Laws In Texas

Two Texas Lawyers Submit Themselves Into a Legal Malpractice Lawsuit

The former client alleges the lawyers disclosed more than they should have, and then opposing counsel signed up more plaintiffs to sue the company.

LIT COMMENTARY

Update, Mar. 1, 2020: Case removed from state to federal court.

Update: May 21, 2020: Case Non-suited

Update: May 26: Case refiled in state court.

Update Nov 13: Case setting for 30 Nov. re Attorney Fees.

Update, Nov. 13, 2020: It looks like Connor Kelly is the first casualty as his bio has been removed from his law firm’s website.

Two Texas Lawyers Accused of Accidentally Helping Opposing Counsel Sign Up More Plaintiffs to Sue Client

The former client alleges the lawyers disclosed more names in discovery than they should have, and then opposing counsel signed up more plaintiffs to sue the company.

June 22, 2020

Houston attorneys Kerry Notestine and Conor Kelly have denied all the allegations in a legal malpractice lawsuit that alleged they made a mistake in discovery that cost their oil and gas services company client lots of money.

The allegations help remind attorneys to closely review discovery materials before sending them to opposing counsel.

“Our official position is the claims are without merit. We are going to vigorously defend the claims,” said Jeffrey W. Hellberg Jr., partner in Wick Phillips Gould & Martin in Dallas, who represents the defendants.

Notestine is a shareholder and Kelly is an associate in Littler Mendelson in Houston. The same plaintiff, New Tech Global Ventures, a global oil and gas services firm, sued Littler Mendelson and a Pittsburgh shareholder there in November 2019.

Hellberg said the case against the law firm was dismissed in late May, and a week later, New Tech sued the two individual lawyers.

In an answer on Friday, Notestine and Kelly argued that the plaintiff sued them outside of the statute of limitations, and also that New Tech contributed to its own alleged damages. They say the company sued the wrong parties.

New Tech’s new lawsuit, filed May 26 in Harris County District Court, is very similar to its old case. The company alleges that the lawyers represented them in underlying litigation by an employee who brought Fair Labor Standards Act claims for himself and other similar “well site” supervisors.

In discovery, Notestine and Kelly were supposed to give plaintiffs counsel a list of names of other well site supervisors. New Tech alleged the lawyers also provided hundreds of names of “completion” supervisors.

Next, the plaintiffs lawyers signed up additional completion supervisors as plaintiffs.

In the new legal malpractice litigation, New Tech seeks to recover $180,000 it paid the lawyers, plus the money it spent on new lawyers who it said fixed the errors, and arbitration fees spent on the additional claims from completion supervisors. Among other damages, New Tech is asking the court to award all the settlement money it had to pay for the extra cases that came from the discovery disclosure.

Plaintiffs attorney Steven Duble of Houston didn’t immediately return a call or email seeking comment.

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