Judge sanctions lawyer and client $150K, citing ‘mountain of evasiveness’ and ‘outright lies’
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A Texas judge has ordered a Houston-area lawyer and his client to be jointly sanctioned $150,000 for the client’s “outright lies” in litigation and “a mountain of evasiveness” in discovery.
In a Jan. 21 order, Judge R. O’Neil Williams of the 268th District Court in Texas imposed the sanctions on solo practitioner Paul B. Rosen of Bellaire, Texas, and his client Gen Fu Zhang, report Law.com and Law360.
The case involved a dispute over a commercial lease for a fast-food restaurant.
“Good cause exists to impose sanctions because this entire lawsuit was premised on a series of demonstrably false claims, and it was filed to harass,” Williams wrote.
Williams said the client made false statements about property used as collateral in the lease transaction. Rosen did not conduct a reasonable investigation of the law and the facts before filing the suit, then failed to correct false and misleading claims in later pleadings, Williams said.
Had Rosen reviewed emails, passports and travel documents in his clients’ possession, he would have known that his client had falsely claimed that he had no knowledge that the property would be used as collateral and falsely claimed that it was a legal homestead, Williams said. The client had lived in his Shanghai home continuously for 22 years, Williams said.
Williams also cited discovery abuses.
“This is not an incident of failing to produce one document or telling one lie but a mountain of evasiveness; lack of candor; concealment; numerous outright lies; and a total disregard for truth, which is the foundation of our judicial system,” Williams wrote. “These abuses were not isolated or accidental but willful, deliberate and calculated in an effort to perpetuate a fraud on this court.”
Rosen told the ABA Journal that he plans to appeal, but he can’t comment further because of confidentiality and a potential conflict with the client. The client has new counsel.
Opposing counsel Foster Johnson told Law.com that he hoped that the sanctions would be a warning to other lawyers.
“Lawyers at times forget filing motions and pleadings is not like using Twitter,” Johnson said. “You can’t just say anything you want when you file a complaint. You can’t say anything you want when you file a summary judgment motion.”