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Attorneys' courthouse fistfight leads to lawsuits

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After a fight broke out between two attorneys at the Marion County Courthouse two months ago, landing one in the hospital, the issue of who's responsible for damages could be up to a court to decide.

Stephen Sean Murphy filed his suit against Scott Radman in Monongalia Circuit Court. Radman recently responded with a counterclaim.

Both sides of this dispute stem from a Jan. 22 altercation.

Murphy said Radman started the fight and in the process of defending himself, he suffered "contusions and abrasions to his head and neck," along with a destroyed shirt, suit and tie.

Meanwhile, Radman argues Murphy started the fight and he was taken to Ruby Memorial Hospital with two broken orbital (eye) sockets and a skull fracture.

According to WBOY-TV, the Marion County Sheriff's Department arrested Murphy and charged him with malicious assault.

He was released on a $10,000 bond.

Both were in the Marion County courthouse Jan. 22, with Murphy scheduled to appear before the circuit judge after Radman was finished with a case.

In Murphy's account of the altercation, he left the courtroom and walked down the stairs to go the restroom, trying to avoid Radman. Murphy said he was walking down the hallway when Radman made "disparaging remarks" about him. Murphy said he continued to ignore him but Radman followed him, making rude comments.

Murphy says he told Radman to leave him alone. Radman threw a cup of coffee in his face, grabbed him around the neck, put him in a headlock and rammed his head into a hard object, Murphy's suit says.

Murphy said he defended himself and "repulsed the attack" until he could "be certain that defendant no longer posed a threat to him."

In his counterclaim, Radman says the two men passed each other in the hallway when Murphy said something "below his breath." Radman said he responded to Murphy by reciting what he alleged was a prior physical assault between Murphy and another person.

Radman says Murphy went around the corner and out of sight but he came back, running toward him. Radman says Murphy grabbed him by the throat, pinned him against the wall and began hitting him in the face. Radman says Murphy continued hitting him after he was unconscious.

Radman said he nearly lost his life as a result of this altercation.

Murphy's suit alleges battery, negligence and tortious interference with business relationships. He seeks damages for physical pain and suffering of body and mind, hospital, doctor and medical expenses, business losses, annoyance, inconvenience, emotional distress, insult, humiliation and embarrassment.

Radman's counterclaim alleges civil assault, battery, negligence, tort of outrage, intentional negligent infliction of emotional distress and defamation. Radman asks the court to enter a permanent injunction against Murphy and seeks compensatory and punitive damages.

Both attorneys said in their legal actions that they have known each other for several years.

In his suit, Murphy said he represented Radman's father and his father's business, Daniel's Men's Store. Murphy said Radman caused his father to terminate this attorney-client relationship. He also says Radman told him he could not shop at his father's store anymore.

However, Radman said he asked Murphy to represent his father but at no time did Murphy form an attorney-client relationship past that case.

Radman's counterclaim also says his father terminated the attorney-client relationship with Murphy two years before he filed any civil action.

Murphy also says Radman referred to him a civil case from Preston County. Murphy said he filed a suit on behalf of this client and he was the only attorney listed in the written fee arrangement. Radman was not performing any work on the case or acting as co-counsel, Murphy's suit says.

Murphy's suit also says Radman later gave him a fee sharing arrangement.

"That agreement stated that, among other things the parties agreed that Mr. Murphy is not the nicest of sorts," Murphy's suit says, adding that Murphy read no further, throwing the agreement in the trash, thinking it was a joke.

Murphy says Radman "continued to meddle" in the case without his consent, and once the case was settled, Radman wanted a half of the attorney fee.

Murphy argues Radman was not entitled to that fee because they had not entered into an agreement.

In his counterclaim, Radman argues that he approached Murphy about working on a case together, where these attorney fees would be split 50-50. He said Murphy agreed to this arrangement and worked on this case with him.

Radman's counterclaim says Murphy contacted the client, saying Radman was "no longer involved" in this case. The counterclaim also says the client and another attorney in the case told Radman about this statement.

After the case was settled, the fee proceeds were withheld until they could reach an agreement, Radman's counterclaim says. Radman said he eventually agreed to accept a reduced portion.

Murphy, however, says he thought "it would be best to cut all ties with defendant" and then gave him this portion because it wasn't "worth his time" to fight over it.