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Ex-Client Awarded $867K Against Lawyer Who Stole $75K and Law Firm That Referred Her to Him

Posted Oct 16, 2012 1:30 PM CDT
By Martha Neil

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A woman whose lawyer misappropriated most of the $100,000 she was supposed to get in a probate case has had her day in court and was teary-eyed after a $867,000 jury verdict Monday in Bexar County, Texas.

“I am very pleased. The jury believed in me," Isabel Sloan told the San Antonio Express-News.

The award includes $377,000 against now-disbarred attorney Eric Turton, who gave Sloan $25,000 of a $100,000 probate settlement she was supposed to get and admittedly kept the rest, as well as another attorney, Oscar C. Gonzalez, who referred her to Turton. An additional $200,000 was awarded against Gonzalez and his law firm, plus the verdict includes attorney's fees for Kolb of a little over $290,000.

Although Gonzalez contended that he had simply referred Sloan to Turton, who had rented office space from him, Sloan contended that Gonzalez should have known Turton had a history of disciplinary issues and took a $2,500 retainer. Turton testified that Gonzalez referred cases to him and got a portion of the attorney's fees. Testimony at trial also showed that some of Sloan's money went to pay law office rent, the article says.

The jury found both lawyers responsible for a $75,000 misappropriation and fraud and additionally held Gonzalez and his firm liable for false, misleading and deceptive acts and practices and gross negligence.

Turton was disbarred as a result of taking the money, but there is no public record of any disciplinary against against Gonzalez, the newspaper reports.

Sloan's lawyer, Carl Kolb, told the Express-News that the local grievance committee of the State Bar of Texas "utterly failed her and has become a good ol' boy system."

Attorney Phil Watkins, who represents Gonzalez, said “We're going to consider all of our options for appeal.”

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