This afternoon, Darla Lexington, the longtime companion of prominent Houston plaintiffs lawyer John O’Quinn (pictured), settled her dispute with O’Quinn’s estate and the John M. O’Quinn Foundation over assets from his estate. O’Quinn died in an automobile accident in October 2009.
Lawyers spent four hours at the courthouse today negotiating the deal.
The settlement comes just days before a probate court trial on Lexington’s property claim was set to begin. Lexington sought court orders to force the executor of O’Quinn’s estate to return property she alleged belongs to her because of her common-law marriage to O'Quinn and because she received the property as gifts.
The estate and the foundation, which is the sole beneficiary of the estate in O’Quinn’s will, claimed that Lexington was not entitled to the property because O’Quinn specified in his will that he was not married and he left his estate to the foundation.
Lawyers for Lexington and O’Quinn’s estate decline to provide details of the settlement, but Jimmy Williamson, a partner in Williamson & Rusnak in Houston who represents Lexington, says the terms provide for Lexington and her security. Kathy Patrick, a partner in Gibbs & Bruns in Houston who represents the foundation, could not be reached for immediate comment.
“I’m very happy we came to a mutual agreement and the foundation can go on and honor John,” Lexington said this afternoon.
Executor Gerald Treece, an assistant dean and professor at South Texas College of Law in Houston, said he is pleased with the settlement. “As the person John selected as the executor, I’m very happy to do what was in John’s best interest and also please Darla and the foundation,” Treece said.
The settlement averted what lawyers expected to be a five-week trial beginning on Jan. 9 in Judge Mike Wood’s Probate Court No. 2 in Houston.
-- Brenda Sapino Jeffreys