Lawyer who told BigLaw attorneys to 'eat a bowl of dicks' faces possible sanctions
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Updated: A California lawyer who told opposing counsel in an email to “eat a bowl of dicks” says his insulting and expletive-laden missives were a negotiating tactic and weren’t intended as actual insults.
The lawyer, Christopher Hook, is facing an order to show cause why he shouldn’t be sanctioned, why his case against Allstate shouldn’t be dismissed, and why a temporary restraining order shouldn’t be issued.
U.S. District Judge Otis Wright issued the order to show cause Dec. 2 and scheduled a Dec. 16 hearing.
Lawyers with Sheppard, Mullin, Richter & Hampton included copies of some of Hook’s emails with their motion for sanctions.
“Haha. F- - - you crooks. Eat a bowl of dicks,” Hook wrote in one email.
Hook sent some of the emails after Sheppard Mullin lawyer Marc Feldman said Hook’s $125 million settlement demand was counterproductive in a case involving a $200,000 dispute.
“I understand the position you are in,” Hook replied. “I’m going to let the long dick of the law f- - - Allstate for all of us.”
The next day, Hook wrote, “Hey Klee you Cumstain the demand is now 302 million. Pay up f- - -face.” He was referring to Sheppard Mullin lawyer Peter Klee.
The same day, Hook wrote, “Peter when you are done felating your copy boy tell Allstate the demand is now 305 million.”
Hook also referred to the lawyers as “gay boys,” “shit for brains” and “f- - -tard.”
At another point, Hook said he would waterboard Allstate “trolls” who show up for depositions. He also wrote, “Don’t make me come down there and beat out of you f- - -ing thief,” and, “I’m going to go bat shit crazy on you,” followed by more expletives.
He also wrote, “Well karma is a bitch mother f- - -er. You are going to learn that in spades. I know where you live pete.”
In a Dec. 3 declaration opposing sanctions, Hook said he represents two people in the litigation who are seeking to recover from Allstate for a massive water loss at their home in September 2018. The plaintiffs were forced out of their home, and Allstate would not pay their contractor his estimate for damage and later cut off payments for their temporary housing, Hook said. The lawsuit alleges bad faith by Allstate.
Allstate stonewalled Hook after his settlement demands, then filed the ex parte sanctions motion “on the eve of a stormy Thanksgiving holiday,” Hook wrote in his opposition to the motion.
Hook said he “sought to employ a confidential negotiating tactic by employing harsh language and provocative insults against counsel for Allstate, out of an interest in trying to resolve this case only. The undersigned recognizes that perhaps some of the language ‘crossed the line’ of civility and was offensive and inappropriate. With that said, the language used was ‘for effect,’ similar to bluster or ‘puffery,’ and was not intended to actually be considered personal insults. At no time did the undersigned threaten or intend to threaten defense counsel, their co-workers or families with harm.”
Hook also said he has a constitutional right to free speech, and California law provides that communications made in connection with litigation enjoy an absolute privilege.
Hook notified the court Dec. 10 that he has associated with a lawyer from Barnes & Thornburg as co-counsel for the plaintiffs.
Barnes & Thornburg indicated in a Dec. 11 court filing that it now represents the two plaintiffs, who were “surprised and appalled” to learn of Hook’s statements, and they should not be penalized for his conduct with dismissal of the suit.
The plaintiffs also told the court that they fired Hook and hired Barnes & Thornburg, which is not associating with Hook in the lawsuit.
Updated Dec. 13 at 3:20 p.m. to include information about Barnes & Thornburg’s new representation of the plaintiffs.