December trial slated for competing yoga centers

David Yates May 10, 2011, 5:34am

Two competing yoga centers locked in litigation for the past six months will go to trial in December, if their difference can't be resolved through mediation.

As previously reported, Nicole Griffin Chance filed a lawsuit Oct. 13 in Jefferson County District Court against Jessica Depew, Michael Depew and Golden Triangle Yoga.

In early 2010, Chance, the owner of Power Yoga, hired Jessica Depew, one of her instructors, who also allegedly worked as a lawyer, to assist her in her divorce. However, Chance remained married and now faces competition from Golden Triangle Yoga, a studio Depew opened after gaining access to her records.

On April 25 a discovery control plan order was filed in the case, slating a December trial date if the parties cannot mediate their claims before or on Nov. 14.

Court records show that After Chance informed her staff at Power Yoga of her intention to divorce her husband, Jessica Depew approached Chance, offering her assistance as a lawyer in exchange for continued yoga instruction.

Chance decided to hire Jessica Depew and provided her with business and financial records, which she delivered to Michael Depew's office. At the time, Chance believed Michael Depew to be a lawyer, also.

According to the lawsuit, Chance discovered the Depews had lied to her about their professions. Michael Depew owned a computer business and had never worked as a lawyer or even attended law school. After Jessica Depew failed to pay state bar taxes and state taxes, the Texas bar suspended her on Sept. 9, 2009, from practicing law.

"Plaintiff learned only recently of Defendants' endeavor to open a competing yoga studio within 1,000 yards of her own studio," the suit states.

"Plaintiff further learned that Defendant, Michael Depew, threatened to sue a colleague of the Plaintiff if he provided Plaintiff further information about their new business. More specifically, Defendant, Michael Depew, claimed that he was a lawyer and would take the person to court if he revealed information to Plaintiff about their new studio."

Chance is suing for out-of-pocket expenses, lost profits, a diminished market value and lost earnings.

Ryan W. Gertz of Gertz Adair Law Firm in Beaumont represents her.

Beaumont attorney Marc Henry of Henry & Fuller represents the defendants.

Judge Bob Wortham, 58th District Court, is assigned to the case.

Case No. A188-595

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