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Negligence Lawsuit Brought By Doctor's Estate Against Houston Firms

Estate of Houston doctor files negligence lawsuit against two firms and attorney for allegedly mishandling lawsuit.

The estate of Houston doctor Craig Jefferies seeks more than $1 million in damages from Texas firms Thompson & Knight and Cunningham Darlow and Houston lawyer Richard Zook, claiming they didn't keep Jefferies directly informed of all facts related to a lawsuit in which they represented him.

"Zook's and other's malpractice, malfeasance, and/or misfeasance in this regard has caused the estate of Dr. Jefferies damage in the form of uncollected or uncollectible benefits" related to a contract between his doctor's group and SelectCare, the estate alleges in a petition filed Feb. 19.

Amy Rozell filed the

negligence lawsuit as representative of the estate.

The estate brings common law negligence; gross negligence/malice; breach of fiduciary duty; and aiding, abetting and participation in breach of fiduciary duty causes of action against the defendants. The estate seeks actual damages, fee forfeiture, punitive damages, costs and interest jointly and severally from the defendants.

Zook did not immediately return a telephone message seeking a comment.

In response to the allegations, John Martin, of counsel in Thompson & Knight in Dallas, said the firm will vigorously defend itself against the "unfounded allegations." In a written statement, Martin wrote that the claims against the firm are "simply incorrect." He wrote, "Thompson & Knight has a long history of zealously representing our clients and honoring our legal and ethical obligations at every turn, which is exactly what occurred in this case. We regret that the plaintiff has elected to file litigation against the firm, and we are confident that a full examination of the facts will confirm that."

Zook joined Thompson & Knight in 2007 and left it in 2011.

Tom Cunningham, a partner in Cunningham Darlow, said, "What's stated in the petition occurred long after our former partner Richard Zook left our firm."

Background


In Rozell v. Thompson & Knight, the estate alleges that in 2006, Zook, while he was a partner in Cunningham, Welsh, Darlow & Zook (now Cunningham Darlow) and later at Thompson & Knight, represented Jefferies, Memorial Clinical Associates (MCA) and several other doctors in litigation against Stealth General Partnership, and later Memorial Hermann Hospital. In the underlying suit, Zook's clients alleged MCA and its partner doctors lost profits because of reduced reimbursements from the SelectCare contract due to, among other things, tortious conduct by Stealth and the hospital.

The estate alleges in Rozell that Zook and others failed to directly inform Jefferies of all facts surrounding the litigation, including the fact that the other doctors who owned MCA with Jefferies had transferred the rights to the SelectCare contract to another company and sold those rights for $12 million without including Jefferies.

The estate alleges that it tried to mitigate the damage "caused by the defendants' alleged negligence and breaches of fiduciary duty" by pursuing litigation against the other doctors for damages, including those related to the SelectCare contract. However, the estate alleges that it was "forced to settle that litigation for an amount far below its provable damages" and it seeks in Rozell to recover "the amount it was not able to recover in that litigation."

Originally posted by Brenda Sapino Jeffreys on TexasLawyer.com.

Negligence Lawsuit Representation - Ball & Bonholtzer Trial Attorney - Los Angeles

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