Asbestos fees drama between Umphrey, Coon ends

David Yates Aug. 3, 2010, 12:15pm

Thomas Walter Umphrey


BEAUMONT, Texas (Legal Newsline) - The ongoing legal battle between the Provost Umphrey law firm and attorney Brent Coon over attorneys fees garnered from asbestos litigation ended Thursday, as appellate justices dismissed an appeal.

In February, the Southeast Texas Record reported that Coon, a former Provost Umphrey attorney, successfully petitioned Judge Milton Shuffield to seal an arbitration award stemming from a lawsuit over asbestos attorneys fees on the basis that it was none of the public's concern.

A month later, Coon filed a motion for a new trial, asking the judge to vacate the arbitration award.

Coon claimed the arbitrator was wrong in awarding fees to PU attorney Bryan Blevins for his work on asbestos litigation driven by Coon, court papers show.

PU responded in May by filing a motion for sanctions, claiming Coon failed to answer required interrogatories and refused to comply with discovery requests.

Judge Shuffield declined to rule on either motion, persuading Coon to file a writ of mandamus to the Ninth Court of Appeals in hope of landing a new trial.

On July 22 justices issued a memorandum opinion dismissing Coon's appeal.

"The appellants, Brent W. Coon, P.C. and Brent W. Coon, individually, filed a motion to dismiss this appeal," the opinion states. "The motion is voluntarily made by the appellants prior to any decision of this Court. No other party filed notice of appeal. We grant the motion and dismiss the appeal."

Court records show that the case has been officially disposed, as the parties reached an out-of-court agreement.

For several years, the attorneys have been warring over millions in attorney's fees flowing from asbestos litigation.

The attorneys have also been in battle over fees received from the state's multi-billion dollar tobacco settlement in separate litigation.

Provost Umphrey was represented in part by Orgain, Bell & Tucker attorney Gary Reger.

Coon was represented by the Law Office of Keith Kebodeaux.

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