A Fayetteville attorney who was involved in an adoption case that resulted in a malpractice lawsuit against him has filed for Chapter 13 bankruptcy reorganization, listing potentially $1.9 million in debts.
Vaughn-Michael Cordes reported $580,000 in assets.
One of the larger debts listed is to the IRS for $113,700 for income tax owed between 2013 and 2017. He also owes $211,238 for student loan debt on an account that was opened in February 1997. As you know, student loan debt is almost impossible to discharge in bankruptcy.
On his LinkedIn profile, Cordes said he opened his Cordes Law Firm in 2006.
The profile said it was a small, family-oriented law firm focusing on bankruptcy, adoption, family law and general law practice.
He earned $107,000 so far this year. But in 2017 he had an income of $285,500, which was up from the $259,000 he earned in 2016, according to the filing in U.S. Bankruptcy Court in Fayetteville.
He also said in the filing that in May he replaced $35,200 from his client trust account that had been embezzled by an employee. The filing doesn’t provide any details about the incident and Cordes didn’t return a call from Whispers.
His bankruptcy attorney, Don Brady Jr. of Fayetteville, also didn’t return a call.
Cordes’ potential liabilities are so high because he and his law firm face a malpractice case in Washington County Circuit Court. He was supposed to handle an adoption case involving a Kentucky couple and Jacklynn Aen, 38, but it never happened, according to the lawsuit filed by the couple, Travis and Kristina Partin.
They paid nearly $30,000 in June 2017 in connection with the adoption, but it turned out Aen was never pregnant.
In Washington County Circuit Court, Aen pleaded guilty in September to a criminal charge for defrauding a prospective adoptive parent. She was sentenced to 20 years of probation and ordered to pay nearly $15,000 in restitution.
The Partins said in the malpractice complaint that Cordes “failed to verify that the woman placing the child up for adoption through his office was actually pregnant, which an attorney of reasonable skill and diligence would have done.”
The couple is being represented by attorney Joshua Bryant of Rogers.
The Partins are seeking at least $1 million in damages to punish the defendants and the $30,000 back that they paid. They also named Aen as a defendant.
Cordes listed the $1 million claim filed by the Partins as a disputed debt in his bankruptcy filing.
Cordes, who is representing himself in the case, denied the allegations of wrongdoing in his response.