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Campaign Contributions Texas lawyers, mostly plaintiffs attorneys, were big individual contributors to statewide and legislative candidates in Texas during the 2006 “gubernatorial election cycle.” Giving totaled $158 million during the cycle, up 32 percent from the $120 million raised by candidates for those offices during the comparable 2002 election cycle, according to a report prepared by Austin-based Texans for Public Justice and made public on Sept. 27. The list of the top 141 individual donors to all candidates and political action committees � those who gave at least $100,000 � includes 21 Texas lawyers. Fred Baron and Lisa Blue, partners in Baron & Blue in Dallas, are in the third spot on the list, contributing $2.1 million to candidates during the election cycle. Ninth on the list is John M. O’Quinn, a partner in the O’Quinn Law Firm in Houston, who gave $1.1 million to candidates. Contributions by Walter Umphrey, a partner in the Provost H Umphrey Law Firm in Beaumont, totaled $525,889, placing him 17th, and John Eddie Williams Jr., a partner in Williams Kherkher in Houston, gave $496,385 to candidates during the election cycle to come in 19th on the list. Other lawyers who made big-bucks donations, according to the TPJ report, are Russell W. Budd, a shareholder in Baron & Budd in Dallas who donated $301,370 to take the 40th spot, and Harold W. Nix, founding member in Nix Patterson & Roach in Daingerfield, who gave $287,625 to place 41st during the cycle. Coming in 59th on the list are W. Mark Lanier, a partner in the Houston-based Lanier Law Firm, and his wife Becky, who gave $196,000 to candidates. Richard Mithoff, a partner in the Mithoff Law Firm in Houston, and his wife, Ginni, are 66th, for giving $190,100, while Houston plaintiffs lawyers Michael Gallagher, a partner in the Gallagher Law Firm, and Joseph D. Jamail, a partner in Jamail & Kolius in Houston, each gave a bit more than $150,000 to statewide and legislative candidates in Texas during the election cycle. Gallagher was 92nd and Jamail was 93rd on the list. According to the report, lawyers and lobbyists, taken as a group and including individuals and institutional donors, gave $23 million to candidates during the election cycle, accounting for 15 percent of $158 million raised by candidates. Messing With Texas An Alabama company filed a suit in state district court in Dallas County on Sept. 20 seeking to vacate a $3.6 million arbitration award against it. In its Petition to Vacate Arbitration Award, Kimco Birmingham L.P. alleges that two of the three Texas arbitrators exceeded their powers under the arbitration agreement and disregarded the law, and alleges one of the two was not impartial. In the suit, Kimco Birmingham asks 44th District Judge Carlos Cortez of Dallas to vacate the Final Award of Arbitrators in the underlying suit, Third Creek LLC, et al. v. Kimco Birmingham L.P. On Sept. 11, following an arbitration in Dallas, arbitrators Robert H. Frost and Earl F. Hale Jr. signed the final award ordering Kimco Birmingham to pay $3,003,345 in actual damages, plus $578,541 in attorneys’ fees and expenses including arbitrator compensation, to the respondents, St. Louis-based Third Creek, and Matthias D. Renner Family LLC and Kenneth J. Weber Family LLC, both based in Missouri. The third arbitrator, Glen M. Ashworth, a former judge of the 86th District Court in Kaufman County, dissented from the award. A lawyer for the respondents in the arbitration, Ladd Hirsch, a partner in Diamond McCarthy in Dallas, says his clients prevailed in the arbitration proceeding and “we feel very confident in our position.” He adds, “There’s nothing remarkable about this case that would suggest any relief is appropriate.” A lawyer for Kimco Birmingham, G. Michael Gruber, a partner in Dallas-based Gruber Hurst Johansen & Hail, declines comment. The underlying litigation stems from a dispute over terms of a 2004 purchase and sale agreement for a shopping center near Birmingham, and the terms of a January 2005 letter that modified the agreement. Kimco Birmingham sold the shopping center to Third Creek and the two investment corporations. In the petition seeking to vacate, Kimco Birmingham alleges Frost, former judge of the 116th District Court in Dallas County, and Hale, of Earl F. Hale Jr. Mediator Arbitrator ADR Services in Dallas, disregarded the four corners of the 2004 purchase agreement and the 2005 letter when issuing their arbitration decision. The parties are in a dispute over who should pay for some work on the land that’s necessary because of sloughing of the slope of land. In May, the respondents filed a statement of claim and demand for arbitration with JAMS in Dallas. Following a two-day arbitration in July, the panel issued the final award on Sept. 11. In the petition seeking to vacate, Kimco Birmingham alleges Frost and Hale exceeded their powers as arbitrators by issuing an award in contravention of provisions in the purchase agreement calling for the respondents to assume all liability for design defects and by ignoring the provision of the agreement that limits Kimco Birmingham’s liability to a maximum of $500,000. Kimco Birmingham further alleges the respondents and their lawyers engaged in “significant and substantive” ex parte communications with Hale in the several months before filing their statement of claim seeking arbitration, and Hale failed to disclose it when he was appointed as an arbitrator at the respondents’ request. Hale did not return a telephone call seeking comment. There was no answer at a telephone listing for Frost in Dallas. Ashworth, the dissenting arbitrator, declines to discuss the arbitration. But he wrote in the Sept. 11 final award: “The Award rendered by the majority of the Panel is not supported by the preponderance of the evidence or the applicable Alabama law.” Hirsch says allegations that Hale and Frost failed to follow the agreement or the law are baseless. He also says Hale, the arbitrator designated by his clients, and Ashworth, who was Kimco Birmingham’s pick, together selected Frost for the team, and there was nothing wrong with anyone from his firm or his clients talking to Hale during that process. On Sept. 26, the respondents filed a notice seeking to move the suit from state court to the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Texas.

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