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Texas Rep. Ordered to Pay $3 Million Legal Malpractice Judgment
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Sergio Munoz Jr

Summary: A southern Texas attorney and lawmaker was given a $3 million legal malpractice judgment for not disclosing his relationship with a presiding judge to his clients.

A south Texas attorney and lawmaker has been hit with a nearly $3 million legal malpractice judgment for failing to disclose his corporate relationship with a judge presiding over his case. U.S. District Judge Micaela Alvarez of McAllen handed down the $2.9 million judgment on Sergio Munoz Jr.

  
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Munoz, a Democratic state lawmaker from Palmview, was sued by Law Funder, a New Jersey litigation funding company in 2014. Law Funder had hired him to represent them in a messy divorce proceeding in Hidaldo Country. Law Funder claimed an interest in a Mexican law firm that was part of the division of assets in the case. They claim he never told them about his relationship with 449th District Judge Jesse Contreras, who was presiding over the case.

Munoz and Contreras were former partners of their practice Contreras & Munoz. A year after Law Funder hired Munoz, Contreras was disqualified from hearing the case once a senior district judge called foul on his corporate relationship with Munoz. The legal malpractice complaint filed by Law Funder against Munoz and his solo law firm alleged that they would never have hired him if they were aware of his previous relationship with Contreras.

A default judgment legal malpractice award was granted by Alvarez against Munoz in February. Alvarez found that Munoz was the cause of a delay in the case since he did not cooperate with the discovery process. She wrote in her order, “The existence of defendants’ corporate association with Judge Contreras thus created a duty for the defendants to be honest with plaintiff from the beginning about this relationship, so plaintiff could make an informed decision about whether or not to retain defendants as counsel of record.”

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Law Funder successfully provided enough evidence showing that Munoz committed legal malpractice in his failure to disclose his relationship with Contreras. Due to his actions, Law Funder paid over a million dollars in litigation over several years that was reversed when Contreras was disqualified from the case. Alvarez found that they sufficiently plead actual damages from this.

Munoz has hired Francisco J. Rodriguez of McAllen to represent him.



According to his law firm’s website, Munoz received a degree in Business Administration from the University of Texas at Austin. He then went on to Texas Southern University and received a law degree from Thurgood Marshall School of Law. He focused on civil and criminal law, serving as a Municipal Judge in Palmview and as a member of the Hidalgo County Bar Association.

He is also a member of the Texas Criminal Defense Lawyer Association and the Palmview Crime Stoppers. He is the current candidate for the Texas House of Representatives of District 36. This district includes the cities of McAllen, Hidalgo, Palmview, Mission, Granjeno, Pharr, and Penitas.

Do you think a $3 million hit is enough for blatantly causing a problem for his clients? Share your thoughts in the comments below.

To learn more about Texas lawyers acting inappropriately, read these articles:

Photo: edinburgpolitics.com



 

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