A Houston doctor filed a legal malpractice lawsuit against Bellaire lawyer David Adler and his firm, alleging Adler failed to inform her that he faced an “irreconcilable conflict of interest” by representing her and her then-husband.
Luisa Florez also named Adler’s firm, David Adler PC, and his wife, Christine Kirchner, as defendants in Luisa Florez, M.D. v. David Adler, et al.
Florez brings negligence, legal malpractice, breach of fiduciary duty, gross negligence, common law fraud, intentional misrepresentation and conspiracy-aiding and abetting causes of action against Adler and Adler PC, and an intentional infliction of emotional distress cause of action against Adler. She also alleges Adler, his firm, and Kirchner, violated the Texas Uniform Fraudulent Transfers Act. Florez also seeks fee disgorgement, and interest.
Florez alleges in the petition she seeks more than $1 million in damages.
Adler referred comment to his attorney, Shawn Phelen, a partner in Thompson, Coe, Cousins & Irons in Dallas.
In response to the allegations, Phelen, who represents Adler and his firm, says, “My clients deny the plaintiff’s allegations and intend vigorously to defend themselves in this case. We have no further comment at this time because the matter is the subject of pending litigation.”
Kirchner, a shareholder in Chamberlain, Hrdlicka, White, Williams & Aughtry in Houston, did not return a telephone message. Her attorney, Reagan Brown, a partner in Norton Rose Fulbright in Houston, says his client has not been served yet, but she “catagorically denies” the allegations.
In the petition, Florez alleges she and her then-husband hired Adler in 2011 because the United States Small Business Administration was investigating alleged “fraudulent activities” related to loans Florez’s former husband obtained for property he or his companies owned.
Florez alleges that her ex-husband was named in a federal indictment for loan fraud in May 2011, and in August 2011 the Harris County District Attorney’s Office charged her with intentionally and knowingly making a materially false written statement for the purpose of obtaining a mortgage in excess of $200,000. In August 2011, her employer, The Institute of Forensic Sciences, asked her to take an involuntary leave because of the investigation into a loan for a townhouse she purchased in 2009.
Florez alleges that Adler knew early in the representation that he faced an “irreconcilable conflict of interest” by representing her and her then-husband, but Adler never disclosed that to Florez and charged the couple thousands of dollars to represent them jointly. She alleges her husband made misrepresentations to the mortgage company and he “forged her signature” on documents, and she needed independent counsel.
Florez alleges that Adler negligently advised her that he could “effectively and competently” represent her and her husband.
In September 2011, Florez alleges in the petition, instead of advising her of the irreconcilable conflict, Adler “obtained an ineffective and incomplete waiver of the irreconcilable conflict” and he continued to represent the couple through the end of 2011.
She alleges Adler delayed her trial in an effort to mitigate her ex-husband’s sentence following a plea bargain. Because of that delay, her employer, which had given her six months to “clear up” the criminal charge against her, terminated her. Meanwhile, she alleges, the Texas Board of Medical Examiners began investigating her, and because she is not a naturalized citizen, the criminal proceedings “attracted the attention of the immigration authorities and put her work visa at risk.”
She alleges she terminated Adler in April 2012, because he had been urging her to accept a plea deal that included deferred adjudication, and on April 4, 2013 her new attorney got the charge against her dismissed.
“Unfortunately, the damage was done. Dr. Florez was jobless. Dr. Florez had spent a substantial amount of her savings paying Adler and the lawyers representing her before the Texas Board of Medical Examiners and immigration authorities. Dr. Florez is still dealing with the immigration authorities and the possibility of deportation,” Florez alleges in the petition.
Florez also alleges that Adler sought a declaratory judgment that he was not liable to Florez for any breaches of fiduciary duty, but Adler non-suited his petition in David Adler v. Luisa Florez, in June. Florez also alleges that Adler is working on a plan to divorce his wife “to hide assets exposed to execution of any judgment.”
“The result of the plan to divorce by Adler and Kirchner is designed to leave Adler insolvent or substantially insolvent for the purpose of defeating or relaying collection by Dr. Florez on any judgment obtained pursuant to the claims made in this suit,” she alleges in the petition.
Florez’s attorney, Michael Kerensky, a partner in Williamson & Rusnak of Houston, did not return a telephone message.