Two suits filed against law firm Greenberg Traurig relating to Brown Medical Center, surgeon

By Dawn Geske | Aug 19, 2016

HOUSTON – A prominent national law firm is in lawsuit with a former medical center client over attorney fees that the plaintiff alleges have been paid.

Elizabeth M. Guffy, the bankruptcy estate agent for Brown Medical Center Inc., has filed a lawsuit against the law firm Greenberg Traurig looking to take back $2.2 million in attorney fees that she says have been paid by the medical center. The case, Guffy v. Greenberg Traurig LLP, is being tried in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Texas.

Greenberg Traurig represented Brown Medical Center and surgeon Michael Brown in a bankruptcy case that later had it filing for Chapter 11 protection in 2011. Prior to that, the company was allegedly unable to pay its bills because of a decline in business and mounting lawsuits against the company.

Guffy claims that the $2.2 million was paid to Greenberg Traurig throughout 2012 using funds from Brown Medical Center. Greenberg Traurig purportedly proceeded to bill other companies owned by Brown for representation that totaled $2.7 million. Guffy claims the $2.2 million in question has been paid.

Greenberg Traurig asked that the case be dismissed, citing that Guffy can’t specifically show the funds for representation came from Brown Medical Center. In her case, Guffy was able to pinpoint seven times that the funds indeed came from Brown Medical Center, claiming that this is enough evidence to void Greenberg Traurig’s argument that it wasn’t paid by Brown Medical Center.

Brown, who was represented by Greenberg Traurig in past lawsuits, died in November 2013. Brown’s widow, Rachel Brown, filed another lawsuit against Greenberg Traurig, alleging that the law firm helped her late husband set up false companies as a way to hide money from his legitimate business. She claims this was in violation of court orders that specifically prevented Brown from withdrawing cash and writing checks, which were obtained during the couple’s divorce proceedings.

Rachel Brown claims that Greenberg Traurig helped her late husband hid assets by helping to set up a series of businesses such as ProMed LLC and MG Brown Co. LLC that had no business purpose other than to funnel money. Brown was forced to give up his medical license, but continued to operate Surgeon's Management Inc., where he provided physician consulting for payment.

Brown allegedly was withdrawing large amounts of money from SMI, which Rachel Brown had an order put in place to stop during their divorce proceeding. Brown purportedly continued these actions up until his death, which Rachel Brown says was counseled by Greenberg Traurig. Brown allegedly used the money to buy expensive cars and a yacht. Greenberg Traurig maintains that the damages that Rachel Brown is seeking were not caused by its firm.

Rachel Brown is being represented by Mynde Shaune Eisen. In this case, Greenberg Traurig has sought representation by James R. Leahy and Christopher Andrew Verducci from Locke Lord LLP.

In the Guffy case against Greenberg Traurig, attorneys William Greendylke and Jason Lee Boland of Norton Rose Fulbright US LLP are representing Greenberg Traurig in the matter while representation for Guffy is being presented by attorneys Timothy M. McCloskey, Blake E. Rizzo and Thomas A. Woolley of Carrigan McCloskey & Roberson LLP.

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Greenberg Traurig, LLP U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Texas

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