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Law 360

Jan 1, 2019

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Appeals Court Wipes Out $45M In West Texas Oil Lease Fight

A Texas appellate court axed about $45 million of a jury award stemming from a dispute between business partners who planned to buy oil and gas leases and flip them for a profit, holding there wasn't enough evidence to show an actual partnership between the members or a conspiracy to cut some out of the deal.

But in an opinion issued Monday, the Eleventh Court of Appeals did allow investors Richard Raughton — a geologist who identified the prospective leases — and his friend and business partner Lowry Hunt, of L.W. Hunt Resources, to keep about $6.2 million in damages against their former business partner, attorney, and friend, Kerwin Stephens of Stephens & Myers LLP.

Michael K. Hurst of Lynn Pinker Cox Hurst LLP, who represents Raughton and Hunt, told Law360 on Thursday the Eleventh Court of Appeals' opinion underscores that “a law license is not a license for attorneys to hide the truth, steal and double deal.”

“The Eastland Court of Appeals held the attorney and law firm defendants accountable for the repugnant conduct of counsel and the betrayal of the trust of our clients and the special duties that are entrusted to our profession,” he said. “This type of conduct engaged in by Stephens and his law firm is precisely the type of conduct that denigrates our profession.”

Raughton and L.W. Hunt Resources LLC are represented by Michael K. Hurst, Jonathan R. Childers, David Coale and Christina Mullen Carroll of Lynn Pinker Cox Hurst LLP and Scott A. Brister of Hunton Andrews Kurth LLP.

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