COVINGTON – A man who became a quadriplegic after a car accident is suing the law firm who represented him in a personal lawsuit after it allegedly received $1.4 million in legal fees without his knowledge or agreement.
Claude Allen Newsome filed suit against Norman R. Gordon and Norman R. Gordon & Associates LLC in the 22nd Judicial District Court on Jan. 21.
Newsome contends that after he was severely injured in a car accident on Nov. 23, 2010, in which his spinal cord was damaged and he became paralyzed from the neck down, he hired the law firm Norman R. Gordon & Associates to represent him in a personal injury lawsuit.
The plaintiff asserts that on Dec. 2, 2010 the defendants filed a lawsuit on his behalf in the 26th Judicial District Court in Webster Parish to recover damages to compensate for his injuries. However, unbeknownst to him at the time Newsome claims the law firm also filed and was granted “petition for limited interdiction” on Newsome’s behalf insisting that he was incapable of handling his own legal matters.
Newsroom has maintained that despite his injuries at the time he was of sound mind and able to handle this one legal affair. In addition, he claims there were several problems with the “petition for limited interdiction” including the lack of a medical opinion deeming him unfit and lack of an affidavit with supporting facts on why Newsome should be deemed unfit to act on his own behalf. He also claims he was not served with interdiction proceedings and a curator was appointed to handle his affairs without being given a date of termination as required by state law. The plaintiff contends that the curator named on behalf, Eugene Lansdale, was never authorized by him to handle his legal affairs and it was not until four years following the suffering of his injuries, in 2014, that he was made aware Lansdale was acting on his behalf.
In 2014, Newsome also asserts he participated in mediation in the case and rejected several settlements he considered not to be equitable for his injuries that were recommended both by the defendant in that case as well as his legal representatives working for Norman R. Gordon & Associates.
The plaintiff alleges that at one point a representative Norman R. Gordon & Associates told him the defendant in the case would filed for bankruptcy and that he should accept at $7.2 million that Newsome rejected as being too low. It was not until he was allegedly told by Norman R. Gordon & Associates that he would receive $5.2 million, after legal fees, in a final settlement that he settled the case, but he actually only received $3.8 million after Norman R. Gordon & Associates allegedly took $1.4 million for legal fees.
However, as a result of the interdiction order, Newsome asserts the settlement funds were, against his wishes, deposited into a trust controlled by a third party and at the discretion of Norman R. Gordon & Associates.
The defendant is accused of breach of contract, conversion of funds, legal malpractice, intentional infliction of emotional distress and defamation.
An unspecified amount in damages is sought by the plaintiff to include attorney’s and legal fees.
Newsome is represented by Don M. Richard of New Orleans-based Kinney, Ellinghausen, Richard & DeShazo.
The case has been assigned to Division F Judge Michael P. Mentz.
Case no. 2015-10191.