Douglas County couple accuse Kansas City Mayor Sly James and another attorney of legal malpractice

For the second time, a Douglas County family is accusing Kansas City, Mo., Mayor Sylvester James Jr. and another Kansas City attorney of legal malpractice.

The lawsuit was filed Thursday in Douglas County District Court by Aniela and Devin Kiekel and lists James and Michael Mohlman as defendants. The lawsuit is seeking damages in excess of $75,000.

The Kiekels filed a similar lawsuit against James and Mohlman in October 2015, though it was dismissed in July 2016 for lack of prosecution, court records show.

Matt Birch, an attorney representing the Kiekels, declined to comment on the case, and attempts to reach James and Mohlman Tuesday were unsuccessful.

In December 2009, Aniela Kiekel was pregnant with twins and went to Lawrence Memorial Hospital, where the children were delivered by Cesarean section, the lawsuit says. However, “as a result of medical negligence,” one of the two children “died in utero” and the other “was born with preventable permanent neurologic injury,” the suit says.

That spring, the Kiekels hired James and Mohlman — both employed at the time by the Sly James Firm, Trial Lawyers, PC — to look into legal options they might have regarding the death of one child and the injury of the other, the lawsuit says.

However, in December 2011, Mohlman wrote the Kiekels saying the firm would not pursue the case and “erroneously” informed the parents of the Kansas statute of limitations, the lawsuit says.

Mohlman told the Kiekels they would be able to pursue legal action until their surviving son turned 19 years old, the lawsuit says.

Mohlman’s “advice about the statute of limitations” was inaccurate and misleading, the lawsuit says. “At no time in their representation … did (Mohlman or James) recognize or investigate (the Kiekels’) potential claims for the death of their son.”

Approximately one week after Mohlman declined to pursue the Kiekels’ case, the two-year statute of limitations for a wrongful death claim expired, the lawsuit says.

In 2014, and with another law firm, the Kiekels filed a lawsuit against the Lawrence Family Practice Center and two doctors employed there, “alleging medical negligence” in the death of one son and the injury of the other.

“On March 18, 2015, the District Court of Douglas County, Kansas dismissed (the Kiekels’) wrongful death claim as barred by the Kansas two-year statute of limitations,” the lawsuit says.

However, Douglas County District Court records show the lawsuit was reopened a month later.

The newly filed lawsuit argues that James and Mohlman compromised the Kiekels’ ability to pursue legal action because they did not fully investigate the cases or offer sound legal advice.

As of Tuesday afternoon, neither James nor Mohlman had responded to the Kiekels’ claims in district court.

The Kiekels’ medical malpractice lawsuit is also seeking damages in excess of $75,000 and is scheduled to go to trial this August.