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January 2012

Bob Bragalone Wins Summary Judgment and Dismissal of All Claims in Million-Dollar Fee Dispute

In a case that garnered much national attention, several formerly incarcerated Texas prisoners who were exonerated and freed based on DNA evidence sued their attorney, Kevin Glasheen, to void fee agreements they claimed did not cover the services for which he was purporting to charge them -- in one case, over a million dollars.  Glasheen claimed to have had a major role in influencing a legislative amendment that increased the statutory compensation for wrongly incarcerated prisoners, but his contingent fee agreement only covered filing suit, which he never did.  Instead, when the former prisoners applied to the state (filling out a one-page form) for guaranteed compensation, Glasheen sent them an invoice for 25% of the entire amount of statutory compensation -- not only present compensation, not only the compensation representing an increase over the pre-amendment compensation, but future and contingent compensation as well, essentially seeking an enormous fee for no legal services under the agreement, and one that included monies not received and that might never be received.  During the litigation, the State Bar of Texas opened an investigation of Glasheen that is still ongoing, and Bob suggested new legislation that was passed to eliminate contingent fee agreements in these matters after the chief legislative sponsor of the statute expressed dismay that Glasheen was seeking to use the Legislature's new bill for his own gain.

Glasheen sued for the full amount of his fee against the one exoneree who had refused to pay any of it.   After extended litigation that spanned multiple suits in three Texas jurisdictions, Bob won a motion for summary judgment that forced dismissal of all claims against  his client, Steven Phillips.  Bob also recovered settlements for two other exonerees who sued Glasheen.  All in all, it was a clean sweep and a very satisfying victory for some wrongfully convicted men who, tragically, were twice victimized by our legal system.

Robert A. Bragalone