Arnold & Itkin are seeking summary judgment in a $4 million suit brought by a man alleging the Houston law firm refused to pay him for personal injury clients he solicited for the lawyers.
As previously reported, plaintiff Richard Fleisher, who is more than 80 years old, filed suit against Kurt Arnold and Jason Itkin, along with former Arnold Itkin attorney Michael Pierce, on July 6 in Harris County District Court.
Fleisher, an investigative consultant out of Friendswood, claims the attorneys failed to honor an oral agreement between them that promised him a cut of personal injury cases that he referred to the firm.
Court records show that on Oct. 5 Arnold and Itkin filed a motion for summary judgment, contending that no oral agreement ever existed.
The motion argues that even if Fleisher’s allegations were true, an oral contract between them would be illegal and unenforceable since only attorneys can share in legal fees in return for referring cases; and that Fleisher’s claims are barred by the statute of limitations.
According to the lawsuit, in January of 2006 Arnold & Itkin hired Fleisher to investigate the firm’s personal injury cases.
Not long after, Arnold allegedly asked Fleisher to send him personal injury cases. An oral agreement was discussed to pay Fleisher 10 percent of the gross settlement.
On April 21, 2008, the parties changed the agreement – 12.5 percent of the attorneys’ cut without deducting taxes would go to Fleisher and the attorneys agreed to increase his hourly fee from $75 to $100.
“The quid pro quo in exchange for the above oral contract was for the plaintiff to refer new personal injury cases to the defendants, Arnold & Itkin,” the suit states.
From January 2006 to July 6, 2011, Fleisher conducted full field investigations for the majority of Arnold & Itkin cases, until the attorneys breached their contract.
Arnold and Itkin argue that since Fleisher waited four years to file his suit, the statute of limitations, which is two years, has elapsed.
The suit states that up to and including July 6, 2011, the lawyers breached the contract by tortious criminal intent to defraud Fleisher, including subornation of perjury, perjury and extortion in concert with defendant Michael E. Pierce.
Fleisher’s income dropped from $200,000 to $20,000 and his credit score plummeted as a result of the alleged breach.
“Also, the singular motivating factor to enter into the oral agreement … was to accumulate a retirement fund,” the suit states.
“The (defendants) were well aware of that. Nonetheless, they conspired … to conceal the amounts at issue from the resulting investigative work and referral of new cases.
“The defendants’ rationale was they would have to wait until the disposition of … federal judge Samuel Kent’s impeachment in as much as Kurt Arnold was previously his clerk for a number of years.”
Kent plead guilty to obstruction of justice in 2009. He admitted to nonconsensual sexual contact with two women who worked for him at the federal courthouse in Galveston.
Fleisher seeks liquidated damages in the amount of $4 million, plus punitive damages and court costs, including attorney’s fees.
He is representing himself.
Arnold and Itkin are asking that the action be dismissed with prejudice.
They are represented by Jeremy Doyle, attorney for the Houston law firm Reynolds Frizzell.
Court records also show that Pierce filed a motion for summary judgment on Oct. 1.
Case No. 2015-38614