Immigration firm seeks over $1M in damages from former lawyer for 'deceitful and dishonest behavior'
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An immigration firm with offices in Dallas and Houston is suing a former lawyer for “deceitful and dishonest behavior.”
Andrew Thomas and Eric Price, who own the Thomas Price firm and the Andrew T. Thomas firm, allege in a petition filed Tuesday that Aaron Christensen resigned April 27 without an explanation, misappropriated client information, and planned to solicit clients for his new firm.
Law.com reported on their lawsuit, which seeks more than $1 million in damages.
“The firm has had to field client calls where clients have stated that they were instructed by Christensen to not make payments to the firm because Christensen claimed he was the clients’ attorney,” Thomas and Price say in the petition. “The firm has also had numerous clients show up to it office without an appointment regarding Christensen’s illicit activity.”
According to the petition, when Christensen joined the firm in November 2016, he signed an agreement acknowledging that the firm’s equipment and software were not for personal use, and that the firm’s equipment and data were only for business use.
However, the petition states, Christensen downloaded client data, as well as other firm information, “to a jump drive at least three times prior to his departure from the firm.” It also says he used that data to contact clients and ask them to divert their business to him “for his personal financial gain.”
Thomas and Price additionally allege in their petition that Christensen left behind “a handwritten ‘business plan’” that demonstrated his intent to open his own firm.
On Wednesday, Judge Kristen Hawkins of the 11th District Court in Houston signed a temporary restraining order dated June 9 to prohibit Christensen or his new firm from using the client data taken from the Thomas Price firm and the Andrew T. Thomas firm.
The order also prevents him from interfering with the firm’s relationships with clients, destroying documents or other information related to firm clients, and using any of the firm’s trade secrets or confidential information.
In a counterclaim also filed Tuesday, Christensen denied the allegations and argued that his former firm defamed him through a Facebook post, which apologized for his “dishonesty and malice.” He is seeking $500,000 in damages.
“The reckless accusations made by plaintiff Thomas Price PLLC and Andrew T. Thomas PLLC on Facebook constitute defamation per se,” according to the counterclaim. “Aaron G. Christensen has suffered actual damages as a result of this defamation.”
Christensen told Law.com Thursday that he notified former clients that he opened his own firm but has not recruited them or accepted payments from them.