An attorney who sued a client for to collect attorney fees she owed in an underlying divorce case is now in trouble with the State Bar of Texas for allegedly revealing confidential information about the client in the fee lawsuit.
The attorney, Dallas solo practitioner Eric Gormly, is also facing a separate disciplinary matter that arose last summer.
The most recent disciplinary case, filed in Dallas County district court on March 15, involve’s Gormly’s representation of a woman in 2012 in connection with a divorce matter between a different woman and her husband. Gormly’s client paid him $6,000 for representing her, said the petition in Commission for Lawyer Discipline v. Gormly.
About five years later, in June 2017, Gormly filed a lawsuit against the client, seeking to recover his attorney fees from her. But in his petition and a later amended petition, Gormly disclosed personal, confidential information about the client and how she was connected to the other woman in the underlying divorce case, alleged the petition. Gormly had gathered the confidential information when he was representing his client in the underlying case. He also revealed personal, confidential information through earlier emails in September 2016, the petition claimed.
Gormly’s client filed a complaint against him with the State Bar of Texas. When the bar’s Office of Chief Disciplinary Counsel sent the complaint to Gormly, he failed to respond to the complaint, as required in the attorney disciplinary rules, said the petition.
The Commission for Lawyer Discipline alleged in the petition that Gormly’s conduct violates rules in the Texas Disciplinary Rules of Professional Conduct that bar an attorney from revealing a client’s confidential information to anyone except the client, client’s representatives, or the lawyer’s own law firm colleagues; using a client’s confidential information to hurt the ex-client; and using a client’s privileged information to benefit the lawyer.
Gormly was served with citation of the lawsuit March 21, and he hasn’t yet filed an answer in the case.
In another pending disciplinary lawsuit, filed in Dallas County district court in June 2017, the Commission for Lawyer Discipline alleged that a woman hired Gormly in a divorce and child custody case. She paid $4,500 to Gormly. At the end, the client asked Gormly for her file and belongings, but he failed to return her papers or property. The commission alleged that his conduct violated a disciplinary rule that requires an attorney to return a client’s papers and property at the termination of representation.
Gormly, who is defending himself pro se, has denied all of the allegations in an answer on July 17, 2017.
He has a past public disciplinary history that lead to his suspension from practicing law for one month from mid-July 2014 to mid-August 2014, and then probation for the next 17 months, ending in January 2016. The agreed judgment in that matter said that Gormly agreed to findings of fact that said he had taken a position that unreasonably increased the costs in a case or unreasonably delayed the resolution of the matter. He also knowingly made false statements of fact or law to a tribunal, and made frivolous claims.
Gormly’s State Bar profile said he earned his law degree from Southern Methodist University Dedman School of Law in 2009 and became licensed to practice law in Texas in 2010. His profile on his law firm website said that he was a television news reporter for 10 years and then earned a Ph.D. and taught journalism and broadcast production at universities. He then returned to school again and earned his law degree. In his law firm, Gormly practices litigation, family law, estate and probate, LGBT Law, media and entertainment and intellectual property.
Gormly didn’t immediately return a call seeking comment.
Claire Mock, spokeswoman of the bar’s Office of Chief Disciplinary Counsel, which represents the commission in the lawsuits, declined to comment.
Angela Morris is a freelance journalist. Follow her on Twitter at @AMorrisReports