A senior Nashville judge has dismissed a $515,907 claim against Metro Nashville government filed in behalf of the estate of a man whose assets were depleted by $771,009 thanks to the lawyer appointed to oversee his case.
In a three-page ruling Judge Ben H. Cantrell concluded that the claim filed in behalf of the estate of William Link had to be disallowed because it was not filed until long after a one-year statute of limitations had expired.
Cantrell concluded that the one-year limit did not only apply to wrongful death cases as the lawyers for Link had argued.
"The plaintiff's argument is appealing, especially in this case, but the court thinks the Supreme Court did not limit their decision to wrongful death cases," Cantrell wrote in the three page decision.
|John E. Clemmons|
Lawyers for Link had argued that if Davidson Probate Court officials had done their job and required Clemmons to file mandatory annual accountings, the thefts would have been prevented. According to court filings Clemmons, who was appointed administrator in March of 2003, filed one annual accounting on Sept. 15, 2004.
Cantrell did not dispute that conclusion and also pointed out that court officials approved a series of fee requests submitted by Clemmons up through 2012 "despite the lack of accounting."
Paul Gontarek, who replaced Clemmons as the administrator, said Monday they were reviewing the ruling to determine what if any further action to take.
Cantrell has yet to rule in a similar case in which Gontarek is seeking to recover $157,050 from Metro for Donald Griggs who had his conservatorship overseen by Clemmons. Arguments in the Griggs case paralleled those on the Link case.
In his ruling Cantrell concluded "that the claims against Metro in this case are barred by the one-year statute of limitations."
Gontarek, meanwhile, is pursuing a claim against Clemmons' malpractice insurance carrier, but lawyers for the company have asked a federal judge to bar any claim because the policy does not apply to criminal conduct.
Probate Judge David "Randy" Kennedy, who appointed Gontarek to replace Clemmons, recently approved fees and expenses for Gontarek and Patrick Mason totaling a little over $35,000. Mason was hired to pursue the claims against Metro.
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Judge Bars Estate Recovery From Metro