HOUSTON – The Pinkerton Law Firm law will have to continue litigating a $13 million lawsuit, as a Texas appellate court recently affirmed a ruling denying its motion to dismiss under the Texas Citizens Participation Act.
In August 2018, The University Cancer Center sued The Pinkerton Law Firm, alleging the firm breached its contract by refusing to pay for medical screening services provided after a benzene release at the BP refinery in Texas City.
In April 2010, a broken hydrogen compressor at the refinery, which is the third largest in the country, caused a flaring incident, releasing massive amounts of toxic chemicals, including benzene.
Many of those affected by the release signed up for legal representation with Pinkerton Law.
The lawsuit says in order to obtain a “positive outcome” for its clients, it was necessary for Pinkerton Law to contract the services of UCC and its medical expert, Dr. Mark D’Andrea.
Pinkerton Law issued a letter of protection to UCC and D’Andrea, stating that: “Upon resolution of this litigation, either by positive settlement or upon payment of jury verdict, your facility will receive payment for services rendered.”
Relying on the letter, UCC provided medical testing, screening and treatment to the firm’s clients to investigate the potential negative health impacts.
The firm settled with BP, a positive outcome, but failed to pay the center.
A court exhibit shows UCC screened more than 1,800 clients at cost ranging from $2,000 to $9,000 per individual – bringing the grand total for services rendered to $13,870,447.59.
The center asserts Pinkerton Law used and benefited from the medical evidence it provided, along with the expert report from D’Andrea.
On appeal, Pinkerton Law contends the trial court erred in denying its TCPA motion because it satisfied its burden to prove that the TCPA applies to the center’s claims and that either the center failed to make a prima facie showing on each element of its claims or Pinkerton Law proved by a preponderance of the evidence that its statute-of-limitations defense defeats them.
The TCPA safeguards free speech by protecting against retaliatory lawsuits.
On Jan. 9, the First Court of Appeals affirmed the ruling denying the firm’s TCPA motion.
UCC is represented by New Braunfels attorney Lamar Treadwell.
Pinkerton Law was founded by Chad Pinkerton.
Trial cause No. 2018-58725
Appeals case No. 01-19-00089