Dugas files another suit over shared attorneys' fees

By Kelly Holleran | May 11, 2009


A prominent Beaumont attorney who says he was terminated from a case in which he was supposed to earn 40 percent of the attorneys' fees has filed a lawsuit against an Austin man, another attorney and a law firm.

On May 6 Clay Dugas filed a lawsuit in Jefferson County District Court against Richard Woods, Elizabeth Higginbotham and Higginbotham and Associates.

In the suit, Dugas contends Woods hired him to represent Woods in a breach of contract for commission claim filed in Travis County against Hill Country Harley Davidson and Terry Gregorika.

According to the complaint, Dugas was supposed to receive 40 percent interest in the claims owned by Woods, and Woods was supposed to pay all expenses Dugas incurred in prosecution of the case.

Dugas's suit against Higginbotham is very similar to another complaint he filed May 4.

In the latest suit, Dugas claims that -- with the permission of his client Woods -- he asked Higginbotham to act as local counsel on the case.

On April 30, Dugas received a letter from Woods terminating him as his attorney.

Woods went on to win $600,000, of which Dugas was scheduled to receive 40 percent, the lawsuit alleges.

However, because Woods fired Dugas, the lawyer says he lost the attorneys' fees to which he was entitled, plus the amount of money he spent prosecuting the claim.

"Plaintiff filed the petition and expended tremendous time and effort prosecuting the claim, and incurred thousands of dollars in expenses in reliance on the contract," the suit states.

Higginbotham is named as a co-defendant in the lawsuit because she interfered with Dugas's contract, he says.

Dugas is seeking breach of contract damages from Woods.

The Beaumont attorney is also seeking interference with contract damages from Higginbotham and Higginbotham and Associates.

In addition, he is also asking the court to award him 40 percent of the claim Woods brought against Hill Country Harley Davidson and Gregorika and to declare that Woods must protect Dugas's 40 percent.

Dugas is asking for attorney's fees, pre- and post-judgment interest, costs and any other relief to which he may be entitled.

In the May 4 lawsuit, Dugas says Higginbotham, another attorney and a doctor conspired against him to terminate him from a case in which he was scheduled to split attorneys' fees.

Dugas, of the law firm Clay Dugas and Associates, will be representing himself.

The case has been assigned to Judge Gary Sandeson, 60th District Court.

Jefferson County District Court case number: B183-987.

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