Julie Mathiason and Jason Brower, former partners in Ford + Mathiason of Houston, seek an injunction to prevent their former partner, Don D. Ford III, from continuing to use Mathiason’s name in the firm’s name and on its website.
Mathiason and Brower allege in a Nov. 5 petition filed in the 295th District Court in Harris County that they resigned from the firm on July 27, and, in her resignation letter, Mathiason “issued a demand that the Firm immediately stop using the name ‘Ford + Mathiason LLP’in any manner” or in any form associated with the firm.
Mathiason and Brower also allege in the petition that Ford has “refused” to pay them any partnership distributions from their time at the firm.
Ford did not return a telephone message seeking comment. His attorney, Daniel Craddock, a partner in Craddock Massey in Austin, provided a written statement that reads in part, “Don Ford adamantly denies the allegations stated in the Plaintiffs’ petition, and is confident that the facts will reveal that the Plaintiffs have been paid all, and even more than, the amounts they have earned under any agreement between the parties.”
Mathiason and Brower bring breach of contract, promissory estoppel and breach of fiduciary duty causes of action against Ford, and they seek an accounting of partnership income and of profits for the time periods when they were partners in the firm.
They also seek to enjoin Ford from continuing to use Mathiason’s name in the name of the firm or on the firm’s website. The plaintiffs allege that Mathiason is “almost certainly losing clients due to Ford’s continued use of her name in conjunction with the Firm.”
On Nov. 5, 157th District Judge Randy Wilson denied the plaintiffs’ motion for a temporary restraining order, but he set a hearing for a temporary injunction for later this month.
The plaintiffs also seek unspecified actual damages, interest, costs and attorneys’ fees.
According to the statement provided by Craddock:
Mr. Ford is considering his options, including the filing of counterclaims, but is hoping that common sense will prevail and this matter can be resolved quickly. As for the claim relating to the firm name, Mr. Ford began taking the steps necessary to change the name well before the lawsuit was filed, and the process will be completed soon. The Plaintiffs were most certainly aware of this fact. . . .
In a follow-up email, Craddock writes, “The lawyers for both sides have talked,” and he says he is “optimistic that this can be easily and quickly resolved.”
Two attorneys for Mathiason and Brower, John Klevenhagen III, a partner in Jones Morris Klevenhagen of Houston, and Jason Ostrom, a partner in Ostrom/Sain of Houston, confirm discussions with Craddock.
“We are getting close to a resolution,” Ostrom says.
The plaintiffs allege in the petition in Julie Mathiason, et al. v. Don D. Ford III that, when Ford and Mathiason formed the firm on June 22, 1999, they agreed to use the name Ford + Mathiason for identification and marketing.
“There was never a formal written partnership agreement, although there was an oral understanding between Ford and Mathiason of the basis of the partnership. This understanding included an equal distribution of partnership profits,” the plaintiffs allege in the petition.
They allege Brower joined the firm around Aug. 1, 2011, but neither Mathiason nor Brower “ever took or received a partnership distribution” but instead received a salary. The plaintiffs allege Mathiason took a leave of absence from the firm on an unspecified date but returned in September 2010.
Brower did not return a telephone message, and Mathiason did not return a message left at a number obtained online.