BEAUMONT – The Texas Supreme Court has ruled a local church has a claim against a defendant who was previously awarded summary judgment in litigation brought over the theft of funds from a $1 million Hurricane Rita settlement.
As previously reported, First United Pentecostal Church (The Anchor of Beaumont) filed a lawsuit Feb. 21, 2012, in Jefferson County District Court against Lamb Law Firm, Kip Lamb, attorney Leigh Parker and former Anchor pastor Lonnie C. Treadway.
Lamb, who represented the church in its Rita suit, was charged with two counts of misapplication of fiduciary property.
The church contends Parker was involved in a joint venture with Lamb and intentionally made misrepresentations to conceal Lamb’s theft of the funds.
In July 2012, Parker moved for summary judgment but was non-suited before the motion was heard.
The church then amended its petition and again named Parker as a defendant, a move compelling him to reassert his traditional and no-evidence summary judgment motion, court records show.
The trial court found in favor of Parker and on Sept. 22, 2014, the church appealed, arguing the court erred because the evidence raises questions of material fact as to the church’s claims against Parker.
On Aug. 13, 2015, the Ninth Court of Appeals found the church’s aiding and abetting claim fails, concluding the trial court did not err in granting summary judgment in favor of Parker as to the church’s claims for breach of fiduciary duty, civil conspiracy, joint enterprise and aiding and abetting.
On March 17, the Texas Supreme Court affirmed the appellate court’s judgment on the church’s claims for civil conspiracy, aiding and abetting, and joint venture.
However, the high court concluded the church does indeed have a breach claim against Parker.
“We reverse and remand to the trial court the church’s claim that it is entitled to equitable remedies as to Parker for breach of fiduciary duties he owed to the church,” the opinion states.
According to the plaintiff's original petition, the church alleges it was awarded $1.09 million from a settlement with Lloyds Insurance Co. in 2006 for damages caused to its property by Hurricane Rita.
Following the settlement, Treadway and the church put the money into a trust account held by the Lamb Law Firm to protect the funds from potential judgment creditors in another pending lawsuit against the church, court records show.
Trial case No. B191-999
Appeals case No. 2010413-CV
Texas Supreme Court case No. 15-0708