Buzbee sues Apffel over attorney fees from Hurricane Ike settlements

John Suayan, Galveston Bureau Apr. 27, 2011, 12:10pm


GALVESTON – Galveston attorney Tony Buzbee is pursuing legal action against Darrell Apffel and Bettison, Doyle, Apffel & Guarino PC, claiming the Galveston law firm used his name and reputation to land Hurricane Ike clients and settle their cases with various insurers.

The lawsuit was filed April 19 in Galveston County District Court.

Court papers allege Apffel "went as far as to illegally list Buzbee as lead counsel on the proceedings for more than 20 cases filed in Galveston state court – again without Buzbee's knowledge or permission or without compensating Buzbee a dime."

Buzbee explains that the defendants approached him about helping them with Hurricane Ike lawsuits.

"Apffel relayed to Buzbee his belief that Buzbee's involvement in the lawsuits would substantially increase the value of the cases," the original petition says.

The suit states that Apffel, a justice of the peace and attorney, and Bettison Doyle agreed in writing to pay Buzbee 5 percent of all fees generated by their individual Ike suits and 50 percent of a large commercial claim in exchange for using Buzbee's name.

Buzbee contends he upheld his part of the contract, but did not receive proper compensation from the defendants. He claims that Apffel and Bettison Doyle's actions damaged his reputation and subjected him to malpractice claims.

"The defendants' conduct was illegal and in violation of the ethical rules governing lawyers," the suit says.

Consequently, Buzbee seeks compensatory and punitive damages and attorneys' fees as well as a jury trial.

Galveston County 122nd District Court Judge John Ellisor is presiding over the case.

Case No. 11-cv-0665

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