Millionaire Houston attorney John O’Quinn died in 2009, but his legacy of filing flimsy silicosis cases and cheating his clients lives on.
Three years after his death, a group of former mass tort clients filed suit against John M. O’Quinn & Associates in federal court for the Southern District of Texas-Corpus Christi Division, claiming that the firm overbilled them and destroyed incriminating documents.
O’Quinn & Co. had failed to disburse $55 million in settlement funds promptly, they claimed, and misbilled clients for expensive dinners, hotel rooms, private jet flights, etc.
Ensuring compensation for his clients' claims seemed to be the least of O’Quinn's concerns, trailing far behind enrichment for himself and medical “experts” like the notorious radiologist Ray Harron. Harron lost his license in seven states and took the Fifth before a Congressional committee. Judgments based on his testimony were overturned.
Seven years after O'Quinn's death, another ex-client is speaking out.
Mississippian Clifton Gatlin filed suit in in the Houston Division of the Southern District of Texas on March 9, accusing O’Quinn & Associates of “horrific malfeasance” in failing to process settlements for him and other silica defendants.
Gatlin claims O’Quinn, et al. formed a joint venture to accumulate silicosis cases through legal and illegal means. He says O’Quinn promised him a settlement of “more than $4 million,” but didn't deliver.
“These settlements or claims were lost because the defendants simply failed to process and/or finalize settlement agreements,” Gatlin asserts.
“Had the defendants exercised reasonable diligence, the silicosis defendants would have finalized the foregoing settlements and the plaintiff would have received these funds.”
Gatlin claims the attorneys “erroneously non-suited and dismissed certain silicosis defendants because they were getting close to trial” and that they billed him and other clients for “frivolous” travel and dining expenses.
O'Quinn is gone and can do no more harm to anyone, clients or defendants. What happens to the firm bearing his name will be up to the courts to decide.