An outside judge has been called in to hear a lawsuit brought by the Provost Umphrey against a former equity partner, attorney Paul ‘Chip’ Ferguson Jr.
Ferguson resigned from the Beaumont law firm on Aug. 3 and then filed a lawsuit, which was immediately sealed, against PU the following day in Jefferson County District Court.
Although Ferguson has since non-suited PU, the firm filed a lawsuit of its own against him on Aug. 24, seeking a court order to force the attorney into arbitration, court records show.
PU’s case landed in Judge Donald Floyd’s 172nd District Court.
A court order, dated Aug. 24, shows Floyd recused himself and that Judge Gary Sanderson, 60th District Court, referred the case to a visiting judge.
Judge Olen Underwood of the Second Judicial Administrative Region of Texas will now preside over the litigation, according to the court order.
On Aug. 21 Judge Sanderson, at the request of Ferguson, non-suited PU without prejudice.
Three days later, PU filed its suit, asserting a Jan. 1, 2012 partnership agreement in place between the parties contains a broad and mandatory arbitration clause.
According to the lawsuit, Ferguson is claiming he is not bound by the agreement and that he is entitled to “much more than a departing partner is entitled to receive” under the agreement.
“Because the disputes at issue are subject to a binding arbitration provision, this court should both compel arbitration and stay the proceedings pending a final resolution in the arbitration,” the suit states. “At that point, this court should enter a final judgment in accord with the arbitration results and dismiss this action.”
Ferguson has handled several prized cases for PU, which includes scoring a $32 million jury verdict against Domino’s Pizza in 2013 – a top five verdict in Texas that year, according to the National Law Journal.
He is represented by Glen Morgan, a partner at Reaud Morgan & Quinn.
Attorney Fields Alexander of the Houston law firm Beck Redden represents PU.
Case Nos. B-197407 (Ferguson v. PU) and E-197460 (PU v. Ferguson)