Do you remember the tale of Jeff Murphrey? He was the Houston-based attorney who tried to reschedule a deposition after Hurricane Ike caused significant property damage to his home.
When Dallas-based attorney Dale Markland objected (and requested Murphrey to pay rescheduling fees) Murphrey fired off this letter, which then went viral.
Well apparently Dale Markland (a.k.a J.R Ewing) has responded to Murphrey’s insult by devoting a whole section of his firm’s website to the spat. Here is Markland’s attempt to set the record straight:
* The hurricane in the Houston area occurred on September 12/13;
* Mr. Murphrey cancelled the deposition on September 23 when I was already on my way to Fort Wayne, Indiana for the deposition;
* I first got notice of this cancellation by cell phone message while in Chicago O’Hare Airport rushing to catch my connecting flight to Fort Wayne;
* The voice mail message I received in Chicago stated that Mr. Murphrey cancelled the deposition because he had meetings with contractors and city officials related to hurricane damage. It stated nothing about the horrors Mr. Murphrey addresses in his September 26 letter.
* Our firm’s attorneys attempted to gain Mr. Murphrey’s agreement that our client be recompensed for the unnecessary attorney’s fees and travel expenses entailed in my needlessly going to Fort Wayne. This is appropriate and professional behavior for attorneys who are representing their clients properly under the Texas State Bar Disciplinary Rules and The Texas Lawyers Creed. It is also, in my experience, not abnormal behavior for an attorney properly representing his client. If I had been in Mr. Murphrey’s shoes, I would have paid for the fees and expenses out of my firm’s pocket.
* Mr. Murphrey agreed to pay the travel expenses but declined to pay the attorney’s fees for the useless trip to Fort Wayne.
* It was not my fault or the fault of the client who pays my fees and expenses that Mr. Murphrey did not cancel the deposition until I was on my way to Fort Wayne.
* If Mr. Murphrey had simply picked up the telephone and called me, or had sent me an email or letter sometime between the hurricane on September 12/13 and when I left for Fort Wayne on September 23, I would have gladly agreed to re-set the deposition he had noticed. Then my client would not have been stuck with the fees and expenses of my useless trip to Fort Wayne.
* The first I knew of Mr. Murphrey’s story of horrors regarding his home damage was when I received his September 26 letter–after he cancelled the deposition, after I had made the useless trip to Fort Wayne, after I had appropriately determined whether Mr. Murphrey or his client would pay for the needless fees and expenses and after he had declined to pay my client for the fees.
* I am very sympathetic to Mr. Murphrey and his home situation, but it is not my client’s fault that Mr. Murphrey failed to cancel the deposition before I left, and the client should not bear this significant financial burden. My duty under Texas law is to uphold the interest of my client and that is what I have attempted to do.
More Markland excerpts after the jump.