First Union Sues Over Lawyer

First Union National Bank of Charlotte, N.C. is suing an attorney with Friday Eldredge & Clark LLP for more than $1 million because it said the attorney botched a job.

First Union, as trustee of the Southeast Timber Leasing Statutory Trust, said Paul Benham was negligent when he handled an corporate merger between Southeast Timber and First Land and Timber Corp. in June 1998.

The problem occurred with an FLT minority shareholder, Pictet Overseas Trust Corp. Ltd., which owned 6,000 shares of FLT stock.

Benham calculated the price of the stock at $3.7 million, but Pictet said it was worth $5.1 million.

Benham filed a lawsuit in March 1999, to let a judge decide the price. The judge ruled that the stock was worth $5.1 million plus interest.

First Union claims Benham should have filed the lawsuit to dispute the price by Dec. 30, 1998. And if he had, Southeast Timber would only have had to pay $3.7 million.

But because of Benham's negligence, First Union said, it will have to pay Pictet over $1 million more than it would have if Benham had filed the lawsuit on time.

First Union is seeking more than $1 million in damages, attorney's fees and court costs.

Benham said he hasn't seen the lawsuit and doesn't comment on pending litigation anyway.