Houston lawyers James Wesley “Wes” Christian (pictured) and John M. O’Quinn were both at Houston’s William P. Hobby Airport in the early morning of Oct. 29 to catch a flight to San Antonio for a meeting with executives of client Overstock.com. But instead of boarding the flight, O’Quinn left the airport and drove back to his house to pick up some papers. On his way home, O'Quinn was killed when the car he was driving crashed into a tree along Allen Parkway. Christian, a partner in Christian, Smith & Jewell of Houston, says he learned of his close friend’s death a couple hours later after O’Quinn failed to arrive for the business meeting with Overstock.com executives. Christian says he had arrived at the airport for the 7:15 a.m. flight, when O’Quinn called him at around 7 a.m. to say he was on his way and to ask Christian to see if Southwest Airlines would hold the flight for him. “They wouldn’t do that,” Christian says about the airline. “That’s the last I talked to him. I went on to the strategy meeting with our client, Overstock.com,” Christian recalls. He says he figured that if O’Quinn missed the 7:15 a.m. flight, he would be on the next one. O’Quinn was at the airport that morning, because former state District Judge Levi Benton of Houston chatted with him in the security line. Christian says he called O’Quinn’s office in Houston to make sure the lawyer was booked on the flight that was supposed to leave Hobby after 9 a.m., but O’Quinn’s assistant, Pam Burns, wasn’t able to locate him. Christian says Burns soon called him to tell him about the accident. “I couldn’t believe it, but certainly, it was true,” says Christian, who along with O’Quinn and other lawyers, represents Salt Lake City-based Overstock.com in California litigation against alleged short-sellers. “John was one of the largest Sequoia trees in the forest, and it will be extremely hard to replace him in the legal community in regard to protecting and defending the common person, the common man,” says Christian, who developed a close working and personal relationship with O’Quinn about 15 years ago. O'Quinn's funeral is set for 11 a.m. on Wednesday, Nov. 4, at Second Baptist Church on Woodway in Houston. Calling hours are tonight until 8 p.m. at the George H. Lewis & Sons Funeral Directors on Bering, according to an announcement on the Web site of The O’Quinn Law Firm.
-- Brenda Sapino Jeffreys