Chapman Children's Trust v. Porter & Hedges, L.L.P

In Chapman Children's Trust v. Porter & Hedges, L.L.P., 32 S.W.3d 429 (Tex. App.--Houston 14th Dist. 2000, pet. denied), the plaintiffs, who had intervened in the underlying lawsuit, alleged that an opposing party's law firm had committed fraud and civil conspiracy in its handling of a settlement. The plaintiffs alleged that the law firm had concealed information related to the settlement, "despite the fact that it knew its client had other creditors attempting to seize" the proceeds; made improper deductions; accused the plaintiffs of fraud; and "did nothing to assist" the plaintiffs, even though it "knew that its client had told the plaintiffs that they would 'never see "one dime" of the net proceeds unless they agreed to reduce their interest in the net proceeds.'" Id. at 441. The Fourteenth Court of Appeals, after noting that it was required to focus on the type of conduct in which the attorneys had engaged rather than on whether the conduct was meritorious in the context of the underlying lawsuit, concluded that the plaintiff's allegations did no more than demonstrate that the attorneys had attempted to negotiate a smaller settlement on their clients' behalf. Id. at 442.