Competing yoga centers called to trial

David Yates Dec. 1, 2011, 10:46am

Two competing yoga centers locked in litigation for the past year are set to go to trial on Dec. 7.

As previously reported, Nicole Griffin Chance filed a lawsuit Oct. 13, 2010, 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 Nov. 1 the Depews had filed a motion for summary judgment, arguing that Chance has produced no evidence that the two committed any suable violations under the Texas Deceptive Trade Practices.

A hearing on the matter was held Nov. 28. Judge Bob Wortham, 58th District Court, took no action afterwards and on the following day sent out a notice to all counsel of record that the case will go to trial Dec. 7, court records show.

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.

Case No. A188-595

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