Southeast Texas Record

Tuesday, April 7, 2020

Despite big opioid cases, two partners leave Phipps Deacon to start their own firm

Attorneys & Judges

By David Yates | Dec 18, 2019


SAN ANTONIO – Attorneys leaping from one law firm to another is a common enough occurrence, but the timing of two partners departing Phipps Deacon Purnell seems somewhat strange, as the firm is currently representing Bexar County in a billion dollar opioid lawsuit.

Daniel Griffin and Simon Purnell appear to have left Phipps Deacon around the same time to start their own firm, Griffin Purnell PLLC.

According to his LinkedIn page, Griffin, a toxic tort specialist working out of the Greater Milwaukee area, was a partner at Phipps Deacon from December 2018 to December 2019.

He now lists his himself as the founding partner of Griffin Purnell.

Purnell, a Corpus Christi attorney, was a partner at Phipps Deacon from September 2017 to November 2019, according to his LinkedIn page.

He now lists Griffin Purnell as his most current experience.

The Record attempted to email Griffin at his Phipps Deacon address but the message was blocked.

The response from the remote server was: “Recipient address rejected: Access denied.”

An email was also sent to Purnell, who did not respond.

The Record called Phipps Deacon and was told by an employee of the firm that there was no information as to whether the two attorneys were still on the payroll.

Martin Phipps, a founding partner at Phipps Deacon, did not return a request for comment.

This is not the firm time Phipps has opted not to respond to a request for comment.

Last month, The Record reported on documents showing that Phipps may have made possible “straw man” contributions to judicial candidates through a former employee.

The Record has also extensively reported on a sealed lawsuit Phipps brought against former employees of his.

The suit was filed in late October and drew the attention of other media outlets. Before a hearing to permanently seal could take place in late November, Phipps non-suited the remaining defendants.

Phipps’ firm also represents several other Texas counties in opioid lawsuits, some of which appear to have failed to have their contingency fee contracts approved by the Comptroller’s Office before a new law went into effect on Sept. 1 that now places contract approval in the hands of the Attorney General’s Office.

One of the counties Phipps represents is Brooks County – a county that, along with Phipps, also hired its own county attorney, a relationship that seemingly came into conflict with the Texas Local Government Code.

Last April, The Record reported on a $100,000 donation Phipps made to former Bexar County District Attorney Nico LaHood – the man who hired Phipps and three other firms to represent the county in its opioid lawsuit.

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