A plaintiff has sued the firm that represented him in a divorce, among others, alleging that the defendants failed to respond adequately to a post-divorce decree summary judgment motion and as a result a $99,000 judgment was entered against him. Plaintiff Steven Lewis also alleges the defendants — Bailey & Galyen, partner R. Keith Spencer, and Phillip Galyen PC — neglected to notify him of that judgment, which resulted in three sanctions orders entered against Lewis. According to the petition, Bailey & Galyen and Phillip Galyen PC sometimes are referred to collectively as the “Firm.”
In his Oct. 5 petition in Lewis v. Bailey & Galyen, et al., Lewis alleges that in 2003 he retained Bailey & Galyen and one of its attorneys to represent him in protracted divorce proceedings. A divorce decree was entered in 2006, but in 2008, Lewis’ ex-wife filed an action to enforce the divorce decree, Lewis alleges in his petition.
Lewis was told that his former attorney was no longer with Bailey & Galyen, but the firm entered into a representation agreement with him and his case was assigned to attorney Julie L. Johnson. Johnson later filed an answer, generally denying Lewis’ ex-wife’s claims, Lewis alleges in his petition filed in Dallas County’s 68th District Court.
Lewis alleges he provided information to the firm establishing that his ex-wife’s claims had no merit, but the firm failed to respond to discovery requests and later failed to respond to a motion for summary judgment. After the firm failed to appear at a Dec. 2, 2009, hearing on his ex-wife’s motion for summary judgment, the trial court awarded more than $99,000 to his ex-wife, Lewis alleges in his petition.
Lewis alleges that more than a year later, in December 2010, he learned that a judgment had been entered against him. After he contacted Johnson, she advised Lewis that she would “handle” the situation, Lewis alleges. On Feb. 3, 2011, after the court had lost its plenary power, Johnson filed a motion for new trial, Lewis alleges.
A collections attorney pursued post-judgment discovery against Lewis, which the firm ignored, Lewis alleges. Three sanctions orders were later entered against Lewis for failure to cooperate with the post-discovery process, he alleges.
“Perhaps most egregious is the fact that, despite the fact these sanctions were awarded solely due to Bailey & Galyen’s mishandling of the case, the Firm nonetheless demanded that the sanctions be paid by Mr. Lewis. Mr. Lewis eventually paid the sanctions when faced with the threat of being jailed — all because of Bailey & Galyen’s conscious disregard of his personal rights, welfare and liberty, let alone the fairly straight-forward litigation matters they were hired to handle,” Lewis alleges in the petition.
“As a result of the negligent training and supervision by the Firm and Spencer, Mr. Lewis suffered injuries within the jurisdictional limits of this Court, including, but not limited to, the entry of a $100,000 judgment against him,” Lewis alleges.
Lewis’ causes of action include negligence, negligent training and supervision, breach of fiduciary duty and Deceptive Trade Practices Act violations.
“I think the main thing is that we didn’t file suit because they lost a case they should have won. We filed suit because they were hired to represent Mr. Lewis and they didn’t even show up to the fight,” alleges Tom Stauch, a partner in Dallas’ Nowak & Stauch who represents Lewis.
Johnson, who says she left Bailey & Galyen two years ago and now has her own firm, declines comment. She is not a defendant in Lewis.
Spencer and Phillip Galyen each did not return twotelephone calls seeking comment. Steven Anderson, a partner in the Dallas office of Lewis Brisbois Bisgaard & Smith who represents the defendants, declines comment. Robert A. Schwartz, executive vice president of Bailey & Galyen, could not be reached for comment.