Client Claims Attorney Swiped Settlement
WOODLAND, Calif. (CN) - An attorney conspired with an insurer to lowball a personal injury settlement, then forged his client's signature on payoff checks and took the money, the client claims in court.
Steve Isaacson and Davis Musical Theater Co. sued Big Idea Theater, attorney Hal Wright, and Northland Insurance, in Yolo County Court.
In all, Isaacson claims, attorney Wright pocketed $55,000 due to Isaacson and the theater company.
Isaacson claims in the lawsuit that he was injured when he stepped into a flooring gap at the Sacramento Big Idea Theater, which was under construction in June 2010. He says he needed "multiple surgeries on his back and knee" and lost his job.
He hired Wright as his attorney.
Isaacson claims that Wright and Northland then "conspired to settle plaintiff's insurance claim without plaintiff's knowledge or consent," while he was still being treated for his injuries.
"Defendant Hal Wright forged the signatures of plaintiff and plaintiff's wife on the release of claims," Isaacson says in the complaint.
Isaacson he claims that Northland violated the Business and Professions Code by failing to tell him it had paid his claim.
Isaacson claims that Wright knew when he cut the deal that his client's medical expenses already exceeded the settlement amount of $40,000.
Isaacson says Wright received two settlement checks from Northland - for $5,000 and for $35,000 - and that Wright "then proceeded to forge the signatures of both plaintiff and plaintiff's wife on both settlement checks and deposited them in his personal account. Defendant Hal Wright did not tell plaintiff of the settlement and did not disburse any funds to the plaintiff. Defendant Hal Wright continued to represent to plaintiff that his personal injury claim was ongoing even led him to believe that the lawsuit had been filed and litigation was proceeding."
And that's not all, Isaacson says in the complaint. Isaacson says he is a board member of the Davis Musical Theater Co., and in that capacity he hired Wright to help the theater claim an inheritance from a former patron.
This time, Isaacson says: "In November 2012, defendant Hal Wright accepted a check from the decedent's attorney in the amount of$15,500.00, forged the name of plaintiff, deposited the check and kept the money for himself."
Isaacson says he found out about the deceptions in January this year, after hiring a new attorney, who represents him in this lawsuit.
Isaacson seeks actual and punitive damages for personal injuries from the Big Idea Theater; for legal malpractice, fraud, conspiracy, concealment, conversion, breach of contract, negligence, breach of faith and emotional distress from Wright; and fraud, conspiracy, concealment, negligence and emotional distress from Northland Insurance.
He is represented by Jason Ewing of Elk Grove.