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Embattled State Lawmaker on Losing End of Malpractice Suit

Ron Reynolds, D-Missouri City, already facing the possible suspension of his law license over charges he illegally solicited clients, was ordered Friday to pay $504,000 to a former client for keeping her share of a settlement.

Rep. Ron Reynolds, D-Missouri City, during a House Environmental Regulations Committee meeting on April 16, 2013.

Embattled state Rep. Ron Reynolds, D-Missouri City, already facing the possible suspension of his law license over charges he illegally solicited clients, was ordered Friday to pay more than half a million dollars to a woman who had sued him for malpractice.

A Harris County judge ruled the three-term state lawmaker must pay Nancy Calloway $504,000 for keeping her share of a settlement he won in a 2010 lawsuit.

In an interview Saturday, Reynolds told The Texas Tribune that the court's ruling was the result of a “technicality.” He said his attorney missed a deadline to file a response and is filing a motion for a new trial to vacate the judgment.

Court documents detail that Calloway hired Reynolds, a personal injury attorney, to represent her against the truck driver and trucking company involved in the traffic crash that killed her 23-year-old daughter, April, in July 2010. Calloway agreed to settle the case for $250,000, but argues she never received the nearly $170,000 she says she was owed under their attorney-client agreement.

Reynolds said no evidence was presented in the case, adding that Calloway’s claims have “no merit” and that his office has proof she not only received her check but also cashed it.

The same goes, Reynolds said, for a ruling issued earlier this month in a separate case where a Harris County judge ordered Reynolds pay more than $95,000 for obtaining a $7,350 settlement on Ernie and Earline Murray's behalf without their knowledge or consent. He said his attorney missed a deadline in that case as well and is appealing the ruling.

Reynolds was not in court Friday but was instead in Austin, asking the Board of Disciplinary Appeals to not suspend his law license while his appeal in yet another case is pending.

The state is considering whether to suspend his law license after a Montgomery County jury convicted him in November and sentenced him to a year in jail for illegally soliciting five different clients. Reynolds says he's innocent and is appealing those convictions.

“It’s almost certain to be reversed on appeal,” he said.

Reynolds' legal woes date back to 2012, when he was arrested following an undercover investigation by the Harris County district attorney's office that determined a chiropractic firm was persuading patients to sign contracts naming him as their legal counsel before the patients had physical exams or met him. 

Those charges were dropped after two investigators involved in the case came under fire for, among other things, allegedly stealing evidence in different cases.

A month later, Reynolds was arrested again after authorities raided his law office and those of seven other area attorneys for their alleged involvement in a quarter-million-dollar kickback scheme.

Reynolds was initially convicted of misdemeanor ambulance-chasing charges in November 2014, but that verdict was overturned after a judge declared a mistrial. He was indicted again on related charges in the summer of 2015 in Montgomery County. 

Friday’s hearings came a day after Reynolds' campaign held its first event during the runoff period — a reception to sign up volunteers and fundraise for his re-election bid.

Reynolds finished first in a four-candidate field the March 1 Democratic primary, winning 48.5 percent. He faces runner-up Angelique Bartholomew, who received 24.1 percent, in a May 24 rematch.

Despite his pending legal matters, Reynolds is confident he’ll be re-elected for a fourth term representing House District 27.

“I'm up for public scrutiny, and my constituents are the best to judge if I'm able to continue to serve,” he said. “I look forward to showing the pundits what my constituents think of me.”

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Courts Criminal justice State government Ron Reynolds Texas Legislature