A Texas law firm's commitment to clearing a client’s name
A Houston law firm represented the family of a man who died after a disagreement with off-duty police officers working department store security for a national chain. A regular customer at the store, the man apparently argued with store employees and security officers. Ninety minutes later, he was on life support at a local hospital, admitted as a "John Doe." His family was not notified for nearly a day even though he carried identification.
Within two days of the incident, the man was dead. His family immediately doubted that he had died of a heart attack, as initially reported by the medical examiner's office. (The cause of death was officially changed three years later to asphyxiation.)
The family's legal team soon discovered that the death was part of a series of violent incidents at the company's stores. Four years into protracted civil litigation, during which the department store chain and the police officers were sanctioned for their litigation tactics, the family's lawyers sought help in contacting a respected national news organization.
We arranged a meeting in New York with CBS News. Our presentation led to a lengthy collaboration with 60 Minutes. Weeks before the civil trial began, the 60 Minutes report was broadcast and seen by millions of viewers.
When the lawsuit finally went to trial, one officer admitted that there had been no probable cause to arrest the man. He had not been suspected of committing a crime at the store, according to the officer’s testimony.
Seven years after his death, the man's reputation and that of his family were vindicated with a significant jury verdict. After the trial, the widow said, "No one believed us all of those years. Terrible things were said about my husband and our family. He did not deserve to die that way. Thank God for our lawyers and the people at 60 Minutes. I always hoped the truth would come out."