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Suit Seeks Return of Legal Fees in Win Allegedly Obtained Through Judicial Bribery

Posted Jun 14, 2011 1:59 PM CDT
By Debra Cassens Weiss

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Family members of an emergency medical technician who died in a Texas helicopter crash allege in a lawsuit that they are entitled to a refund of $5.2 million in legal fees because they obtained favorable rulings in the wrongful death suit through their lawyers’ payment of bribes.

The suit was filed in Travis County Court by the family of Michael Sanchez, who died in the medical helicopter crash in February 2008, Courthouse News Service reports. The Sanchez family settled their wrongful death suit last year, along with family members of another EMT who died.

The new suit alleges that two personal injury lawyers bribed former Judge Abel Limas for favorable rulings in the helicopter case. The judge pleaded guilty in March to a racketeering charge involving bribes and extortion, the Brownsville Herald reported at the time. One of the lawyers accused of paying the bribes in the new suit, former Texas state representative Jose Solis, pleaded guilty in May to bribing the judge in certain cases, including a case that involved a February 2008 helicopter crash, according to Courthouse News Service and an FBI press release.

The Sanchez family also seeks damages from Limas on theories of unjust enrichment, conversion, and aiding and abetting a breach of fiduciary duty.

“Defendants’ criminal acts are just another brick in the already glaring wall that greedy and dishonest lawyers are building between the judicial system and the public it is meant to serve and protect,” the suit says.

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