Arbitrators Raise O'Quinn Tab for Breast Implant Clients by Almost $6M, to $41.5M
Brenda Sapino Jeffreys
An arbitration panel has ordered John M. O'Quinn's firm to pay a little more to a class of 3,450 former breast implant clients who allege O'Quinn's firm overcharged them for expenses.
In July, a three-member arbitration panel ordered O'Quinn's firm to pay $35.7 million in damages to the class. But in an order issued on Sept. 11, a three-member arbitration panel ordered the firm to pay a total of $41,465,950. That $41.5 million breaks down to $9,979,364 for breach of contract damages, $2,494,841 for attorney fees on the breach of contract claim, $3,991,745 in interest on the breach of contract claim and $25 million for fee forfeiture.
The panel allocated $500,000 for expenses and $10,241,487 for attorney fees, leaving $30,724,463 to be distributed to class members.
O'Quinn, of the O'Quinn Law Firm in Houston, did not return a telephone call seeking comment. Neither did his attorney, Billy Shepherd, a partner in Cruse, Scott, Henderson & Allen in Houston, who said in an earlier interview that they are researching avenues of appeal.
An attorney for the plaintiffs, Joseph Jamail, a partner in Jamail & Kolius in Houston, says, "It came out pretty much where I thought we were going to, based on the original order." Jamail says the former O'Quinn clients "felt cheated" but are now vindicated.
In their petition in Martha Wood, et al. v. John M. O'Quinn, P.C., the plaintiffs allege O'Quinn's firm wrongfully deducted "Breast Implant General Expenses" -- expenses such as the cost of taking depositions that were relevant to all the suits -- and other fees from their settlement checks. O'Quinn denied the allegations.
In an order issued in March, a majority of the arbitration panel found that the fee agreements between O'Quinn's firm and the class members do not allow for the deduction of the general breast implant expenses, that certain expenses charged the class members were "inappropriate" and that the firm's actions were not authorized by the fee agreements.
All three arbitrators, who are located in Houston -- David Beck, a partner in Beck, Redden & Secrest, former state district Judge Susan Soussan and Kenneth Tekell, a partner in Tekell, Book, Matthews & Limmer -- signed the Sept. 11 order. Only Beck and Tekell signed the March order, and only Beck and Soussan signed the July order.