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On Jan. 24, according to Darlina Brown’s complaint, her husband, Michael, came home after drinking, found his pregnant wife watching television, pulled out a gun and threatened to kill himself, reported plaintiffs’ attorney Tommy Fibich. “She went to another room to call her mother, but he dragged her back into the bedroom.” At that point, Fibich said, Michael Brown “tore one of the posts off the four poster bed and began hitting her with it.” She escaped to another room, where she called the Montgomery County, Texas, sheriff’s office. Her husband was charged with aggravated assault, Fibich said. The charge is pending. After the incident, Darlina Brown filed for divorce and enforcement of a prenuptial agreement. She also filed a tort claim against her husband, charging assault, aggravated assault and intentional infliction of emotional distress. Brown’s divorce lawyer, Wendy Burgess, first approached Fibich about the assault claim. “I filed it within the divorce claim, thinking [Michael] Brown would make the court have separate trials” — one on the divorce and one on the assault and intentional infliction counts, Fibich said. But the defense didn’t ask for any separation, so the tort action stayed within the divorce case. This aided his client, he said, because the jury heard evidence on other allegations of “bad behavior” that might otherwise have been excluded. Michael Brown, a well-known Houston-area hand surgeon, filed a counterclaim seeking a jury finding that his wife had converted 28 items from his house, including a box containing $100,000. In any trial over a domestic disturbance, Fibich noted, “typically you have a he said/she said, problem.” In this trial, Brown contended that his wife “was the aggressor, that she pulled the gun on him.” To counter this, the plaintiff introduced the tape of the call to the sheriff’s department, “where she’s begging the police ‘Get here, he’s going to kill me.’” On Oct. 19, a Conroe, Texas, jury awarded Darlina Brown $3.56 milion, including $3 million for mental anguish. The jury rejected Michael Brown’s claims of conversion, except regarding his letters to his daughter. The jury placed no monetary value on the letters. The jury also awarded Darlina Brown $355,000 for the value of the prenuptial agreement. On Oct. 22, the jury added $2 million in punitives, for a total award of $5.56 million. Plaintiff’s attorneys: Tommy Fibich and Michael Leebron, Fibich, Hampton, Leebron & Garth, Houston; Wendy Burgower, Wendy Burgower & Associates, Houston. Defense attorney: Steve Rocken Rosen, Law Office of Rocket Rosen, Houston.

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