SE Texas Record

Tuesday, July 23, 2019

Barratry suit brought against Texas attorneys, plaintiff claims case was ‘transferred’ and settled without consent

By David Yates | May 9, 2019

HOUSTON – A woman is claiming her lawsuit was “transferred” and settled without her consent and knowledge.

Seeking more than $1 million in damages, Lailani Carroll filed suit against Julie Vo, along with attorneys Joe Micah Williams and Paul Thomas Bowers, on May 6 in Harris County District Court.

According to the lawsuit, on July 18, 2016, Carroll was severely injured in a car wreck caused by a negligent driver insured by USAA. Following the collision, she hired Bowers.

Carroll claims she was initially happy with Bowers’ services but grew frustrated by communication failures and his inability to answer basic questions about her case.

In her suit, Carroll claims Vo, a non-attorney, was her point of contact and that she represented herself as attorney with the knowledge and approval of Bowers.

In early 2017, Bowers sold his law practice and “transferred” client files to Williams. Vo solicited and coordinated the “transfer” of the practice, the suit alleges.

Carroll maintains the sale was not disclosed to her and she did not consent to the transfer of her legal matter.

“Despite the lack of a written contract, Williams acted as Plaintiff’s attorney and gathered medical records, including protected Health Information and Sensitive Health Information and contacted insurance companies on behalf of Plaintiff,” the suit states. “Plaintiff called numerous times to inquire about the status of her legal case and was repeatedly told by Vo that the matter was pending.”

On Feb. 11, Carroll elected to terminate Bowers and retain new counsel.

“Within days, Plaintiff learned that her case had settled 1.5 years previously when USAA tendered $30,000 (the maximum policy limits) as full and final settlement of Plaintiff’s claims against its insured,” the suit states.

“Defendants, with intent to obtain economic benefit, solicited employment and instituted a claim for their personal benefit.”

On top of barratry, Carroll is accusing the defendants of conversion of insurance policy proceeds, violating the Texas Theft Liability Act, breach of fiduciary duty and deceptive trade practices.

She is suing for actual and exemplary damages, plus damages for mental anguish.

Houston attorney Kevin Hall represents her.

Case No. 2019-31405

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Harris County District Court USAA