HOUSTON – Instead of handling his client’s BP oil spill claim, attorney Mark Lanier had “more important” things to do, according to a recently filed lawsuit.
Seeking in excess of $1 million in damages, Sheri Allen Dorgan filed suit against Lanier and Charles Herd, a former Lanier Law Firm attorney, on May 7 in Harris County District Court.
On April 20, 2010, a well blowout on Deepwater Horizon in the Gulf of Mexico caused one the most devastating oil spills in history.
Dorgan claims she was “drastically” affected by the incident and claims that she was exposed to benzene and other carcinogenic chemicals, according to her lawsuit.
“The exposure caused blisters, hair loss, respiratory infections and other immune disorders,” the suit states. “Therefore, like many others effected by the Deepwater Horizon disaster, Sheri (Dorgan) contacted lawyers to bring causes of action against British Petroleum (BP).”
In her suit, Dorgan says she hired Lanier and his firm. Herd also worked on her case. When Herd left the firm to start his own, he took her case with him. Yet, Lanier and his firm did not withdraw from representing her and continued to expect compensation from the case.
“Sheri chose Defendants to represent her because they held themselves out as the best lawyers for the task,” the suit states. “Lanier represents that he is ‘one of the top trial attorneys in the United States.
“Lanier appears to have spent as much time accumulating accolades as practicing law.”
After investigating the facts, the “Super Lawyers” filed a complaint on her behalf, affirming that they had evidentiary support to support her case.
“Unfortunately, these Super Lawyers had too many ‘more important’ things to do while handling Sheri’s case and failed to follow the dictates of Judge Carl Barbier, the federal court judge presiding over the underlying case,” the suit states.
“Lanier was too busy accumulating accolades to be distracted by Sheri’s case and Herd was too busy starting his own practice.”
The lawyers allegedly neglected to address at least three orders by Judge Barbier, which led to him issuing a show of cause order on Aug. 20.
“The Super Lawyers failed to timely respond to this show cause order,” the suit states. “Thus, Sheri’s case was dismissed with prejudice on Jan. 31, 2019, because her claims were filed ‘significantly late or not submitted at all.’”
On Feb. 22, Herd filed a motion to reconsider, stating “counsel and his former assistant erroneously thought the proper steps had been taken” and that while “there is not excuse for that mistake, it is Plaintiff’s counsel’s mistake alone.”
“Despite falling on the sword, Judge Barbier denied the motion to reconsider on May 1, 2019, stating that the dismissal was ‘due to the attorneys’ own fault,’” the suit states.
“Accordingly, due solely to the fault of the Super Lawyers, Sheri’s personal injury claims are forever barred and she will never recover for the severe injuries she suffered as a result of the oil spill.”
Dorgan is accusing the attorneys of negligence and gross negligence and seeks to recover actual and exemplary damages, plus damages for emotional distress.
Houston attorney Lance Kassab represents her.
Case No. 2019-31827