Retired Texas Supreme Court Chief Justice Tom Phillips and his wife — defendants in a wrongful-death suit — have reached a tentative settlement with the plaintiffs, lawyers for both sides say. Dax Faubus, a partner in Houston's Faubus & Scarborough who represents plaintiffs Cheryl and Bobby King, confirms the tentative settlement in an e-mail but did not return a telephone call. Richard Mithoff of Houston's The Mithoff Law Firm, who represents Tom and Marilyn Phillips, declines to provide details about the tentative settlement, but he notes that his clients agreed to it earlier this week after mediation. Tom Phillips now is a partner in Baker Botts in Austin. Cheryl and Bobby King filed King, et al. v. Phillips, et al. on Aug. 31, 2010, in Bastrop's 335th District Court. According to their petition, the Kings’ daughter Audrey died in a 2009 car accident after allegedly attending a party hosted by the Phillipses' son Daniel where underage drinking occurred. The Kings allege that on March 30, 2009, Audrey attended a party at the Phillipses' house during which Tom and Marilyn Phillips were home and "were well aware that minors were getting drunk in their back yard." Audrey, 17, died in a car accident after she left the Phillipses' house. The Kings allege, among other things, that the Phillipses' house "was well known in the Bastrop community as the location of frequent underage drinking parties" and that Audrey "died because of wrongful acts, carelessness, and neglect of defendants in providing her and other kids alcoholic beverages without any regard for [her] safety or the welfare of others." Other defendants in the case include Daniel Phillips and the owners of two stores that allegedly sold alcohol to some of the people present at the Phillipses' house on the night of Audrey King's death. The Kings' causes of action include wrongful death and negligence against all the defendants; gross negligence against Tom, Marilyn and Daniel Phillips; violation of Texas Alcoholic and Beverage Code (TABC) §2.02(c) against Tom and Marilyn Phillips, because they "knowingly allowed Audrey to be served or provided alcoholic beverages, which contributed directly to her injury and death"; and violation of TABC §2.02(b) against the store owners for "selling alcoholic beverages to obviously intoxicated minors, which proximately caused Audrey's injury and death." In their Oct. 4, 2010, answer, Tom and Marilyn Phillips denied the allegations, maintained that the plaintiffs' causes of action are groundless and sought dismissal of the suit. The couple alleged that the automobile accident that led to Audrey's death occurred because the girl's mother "negligently entrusted her unlicensed automobile" to the teen, "an unlicensed and incompetent driver" who her mother knew "regularly consumed alcohol." They also alleged that law enforcement officials found no evidence that they provided alcohol or allowed alcohol to be provided to Audrey or other minors. In his Oct. 6, 2010, answer, Daniel Phillips denies the allegations against him and asserts the accident was caused solely or partially by third parties. The store owners also filed answers in late September and early October 2010 denying the allegations. Bart Basden, a partner in Sugarland's Johanson & Fairless who represents Daniel Phillips, did not return a telephone call seeking comment. Neither did Grant Adami III, a partner in San Antonio's Adami, Shuffield, Scheihing & Burns who represents store owners Scott and Glenda Halbert as trustees of the Halbert Revocable Trust d/b/a Country Corner, and Bastrop solo Alex Metcalf, who represents store owners Point Horizon Properties LLC and Kiego LLC, referred collectively in the plaintiffs’ petition as Beverage Barn.
-- Miriam Rozen