(CN) — An insurance company claims in court that its lawyers conspired with an opponent in a personal-injury case to hit an insured employer with a $35 million judgment.
New Hampshire-based Technology Insurance Co. sued attorneys Kenneth D. Alexander, Jerry R. Wilding and the law firm of Holtkamp, Liese, Schultz & Hilliker on Friday in Chicago federal court.
The insurance company, called TIC in court papers, brought claims of legal malpractice and breach of fiduciary duty.
TIC insured Omega Demolition Corp., which is located in Elgin, Ill., against a personal injury claim filed by Omega employee James D. McWorthey.
TIC says that the defendant lawyers agreed to defend it and Omega against McWorthey's lawsuit, as well as several other legal actions, making the insurer "one of the firm's largest clients."
However, according to TIC, the lawyers were not qualified to handle maritime injuries under the Jones Act.
"In Wilding's own words, Holtkamp Liese was 'not a big player in handling Jones Act cases,'" TIC's complaint states.
According to TIC, the defendants failed to get the lawsuit dismissed "even though Wilding/Holtkamp Liese had evidence in their possession which conclusively established that McWorthey did not qualify as a 'seaman' under the Jones Act."
TIC claims that the defendants "had become involved in an improper and unethical scheme to assist McWorthey" with obtaining a "lay down judgment" against Omega after a "sham trial."
The insurer alleges that the judgment was in the amount of $35 million and could be used against it in a garnishment complaint.
In addition, TIC claims McWorthey is no longer injured and that surveillance video "reflected that McWorthey drove himself on a daily basis, visited businesses and restaurants independently, met and spent time with friends and acquaintances, visited and gambled at casinos, communicated on his cellular phone, lifted objects, bent over, and loaded heavy items without issue."
The insurance company claims that the Holtkamp Liese lawyers did not call McWorthey as a witness in the trial, and that the allegedly injured worker wasn't even in attendance. McWorthey is not a party to TIC's complaint.
"McWorthey's non-appearance precluded the judge in the underlying lawsuit from personally observing McWorthey, assessing his credibility, and ascertaining whether the damages sought were commensurate with those observations and McWorthey's own testimony," the complaint states.
TIC seeks punitive damages, and is being represented in the federal lawsuit by Kevin Lougachi of the Chicago law firm Karbal, Cohen, Economou, Silk & Dunne LLC.
The Holtkamp Liese firm did not respond Tuesday to an emailed request for comment.
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