HOUSTON (FOX 26) - Texas State Representative Ron Reynolds has been hit with yet another legal blow. Reynolds has now lost a judgment against him and he's ordered to pay a former client more than a half-million dollars.
In a civil court hearing, the State Representative is accused of winning a settlement for a client, a woman whose daughter died in a car crash, and then keeping the money. A judge now says Reynolds has to pay that woman the settlement money and then some.
“It isn’t about money," says Nancy Calloway with tears in her eyes. "This is just a mother’s fight to get justice for her daughter.”
Harris County Civil Court Judge Grant Dorfman listened to Calloway and her attorney Jim Culpepper explain how they say State Representative Reynolds won a $250,000 settlement on Calloway's behalf but allegedly didn't tell her.
”He took money in the settlement of a case from Nancy Calloway," explains Culpepper. "Her daughter had died in an automobile collision.”
Calloway says it was two years after Reynolds received the check when she found out there even was a financial settlement. Reynolds was representing Calloway after her 23-year-old daughter April, her only child, died in that automobile accident in July 2010.
“I'm in disbelief that anybody could do this to a mother," says a tearful Calloway. "It's added on tragedy that didn't need to be. It's more pain in a painful situation.”
Calloway sued Reynolds for "breach of fiduciary duty, fraud, deceptive trade practices,” according to Culpepper.
Judge Dorfman ruled in Calloway’s favor, ordering Reynolds to pay $504,000 to Calloway. The judge also apologized to the grieving mother saying it's “especially upsetting and troubling when this is a member of the bar and a state rep."
The judge awarded actual and exemplary damages.
“Exemplary damages are awarded for intentional conduct, malice, that sort of thing,” says Culpepper who also represented a woman in 2012 who said Reynolds did the same thing -- won her law settlement and didn't tell her. How did that case end?
”He paid money," explains Culpepper. "It was a confidential settlement but he paid money."
“Any other woman that has been through this, this is all I could do to help you," says Calloway. "I took this on because I saw other women showing up at his office the way I was. There was one woman in particular I overheard. She didn't even have the gas money to get there. Some guy had driven her a ride and she said, 'But he promised I would have a check today. I have to pay my rent.'”
Reynolds is in a runoff election in May, hoping to be re-elected as the District 27 State Representative.
“If you can vote for Ron Reynolds at this point to represent you for anything, God bless you and I wish you the best with that,” says Calloway.
Reynolds nor his attorney attended the hearing on Friday.
Reynolds was sentenced in 2015 to a year in jail after he was convicted in Montgomery County of barratry, commonly known as ambulance chasing, which Culpepper also claims Reynolds did to Calloway.
”Ron Reynolds was at her house two days after her daughter died,” says Culpepper.
Reynolds is free in that barratry case pending an appeal.
State Rep. Reynolds spoke with FOX 26 News and said the judgment was issued because his attorney missed a deadline to file a response and his lawyer is filing a motion for a new trial to vacate the judgment.