BEAUMONT – Around a week after the court was notified that Texas oilman Bill Kallop had died, local blogger Philip Klein filed a motion challenging the authority of a Houston lawyer to defend the late businessman’s companies.
Jeffrey Dorrell, a Hanszen and Laporte attorney representing the Kallop defendants, says the move “is just the latest in a long string of tactics” by Klein to “harass” his clients.
The case in question is a heated one.
In April 2017, Klein Investigations filed a breach of contract suit against Kallop Enterprises and several other Kallop companies, seeking several hundreds of thousands of dollars in damages for services allegedly rendered.
In July, Klein and his attorney, John Morgan, secured a default judgment against the defendants worth more than $569,000, court records show. Judge Justin Sanderson, who has since withdrawn from the case, awarded the judgment.
In turn, the defendants unsuccessfully moved for a new trial, arguing that both the process service and returns of service were fatally defective, court records show.
Sanderson’s ruling was appealed and the Ninth Court of Appeals found he erred.
On May 6, Dorrell filed a suggestion of death, stating Kallop died on March 24, court records show.
Nine days later, Klein filed his motion to show authority.
“Plaintiffs have been informed by … Mr. Dorrell that Mr. William Kallop is deceased,” the motion states. “Since Plaintiffs in good faith believe Mr. William Kallop had the controlling interest in all of the Defendant companies, his death would remove authority from Mr. Dorrell and his law firm, Hanszen Laporte, to represent the Defendants.”
On April 24, nearly a month before the motion was filed, a Letters Testamentary was issued by a Harris County probate court, naming Kallop’s son, Brent M. Kallop, co-independent executor of his late father’s estate.
Within minutes of receiving Klein’s motion, Dorrell says he gave Klein’s counsel, John Morgan, a copy.
“The younger Mr. Kallop has stated his intention to continue my successful legal defense of his father’s companies in the suit brought by Klein Investments two years ago,” Dorrell said. “This, in turn, is sufficient to show my authority to act on the defendants’ behalf.”
Dorrell says Morgan immediately agreed to “stand down” on Klein’s motion because “it was obvious we would be able to show our authority.”
“This is just the latest in a long string of tactics by Klein to harass the defendants, silence them, strike their pleadings, sanction them, and even deprive them of the attorney of their choice,” Dorrell said. “Although we certainly understand why Mr. Klein would prefer a different opposing counsel than my firm, we believe his latest attempt to question our authority to act has now been disposed of.
“My clients strongly believe the Klein Investments lawsuit is legally and factually groundless. We look forward to demonstrating this to the court at our earliest opportunity.”
Klein’s lawyer, Morgan, has instructed the Record not to seek comment from him.
Judge Sanderson presides over the 60th District Court.
Appeals case No. 09-17-00333-CV
Jefferson County District Court cause No. B-199953-A