Dale Jefferson. Courtesy photo

Former clients of Houston plaintiffs firm Kwok Daniel filed a legal malpractice suit seeking more than $1 million from the firm and four lawyers, alleging they failed to file a wrongful death suit before it was too late.

The firm, founding partner Robert Kwok and former Kwok Daniel lawyers William Hoke, Christine Vinh Weems and Gene Baldonado each face claims of of negligence and gross negligence.

The plaintiffs say Kwok Daniel boasts of having experienced trial lawyers, including attorneys who are board certified in personal injury law and specialized in medical malpractice. But they allege that the firm bungled their underlying wrongful death suit, which was “dismissed for failing to comply with one of the simplest and well-known standards in the legal industry: file a lawsuit within the statute of limitations.”

Kwok did not immediately return a phone call seeking a comment on the allegations. Weems, now of Weems Law Firm in Houston, declined comment. Hoke, now of William Hoke & Associates in Katy, and Baldonado, of Baldonado Law Firm in Houston, each did not immediately return a telephone message.

Dale Jefferson, a partner at Martin, Disiere, Jefferson & Wisdom in Houston who represents the defendants, said it was premature to comment.

“Given the fact there’s no final determination, we would prefer that the matter be resolved by a real court as opposed to a court of public opinion,” Jefferson said.

In Galloway v. Kwok Daniel, plaintiffs Gwendolyn Galloway, Clayton Irwin and Mitchell Irwin allege they hired the defendants to file a health care liability/wrongful death suit against three doctors in the connection with the death of Mary Ann Irwin on Jan. 6, 2012.

The plaintiffs allege that the Kwok Daniel lawyers notified the underlying defendants of the claim more than a year and a half after Irwin’s death, but because that notice was not sent properly, it did not toll the statute of limitations. They allege the defendants filed the underlying suit Jan. 29, 2014, which was more than two years after Irwin’s death, and the trial court judge granted motions for summary judgment dismissing the plaintiff’s underlying claims with prejudice because the claims were not filed within the statute of limitations.

“This was tragedy upon tragedy resulting in plaintiffs’ very viable underlying case being dismissed and forever barred from being refiled,” the plaintiffs allege in the petition, which was filed on July 28 in the 269th District Court in Harris County.

The plaintiffs seek actual damages of more than $1 million, plus exemplary damages and damages for emotional distress.

Their lawyer, David Kassab, lead associate with Kassab Law Firm in Houston, said that because of the defendants’ negligence, the plaintiffs did not get what they should have in the underlying lawsuit.

“It was just an elementary mistake and you would expect more from lawyers over there from Kwok Daniel,” he said.