Would-be 40th District candidate dropped from ballot suing - FOX 10 News | fox10phoenix.com

Would-be 40th District candidate dropped from ballot suing law firm

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CHICAGO (Sun-Times Media Wire) -

A woman who planned to run for Ald. Deborah Mell's former statehouse seat is suing her lawyer after her name was barred from Tuesday's primary election ballot.

Melanie "Mel" Ferrand filed the lawsuit Wednesday in Cook County Circuit Court against Korey Cotter Heather & Richardson, LLC and one of its attorneys.

Ferrand was planning to run in the Democratic primary race for the state legislature's 40th District seat, previously filled by 33rd ward alderman Deborah Mell, the suit said.

Ferrand hired a partner at the firm in late August 2013 to help her fill out nomination papers.

According to the suit, Ferrand was required by law to file a Statement of Economic Interests — a document that discloses a candidate's financial information — designed for candidates for state office with the Illinois Secretary of State's office.

But instead of the state form, the attorney incorrectly provided Ferrand with a Cook County Form Statement of Economic Interests and submitted it to the Cook County Clerk's office in November 2013, the suit claims.

Ferrand discovered the wrong form had been filed with the wrong office on Dec. 9 — a week after the filing deadline, the suit said.

Objections were made to her inclusion on the ballot, and Ferrand submitted an amended form to the Secretary of State. But on Dec. 31, 2013, a hearing officer with the Illinois Board of Elections sustained the objections and ruled her name would not be placed on the ballot, the suit said.

Ferrand appealed the decision to the board, the Cook County Circuit Court and the state's appellate court, but all ruled she could not be on the ballot, the suit said.

Ferrand was a teacher and librarian at Chicago Public Schools before she decided to run for office, the suit said.

Neither the attorney nor the law firm could not be reached for comment Wednesday night.

The two-count suit claims legal malpractice and seeks $250,000 in damages.

--Contact: Atty. David A. Axelrod, or Stacey L. Leinheiser, (312) 782-4600

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