Trials & Litigation
Baker & McKenzie wins damages retrial in driller’s $103M malpractice case
By Martha Neil
Oct 18, 2013, 04:40 pm CDT
There was good news and bad news for Baker & McKenzie in a Mississippi Supreme Court opinion issued Thursday.
The good news is that a new trial will be held on proximate cause and the $103 million in damages awarded in a legal malpractice and breach-of-contract case that contends the megafirm helped one client strip another of millions of dollars in assets. The bad news is that Baker & McKenzie remains liable.
In its 59-page opinion (PDF), the supreme court recounts a complex litigation saga involving oil and gas contractor S. Lavon Evans Jr., and his companies; Evans' former business partner Reed Cagle and the company for which Cagle acted; and Baker & McKenzie and law firm partner Joel Held, who worked in the Dallas office.
Evans contended, and a Jones County Circuit Court jury apparently agreed, that Baker & McKenzie helped Cagle and his company gain control of Evans' business and assets while representing both men. The law firm argued that it represented Evans on only a limited basis.
Even though he had expressly said that he must have at least a 51 percent interest and would not mortgage his free-and-clear drilling equipment, Evans alleged, the law firm helped Cagle obtain mortgages on his rig to which he had never consented.
Evans said Baker & McKenzie not only drafted loan documents without his authorization but misrepresented that Cagle owned his rig and lied to a lender, the Associated Press reports.
The article doesn't include any comment from Baker & McKenzie, and the law firm did not immediately respond to a phone message Friday afternoon from the ABA Journal.
ABAJournal.com: "Baker & McKenzie Seeks to Overturn $103M Malpractice Verdict"