Henry S. Miller Prevails in Decade-Long Conflict
For Henry S. Miller Companies (HSM), April 2014 marked the completion of a business conflict that spanned approximately ten years. Henry S. Miller successfully defended its name, reputation and business practices in two separate lawsuits that arose from a fraudulent real estate transaction begun by a con artist, posing as a client that an HSM associate represented.
Sam Kartalis, President and COO of Henry S. Miller Realty Services has been involved since the start of the case(s) and played a vital role in the successful outcome. “After a decade of exhausting legal issues, legal fees and damage to the Henry S. Miller Company name, we successfully defended Henry S. Miller’s reputation. This is not only a significant win for us, but for every real estate company doing business in Texas,” said Kartalis.
It all began in 2004, when the underlying $90 million commercial real estate deal was signed but did not close. In 2008, the prospective sellers sued Henry S. Miller Commercial and its former associate, Steven Defterios, for misrepresentation and fraud. Diamond State Insurance, the real estate errors and omission’s insurer for HSM, assigned Steven Terry and his law firm, Newsom, Terry & Newsom to represent Henry S. Miller and Defterios. During the one week trial the defense attorney representing HSM provided only a four minute defense in the underlying case, and failed to present any facts or expert witnesses to testify on behalf of HSM. The jury returned a verdict of $8,918,720 against HSM and the plaintiffs subsequently forced HSM into involuntary bankruptcy.
Henry S. Miller, through Shields Legal Group, sued Diamond State for breach of contract and other allegations. The Court granted HSM’s summary judgment and awarded the policy limits of $1,000,000, plus attorney’s fees and interest. After further negotiations, Diamond State settled all claims directed against them for an amount in excess of the policy limits.
A legal malpractice lawsuit was also filed against Steve Terry of Newsome Terry and Newsome by Shields Legal Group on behalf of Henry S. Miller. It was this case that was tried for 3 weeks in April before a Dallas County jury, who awarded damages in the amount of $4,636,088. After the trial, the Court awarded HSM $615,000 in attorney’s fees as additional damages caused by the legal malpractice.
The year 2014 is a special one for Henry S. Miller. “As we celebrate our 100th anniversary this year, we are mindful of the principles that the Henry S. Miller Companies were founded upon; integrity and service,” noted Greg Miller, President and CEO of Henry S. Miller. “We are so very thankful to the Shields Legal Group, Jim Shields, Bart Higgins and David Shields for their superior legal assistance and to Sam Kartalis, for his tenacity and loyalty throughout the case.”
The lead attorney for both cases acknowledged the time span of almost ten years. “It has been a long and winding road,” Jim Shields noted. “Despite all of the obstacles, defenses and attempts to side track the litigation, I am most proud of the fact that we vigilantly safeguarded the Miller name and corporate image.”