Legal Ethics

Lawyer Switches Sides, Faces Suit

A Houston lawyer who represented four plaintiffs who settled with BP over an oil refinery explosion in Texas City is encountering some problems now that he wants to represent the energy company as it fights suits by other plaintiffs.

A Texas appeals court refused to boot lawyer Ronald Krist from the defense team in a decision last Thursday, Texas Lawyer reported in an Aug. 20 story. But the issue is heating up, with the filing of a malpractice suit against Krist yesterday by one of the plaintiffs he represented, Texas Lawyer reports in a story today.

Jose L. Elizondo alleges Krist and other defendants misrepresented the value of his case and settled too low. He claims he was “sold down the river” so Krist could later represent BP. Elizondo’s lawyers are John O’Quinn and Michael Lowenberg of the O’Quinn Law Firm in Houston.

Krist denies the allegations and says he earned no fee from Elizondo’s settlement. He says Elizondo’s suit is payback for previous litigation against the O’Quinn firm. Krist represented a former associate in a fee dispute with the firm and breast implant clients who claimed O’Quinn overcharged them.

“John is trying to extract his pound of flesh,” Krist told Texas Lawyer.

Michael J. Lowenberg of the O’Quinn Law Firm denied the suit was motivated by a desire for retribution.

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