HOUSTON (CN) - An attorney who secured an $11 million settlement over toxic wood chips abandoned a client, who got nothing, and told clients who did get money to keep quiet about it, the client claims in court.
Caleb Hinton and his mother Larissa Vickers sued Dana Kirk, individually and dba Law Offices of Dana G. Kirk in Harris County Court.
Hinton and Vickers say they hired Kirk in 2001 to represent them "because of injuries and damages sustained as a result of exposure to hazardous substances, including but not limited to heavy metals, arsenic, and other toxic substances."
"Thereafter a lawsuit was filed on behalf of the plaintiffs and numerous other plaintiffs ('the underlying litigation') alleging they were suffering various diseases and cancers caused by their exposure to dioxins from the burning of wood chips allegedly sold by and distributed by Powe Timber Company and others in the state of Mississippi.
"Plaintiff Larissa Vickers was at all times the mother of plaintiff Caleb Hinton.
"Plaintiff Caleb Hinton was diagnosed with patent urachus, which the experts in the underlying litigation medically related to plaintiffs' exposure to dioxin from the burning wood chips.
"Mr. Hinton is now sterile."
Patent urachus is a birth defect in which there is an opening between the bladder and the bellybutton. It can be fixed with surgery.
Hinton turned 18 in August, his attorney told Courthouse News.
"The underlying litigation was settled for an aggregate amount of $11 million," the complaint states. "Despite plaintiff Caleb Hinton's diagnosis and causal relationship to the exposure he received no money from the settlement.
"Other plaintiffs in the underlying litigation received monetary settlements (some of whom, unlike plaintiff, had conditions that were questionably caused by the exposure to dioxin from the burning of wood chips).
"In addition, defendants' entered into an agreement with certain of the plaintiffs in the underlying litigation that if these plaintiffs agreed to the settlement that the defendants herein would guarantee them a certain sum of money.
"Defendants herein also required that the plaintiffs in the underlying litigation who made this agreement keep the agreement a secret from the other plaintiffs.
"Further, defendants failed to prosecute plaintiffs' underlying case to a verdict, judgment or settlement, essentially abandoning the plaintiffs." (Parentheses in complaint.)
Hinton and Vickers seek punitive damages for gross negligence, deceptive trade, breach of contract, breach of fiduciary duty, fraud, conspiracy and abandonment.
They are represented by Houston attorney Daniel Gartner.
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