Trials & Litigation

Businessman charged in sex-tourism case files $10M malpractice suit against elite civil lawyers


A former client jailed in Mexico as he awaits extradition to the U.S. in a sex-tourism and child-pornography case has sued two elite San Francisco lawyers who previously represented him in civil litigation for claimed malpractice.

Businessman Thomas White contends that his then-lawyers, Nanci Clarence and Kate Dyer, did not adequately investigate the two cases in which he was accused in California state and federal court of sexual abuse, and pressured him to settle, according to his malpractice lawsuit being pursued in federal court in California. It seeks a clawback of $3 million in legal fees, reimbursement of the $7 million settlement he made previously, punitive damages and reimbursement for his attorney fees in the malpractice case, the Recorder (sub. req.) reports.

Attorney Stan Roman represents the defendant lawyers and says the Clarence, Dyer & Cohen practitioners did nothing wrong. White was a sophisticated businessman who, advised by a team of excellent attorneys including but not limited to Clarence and Dyer, made a fully informed decision to settle, Roman said. He is a partner of Keller, Sloan, Roman & Holland.

Even White’s current criminal lawyer in the pending U.S. case, Stuart Hanlon of Hanlon & Rief, says he can’t support White’s malpractice suit against his former civil counsel.

“In all the cases I’ve worked on with Nanci and Kate, including this one, I found them to be impressive, exceptionally qualified lawyers,” Hanlon told the legal publication.

However, the first individual to accuse White in civil litigation as well as David Replogle, the California attorney who brought both civil suits against White, are now serving life sentences for murder. Mexico is seeking their extradition on extortion charges related to White, the Recorder recounts.

White now contends in his malpractice suit that Clarence and Dyer, who represented him from 2002 to 2005, should have done more to probe what the evidence suggests was an extortion plot conceived by Replogle and his client.

But Roman says this is the first time White, who has been seeking since 2005 to vacate the $7 million settlement, has claimed that his civil lawyers were at fault. “Never has he previously suggested that he didn’t get the best representation possible.”

White is represented by Diane Deckard, a San Jose attorney who specializes in malpractice cases.

Clarence and Dyer “could have tried these cases and won them or could have settled for significantly less than Tom wound up paying,” she told the Recorder. “The settlement was coerced.”

See also:

ABAJournal.com: “Lawyer Accused of Theft Plot Now Charged with Murder”

ABAJournal.com: “Accused of Murder, Lawyer, 61, Knew Zip About Client’s Fatal ID-Theft Scam, His Counsel Tells Jury”

KESQ: “Pair Sentenced To Life In Prison For Murder Of Palm Springs Retiree”

SF Weekly: “David Replogle, S.F. Attorney, Gets Life in Prison for Role in Palm Springs Murder”

Updated on July 23 to include comment by Deckard.

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