Legal malpractice suit alleges lawyer misrepresented potential damage award

David Yates Jul. 15, 2009, 6:00am

James Lassiter

Sometimes personal injury trial lawyers are referred to as "ambulance chasers," but one local plaintiff's attorney is being chased down by a former automobile injury client and put on the receiving end of a lawsuit.

Herman Anderson Jr., who is acting on his own behalf, filed suit against plaintiff's lawyer James Lassiter III on July 10, claiming the attorney misrepresented the amount of money he would receive from an automobile collision lawsuit.

In fact, Anderson alleges Lassiter never filed the suit at all, and was only looking to score the $20,000 settlement from the insurance company's liability policy, court papers say.

Anderson asserts Lassiter kept him in the dark and purposely neglected to inform him that the policy settlement limit was $20,000.

"Plaintiff conceives that defendant does liability cases 300 and whatever days out of the year," the suit states. "It is painfully obvious that … Lassiter breached his fiduciary duty."

A search in the Jefferson County Courthouse lawsuit records did not reveal any recent lawsuits filed by Lassiter on Anderson's behalf.

In his suit, Anderson says he was involved in an automobile collision May 15, 2008. He sought the legal services of Lassiter, who allegedly informed him filing a suit would be in his best interest.

Over the next 14 months, Anderson repeatedly called the Lassiter Law Firm in Houston, hoping to obtain the status of his case and copies of legal documents.

However, Anderson's queries were "never complies(sic) with" and a Lassiter employee informed him he would need to be evaluated by a number of physicians before his case could proceed, court papers say.

Anderson claims he did as he was instructed and in April, Lassiter forwarded a demand to State Farm Insurance, who, according to court papers, settled for $20,000, rather than fight a potential lawsuit.

After Lassiter subtracted his legal fees and the cost of Anderson's medical evaluations, Anderson was left with less than $9,000.

Anderson is suing for punitive, exemplary and treble damages.

Judge Milton Shuffield, 136th Judicial District, has been assigned to the case.

Case No. D184-478

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