Former Client Sues Manchester Attorney For $35,000

March 18, 1992|By Darren M. Allen | Darren M. Allen,Staff writer

WESTMINSTER — A Manchester attorney who is a councilman and part-time assistant state's attorney has been sued by a former client for malpractice.

Edward H. Utz of Taneytown filed the $35,000 suit against Geoffrey S. Black last week in Carroll Circuit Court.

The suit stems from a 1987 accident in which Utz was injured while driving a truck for his employer. Utz had hired Black to handle a workers' compensation claim and a claim against the operator of the car involved in the accident.

According to the suit, Black "was guilty of negligence . . . and departed from the applicable standards of care prevailing in the legal community."

Utz, employed at the timeas a truck driver by Westminster Woodwork & Lumber Co. Inc., was involved in a hit-and-run collision on Nov. 25, 1987, in which his trucksmashed into a telephone pole. Utz suffered "serious, painful and permanent injuries to his head, body and limbs," the suit said.

The driver of the other vehicle, which crossed into Utz's path on Route 140, was never positively identified, the suit said.

Black, the suit said, was not able to confirm the driver's identity and could not collect from that driver's insurance company.

In December of 1990, the suit said, Black told Utz that he could not locate the driver of the car.

Afterward, Black kept in touch with Utz's doctors and with the State Accident Fund, according to the suit. The accident fund is the insurer that would pay Utz on the workers' compensation claim.

Black, the suit said, failed to schedule Utz's final workers' compensation claim, where a hearing would have determined the extent and permanence of Utz's injuries.

By not scheduling the final workers'compensation hearing, by not filing other claims with the State Accident Fund or by not filing an uninsured motorists claim with Westminster Woodwork's insurance company, Black acted in a negligent manner, the suit said.

Black declined comment when contacted yesterday, saying he had not seen the suit.

S. Michael Floam, Utz's Baltimore attorney, could not be reached.

Utz says in his suit that the moneyhe seeks is for injuries, lost wages and medical expenses cost.

Black is an attorney who concentrates on general civil law in Manchester. He is also a councilman in Manchester and has a contract with theState's Attorney's Office to prosecute cases every Friday.

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