One of the occupational hazards of suing plaintiffs lawyers is that sometimes they sue back. That’s what Bill Voss, his firm and some of his clients, among others, just found out in McGuire, et al. v. Voss, et al.

Part of Voss’ practice involves representing doctors and clinics that file breach-of-contract suits against plaintiffs lawyers who allegedly fail to honor their letters of protection. Letters of protection are agreements between a plaintiffs lawyer and a health-care provider in which the doctor or clinic agrees to forgo payment from the lawyer’s injured client until the client’s suit is resolved favorably. The plaintiffs lawyer agrees to pay the doctor or clinic from the settlement or jury verdict proceeds. [See "Turning the Tables," Texas Lawyer, April 4, 2011, page 1.]

Now Frederick L. McGuire, one of the lawyers sued by Voss’ clients, is firing back in his own lawsuit, seeking $127,568.39 in actual damages — the exact amount Voss’ clients are seeking in economic damages against McGuire in a Liberty County case, Danna v. McGuire.

On July 16, McGuire and his Liberty firm, the Law Offices of Frederick L. McGuire, filed Voss in Harris County’s 164th District Court. Their causes of action allege unfair debt collection under the Texas Fair Debt Collection Practices Act, among others.

In their petition, McGuire and his firm write, “McGuire’s payment on a letter of protection is contingent upon receiving a settlement sufficient to satisfy the same. As no settlement, or settlement amount for that matter, is guaranteed, there is no way that a letter of protection can expressly guarantee payment or make McGuire personally indebted to pay on the accounts.”

The plaintiffs allege, “While not waiving his denial that the accounts Defendants are attempting to collect are not owed by McGuire, McGuire states that the amounts that he has been alleged to owe are overstated. Any letter of protection sent out for any certain one of McGuire’s clients are for a contingency payment in a general amount, i.e. $1,000.00, $2,500.00 etc. as there is no guarantee of a certain settlement amount.”

McGuire did not return two telephone calls seeking comment.

Voss denies the allegations on behalf of himself, The Voss Law Firm of The Woodlands and his clients, including Danna Chiropractic Clinic. Other defendants in Voss include lawyers Kelly W. Kelly and Scott G. Hunziker who are employed at Voss’ firm, and Sean P. Nobmann, who formerly was employed there. Hunziker and Nobmann each did not return a telephone call and Kelly could not be reached for comment before presstime.

“It sounds like it should be a summary judgment argument in the underlying pending matter against him, not its own lawsuit,” Voss says. “It’s filed improperly, has no merit and no basis of fact or truth. It’s meant for nothing more than harassment and as a potential litigation tool in the underlying lawsuit against him. . . .

“Look, as you could imagine, we get all sorts of threats . . . from attorneys we are suing,” he says. “But rarely do we see attorneys who try to sue us.”

Letters of protection