A retired doctor in Austin is targeting a second law firm in a suit he first filed against his longtime attorney and firm.
The new defendant is law firm Vorys, Sater, Seymour and Peace, which represented Dr. Glenn M. Haluska in an underlying probate suit that pitted the doctor against his two children. Haluska alleges that Vorys Sater committed a breach of fiduciary duty by demanding an excessive fee.
Haluska alleged that the original defendants — attorney Wesley J. Filer and Waco-based Naman, Howell, Smith & Lee — committed professional negligence when Filer wrote a letter to Haluska’s two children about terminating two trust accounts, according to the Sept. 26 Plaintiff’s Second Amended Petition in Haluska v. Filer, et al.
Filer and Naman Howell have denied all of the allegations.
Later, the children sued their father and removed him as trustee by summary judgment. Haluska settled on “extremely unfavorable” terms, says the amended petition. Vorys Sater represented the doctor.
“[W]hile the principal acts of negligence that caused Dr. Haluska’s damages were those of Defendants Filer and Naman Howell, the lawyers at Defendant Vorys Sater compounded matters by inadequately, inartfully and negligently advocating and arguing Dr. Haluska’s position” during the summary judgment proceeding, and by “charging Dr. Haluska excessive and unconscionable attorneys’ fees and expenses in doing so, and thus also secondarily contributed to Plaintiff’s damages,” alleges Haluska in the amended petition.
He alleges that Vorys Sater recently demanded payment, and the demand is a breach of fiduciary duty. He seeks a declaration from the court that he shouldn’t have to pay and that Vorys Sater should forfeit the fees and expenses he already paid.
Vorys Sater partner Gregory L. Murphy of Washington, D.C., who argued for Haluska during the summary judgment proceeding and made the demand for payment, didn’t return a telephone call or email seeking comment.
Tom Prehoditch, Haluska’s lawyer, and Mike McKetta, who represents Filer and Naman Howell, each didn’t return an email seeking comment.