A Texas judge has ordered a Houston plaintiffs’ attorney to reimburse an insurer $137,000 for the legal fees it expended to defend itself against a “frivolous” and “groundless” lawsuit that was filed “solely for the purpose of harassment.”
Harris County Civil Court Judge LaShawn A. Williams said in a final judgment that Houston attorney Eric B. Dick acted in bad faith when he filed a lawsuit against Standard Casualty Co. on behalf of property owner Carmen Aleman. Dick submitted no evidence that the insurer owed coverage and filed expert designations that had not been approved or even reviewed by the purported “experts” he named as witnesses, the judge’s order states.
“Eric B. Dick and the Dick Law Firm, PLLC obstructed the discovery process by failing to timely tender each designated witness for deposition, forcing Standard to incur substantial expense in issuing and serving subpoenas, forcing Standard to incur costs to issue multiple deposition notices and having to depose each witness to discover the falsity of the designations,” the final judgment states.
Dick told the Claims Journal that the judge’s order is “100% political.” He said Williams has “weaponized” the justice system and using it against him because she is a Democrat and he is an elected Republican. Dick is an elected trustee on the Harris County Board of Education.
“This is how these corrupt judges do it,” Dick said. “This is the same way they are doing it with Donald Trump.”
Judge Williams signed the final judgment in Aleman’s case on Oct. 17, but there was little public knowledge about it until insurance defense attorney Steve Badger, a partner with the Zelle law firm in Dallas, posted a copy of it on his LinkedIn page on Nov. 21. Badger was not involved with the Aleman case, but court records show that he has defended insurers against other lawsuits filed by Dick.
“This is another example of what happens when attorneys try to apply the mass-torts model to first-party property insurance claims,” Badger said in an email. He said Dick ran into the same trouble that befell McClenny Moseley & Associates, the Houston law firm that opened a New Orleans office and filed thousands of hurricane-damage lawsuits before being sanctioned by federal judges and fined $2 million by the Louisiana Department of Insurance.
“These are not cookie cutter matters,” Badger said. “Every matter is different. Experts must formulate specific opinions as to each individual matter. And of course that needs to happen before, rather than after, a lawsuit is filed.”
Dick is well known in the Houston area because of his billboard advertisements, many of which use crude puns. Dick also is known for using aggressive tactics to obtain new clients.
Hawaii News Now reported last month that the Hawaii Office of Disciplinary Counsel was investigating flyers that Dick’s law firm had distributed to obtain clients after the Maui wildfires. Chief Disciplinary Counsel Bradley Tamm told the television station that Dick is one of 22 attorneys under investigation for improperly soliciting clients. Dick is not licensed to practice law in Hawaii.
Dick has also been accused of violating campaign finance laws. On Sept. 29, the Texas Elections Commission ordered him to pay a $10,000 civil penalty for failing to report $151,166.43 in campaign expenditures during his 2022 campaign for Harris County treasurer. The Elections Commission also fined Dick $30,000 in 2022 for mailers that falsely suggested Black Democrats had endorsed him and failing to accurately report campaign expenditures during his unsuccessful 2015 campaign for Houston City Council, the Houston Chronicle reported.
Dick’s fight with Standard Casualty stems from a lawsuit he filed after the insurer denied Aleman’s hail-damage claim. The judge’s order states that Dick failed to present any evidence that coverage was owed after the insurer filed a motion for summary judgment.
During discovery, Dick named four expert witnesses who would testify about the loss: Richard Gadrow, Billy Bray, Matt Morgan and Shiran Perera. The order says Gadrow, Bray and Morgan testified that they were unaware that they had been named as experts. Perera, an engineer, testified that he had never inspected the property but did review photographs that showed wind damage, not the hail damage that had been alleged.
Dick said in an interview that Gadrow was in the final stage of a fight with cancer when he testified and was delusional because the cancer had spread into his brain. The other experts said he had a good case against the insurer and damage should be covered, he said.
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