William G. Shields and associates / The Virginia State Bar
Our council of record concerning the matter of recovery of damages from builder defects covered on this site was William G. Shields of Shields and Associates. As a result of his poor representation, the defective home deteriorated to becoming uninhabitable, as the nature of the defect produced toxins and contamination that required an enormous cleanup effort and restoration to remove.
Instead of critically needed recovery from legal representation, we were forced to evacuate the defective home. We've lost an estimated (updated as of Aug 2008 $640,000 est. lost in income and property damages, personal damages not considered) as a result of failure to attain any required recovery from damages in a timely manner- never is untimely.
J. Winston Read, Richmond division VP of Ryan Homes, made it clear in our discussions with him, that Ryan Homes would not pay for ANY damages resulting from builder defects, and damages to our health were also our problem. Legal action was clearly required to restore our home, and to recover any losses from health damages.
Mr. Shields had his assistant file a case on our behalf in Henrico County Court in Virginia. It was never served and was essentially blocked from ever being served. It appeared our case was delayed or stalled until the very last day the statute of limitations allowed filing suit. Our case files were repeatedly lost in his office, and we were forced to re-obtain and resubmit them.
A suit filed at the last moment possible, omitted the builder (Ryan Homes), even though we had specifically instructed Ryan Homes be named as the defendant in any filed suit, as we believe Ryan Homes is responsible for the construction of their homes, regardless of who they hire to build them. By the time we realized William G. Shields would not file a suit against Ryan Homes, the statute of limitations had expired.
While we were unsuccessful at finding an attorney to sue for what I still believe qualifies as attorney malpractice, we did succeed in getting the Virginia State Bar to investigate our case for attorney misconduct. Throughout our case, we were suffering negative health symptoms from the defective home, from which we needed legal recovery. The homes defects severely impaired our ability to protect or defend ourselves from our "support" personnel. We were not fully aware how severely we were being impaired by hidden toxins present in the home at that time.
We needed a good attorney, not one who didn't return calls, couldn't answer questions, failed to keep track of our files, offered no useful advice, and seemed to dismiss the seriousness of our hardship caused by Ryan Homes' negligence. No real explanation has been given on why he would not sue Ryan Homes for builder mistakes. He should have let us know he was unwilling to sue our builder BEFORE statutes expired, and terminated our contingency contracts with him, so we might have looked look elsewhere for representation.
A hearing with the state bar was called for his prosecution, after a 26 month investigation, but the prosecution hearing mysteriously disappeared after a representative from the VSB apparently accepted falsified evidence as the basis to drop misconduct charges.
This was contested, but disregarded by the VSB. In some aspects of the case the VSB noted that, many of the alleged violations were actually handled by Shield's assistant. This misconduct, though perhaps not bar misconduct in all cases, included what I believe to be mail fraud, providing false and misleading documentation to the Henrico County court and to the VSB, and failure to return calls to his clients in a timely manner. The fact that false evidence was accepted by the Virginia State Bar as the final premise for dismissing the case was disregarded in the final VSB response to the matter.
In spite of threats by our former attorney, I maintain my right to complain publicly about the quality of his services, and my perception of how those bad services occurred. I hold documentation from which I gathered my opinions on the matter. While every statement made here may not be precisely accurate it does not meet the requirements of slander or false libel accusations: "the substantial truth doctrine extends this protection by holding that a statement with "slight inaccuracies of expression" do not make the alleged libel false."
As to my allegations involving the Virginia State Bar, I have a letter to appear at a hearing that was intent on prosecution of Shields. I called to ask the location of the hearing I was to testify at, and was told Shields was sick, and the hearing would have t o be rescheduled. The "lie" referred to with the bar, shields told the bar the we had refused to pay a $1,000 retainer fee, and therefore he had suspended action on the case. However the case was based solely on contingency, and no retainer fee was EVER asked for. What we refused to pay was a demand for$1,000 in an escrow account, but that was not because we were unwilling to fund our case.
We have a letter asking us to call Tracy, their book keeper to arrange payment for court filing and service fees. We called and asked how much they needed. She only asked for the court fees, which we promptly paid, and when asked about starting the escrow account, said we would be contacted IF they needed anything more. They didn't ask for any funding of an escrow account.
We later received a copy of the suit that was filed, and a copy of the letter of instructions to the court to file AND serve the suit from Shields office. The document the court actually received omitted instruction to serve the suit, while our copy had instructions to serve the suit. So we waited for a response from the plaintive, not knowing our case was never served and, but rather, it was frozen for reasons we could not have known about.
After a dozen or so calls over a period of weeks, attempting to learn how the plaintive responded to the suit, we were told the suit wasn't actually served. They claimed it was because we hadn't funded the escrow account. Shields demanded $1,000 before he would have the suit served. But realizing we had been mislead and lied to in the matter of serving the suit, we refused to fund the escrow until he served the suit, as was documented in our fake copy of our case files. The forged letter created what I believe was an intentionally created impasse, thus killing any chance we had at legal recovery.
Note: Possible lessons from William G. Shields: attorneys wishing to destroy their clients case and commit acts of misconduct without getting prosecuted by the VSB- have an assistant commit the acts of misconduct on your behalf. As explained in a letter from VSB, his assistant committed most of the alleged acts of misconduct claimed in our case, and even though he was council of record, they would not prosecute him for acts he instructed, but were committed under his assistants name. An attorney can hire anyone to file false information to the court, send out forged case copies by mail to his clients, lie to his clients, and the VSB will overlook any such misconduct.
~The legal professionís
relative autonomy carries with it special responsibilities of self-government.
The profession has a
responsibility to assure that its regulations are conceived in the public interest and not in furtherance of parochial or
self-interested concerns of the bar. Every lawyer is responsible for observance of the Rules of Professional Conduct. A lawyer
should also aid in securing their observance by other lawyers. Neglect of these responsibilities compromises the independence
of the profession and the public interest which it serves. (From Virginia Rules of Professional conduct)
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