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Legal Ethics

Suspended Attorney Faces 10 Malpractice Claims; Ex-Clients Say He Said He Filed Suit, But Didn’t

Posted Jun 11, 2012 2:59 PM CDT
By Martha Neil

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Ten malpractice suits have been filed against a suspended Alabama attorney and the law firm for which he formerly worked.

Byron House is accused by multiple clients of claiming to have filed litigation on their behalf when he in fact had not done so, the Tuscaloosa News reported. As a result, some plaintiffs allege, they have missed the statutory deadline for filing suit because they believed the litigation had already been initiated.

The law firm, Cockrell & Cockrell, is also named as a defendant; the plaintiffs say the firm and its principals should have known of House's claimed inaction.

In an affidavit provided to an Alabama State Bar disciplinary committee, Bobby Cockrell said it came as "a complete shock" to learn from House, in an investigation prompted by a former client's claim that a structured settlement was being paid, in an unusual manner, out of a law firm trust account, that the 17-year employee had used firm funds to pay a client after missing the deadline to file suit.

In a file review, Cockrell said, the small firm found cases that the husband-and-wife partners didn't know they had and what appeared to be faked court documents. They have since been meeting with House's clients and trying to get matters back on track.

“This situation is truly beyond the belief of my wife and me. Ginger and I have always strived to maintain a flawless reputation and considered our word as our personal bond,” Cockrell stated. “This is very devastating to us personally, both as professionals and as citizens of our community.”

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