Texas Lawyer, January 28, 2020
By Brenda Sapino Jeffreys
Houston personal injury lawyer Clyde J. Moore—known in his advertisements as “Car Wreck Clyde”—is facing a $1 million lawsuit alleging that his firm has used a network oftow truck drivers and others to solicit clients for a decade.
Sidney Guillory, a Baytown man who hired Moore after he was involved in an auto accident in 2012, alleged that he was an “unknowing victim” of Moore’s civil barratry scheme. He also accused Moore and his firm of “outright theft” of client property in how it handled fees for medical providers.
In a petition filed Monday in Harris County District Court, Guillory alleged that he hired Moore after a case runner solicited him, and that the runner got a referral fee for the “illegal and unethical solicitation.” According to the petition, Moore pays case runners a flat fee of $1,000 per client for a “normal” car wreck, and $1,500 for a commercial accident.
“These payments are in cash and done under-the-table because they are illegal and unethical,” the petition alleged.
Separately, Guillory alleged that Moore used a “fraudulent scheme” to deprive him of the full amount of his settlement.
According to the petition, Moore’s firm refers personal injury clients to medical providers and chiropractors and deducts the full amount of the medical charges from the client’s settlement. However, the petition alleged, Moore and his firm “secretly negotiate” a lower fee with the medical providers, keeping the excess for themselves.
“Moore pays his staff a bonus of 3% on the balance not paid to the medical provider in order to supplement his employees’ salaries. Rather than pay the reduction to the client, Moore simply pockets the reduced amount, less the bonus to his employees,” the petition alleged.
Guillory also alleged Moore failed to properly investigate and litigate his lawsuit, and settled it for “far less” than it was worth to “make a fast buck.”
Moore did not immediately return a call seeking a comment on the allegations.
Guillory’s attorney, Lance Kassab of Kassab Law Firm in Houston, said he expects to file another lawsuit this week on behalf of another former client of Moore who is making similar allegations.
Kassab, whose practice is focused on suing lawyers, said case running is not unusual, but he’s never before heard of a lawyer allegedly keeping money from a client’s settlement after negotiating reduced fees from medical providers.
The causes of action in Guillory’s suit are: civil barratry and conspiracy to commit barratry; negligence; breach of fiduciary duty; violations of the Texas Theft Liability Act; money had and received; misapplication of fidicuary property and commercial bribery.
He is seeking more than $1 million in damages including statutory penalties for civil barratry, fee forfeiture, exemplary damages and attorney fees.