'American Sniper's' Widow Sues Her Attorney
DALLAS (CN) - The widow of the late Navy SEAL sniper and author Chris Kyle claims in court that her estate planning attorney's malpractice cost her more than $1 million.
Taya Kyle, of Midlothian, and the estate of her husband Chris Kyle sued Christopher Kirkpatrick, of Dallas, on Aug. 14 in Dallas County Court.
Chris Kyle and his friend Chad Littlefield were shot to death in February 2013 at a firing range in Erath County, allegedly by a troubled Marine veteran, Eddie Ray Routh.
Taya Kyle claims Kirkpatrick was trustee of her family trust and prepared legal documents for her.
"Kirkpatrick breached his agreement with both Chris and Taya Kyle, and was negligent in rendering legal services," the complaint states. "Kirkpatrick also had irreconcilable conflicts of interest, which he did not fully explain or disclose to the Kyles. Neither Chris Kyle nor Taya Kyle were ever informed by Kirkpatrick of these conflicts of interests nor were they asked to waive such conflicts. Kirkpatrick also has failed, and continues to fail, to keep and protect Chris Kyle and Taya Kyle's confidences and secrets pursuant to their attorney-client privileges - which have never been waived."
Kyle claims Kirkpatrick should not have represented her or her husband because his representation was limited by responsibilities to third parties and his own interests.
"Thus, he was not able to consider, recommend, or carry out an appropriate course of action for plaintiffs because of Kirkpatrick's own self-interests and his responsibilities to others," the complaint states. "The plaintiffs were entitled to, and did, place their trust and confidence in Kirkpatrick, and did expect that he would represent them completely and zealously within the bounds of the law, and in accordance with the Canons of Ethics and Disciplinary Rules applicable to attorneys licensed to practice in Texas."
Kyle claims that Kirkpatrick's breach of fiduciary duties to her and her husband cost her "well in excess" of $1 million.
Kirkpatrick did not respond to an email request for comment Friday afternoon.
Tara Kyle seeks actual and punitive damages for legal malpractice, breach of contract and breach of fiduciary duties. She is represented by Lawrence Friedman with Friedman Feiger in Dallas.
Kyle has frequented the courthouse since her husband's death. In 2013, she sued her husband's business partners with Craft International LLC, Craft International Risk Management LLC and former hedge fund managers Steven Young and Bo French, in Dallas County Court. She claimed they "hijacked" his tactical-training company after his death and froze her out of its books.
In July this year, a Minneapolis federal jury awarded former Minnesota Gov. Jesse Ventura $1.85 million in damages for defamation from Chris Kyle's estate. Ventura sued after Chris Kyle claimed in his 2012 book, "American Sniper," that he had punched out a celebrity while mourning the death of a fellow servicemember. Chris Kyle did not identify Ventura explicitly in the book, but he allegedly did so in subsequent interviews promoting the book.