There are people who believe that things in life happen for a reason. Sometimes what happens – no matter if it is a good thing, a bad thing, a funny thing or very serious – it makes you who you are and teaches the person a lesson in life and self-understanding.
Almost nine years ago, I was a nurse/paramedic who wanted more out of life than my current education provided me. So I went back to college in pursuit of a Physicians Assistant degree. I handled the first two years of college rather well, getting above average GPA’s. But, in doing this college thing, I knew that I still had to work and bring in money to support my family. So I took a side job that was offered to me by an old high school friend who was the plant manager of the facility. Upon visiting the plant and sitting down with that old friend, I made him aware that I had a few injuries along my way in life, but he hired me anyway.
Three months into working, I literally got the shock of my life. The shock was from a malfunctioning machine that jolted me with 480volts of electricity on a 60amp current. It wasn’t until nine hours after the incident that I woke up in a hospital bed looking at my wife and our two boys. No one knew what actually happened until then.
I began the process to go after the company for workers compensation, signing on with a lawyer that had come highly recommended to me by a friend. The lawyer’s name was “Lisa Ann Welkey”. While during this process the lawyer did manage to help me get my SSI, she was failing with the workers compensation.
All that Ms. Welkey kept on telling me about it was, “that you’ll know when I know”. This is her words exactly for everytime I would call her, when I could get her on the phone. Most of the time anytime I would call, I’d get a disturbing message. “This phone number has either been changed or disconnected; there is no further information for this number.” Not something a person wants to here when calling his lawyer. A few times when I’d get to go to her office, the door would be locked and when I’d ask other building tenants if they’ve seen her, all I’d get not in about a week or two.
Once while trying to find Ms. Welkey at her office I met up with another client of hers, trying to track her down also. She too was having a difficult time with Ms. Welkey and Ms. Welkey’s non-existence in her office. Then I found out what was really going on. Another lawyer that attends the same church as my wife and I asked if I had heard about Ms. Welkey and her “legal problems”. I was out in left field un-aware of what he was talking about. The other lawyer explained to me that Ms. Welkey got caught with-holding escrow accounts from several other clients, and was now dis-barred for the next 3 years.
That other lawyer helped me by giving me the phone number of the workers compensation board in our State capital, Harrisburg, PA. I found out abruptly that my workers compensation case was lost, and she had appealed it then lost in that. I never was informed from Ms. Welkey of any of the results of any of my hearings. When I asked why I lost, I was told via a phone call that Ms. Welkey never informed nor supplied the board nor judges with the right or proper paper work on my behalf and it basically forfeited my case.
If I had won that case the resulting compensation/settlement would have been by that time into the six figures, of around 125 thousand dollars. But while going through the first part of the case, Ms. Welkey would tell my wife and I that we’d most likely would have to lose everything to gain everything. And not to worry because she never loses cases like this. Asking her about how I was going to pay rent and the rest of my bills, she would tell us to get physician emergency certification’s halting shut off notices. And for the landlord she told us to get a running tab and he would be compensated out of the settlement first hand.
Well now since her disbarment, I’ve been trying to find another lawyer to take her to court for legal mal-practice and getting nowhere. No-body in my area or even down to Philadelphia is willing to take the case against her. What I am asking, Is there any lawyer out there that anyone knows of that is willing to take on such a case? Why is it that everyone is concerned about corrupt judges and politicians, but no-body goes after the corrupt lawyers? Justice needs to be done about this and I’d like to see her never to return to practicing in this state, nor any other state to rip off anyone else.
1 Answer from Attorneys
I reviewed the opinion about Ms. Welkey on the Disciplinary Board site. You were not alone. Whether you have a legal malpractice case depends not only on the negligence of the lawyer, but also whether there would was validity to the underlying case. Essentially that means you have to prove the underlying case in any legal malpractice case.
My standards are usually that I only accept legal malpractice cases on a contingent basis where the underlying case is likely to produce a recovery of at least $250,000. That is due to the fact that you have two cases to prove, and lawyers tend to fight very hard. Of course I would take the case on an hourly basis if I felt there was merit, no matter what the expected recovery was. However, I advise clients that if I am unwilling to take the case on a contingent basis, the case likely doesn't make sense for them to pursue it on an economic basis
I don't know whether Ms. Welty has assets that would be sufficient to pay such a judgment, but the disciplinary Board website says that she does have insurance. If in fact she has insurance some attorney might be interested in looking at this case.
Please contact me by email at the address below and I will look further into this or refer you to another attorney.
This does not mean that I'm taking the case, only that I'm looking further into it in order to properly advise you as to whether or not I can accept the case or whether I can refer it to another attorney.
CLIFFORD B. COHN, ESQ.
926 PUBLIC LEDGER BUILDING
620 CHESTNUT STREET
PHILADELPHIA, PA 19106
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