Court of Appeals of Texas, Ninth District, Beaumont
EFREM D. SEWELL, Appellant
JOSEPH GUILLORY II, Appellee And EFREM D. SEWELL, Appellant
ZURICH AMERICAN INSURANCE COMPANY, Appellee
Submitted on July 11, 2017
Appeal from the County Court at Law No. 1 Jefferson County,
Texas Trial Cause No. 127, 976
McKeithen, C.J., Horton and Johnson, JJ.
dispute relates to the payment of attorney's fees. In
cause number 127, 976, filed in the Jefferson County Court at
Law No. 1, attorney Efrem Sewell (Appellant or Sewell), filed
suit against two parties: his former client, Joseph Guillory
II (Guillory), and the insurance company that paid a personal
injury settlement to Guillory, Zurich American Insurance
Company (Zurich). Sewell alleged that Guillory and Zurich
settled the personal injury claim without paying Sewell's
contingent fee. In two separate orders, the trial court
granted Guillory's no-evidence motion for summary
judgment and Zurich's traditional motion for summary
judgment. Sewell appeals the summary judgments in favor of
Guillory and Zurich.
Regarding the Underlying Personal Injury Lawsuit
of 2012, Guillory was riding his motorcycle when he was
involved in an accident with another vehicle allegedly driven
by Darius Clifton and owned or operated by Diakon Logistics,
Inc. (Diakon). Guillory initially hired Sewell to act as his
attorney with respect to his claims against Clifton and
Diakon. Guillory and Sewell executed a document styled
"Contract for Legal Representation" dated June 28,
2012 (hereinafter the "Sewell Fee Agreement").
Pertinent provisions of the Sewell Fee Agreement include the
1.02 In consideration of the services rendered and to be
rendered to Client by said Attorney, the Client does hereby
grant, sell, assign and convey to the said Attorney as his
compensation herein the following present undivided interest
in said claim, 33 1/3% of all funds including PIP that are
recovered before suit is filed, and 40% if a collection or
settlement is made after suit is filed.
. . . .
1.05 . . . The Attorney may, in his absolute discretion,
terminate this agreement at any time by giving me notice of
such termination orally or in writing . . . .
. . . .
2.03 No settlement shall be made without Client's
approval, nor shall Client obtain any settlement on the
aforesaid claims without the Attorney's approval.
. . . .
2.05 However, if in the Attorney's opinion, a fair and
reasonable settlement offer is made by an adverse party and
[C]lient rejects the advice [of] Attorney to settle, then at
Attorney's option, Client shall immediately be obligated
to reimburse Attorney for costs and expenses incurred to that
time and Attorney may withdraw from the case, retaining a
lien for the Attorney fees as outlined in Paragraph
Three, based ...