Farmington attorney faces legal malpractice lawsuit
FARMINGTON — A Farmington attorney and her law firm are being sued for legal malpractice after a former client claims the attorney did not adequately pursue a lawsuit.
A complaint was filed against Shannon Pettus and the Law Offices of Morrow and Pettus on July 13 in the 11th Judicial District Court by Mary Wratislaw, according to the complaint.
The lawsuit claims legal malpractice against Pettus and the law firm after a civil lawsuit Wratislaw filed against the San Juan Regional Medical Center was dismissed. Pettus was representing Wratislaw in that action.
Wratislaw is seeking unspecified damages, including damages recoverable from the hospital, costs of the lawsuit and interest from time of alleged injury.
Pettus declined comment, according to attorney Eric Morrow.
Morrow said Pettus has a big heart and wanted to help Wratislaw, but the case was fatally flawed from the beginning. He said nothing Pettus could have done would have helped the case.
No legal representation was listed for Pettus in court records.
The dismissed lawsuit was filed on Dec. 8, 2015, and alleged Wratislaw slipped and fell, breaking her ankle as a patient at the hospital in 2015.
Wratislaw was seeking unspecified damages for issues including aggravation of her pre-existing medical conditions, infection and deterioration of her overall health, which required to be in intensive care.
The underlying lawsuit was dismissed with prejudice on Sept. 26, 2016, according to court documents.
The pending lawsuit states Pettus was formally reprimanded by the New Mexico Supreme Board Disciplinary Board on March 16.
The reprimand was posted in the March 28 edition of the Bar Bulletin, a publication produced for the State Bar of New Mexico. The reprimand states Pettus was a fairly new attorney when she took on the case and did not consult with other attorneys in the field.
It also states Pettus failed to obtain medical records before filing the lawsuit, along with failing to respond in a timely fashion to discovery inquiries and motions, including a motion to dismiss filed by the hospital.
Pettus failed to attend the hearing on the motion to dismiss, citing a calendar error, and did not correct the error when contacted by the court's office, according to the reprimand. It also states Pettus admitted to failing to provide competent representation, as well as to failing to represent Wratislaw diligently and expediting litigation.
The pending lawsuit states Pettus filed the Dec. 8, 2015, complaint with the wrong month the alleged incident took place.
Wratislaw alleges Pettus was negligent in her representation and the acts mentioned in the formal reprimand constitute legal malpractice.
Joshua Kellogg covers crime, courts and social issues for The Daily Times. He can be reached at 505-564-4627 or via email at email@example.com.