Updated: Mike Lynn, Jeremy Fielding and Amanda Tyler Represent Al Hill Jr. in High-Profile Trust and RICO Litigation
By Diane Jennings / The Dallas Morning News / email@example.com
The high-profile firm of Bickel & Brewer was disqualified by a federal judge Friday from representing the great-grandson of oilman H.L. Hunt in his fight for a share of the multibillion-dollar family fortune. Judge Reed O'Connor ruled that Bickel & Brewer had formed an attorney-client relationship with Al G. Hill Jr. in another lawsuit and therefore was prohibited from representing his son, Al G. Hill III, in his battle against his father and other family members over control of two family trusts. "The Court finds that disqualification of B&B is appropriate given the appearance of impropriety and risk of public suspicion of the justice system were B&B allowed to continue," Judge O'Connor said. Hundreds of thousands of dollars in legal fees are involved because the lawsuit targets the administration of two multibillion-dollar trusts: the Margaret Hunt Hill Trust Estate and the Haroldson Lafayette Hunt Jr. Trust Estate. "I think I've been vindicated," said Al Hill Jr., who requested the disqualification, claiming that before he and his son were estranged, Bickel & Brewer represented him in another lawsuit. Attorney Bill Brewer "takes cases just to try to run up fees," Mr. Hill said. "He just hops from one client to another, who frankly, like ourselves, don't do their research properly before they hire him." Mr. Hill says Mr. Brewer represented him in a lawsuit over another family trust, that of Benjamin Coates. Mr. Coates, a self-made billionaire not related to the Hunts or Hills, died in 2004, and Al Hill III says Mr. Coates wanted him to manage the trust instead of Mr. Coates' daughter. Al Hill Jr. was a friend of Mr. Coates and introduced him to Al Hill III. Mr. Brewer issued a prepared statement that said, "We respectfully disagree with the decision and, naturally, we are disappointed. We are closely reviewing the decision and evaluating options for moving forward." His client, Al Hill III, said he was "surprised and disappointed" by the decision. He added in a prepared statement that he was "considering all my options." The decision could be appealed to a higher court, but Judge O'Connor made it clear he would not take up the issue again. "This Court does not intend to revisit the disqualification issue," he wrote." And the parties are ordered to file no further pleading on this issue." Judge O'Connor also ordered replacement counsel to be retained within 45 days. Attorney Mike Lynn, who represented the senior Hill, said he was "proud of Al [Jr.] for sticking up for himself during the course of this and hopefully that it will lead to resolution between father and son." But Al Hill III's statement didn't hold much hope of that. "This doesn't change the facts or merits of my underlying case," he said "which I will continue to pursue moving forward."