An Austin lawyer has sued his former attorney, alleging she represented him in a 2006 child-custody matter and failed to advise him on how to challenge an order that changed primary custody for two children.
But in a Jan. 7 original answer, defendant-lawyer Laura Page Mitchell denies all the allegations in Andrew “Drew” Williams’ suit.
Williams, pro se, alleges in his Dec. 7, 2012, petition in Williams v. Mitchell that he retained Mitchell in July 2006 to defend him in a suit in which another man sought “the right to determine the primary residence” of two children. According to the petition, filed in Travis County’s 53rd District Court, a Williamson County court issued an order, also in July 2006, changing “the designation of the person who has the exclusive right to determine the primary residence of the child.”
Williams alleges the Texas Family Codes prohibits such orders “without a showing of endangerment,” which was absent in his case. He alleges he asked Mitchell about challenging the order, and she “stated there was no way to appeal a temporary order, advised Petitioner to go forward with plans to leave the state to attend law school and stated that it would all be worked out within a few months.”
But Williams alleges a writ of mandamus was “the proper mechanism” to challenge the order, and Mitchell failed to advise him about it because “she neglected to know the law in an area in which she claimed to be an expert, or alternatively in an effort to prolong the case and fraudulently generate fees.”
According to the petition, he “fired” Mitchell in April 2007, and he paid more than $19,000 in additional legal fees “in an effort to regain primary custody.”
Williams’ petition alleges “negligence by attorney” and fraud. He seeks actual damages, the refund of fees he paid to Mitchell, exemplary damages, pre- and post-judgment interest, and court costs.
Neither Williams nor Mitchell, a partner in Mitchell & Colmenero in Austin, returned one telephone call each seeking comment. Mitchell’s lawyer, Mike Johnson, a partner Thompson, Coe, Cousins & Irons in Austin, declines comment.