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Judge Throws Out Claims Against Alleged 'Sexual Predator' LawyerA Texas judge's order granted defense motions for partial summary judgment and dismissed most of the claims in a civil suit that alleged Houston lawyer Richard N. Laminack is a "sexual predator" who participated in an effort to defraud fen-phen clients by overcharging them for expenses. Angela Robinson, a former paralegal at Laminack's current and former firms, had alleged that Laminack once offered her $15,000 to stay with him in a hotel room in Las Vegas, among other things.
Texas Lawyer2009-04-06 12:00:00 AM
A judge's April 1 order granted defense motions for partial summary judgment and dismissed most of the claims in a civil suit that alleged Houston lawyer Richard N. Laminack is a "sexual predator" who participated in an effort to defraud fen-phen clients by overcharging them for expenses.
In the order, 295th District Judge Tracy Christopher of Houston granted motions for partial summary judgment filed by Laminack and his current and former firms, dismissing all claims except the causes of action under the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA). [See the judge's Order Granting Partial Summary Judgments.]
"Hooray," Laminack says when asked about Christopher's order. He says, "It emphasizes what we've said all along. There is zero, zero truth to any of her allegations."
The defendants include Laminack; his current firm; and the O'Quinn Law Firm, formerly known as O'Quinn, Laminack & Pirtle. In 2006, Laminack and Thomas Pirtle left O'Quinn, Laminack to form Laminack, Pirtle & Martines, and John O'Quinn renamed O'Quinn, Laminack the O'Quinn Law Firm.
In her July 2008 petition in Angela Robinson v. Richard N. Laminack, et al. , Robinson, a former paralegal at Laminack's current and former firms, alleged the prominent plaintiffs lawyer is a "sexual predator" who once offered her $15,000 to stay with him in a hotel room in Las Vegas over a weekend and once suggested she perform a sexual act on an expert witness to improve his mood and testimony. [See the Plaintiff's Original Petition.]
In the petition, Robinson further alleged that Laminack would "routinely demand sexual favors" from female and male employees of the firms; "those giving into Laminack's appetite secured job security, raises, bonuses and promotions," and those who didn't risked getting fired.
Laminack, managing partner of Laminack, Pirtle, denied the allegations, using words such as "silly" and "ridiculous and not true." [See "Plaintiff Alleges Partner Wanted Sexual Favors From Employees," Texas Lawyer, Aug. 4, 2008.]
Robinson, who worked on fen-phen litigation while employed at the firms, also alleged in her petition that the defendants engaged in mail fraud under 18 U.S.C. §1962 for mailing settlement statements to fen-phen clients that contained overcharges for medical records. She alleged she told Laminack of the "unlawful scheme to defraud thousands of Fen-Phen litigation clients" but he "told her to be quiet and not inform anyone of this" and he directed the firms to mail the settlement statements containing the charges.
Laminack and the firms denied the allegations, and on April 1 Christopher dismissed all but the FLSA claims.
Plaintiff's attorney Spencer Markle, of counsel at McKinney & Cooper in Houston, declines comment on Christopher's order, as does McKinney & Cooper partner Andrew McKinney IV, who also is listed on pleadings as Robinson's counsel.
But Dale Jefferson, a partner in Martin, Disiere, Jefferson & Wisdom in Houston who represents the O'Quinn Law Firm; Stewart Hoffer, a shareholder in Munsch, Hardt, Kopf & Harr in Houston who represents Laminack's firm; and Jimmy Williamson, a partner in Williamson & Rusnak in Houston who represents Richard Laminack, say Christopher made the correct ruling.
"The record will now show that in fact these allegations were indeed what we described — which were foolish, silly and untrue," Jefferson says. "It's almost ironic that Judge Christopher signed the order effectively dismissing almost every claim that Angela Robinson made on April Fools' Day, because these claims were foolish."
Williamson says Christopher's order transforms the litigation into a "normal human resources employee dispute," which he says "can play out however the legal system thinks is appropriate."
"It is appropriate that the sensational stuff is gone," Williamson says.
In her order, Christopher noted that all defendants had moved for traditional and no-evidence partial motions for summary judgment on all causes except for Robinson's claims under the FLSA. Christopher also wrote in the order that the plaintiff's response "fails to raise any issues to defeat the motions."
The judge quoted the plaintiff's entire March 23 response:
Plaintiff would show that the Defendants have failed to meet their burden of proof. Plaintiff would show that the evidence is insufficient to support Summary Judgments. Plaintiff would show that the motions are premature in that the Defendants have failed to respond to discovery seeking relevant information and evidence which goes to the very heart of the matters at issue and accordingly should not be granted until all relevant outstanding discovery has been answered.
Laminack and the defense attorneys say the only claims remaining are Robinson's allegations that the firms didn't pay her overtime. In the petition, Robinson, who alleges she worked under Laminack's supervision at O'Quinn, Laminack and at Laminack, Pirtle from May 2002 until her "wrongful termination" on April 14, 2008, seeks unpaid overtime wages under the FLSA totaling $27,500, an equal amount in penalties, plus attorneys' fees and costs. The defendants deny the allegations.