I’ve been sitting on some very nice legal briefs out of Lafayette Parish for a few weeks now regarding a pair of highly unethical lawyers in Baker Donelson partner Monico Frois and her insurance defense sidekick Daniel Brenner with the firm of Bolen, Parker, Brenner, Lee & Gremillion out of Alexandria.
This post will highlight their shameful conduct in Landry v PSA of Lafayette but to set up Baker Donelson, I’ll first remind our readers they landed on our radar screen when Deputy Mississippi Insurance Commish Lee Harrell left MID and went to work there. The revolving door in the insurance biz is nothing unusual but Harrell took brazen to another level as Baker Donelson counts State Farm as a client and before he left MID Harrell whitewashed the Market Conduct Study untaken by MID against State Farm for their shameful claims practices in Mississippi after Hurricane Katrina before collecting his payoff for same via Baker Donelson’s Jackson Mississippi office.
Through time I collected a few tidbits on Baker Donelson ethical sleazery so their latest bit of jackassery came as no surprise. Following the insurance litigation indicated to me a sizable segment of the insurance defense bar could not win a case unless corners were cut and sadly there are plenty of lazy judges that allow all manner of underhanded tactics simply so cases move off their dockets. Federal Judges in particular have a reputation for such laziness.
So I’ll set up Landry with a quote from a lawyer that has tangled with Baker Donelson’s Monica Frois to get a flavor of how she is viewed by her peers:
I’ve had cases with Monica Frois in the past. She’s a c–t and a world class cheater…….
So with that endorsement I eagerly dug into the 87 page transcript of the contempt hearing held in Lafayette in late September before 15th JDC Judge Edward Broussard in the case of Landry v PSA of Lafayette and indeed found unethical behavior that would make the Oxford Mississippi Insurance defense bar blush and that folks is saying something! The part where ol’ Monica claimed medical incapacitation due to a few pimples on her ass is simply priceless. 😉 In a highly unusual move, instead of finding Frois and Brenner guilty on multiple contempt charges Judge Broussard referred them to the Louisiana ODC. This is especially delicious because you find this blurb on Monica’s bio page at Baker Donelson:
Monica Frois is a shareholder in the Firm’s New Orleans office and concentrates her practice on health care matters as well as complex litigation, insurance coverage, legal ethics and professional responsibility litigation…….
While I’m highlighting Baker Donelson we’ve seen several firms mentioned time and again for practicing shithouse law. For instance Ungarino and Eckert had a predilection for filing fraudulent removal motions, Adams and Reese has done more sleazy things than I can mention and keep this post semi short while Phelps Dunbar has never met a conflict of interest it failed to exploit. The lawyers I speak with continually name the same names over and over and it bears out in the news cycle. With that said this would not be a Ménage à Frois without another example of a major ethical lapse on Baker Donelson’s part and Slabbed’s case archives provided it in the case of Perfect Company v Essex Insurance et al.
In Perfect Company we find Baker Donelson paying fact witnesses (pdf page 5) and this is a huge no no as Lee Harrell no doubt would tell you. You see a good bit was written about paying fact witnesses during Scruggs Mania, especially by insurance defense types shilling for State Farm at the time. As a layman my point of view is a bit different as I never saw the point in attacking the non lawyer witnesses since few folks outside the legal profession understand why it is important fact witnesses not be bought. Nope, in my mind the blame for such things squarely rests with the lawyers that should know better.
Organizationally one naturally wonders what causes a large organization to be ethically rudderless and the only thing I can think of is a win at all costs mentality coupled with judges that tolerate such crap. This problem is not inherent to the proverbial large law firm either. There are several “downtown firms” that never see the light of day on Slabbed because they do their jobs ethically and likely take the attitude that even if you bring your A game to the courthouse every time you occasionally lose one.
Most judges wouldn’t have the sack to refer partners from large politically connected firms to the ODC like Judge Broussard did in Landry. Seems to me the good people in Lafayette have a keeper folks.
We’ll be keeping our eye on Ms Frois and the ODC.