A 77-year-old Platte County woman who sued her divorce lawyer alleging poor and improper representation has settled the Clinton County lawsuit for $181,000, the value of the defendant’s remaining policy limits.
Wanda and James Lindsay were married for 29 years before their 2016 split, said plaintiff’s attorney James Johns, who represented Wanda Lindsay. She sued attorneys Martha Stiles, Jonathan Osborne and Holly Faust, doing business as the Midwest Center for Law & Justice in Springfield, alleging fraudulent overbilling as well as eight counts of negligence.
The suit claimed “failure to full investigate the legal classification of marital and nonmarital assets, resulting in inappropriate classification of marital assets and nonmarital assets” with those assets wrongly awarded to the ex-husband; as well as “failure to adequately investigate and advise the plaintiff as to the fair market value of assets, resulting in a less equitable division of marital assets.”
The joint assets included “multiple” Florida properties, Johns said, with a plaintiff’s expert gauging her damages at nearly $400,000 worth of property.
The suit said the attorneys failed to secure for each party “equal access to assets and funds, resulting in the plaintiff being in a vastly inferior position to be able to financially defend the case, thereby inhibiting her ability to pay attorney fees and pursue a fair division of assets and an award of (future) maintenance,” which Johns said his expert valued at nearly $630,000.
A release of claims provided by Johns shows that Lindsay settled her claim for an amount that accounts for reduction of a $250,000 policy limit for malpractice insurance costs. The settlement included a dismissal of Osborne and Faust.
Public records show that in April 2021, the Missouri Supreme Court reprimanded Stiles for violations of the Rules of Professional Conduct for diligence, handling of trust accounts and property of others and declining or terminating representation. She was placed on probation for two years.
Brian Boos, Stiles’ attorney in the Lindsay case, said that the Midwest Center for Law & Justice has consistently denied wrongdoing and still does so.
“We made a business decision to resolve this matter, putting an end to years of litigation,” he said.
Venue: Clinton County Circuit Court
Case Number/Date: 1931-CC00333/June 17, 2022
Judge: Charles Curless
Plaintiff’s Experts: Doug Harris, Warrensburg (legal); Shane Gretzinger; Gretzinger Appraisals Inc., Overland Park, Kansas
Defendant’s expert: Ronald Holliger; Holliger Law Group, Blue Springs (legal)
Insurer: CNA (for Stiles)
Caption: Wanda Lindsay v. Marsha Stiles
Plaintiff’s Attorney: James C. Johns, Clinton
Defendant’s Attorney: Brian Boos, Litchfield Cavo, Kansas City