SE Texas Record

Wednesday, January 22, 2020

Martin Phipps non-suits former employee from sealed lawsuit

Attorneys & Judges

By Sara Yonker | Nov 5, 2019


SAN ANTONIO - Three former employees of Phipps Deacon Purnell held on to passwords and login credentials for the firm’s laptops, computers, storage system and phone system and its not clear if they’ve returned them, according to court records. 

The firm's founder, Martin Phipps, one of the attorneys representing Bexar County in its opioid lawsuit, dropped the suit against Jennifer Knox, a paralegal who used to work for his firm, but continues to pursue the case against the firm’s former information technology manager, Enrique Casillas, and its director of human resources, Rebecca Maha.

Firm spokesman TJ Mayes gave the following statement: "The case was field under seal because the court agreed there are strict confidentiality provisions governing it. We are concerned it is getting leaked in violation of the court order and confidentiality provisions. There is an ongoing criminal investigation into the theft of profits of the firm by employees. Embezzlement is an unfortunate fact of life for thousands of businesses."

According to a restraining order filed on Oct. 29, which was under a temporary seal until Tuesday, the employees were ordered to give Phipps the login credentials to a voice over IP phone systems, online file storage systems, and laptop and desktop computers. The original complaint in the case remains under seal. 

The restraining order also prohibited the employees from tampering with a list of other desktops, laptops and iPhones that had been assigned to more than 14 other former employees or transferring, selling, hiding, damaging or using the devices.

The filing also alleges that a hard drive was removed from one of the firm’s printer and scanners in September 2018 and asks for its return and any other removed hard drives.   

A hearing to keep the case under seal had been set for Tuesday morning, but Phipps filed a nonsuit motion late Monday night removing Knox from the case and the hearing was cancelled. Knox last worked at the firm in 2013, according to her Linkedin profile, although before the suit was filed she still had the firm listed as her current employer. Casillas and Maha both left the firm last month.

A video obtained by The Record shows Knox was at the Guadalupe County Commissioners Court back in June with one of Phipps' lawyers who was giving an opioid presentation. 

Phipps is the sole director of Martin J. Phipps PLLC, which has the same address as Phipps Deacon Purnell.

In addition to Bexar County, Phipps is also representing Nueces County in an opioid lawsuit.

A hearing on the sealing order has been slated for Nov. 26, court records show.

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