A new lead attorney has been designated in a suit accusing a Port Arthur law firm of spending more than $300,000 of the late John Harvey Strozier’s money without permission.

As previously reported, Stephanie Nichols, representing her father’s estate, filed suit against attorney James Wimberley and his firm, McPherson, Hughes, Bradley, Wimberley, Steel, Chatelain & Williams, on July 26 in Jefferson County District Court.

The suit was filed through Houston attorney Ross Sears II of Sears Crawford.

Court records show that on May 9 Nichols designated Houston attorney Ron Lovett as attorney in charge.

Sears will continue to serve as co-counsel and as attorney of record in the case.

The lawsuit alleges that from November 2009 to Oct. 19, 2010, Strozier had an attorney-client relationship with the firm. He issued two checks to the firm totaling $313,000 to hold in trust, allegedly for a possible future joint venture with another entity.

Upon investigation, there does not appear to be any documentation indicating Strozier ever authorized the firm to disburse any of the trust fund money to any party, the suit states.

“It was not until after Mr. Stozier’s death on March 22, 2011, that plaintiff … learned of this problem between the parties,” the suit states.

Nichols is accusing the defendants of breach of contract and breach of fiduciary duty.

She is seeking actual damages in the amount of $313,000, plus punitive damages.

Judge Milton Shuffield, 136th District Court, is assigned to the case.

Case No. D192-736

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