Jon Campisi Jul. 11, 2012, 7:32am

A Philadelphia law firm and one of its partners have been named as defendants in a legal

malpractice claim filed by an Illinois man who alleges the defendants failed to follow up on a personal injury case arising out of a workplace injury at the Amtrak yard where the plaintiff worked.

Newtown, Pa. attorney Jeffrey Krawitz, of the firm Stark & Stark, filed the lawsuit July 5 at Philadelphia Common Pleas Court on behalf of Chicago resident Johnny Ray Rice.

The lawsuit names as defendants Robert St. Leger Goggin, III, and the firm Forceno, Goggin & Keller, P.C., as successor to Keller & Goggin, P.C.

The lawsuit states that Rice was denied disability for back pain and severe depression back in June 2006, injuries he claims arose out of a December 2004 incident at Amtrak’s 1100 Lumber Street yard in Chicago, which is where he worked.

Rice briefly returned to work sometime between March 2006 and May 2007, but ultimately was unable to perform his job duties due to his injuries, the lawsuit states.

In the summer of 2006, Rice obtained the contact information for the defendants through the plaintiff’s union representative.

Rice soon retained the defendants to represent him in a federal lawsuit due to his disability denial.

Beginning in July 2009, Rice began forwarding documents and medical records to the defendants as part of his case against Amtrak, the complaint states.

Rice also signed various authorizations allowing the defendants to obtain copies of his health records from various medical providers as well as the Railroad Retirement Board.

In January 2010, the defendants informed the board they were representing Rice in his legal action against the railroad giant.

Soon after, Rice placed multiple phone calls to the defendant to get updated on his case, but his lawyers never returned the calls, the lawsuit claims.

Rice later filed a complaint with the Pennsylvania Supreme Court’s Disciplinary Board, after which he was told that the defendants informed the board that they were no longer representing Rice in his lawsuit.

“Upon information and belief the investigation by the Board was a one-time phone conversation with defendants,” the lawsuit states.

The lawsuit states that the defendants “negligently, carelessly and recklessly failed to file an action within the three (3) year statute of limitations, forever barring plaintiff from bringing a FELA action for his serious injuries and consequential damages.”

FELA stands for the Federal Employers’ Liability Act. The law was passed by Congress in the early 20th century to protect railroad workers who are injured or disabled while on the job.

Rice’s suit claims the plaintiff has lost his ability to recover for his “severe loss of earnings,” as well as his ability to recover for physical pain, mental anguish and embarrassment.

The complaint accuses the defendants of negligence for failing to represent Rice properly for “documented and acknowledged bodily injury and resultant damages,” failing to protect the plaintiff’s interest by failing to file a complaint within the applicable statute of limitations, failing to comply with FELA and violating the code of conduct under the Rules of Professional Responsibility.

The suit further says that the defendants’ professional negligence has prejudiced the plaintiff by forever barring him from recording damages for his injuries, causing him continued income loss and financial burdens, and leading the plaintiff to believe that the defendants were experts in FELA claims and were engaged to take “all necessary steps” to protect the plaintiff’s rights.

Rice seeks judgment in excess of $50,000, plus attorney’s fees, costs, interest and other court relief.

A jury trial has been demanded.


The case ID number is 120700736.

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