A Texas family that successfully settled a wrongful-death suit for big bucks is suing to get back $5.7 million in attorney's fees and expenses because the lawyers used part of that money to bribe the judge.
Whatever it takes, right? Be happy with your winnings, right? Apparently not.
The plaintiffs are the survivors of an EMT who died in a helicopter crash, and filed a suit that ended up in Cameron County District Judge Abel Limas's court. The lawyers they hired on a contingency basis to represent them included Jose Solis, a former state rep.
Both Limas and Solis have entered guilty pleas on bribery charges.
The plaintiffs say in their suit that the bribes were all kinds of nefarious:
Like the recent Wall Street financial crisis, defendants' conduct fosters a far reaching and severe distrust of those in the legal profession. Defendants' criminal acts are just another brick in the already glaring wall that greedy and dishonest lawyers are building between the judicial system and the public it is meant to serve and protect.
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The bribes breached the lawyer's fiduciary duty to clients and jeopardized the suit, the plaintiffs say, although it sounds like the bribes did their job.
(Unless, of course, the original defendants claim foul. But if you settled a case for numbers big enough to earn $5 million in attorney's fees, you probably don't have that great a defense available to argue in court.)
The suit says:
The bribes even included future employment for Limas at Rosenthal's law firm. After losing his re-election bid, Limas exercised employment options while still on the bench. ... Limas was offered an 'of counsel' position with 'the firm,' as well as cash payments cryptically referred to as "golf balls."
The consideration was Limas' past and continued favorable rulings. Ultimately, Judge Limas was also paid additional sums of money after settlement was obtained.