Former client sues Beaumont attorney for extortion

Michelle Massey Jul. 27, 2010, 9:29am

A Beaumont cardiovascular surgeon has filed a lawsuit against his former attorney after receiving e-mails demanding $100,000 cash payment in exchange for keeping confidential certain private information.

Asking the court for a temporary injunction to prevent harm to his business, Saeed Ally filed suit against Rhett B. Phares and Dr. Otto Lawayne Miller on July 19 in Jefferson County District Court.

Dr. Ally is a cardiovascular surgeon who is part owner of Southeast Texas Heart & Lung Surgery and SETX Clearwater Environmental.

Defendant Miller is Dr. Ally's business partner.

Dr. Ally states that Clearwater was sued in 2006 and hired Banker Phares for representation. Banker Phares turned representation over to his son, Rhett Phares.

Dr. Ally accuses Phares of a deliberate and continual pattern of breach of fiduciary duty, extortion and breach of attorney-client privilege.

Allegedly Phares demanded $100,000 in cash from Dr. Ally's spouse and said if he did not receive payment "all hell would break loose."

Phares is also accused of sending inflammatory e-mails containing obscene language to Dr. Ally's business partners, violating attorney-client privilege by providing confidential information to Dr. Miller, hindering Dr. Ally's ability to collect investment funds, interfering with Dr. Ally and Dr. Miller's business relationship, informing others that Dr. Ally engaged in illegal activity, sending out inconsistent billing amounts, and threatening Dr. Ally's medical license and the status of his contractual negotiations.

The plaintiff is asking the court for a temporary restraining order and temporary injunction restraining Dr. Miller from engaging in activities or actions dictated by defendant Phares and for an order stopping Phares from breaching the attorney-client privilege or engaging in representation in which there is a conflict of interest.

Beaumont attorney John S. Morgan of Harris, Duesler & Hatfield is representing Dr. Ally.

Judge Milton Gunn Shuffield, 136th District Court, is assigned to the case.

Case No. D187-321

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