Plaintiff's attorney sued by State Office of Risk Management

David Yates Dec. 6, 2011, 5:10am

Editor's note: This story has been updated to include a response from Juhan.

Like he says in commercials, Beaumont trial lawyer Jonathan Juhan may not be known as "The Strong Arm" like Brian Loncar or "The Texas Hammer" like Jim Adler, but his name can be found in a recent suit filed by the State Office of Risk Management.

SORM filed suit against Juhan on Dec. 1 in Jefferson County District Court, seeking to collect worker's compensation benefits paid to one of the local attorney's clients.

Court records show that Juhan represented Sjolanda Brown in litigation filed in February 2008. Brown had been in an automobile collision two years earlier. She received worker's compensation benefits from SORM in the amount of $17,510.

On Aug. 19, 2010, Juhan entered into an agreement with SORM, agreeing that the entity would be reimbursed for the benefits paid to Brown, as required by the Texas Labor Code, after he settled the case.

A month later, SORM learned the case had been disposed by means of non-suit.

"SORM never received any money," the suit states.

"Defendant Juhan had actual knowledge or SORM's right to the settlement proceeds. Despite this knowledge, defendant Juhan wrongfully exercised control over the settlement proceeds by accepting the money, thereby causing harm to SORM by depriving it of settlement proceeds to which it had a right to immediate possession."

However, Juhan told the Record that a check for the settlement proceeds was sent to SORM in August 2010, and that he has received no correspondence on the case since.

After learning about the lawsuit, Juhan contacted the insurer, who verified that the check was issued to SORM, but never cashed, likely due to a clerical error. He said the insurer told him a new check is being sent to the state, which will resolve the matter.

SORM has also filed a separate suit against Singhasuk Pattaraporn and Tula Pongprueksa – the parties that caused the automobile collision with Brown.

SORM is seeking actual damages and attorney's fees.

Assistant Attorney General Kevin Molina represents SORM.

Judge Gary Sanderson, 6oth District Court, is assigned to the case.

Case No. B191-407

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