Madison - St. Clair Record

Saturday, August 24, 2019

Former client seeks to disqualify shared counsel in legal malpractice suit for alleged ‘antagonistic defenses’

By Heather Isringhausen Gvillo | Feb 21, 2017

A former client filed a motion to disqualify counsel for O’Fallon attorney Amanda Kelton Bradley Verett and attorney Michael Reid in a legal malpractice case, arguing that the two have “antagonistic defenses” and cannot be represented by the same counsel.

Plaintiff Christopher Nolan filed a motion to disqualify counsel for the defendants on Feb. 14 through 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.

Verett and Reid are represented by Roy C. Dripps of Armbruster Dripps Winterscheidt and Blotevogel in Maryville.

Nolan argues that the defendants have “antagonistic defenses" and must be represented by different counsels. 

“That Defendant Verett has no malpractice insurance according to the records of the Illinois Attorney Registration and Disciplinary Commission, while the same records indicate that Defendant Reid has insurance, which could lead to a conflict in allocating responsibility for Plaintiff’s claims,” the motion states.

The plaintiff added that according to the Findings and Decision of the Hearing Board in an underlying ARDC matter, Reid testified that he had minimal knowledge of the claim.

However, Verett allegedly charged the plaintiff for lengthy conferences to discuss strategy for the plaintiff’s case, which were allegedly with Reid.

Nolan alleges Reid will need to testify that either he misled the ARDC and was involved in representing the plaintiff, that he was not involved but participated in fraudulent billing or that he prepared a consent judgment for attorney fees for work he did not perform and in which he had no interest.

“That Defendant Verett is required to address the same matters and her testimony, together with the documents produced thus far, are in direct contrast to the interest of Defendant Reid in this matter; that these Defendants, having antagonistic defenses, cannot be represented by the same attorney,” the motion continues.

Nolan filed his complaint on Jan. 17 against Verett, who was suspended for 90 days in 2008 for her handling of a family law matter between Nolan and his ex-wife. He alleges Verett 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.

Reid also collected attorney’s fees for allegedly engaging in strategy conferences with Verett.

Nolan alleges he hired Verett in 2007 to represent him in an on-going dissolution case from his 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 filed, Tanna Nolan scheduled a tonsillectomy for her son at Children’s Hospital in St. Louis.

Several days prior to the surgery, Verett filed a motion to stop the surgery from taking place, which was denied.

Verett filed a petition for damages in St. Louis City Circuit Court against the child'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 inform him that she had just had a hearing in Illinois on the same matter.

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

Verett later withdrew her petition after Tanna Nolan filed a motion to dismiss.

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

In Nolan’s malpractice suit against Verett, he alleges 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 alleges that Verett charged him $18,569.03 for services which not only provided no benefit, but also put him in a worse position.

Madison County Circuit Court case number 17-L-27

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