A Houston businessman and his company have filed a negligence and breach of fiduciary duty suit against solo Ronald J. Waska, alleging they hired him to file a “legal malpractice” suit against Winstead, but Waska failed to do so in a timely fashion.
Dean Bailiff and Bailiff Enterprises Inc. allege in their July 18 petition that they hired Waska to sue Winstead based on Waska’s representation that he was an “experienced trial lawyer and had the necessary training and experience to file such a suit.”
The plaintiffs in Bailiff, et al. v. Waska, et al. allege they paid Waska a $10,000 retainer. Over an extended period of time, Waska assured them he was “actively working” on the suit. But Bailiff and his company decided to hire other lawyers to pursue the litigation against Winstead because Waska was “not living up to his representations,” the plaintiffs allege.
On March 15, 2010, Bailiff and Bailiff Enterprises filed Bailiff, et al. v. Winstead PC, et al. against Winstead, former shareholder Paul Aubert — and other parties who were later nonsuited — in the 129th District Court in Harris County.
In their Nov. 15, 2011, Second Amended Petition in Bailiff, et al. v. Winstead, et al., Bailiff, his wife, Sandra, and his company alleged Winstead and Aubert failed to provide proper tax advice in connection with the sale of land and a facility. Bailiff Enterprises manufactures and sells underground storage tanks. Winstead and Aubert denied the allegations in their April 19, 2010, original answer.
When new plaintiffs’ counsel filed Winstead, the statute of limitations defense was at issue only because of Waska’s failure to “timely pursue and file the case for which he had been employed and for which he had received a retainer,” the plaintiffs allege in Waska.
The parties in Winstead settled and filed a joint motion to dismiss the litigation with prejudice, which 129th District Judge Michael Gomez did on Jan. 25.
Bailiff and his company seek unspecified actual damages and interest from Waska, who did business as Ronald Waska PC in Houston.
Waska declines comment on the allegations. He notes he is retired and not practicing.
John P. Venzke of The Venzke Law Firm in Houston, who represents Bailiff and his company in Waska, did not return a telephone call seeking comment.
Jim Culpepper of Houston’s Jim Culpepper & Associates, who represented the plaintiffs in Winstead, did not return a telephone call seeking comment. Aubert, now general counsel of Pernix Therapeutics in The Woodlands, also did not return a telephone call. Winstead refers questions to Murray Fogler, a partner in Beck, Redden & Secrest in Houston who represented the firm and Aubert. Fogler declines comment.