A Pennsylvania-based lumber and building product supplier has filed a complaint in the Eastern District Court of Louisiana against its former attorney, requesting $1.85 million, plus attorney fees. In a complaint filed this month, 84 Lumber alleges that the firm committed malpractice, ultimately resulting in the loss of another lawsuit the lumber company was pursuing.

The company accuses law firm Baker Donelson of negligence, suggesting that the firm’s “failure to provide the quality and service that another legal professional would provide under the circumstances,” and actions to hide the alleged negligence, “a claim by a client against [its] former employee is appropriate.”

The alleged negligence occurred in a case filed by 84 Lumber in 2012 against a general contractor that subcontracted with 84 Lumber to have 84 Lumber assist with two public school jobs. In its case, 84 Lumber alleged that it wasn’t paid for the work provided.

The company’s attorney filed the case for nearly $2 million dollars, the amount allegedly unpaid, but “failed to meet the requirements of the [Louisiana] Public Works Act,” by not mailing a sworn statement to the general contractor according to the Public Work Act’s standards, claims 84 Lumber.

“Based on this failure, 84 Lumber’s claims were dismissed,” states the complaint.

The company further alleges that after the case was dismissed in January 2018 and at the failure of further appeals, the defendant “sought to bargain its way out of this error and conflict” by presenting a “tolling agreement” with 84 Lumber to represent the company free of charge. The terms of that agreement have since ended and 84 Lumber claims that Baker Donelson has not responded with a reasonable resolution, resulting in the current lawsuit.

“Not only did Baker Donelson fail to advise of said error, it assured 84 Lumber that there was no error despite knowing full well that a condition precedent to maintain a claim…was not met by its Louisiana counsel,” the complaint alleges.

The case comes just months after 84 Lumber announced a substantial new financing agreement and officials confirmed that several locations along the East Coast were and would be closing as a way to consolidate the company’s resources. Furthermore, officials said the company has plans to expand its presence in the West.

Officials for 84 Lumber told [DWM] they were unable to provide comment due to the ongoing litigation.

The case was assigned to Judge Carl Barbier and was filed with Jury Demand. A summons to Baker Donelson was issued on January 24, from which the defendant has 60 days to respond. By press time, the defendant had yet to file a response.

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