Client Claims Lawyer Billed Her for Sex | Courthouse News Service
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Client Claims Lawyer Billed Her for Sex

HASTINGS, Minn. (CN) - A woman sued her divorce attorney, claiming he charged her legal fees for the time they spent having sex while he represented her.

Jane Doe sued Thomas P. Lowe and the Law Office of Thomas Lowe, in Dakota County Court.

She claims that when Lowe's wife found out about the affair Lowe blamed her for ruining his marriage, ended their relationship and dropped her case, which made her try to kill herself.

The Minnesota Supreme Court suspended Lowe in January, after Doe brought the affair to light while recovering from the attempted suicide.

"Plaintiff has a history of sexual abuse by a high school coach and has suffered from depression, insomnia, and panic attacks - among other things - at different points in her life," the complaint states. "She previously attempted suicide and has received mental health treatment to cope with the sexual abuse. As such, plaintiff is constituted [sic] a vulnerable client, of which Thomas Lowe was aware."

Doe claims Lowe had known about her history of sexual abuse since 1996, when she met with him "for a family matter."

When she hired Lowe as her divorce attorney in August 2011, she says, she told him again about the sexual abuse, and about her 26-year marriage.

She says Lowe agreed to represent her in the divorce at an hourly rate of $250.

"Several days after the August 18 meeting, defendant emailed plaintiff asking her to call him," the complaint states. "During the telephone conversation, defendant asked plaintiff about her sexual relationship with her husband. Defendant also asked plaintiff if she was willing to enter into a sexual relationship with him and told her a sexual relationship would not impair his ability to represent her in the divorce.

"Some time in late 2011, defendant persuaded plaintiff to meet for a sexual encounter. At the time, defendant was aware that plaintiff had been a victim of sexual abuse, and was also aware that she had previously attempted suicide. Defendant was also aware that plaintiff had attended therapy for many years to deal with the trauma of the sexual abuse.

"On Sept. 1, 2011, while plaintiff was relying on defendant for legal counsel, they engaged in sexual relations for the first time at the Holiday Inn Express in Eagan, Minnesota."

Doe claims she had sex with Lowe several times that fall and the following spring, and that he billed her for meetings on those days.

"On Oct. 25, 2011, plaintiff and defendant engaged in sexual relations in defendant's vehicle in the parking lot of Ansari's restaurant in Eagan," the complaint states. "Defendant billed plaintiff $100 in attorney's fees for meeting with plaintiff and drafting a memo to the file.

"On Nov. 17, 2011, plaintiff and defendant met at plaintiff's home and engaged in sexual relations. Defendant billed plaintiff $250 for meeting with plaintiff.

"On March 1, 2012, plaintiff and defendant met at plaintiff's home and engaged in sexual relations. Defendant billed plaintiff $75 for meeting with plaintiff.

"In early December 2011, defendant's wife learned of his relationship with defendant [sic]. Defendant blamed plaintiff for ruining his marriage and threatened to commit suicide. Plaintiff began suffering from depression, insomnia, and panic attacks because of the stress of her relationship with defendant and the divorce proceedings. Plaintiff sought assistance from a physician, who prescribed anti-depressants."

Doe claims that in March 2012 Lowe ended their sexual relationship and withdrew from her divorce without completing the case.

"On March 8, 2012, plaintiff became upset with defendant and left work," the complaint states. "She went to a park and tried to kill herself by cutting her wrists. While she was bleeding profusely, she called a co-worker who was able to guide police to her location. She was taken to the hospital where she received stitches and psychological care."

Doe claims that Lowe mishandled her divorce case, failed to respond promptly to discovery requests, and delayed the divorce so he could charge her more.

She says the divorce was never finalized because of the delay.

She seeks damages for negligence, legal malpractice, breach of fiduciary duty and negligent infliction of emotional distress.

She is represented by Paul Sortland of Minneapolis.

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