri court and engaging in conduct involving dishonesty, fraud, deceit or misrepresentation.

According to court records, Verett was hired in 2007 to represent Christopher Nolan in an on-going dissolution case from former wife Tanna Nolan. In the divorce, a Madison County court had enjoined Christopher Nolan from contacting his son's doctors unless it was an emergency.

After the order was issued, Tanna Nolan scheduled a tonsillectomy for her son at Children's Hospital in St. Louis.

Several days prior to the surgery, Verett, in Madison County, filed a motion to stop the surgery from taking place. The motion was denied.

Verett then filed a petition for damages in St. Louis City Circuit Court against the son's medical providers. She also filed an injunction to stop the surgery.

According to the ARDC, at a hearing before St. Louis Circuit Judge John Garvey, Verett failed to tell the judge that she had just had a hearing in Illinois on the same matter.

Garvey subsequently enjoined the surgery, appointed a guardian ad litem for the minor, and ordered the mother to be added as a party.

Verett later withdrew her petition after the mother filed a motion to dismiss.

Garvey held a hearing and apologized to the lawyers for Children's Hospital and the mother telling them that had he known that the issue was taken care of in Madison County he would have immediately denied Verett's request.

At the hearing before the ARDC, Garvey testified that once he learned that the issue was disposed of in Madison County he was "mad" and felt like he "had just been lied to in court" by Verett.

Verett had testified before the ARDC that she did not lie to Judge Garvey but said she later realized that he "did not understand what the facts were in Madison County," and that she did not explain matters to Judge Garvey "clear enough to convey the appropriate information," and that it was her responsibility to do so.

Nolan's civil suit against Verett seeks in excess of $50,000 in damages. He claims that he was assessed $25,000 in attorney's fees as a result of Verett's alleged breach of contract and another $25,000 in fees in defending the assessment of attorney's fees.

He claims the statute of limitations did not begin to run until Oct. 21, 2016, when a motion he filed on Aug. 29, 2013 to reconsider the assessment of attorney's fees was denied.

Nolan claims Verett charged him $18,569.03 for services which not only provided no benefit, but also which put him in a worse position.

He is represented by attorney and former Madison County associate judge Thomas Hildebrand of Granite City, whose license to practice law was reinstated last September following a 10-year suspension.

In 2007, Verett sued Pizza Hut and Troy police officer Clarence Jackson claiming she suffered a shoulder injury because Pizza Hut negligently owned a faulty door that Jackson pulled one way while he entered the restaurant and she pulled the other way while exiting.

Her attorney Thomas Maag litigated the case in Madison County for two years before Circuit Judge Dennis Ruth dismissed it in 2009. The Fifth District Appellate Court affirmed Ruth in 2011.

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