October 25, 2014

Medina
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Wife of ‘Facebook bigamist’ sues former attorney on grounds of fraud

MEDINA — A Medina attorney who pleaded guilty to a fraud charge last year now faces a lawsuit from a former client accusing her of fraud, breach of duty and failure to provide competent services.

Amanda France, of Tampa, Florida, filed a suit last week against attorney Natalie Grubb in Medina County Common Pleas Court. In the suit, France alleges Grubb failed to file a civil suit she was hired to prepare and accuses her of mortgage fraud.

Natalie Grubb

Natalie Grubb

The suit states France paid Grubb $30,000 in March 2012 but did not receive services in return.

France’s complaint accuses Grubb of “failing to prepare and file Plaintiff’s defamation action, to return telephone calls, to act with reasonable diligence and promptness in representing a client. …”

France’s attorney, Stephen Brown, said Grubb never filed the defamation suit on behalf of France.

The suit also alleges that Grubb acquired an open-end mortgage deed worth $130,000 on France’s Florida home. According to the Hillsborough County auditor’s website, the property Grubb secured the mortgage for is owned by France’s husband, John France.

Brown said Grubb took out the mortgage without notifying France or her husband.

The suit seeks punitive damages and attorney fees.

Amanda and John France received some national media attention in 2010 when his ex-wife, Lynda France, accused him of bigamy. The two went on the “Today Show” with Matt Lauer to defend themselves. Prior to his marriage to Amanda, the “Today Show” reported, John was living with Lynda in Cleveland and raising their two sons. But while John and Lynda had a wedding ceremony, he told the “Today Show” his marriage to Lynda was never legally valid and she was aware of his plans to marry Amanda.

Cuyahoga County court records show Lynda France filed for a separation from John in May 2010. The case was dismissed less than two weeks after it was filed with court costs assessed to Lynda France.

A phone number for the Frances at their Tampa home could not be found and Brown couldn’t confirm whether the defamation suit France hired Grubb to file was related to the dispute with her husband’s ex.

The lawsuit France filed against Grubb isn’t the first time the attorney has been accused of fraud.

Grubb, 55, pleaded guilty to a misdemeanor charge of complicity to commit workers’ compensation fraud in 2013 in Franklin County Municipal Court. The charge stemmed from an investigation conducted by the Ohio Bureau of Workers’ Compensation. The BWC accused Grubb of employing a woman in her office while providing legal representation to her in a workers’ compensation case against the state.

Grubb was ordered to pay $14,441 in restitution and investigative costs. The BWC referred the case to the Ohio Board of Commissioners on Grievances.

Grubb had a hearing in May before a disciplinary panel and the full board may review the case in August, a public information officer said Thursday.

Grubb did not return a call seeking comment Thursday afternoon.

Contact reporter Loren Genson at (330) 721-4063 or lgenson@medina-gazette.com. Follow her on Twitter @lorengenson.