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Former city clerk sues attorney who handled city lawsuit, settlement

MORGANTOWN — In August 2018, longtime Morgantown City Clerk Linda Tucker settled a lawsuit with the city for $50,000, ending more than two decades of employment in the clerk’s office.

On Friday, Tucker filed a lawsuit against Sean Cook, the attorney who represented her in that case, alleging negligence and breach of contract.

Tucker filed the original suit in March 2017, claiming her testimony in Morgantown resident George Papandreas’ failed removal action against four members of a previous city council — Bill Kawecki, Jenny Selin, Marti Shamberger and Nancy Ganz — resulted in a toxic work environment that included “harassment and ridicule in retaliation for exercising her First Amendment rights.”

The suit was originally filed against the city as well as all four of the council members. Kawecki and Shamberger were later voluntarily removed from the suit by Cook. Kawecki and Selin are currently members of council.

In the lawsuit against Cook, attorney Paul Harris claims Cook “failed to act as a reasonably prudent lawyer would have acted,” and did very little to prosecute Tucker’s claims.

According to the suit, Cook failed to file documents in a timely manner. It also claims he failed to take the deposition of any witness, interview any witness or conduct any meaningful discovery.

The suit claims Tucker informed Cook she did not want to settle but Cook compelled her to do so, claiming her case was unsupported factually and a settlement was in her best interest.

Additionally, the suit states that Cook failed to inform Tucker that by settling in August 2018, she would not receive her entire retirement benefits package. She would have been eligible for full retirement benefits the following month.

Cook’s negligence in handling the case amounts to breach of contract, according to the lawsuit, which seeks punitive and compensatory damages to be determined by a jury as well as attorney fees and costs.

Cook is an attorney with Charleston-based Warner Law Offices.

A message left for Cook was not returned in time for this report.

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