Houston Law Firm May Have to Repay $1M in Legal Fees OK'd By Judge
A prominent Texas law firm reportedly may have to repay up to $1 million in legal fees in a trust litigation matter, even though they were authorized by a state probate judge.
Judge Mike Wood was wrong to award $500,000 in fees to Crain Caton & James, a Texas appeals court held yesterday in a “brutal” 46-page opinion (PDF), reports the Houston Chronicle. Among the reasons: A trustee represented by the law firm pursued litigation against Robert Alpert, the man who established the trust, against the wishes of the beneficiaries (his sons), which is now forbidden by state law.
A total of more than $1 million in legal fees that the judge authorized is at stake in the matter, as well as another $1 million in payments to the trustee, attorney Mark Riley, the newspaper reports. Plus, the appellate court said the lower court should consider requiring Riley to reimburse Alpert and his sons for the legal fees they paid to defend baseless claims.
“For years families bogged down in Harris County probate courts have accused judges of bleeding estates of tens of thousands of dollars to pay high-priced lawyers for unnecessary work,” Chronicle writes.