BEAUMONT – Alabaster Inc. is asking a district court judge to reconsider an order compelling arbitration in a lawsuit brought against local attorney Brent Coon, who allegedly mishandled the company’s claim against BP.
The suit was filed in April 2017 and has apparently been “stuck in limbo” for the past 17 months, according to a letter Alabaster recently filed with the court.
According to the lawsuit, Alabaster, a bioremediation cleaning products manufacture, hired Coon and his firm to handle its breach of contract and business disparagement claims against BP relating to the 2010 Deepwater Horizon oil spill.
However, the claims got “lost in the shuffle” with Coon’s “thousands of other” oil spill clients.
After Coon realized the mistake and missed the statute of limitations, he and the firm “fraudulently” induced the company to settle its suit for “pennies on the dollar” and agree to a release, the suit states.
Coon valued Alabaster’s claim at $250,000,000 – actual damages the company is seeking.
A year after this suit was filed, Coon filed a motion to compel arbitration, stating that the agreement between his firm and Alabaster contains a mandatory arbitration clause.
Court records show the motion was granted. On Sept. 25, Alabaster filed a motion to reconsider, stating that Texas law renders unconscionable contracts unenforceable and that the cost of arbitration in this case was too excessive.
“Unlike the plaintiffs, defendants have the good fortune of being able to cover the cost of arbitration,” the motion states. “Defendants have obtained over ‘one billion in verdicts and settlements.’ If defendants’ position is truly that arbitration is the proper forum for this dispute, defendants should be willing to stipulate to pay the costs of arbitration.”
Coon responded to the motion two weeks later, arguing that the cost to arbitrate should be less than $20,000 – a cost that is split between the parties.
Court records show that on Dec. 20 Alabaster wrote a letter to the court stating that because mediation was unsuccessful, it requests the court rules on the motion to reconsider.
“As the court is aware, this case has been stuck in limbo for the last 17 months because plaintiffs simply do not have the financial means to pursue arbitration,” the letter states. “This is one of the rare scenarios where it would be unconscionable to require plaintiffs to arbitrate this dispute because they simply cannot.”
Houston attorney Lance Kassab represents Alabaster.
Judge Mitch Templeton, 172nd District Court, is presiding over the case.
Case No. E-199958