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Law Firm on Hook for $196M in Malpractice Fees

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By Jonathan R. Tung, Esq. on November 24, 2015 12:00 PM

One hundred and ninety-six million dollars. That astounding number is the amount a Texas jury awarded plaintiff Scott D. Martin who sued Andrews Kurth for malpractice.

Plaintiffs have just moved the court to file an entry of judgment. The proposed order seeks an actual damages award of $196 million, an additional $20.7 in prejudgment interest, and more interest as yet to be determined.

Controversy in the Family Business

The original controversy started when Scott Martin and his brother Reuben got into an intense dispute over management of the family business. Then, their mother attempted to intervene. A settlement seemed underway and Scott's law firm, Andrews Kurth, presented him with documents that Scott thought protected his interests. They didn't.

When Reuben did not conform to the terms of the settlement, Scott sued his brother. But Scott later reported that a Texas appeals court found that the settlement agreement was nothing more than an "agreement to agree." Litigation ensued, including a suit against Andrews Kurth.

Internal Insults

But some of the more interesting details of this story are the internal firm communications. Scott alleged that internal communications within the firm confirmed that Andrews Kurth billed him for millions in fees that were known to lead nowhere, and a "shocking level of disrespect" to him and his finances.

It's Not Over Till It's Over

Bob Jewell of Andrews Kurth expressed the firm's disappointment but made it clear that it would stick in for the appeals process. It's clear the firm won't simply pay the sum. There's hope that either the judge swoops in to lower the damages, or that the appellate court will save Andrew Kurth from this debacle.

Just remember: your internal emails aren't so internal if the client sues you. Andrews Kurth should already know this: they've seen malpractice before.

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