Carl R. Knickerbocker says he and Lizbeth Lopez-Tristan were friends and study partners at Texas Tech University School of Law before they formed a firm together in January to do criminal defense and plaintiffs personal-injury work. But the young firm, Lopez-Tristan & Knickerbocker, fell apart in August in a he said/she said dispute that was resolved with a settlement this month.
“This is just a real not fun, sad kind of thing,” Knickerbocker, now practicing at Knickerbocker Law Group in Georgetown, says about the break-up of Lopez-Tristan & Knickerbocker, which had offices in Georgetown and Austin.
On Oct. 19, the parties filed a joint motion to dismiss the suit with prejudice.
Lopez-Tristan of Austin refers questions to her attorney, Warren Wills, a partner in Richie & Gueringer in Austin. He says terms of the settlement are confidential.
A few weeks ago, Lopez-Tristan filed a petition in the 53rd District Court in Travis County alleging that on Aug. 10, Knickerbocker “from out of nowhere demanded the dissolution” of their firm. She alleged they were equal partners in Lopez-Tristan Knickerbocker.
In the Aug. 17 original petition and application for temporary restraining order and temporary and permanent injunction in Lopez-Tristan, Individually and on Behalf of Lopez-Tristan Knickerbocker P.C. v. Knickerbocker, Lopez-Tristan further alleged that on Aug. 11, Knickerbocker “took all of L&K Law Firm’s personal injury case files, refusing to return them” even though many of the clients were only Spanish speaking and she handled those cases “because she was the only one who could speak Spanish.”
Lopez-Tristan alleged in the petition that she had been the “lead” attorney on the firm’s criminal-defense cases and the “lead attorney and only client contact” on personal-injury cases with Spanish-speaking clients. She alleged that after Aug. 11, Knickerbocker contacted Spanish-speaking clients of the firm to request meetings with them and “falsely” represented she had been fired by the firm.
In his Aug. 17 original answer, Knickerbocker generally denied the allegations and denied he refused to return any files “because the plaintiff, prior to filing suit, never requested their return or access to them.” Among other things, Knickerbocker denied Lopez-Tristan was a lead attorney or “even a named attorney” on personal-injury cases involving Spanish-speaking clients.
Wills says, “Everybody is happy about the settlement.”
“It’s pretty well just very amicable,” says Knickerbocker, who represented himself in the litigation.
-- Brenda Sapino Jeffreys