SE Texas Record

Tuesday, July 23, 2019

File a phony suit and get what’s coming to you

Our View

By The Record | Dec 11, 2018

If you’re a scrupulous plaintiffs attorney and a prospective client asks you to represent him in a suit against his former employer for an on-the-job injury, you want to verify at least two things before initiating litigation over the claim: that the prospective client was in fact injured, and that the injury actually occurred on the job.

That would seem to be the bare minimum for due diligence in an officer of the court.

Not all plaintiffs attorneys are scrupulous, however. Sad, but true.

Some plaintiffs attorneys have been known to file frivolous suits demanding huge reparations in the hope of securing an out-of-court settlement from a defendant unwilling to waste a lot of time and money going to trial. The payoff is far less substantial, but it’s easy money.

If such attorneys have been duped by their clients, that’s one thing. If, however, they know their clients’ claims are bogus, then they’re complicit in the scam. They and their clients both are attempting to perpetrate a fraud on the defendant and the court, and both should be held to account and suffer appropriate consequences.

Into which category attorney Kurt Arnold of Arnold & Itkin and his client, Jake Kemp, may fall is yet to be determined, but the defendant targeted by them is crying foul and fighting back.

A year ago last August, Arnold filed suit in Jefferson County District Court on behalf of Kemp, who claims that he was injured on the job while working for LaBelleCo Fab, a Beaumont-based provider of pipe and structural steel fabrication. He and his client are seeking $1 million in damages.

Kemp claims he was severely injured when he was electrocuted by a tool he was using and thrown against other equipment.

Two weeks ago, LaBelleCo filed a counterclaim and motion for sanctions, pointing out that a full year of discovery has produced no evidence to support Kemp’s “frivolous” claim and asserting that Arnold should have known it was “fictitious.”

Whoever’s lying should get zapped with court charges, legal fees and sanctions. 

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Arnold and Itkin LLP

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