Appeals court to hear malpractice suit against John Morgan

David Yates May 12, 2009, 9:55am


In a few weeks, one of Beaumont's most colorful plaintiff's attorneys will stand before appellate justices and argue that it was lawful for a local judge to dismiss a legal malpractice case against him.

On May 28 the Ninth Court of Appeals of Texas will hear oral arguments in a case involving attorney John Morgan, Kevin Walker vs. John Morgan et al.

If Beaumont justices rule in plaintiff Kevin Walker's favor, a lawsuit he filed against Morgan, his law firm, Lindsay & Morgan, and partner, Mike Lindsay, could be reinstated.

Walker filed the legal malpractice suit against Morgan in 2006, alleging the attorney settled a lawsuit without Walker's permission by signing a Rule 11 settlement agreement.

Morgan was Walker's attorney in a 2005 suit against 1st Capital Reserve, Universal Coin & Bullion and Mike Fuljenz for wrongfully firing him.

In his suit, Walker asserted he was promised various levels of commission and bonuses for his coin sales. But instead of rewarding him for his performance, he claims the defendants fired him when he sought his supplemental income.

Court papers say Walker gave Morgan and his firm a power of attorney on Feb. 12, 2005. One year later, Morgan hammered out a $950,000 settlement on Feb. 22, 2006.

In his response to Walker's suit, Morgan says Walker and his wife were going through a divorce at the time of the settlement, and that Walker's divorce attorney "for strategic reasons of her own did not want the lawsuit settled," allegedly instructing Walker not to sign the Rule 11 settlement agreement.

According to court documents, Walker refused to sign the agreement and as a consequence he was counter-sued by the suit's defendants for breach of contract.

On April 20, 2006, Judge Milton Shuffield, 136th Judicial District, conducted a trial on the breach of contract action. Five months later, the judge signed a final judgment order, ruling that the settlement agreement was enforceable.

After Judge Shuffield's ruling, Walker filed suit against Morgan and his firm – a separate litigation that also did not end favorably for him.

On May 9, 2008, Judge Donald Floyd, 172nd Judicial District, granted Morgan's and his partner's no-evidence motion for summary judgment, dismissing Walker's case with prejudice.

The ruling led Walker to submit his appeal on Aug. 22, 2008.

In his appeal, Walker argues that "a genuine issue of material fact exists as to whether the Lindsay & Morgan law firm had authority to enter into the Rule 11 agreement," saying that he implicitly instructed Morgan not to settle the case.

"The trial court's summary judgment in favor of the defendant, Lindsay & Morgan, was erroneous," Walker's appeals brief states.

Walker is asking justices to reverse the ruling.

He is represented in part by attorney Gregg Schellhammer.

The Lindsay & Morgan law firm are represented in party by attorneys
Kirsten A. Davenport, John Wesley Raley and Diana L. Faust.

Trial case Nos. D174-316 and E177-428
Appeals case No. 09-08-00362-CV

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