HIDALGO COUNTY – The Commission for Lawyer Discipline, an arm of the State Bar of Texas, has filed a disciplinary petition against attorney Kent Livesay, who allegedly demanded damages from Allstate on behalf of a client he did not represent.
Seeking a judgment of professional misconduct, the commission filed the petition Aug. 8 in Hidalgo County, arguably the birthplace of mass hailstorm litigation.
According to the petition, on March 21, 2015, a man identified as “Frank” approached the Pharr home of Jesus and Solia Esparza, saying he observed alleged hail damage to the couple’s roof.
“Frank solicited the Esparzas to retain the professional employment of R. Kent Livesay on property damage claims against Allstate … and directed (them) to sign documents,” the petition states. “The Esparzas never met with (Livesay), never (spoke to him) … and never requested to be contacted by (him) … regarding legal representation.”
On April 3, 2015, Livesay sent a letter of representation to Allstate that he had been retained to represent Jesus Esparza on a claim for hail damage.
Using case runners to solicit clients for attorneys is a form of barratry and illegal in Texas. Allegations of law firms using insurance adjusters and contractors to procure clients following major storms have begun to surface the past year.
The petition also cites another example of alleged misconduct by Livesay.
Felix and Yolanda Garcia own a house in Zapata and are insured through State Auto. In July of 2014, a roofer named Fernando initiated contact with the couple at their home about hail damage to their roof.
“Fernando solicited the Garcias to retain the professional employment of R. Kent Livesay on property damage claims against State Auto and directed the Garcias to sign documents that Fernando presented in their home,” the petition states.
“Following this meeting, (Livesay) sent the Garcia’s insurance company a notice letter that he was representing (them) on a claim damage to their roof.”
The petition alleges Livesay violated the following Texas Disciplinary Rules of Professional Conduct:
- 1.02(a)(1) A lawyer shall abide by a client’s decisions concerning representation;
- 7.03(a) A lawyer shall not seek professional employment concerning a particular event;
- 7.03(b) A lawyer shall not pay a person not licensed to practice law to solicit clients;
- 7.06(b) A lawyer shall not accept or continue employment when the lawyers knows that employment was procured in violation of the rules;
- 8.04(a)(1); A lawyer shall not violate the rules are knowing induce another to do so; and
- 8.04(a)(3) A lawyer shall not engage in conduct involving dishonesty, fraud, deceit or misrepresentation.
Chief Disciplinary Counsel Linda Acevedo is representing the commission.
Case No. C-3667-16-J