Tort Law

Family files RICO suit against lawyers and law firms over claimed barratry after auto accident

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A family has filed suit against Dallas, Texas, area attorneys, law firms and other defendants, contending that they violated the state’s barratry law.

After three daughters of Miguel and Maria Morales were involved in an auto accident, the defendants conspired to solicit professional employment in a manner prohibited by law, the plaintiffs allege in two civil suits. One suit is filed against lawyers Jay J. Murray and George A. Pelletier, the Murray Law Group and four additional defendants. The second suit names attorney Daniel Morris, the Morris Firm and six more defendants, reports Texas Lawyer (sub. req.).

Alleging a civil conspiracy in violation of the federal Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act, the Morales family seeks a $10,000 penalty against each defendant under the state barratry statute, treble damages, punitive damages and attorney’s fees.

“One lawyer had a runner allegedly call my client and leave a voicemail. We have another lawyer with a runner leave a note on the front door. Both lawyers targeting the same potential client,” said attorney Tom Carse, who represents the plaintiffs. “The clients are thinking, ‘What is up with this?’”

Pelletier said he should not have been sued because he retired in 2005, sold his practice to Murray, lives in another state and is not involved with his former law firm.

Attorney Bob Hinton, who represents Murray and his firm, told the legal publication they did nothing wrong. “Jay Murray didn’t know anything about this. He didn’t conspire with this ‘A.J.’ fellow,” said Hinton, referring to a claimed runner. “He knows him, and the guy has done some marketing work with some clinics on behalf of the Murray Firm. Jay Murray was never aware that there was anything improper about what this guy A.J. was doing.”

The other lawyers named as defendants did not respond to requests for comment from the legal publication.

In court filings, the law firms denied the allegations.

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