Brothers who sued Harris Co. now suing atty

October 16, 2008 3:52:07 PM PDT
They sued the sheriff's department and won. Two men whose civil rights case set off a chain of events that cost the Harris County district attorney his job are now in another legal battle, this time with the attorney who helped them win a huge settlement. The Ibarra case started in 2002 when the brothers were arrested while videotaping a sheriff's department drug raid at a neighbor's home. They filed a lawsuit against the sheriff's department, claiming their civil rights were violated. After a court case which shook up leadership within Harris County, the Ibarras walked away with a settlement of nearly $2 million.

The Ibarra brothers are accusing attorney Lloyd Kelley of breach of contract, claiming he tried to defraud them by charging them for expenses he could not justify. Lloyd Kelley is firing back, calling the brothers greedy.

Earlier this year, Erik and Sean Ibarra received a $1.7 million settlement after they successfully sued the Harris County sheriff's office for violating their civil rights. Now, the brothers are taking legal action against the lawyer who represented them in that case, local attorney Lloyd Kelley. At issue is the amount of legal expenses Kelley incurred during the trial.

According to the lawsuit, Kelley charged the Ibarra brothers $256,000, not the $130,000 he claimed in papers filed with the court.

"Erik looked at in greater detail, asked for the backup and then became suspicious when the backup did not contain invoices for these two very large charges," said attorney Randy Sorrels, who is representing the Ibarras.

The Ibarra brothers claim Kelley charged them an extra $115,000 for expenses they claim they knew nothing about. A supplemental expense report shows a jury consulting fee of $95,000 to attorney Tammy Tran.

"She not only did jury consulting, but she did legal research," said Kelley. "She came in and worked the case. She was there at jury selection."

Then there's the fee of $20,000 to Quannel X, a local community activist. You may remember, Mr. X organized a rally in front of the sheriff's office and the jail.

"He was a consultant. He got advertisement out. That courtroom was packed on several days. Transportation cost was included in that. I don't have a problem with that," said Kelley.

Kelley claims neither did Erik or Sean Ibarra. He maintains the brothers were well aware that Tammy Tran and Quannel X weren't working for free.

"It really looks like Mr. Kelley is trying to revictimize the Ibarra brothers," said Sorrels.

Kelley says he can and will produce invoices for the two charges the Ibarra brothers are questioning. The Ibarra brothers did not want to make any statements regarding the lawsuit.

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