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Law Grad Sues Prominent Defense Lawyer to Hold Him to $1M TV Challenge

Posted Jun 24, 2009 12:59 PM CDT
By Molly McDonough

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A South Texas College of Law graduate has filed a $1 million breach of contract suit against prominent Florida criminal defense lawyer Cheney Mason, claiming the lawyer's statements—on national TV challenging anyone to show him how his client could have gunned down four people—amounted to a dare.

Because Dustin Kolodziej says he has proven how Mason's client could have committed the crimes, he wants the lawyer to pay up, according to the Orlando Sentinel.

To understand what happened, please rewind a few years to 2006 when Mason was representing Nelson Ivan Serrano, who was accused of killing his former business partner, a prosecutor and two others at a Florida manufacturing plant in 1997. A surveillance tape showed Serrano at an Atlanta hotel the day of the murders.

Prosecutors successfully explained to jurors that Serrano orchestrated a complicated murder plot, involving multiple airline tickets under separate identities. Jurors convicted Serrano and he was sentenced to death in 2007.

During his defense of Serrano, Mason said there was no way for Serrano to have been able to commit the crimes. And he said as much in an appearance on Dateline NBC, when he also said, "I challenge anybody to show me. I'll pay them a million dollars if they can do it."

According to the Sentinel, Kolodziej says he retraced Serrano's route within the required time, videotaped his journey and sent a letter with the video demanding the $1 million.

"I'm really unconcerned about it," Mason is quoted as saying in response to Kolodziej's suit. "When it's over, somebody or some group of people out there are going to have to face the consequences of filing such a false, stupid lawsuit."

The suit was filed last week in federal court in Houston.

Hat tip: Pat's Papers.

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