IN THE HEADLINES

Blank Rome: Barry Abrams (litigation – land use & zoning; litigation – municipal; litigation – securities, 2012) represented the Montrose Management District against Montrose property owners, who said the entity mismanaged their money and invested in services that did not benefit the area. After a six-year legal battle between the parties, the Montrose Management District officially dissolved in March, having run out of money. “There are no assets to pay anyone, including the professionals continuing to try to help wind down the affairs,” Abrams said in the Houston Chronicle.

Jackson Walker: Jeffrey P. Drummond (health care law, 2018) spoke with Dallas News on the case of a Parkland hospital former employee who pleaded guilty to fraud after she was found leaking patient documents. Drummond specializes in HIPAA law, which concerns health insurance and patient privacy, and said the hospital is partly to blame for not having a prevention system in place to prevent these leaks. In 2017, another Parkland employee was sentenced for the same crime after stealing patient lists from the hospital.

Lee & Braziel: J. Derrek Braziel (employment law – individuals, 2008) represented a man in his complaint against a sanitation company that previously employed him. The man, a former maintenance worker, said he was not properly compensated for his time because the company misclassified him as exempt—meaning he received no overtime pay. In his suit, he sought unpaid wages and damages, holding the company accountable for violations of the Fair Labor Standards Act.

Oberti Sullivan: Mark J. Oberti (employment law – individuals; employment law – management; litigation – labor and employment, 2016) and Edwin Sullivan (employment law – management; litigation – labor and employment, 2016) represented a woman alleging sexual harassment against her employer. The woman had to leave her job as a waitress at Peli Peli, a well-known South African fusion restaurant in Houston, because of assault and harassment by the restaurant’s owner. She sought between $200,000 and $1 million in damages in her case.

HONORABLE MENTION

Abraham, Watkins, Nichols, Sorrels, Agosto & Aziz: Attorneys and law students at the Randall O. Sorrels Legal Clinics are offering free counseling to victims of Hurricane Harvey. Victims of the storm facing evictions, wage disputes in the rebuilding process, and FEMA denials were encouraged to seek free legal advice. The clinics are named for firm partner Randall O. Sorrels (medical malpractice law – plaintiffs; personal injury litigation – plaintiffs, 2011), after his donation to the South Texas College of Law Houston.

Perkins Coie: Mark L. Johansen (commercial litigation, 2016) joined Perkins Coie as a partner, where he will practice commercial litigation. Johansen, born and raised in Dallas, came to the firm from Gruber Hail Johansen Shank, where he was partner and co-founder.

ITN FEATURE

► In Durst's Latest High Profile Trial, DeGuerin Returns as Defense 

DeGuerin, Dickson, Hennessy & Ward: Dick DeGuerin (criminal defense: general practice; criminal defense: white-collar, 1983) is the lead defense attorney in Robert Durst’s high profile trial, which captured public attention after Durst appeared to admit to the murders of several people, including his wife, on the HBO true-crime show “The Jinx.”

DeGuerin successfully defended Durst in 2003, when the wealthy real estate heir stood accused of the murder of Morris Black. Black was Durst’s 71-year-old neighbor in Galveston, Texas, where Durst briefly lived—in disguise—after his wife’s case was reopened in 2000. Durst was found innocent of Black’s murder when DeGuerin put forward the argument of self-defense, even with Durst admitting to dismembering Black’s body.

Durst now faces charges on the murder of journalist Susan Berman, one of his longtime friends. Berman was found dead from a shot to the back of the head in California on Christmas Eve, 2000. Police arrested Durst for the crime in New Orleans in 2015.

DeGuerin and the rest of Durst’s defense team argued that the popularity of the HBO documentary about their client was the reason behind his arrest for the 15-year-old crime. The defense has also argued that, because Kathleen Durst’s body was never found, there is no evidence that she was murdered or that Robert Durst was the one who could have killed her.

“It’s not based on facts, it’s based on ratings,” DeGuerin said of Durst’s 2015 arrest, as reported in the Los Angeles Times.