Ferguson's Law: When you sue, sue someone with money

Southeast Texas Record Dec. 16, 2014, 8:02am


When the person responsible for an accident has little or no money, what's a plaintiff's attorney to do?

Sue someone else, of course.

A third party's connection to an accident may be tenuous. Nevertheless, if that party has sufficient financial resources, an unreasonable attorney may be motivated to impute responsibility there.

If you want a possible example of how it's done, ask Provost Umphrey attorney Paul Ferguson Jr.

Four years ago, flexible Ferguson filed a product liability suit against Ford Motor Co. in Jefferson County District Court on behalf of a man whose wife had died when her Explorer rolled over. (Never mind that she’d hit a 4x4 on Interstate 10 and blown out a rear tire.)

Two years later, Ferguson filed a wrongful death suit on behalf of a woman whose husband died after slamming into a truck and an RV blocking both lanes of Highway 69. In addition to the two drivers involved in the accident, Ferguson also sued the previous owners of the RV. (Never mind that they'd sold the vehicle and had papers to prove it.)

Last year, Ferguson sued Domino’s Pizza, et al. on behalf of the estate of a married couple whose vehicle was struck head-on in Beaumont by a pizza delivery boy. (Never mind that the boy was driving his own car, with worn tires in bad weather.)

Somehow, Ferguson persuaded the jury that Domino’s was primarily responsible for the accident because it was caused by a car transporting its pizza. He secured a record-setting $32 million award for the estate.

“It is believed to be one of, if not the, largest actual damages verdict ever returned against Domino’s Pizza,” he boasted at the time.

Unfortunately for Ferguson, it may not stand, as Domino's has appealed, seeking to have the final judgment reversed or the case remanded for a new trial.

Like many of Ferguson's previous targets, Domino's was guilty of one significant thing: having tempting assets.

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