Houston labor and employment solo Craig Keener wanted to help friend Chris Tebbe who was engaged in a battle with his wife’s ex-boyfriend, Christopher Brett Richards. On Feb. 18, Tebbe, represented by Keener, won a favorable $97,774 final judgment against Richards for malicious prosecution. Keener, who represents Tebbe on a contingency basis, plans now to pursue the task of collecting on that final judgment.
In an amended petition filed July 15, 2008, Chris Tebbe v. Brett Christopher Richards, Tebbe had alleged that Richards became “enraged” when Tebbe started dating Richards’ ex-girlfriend, who subsequently became Tebbe’s wife (and is now Dana Tebbe) and that Richards had filed false criminal assault charges against Tebbe ― which was the basis of the malicious prosecution claim. The petition states that Tebbe was found not guilty of the criminal assault charge and that the court also found that Richards did not have probable cause to initiate the prosecution.
On Sept. 1, 2010, Tebbe then filed an additional petition alleging that in 2008 Richards had “suckerpunched” him. Citing civil assault as a cause of action, Tebbe filed that petition in an initially separate case, but with the same name Chris Tebbe v. Brett Christopher Richards. On Sept. 14, 2011, 151st District Judge Mike Englehart ordered the two Tebbe cases consolidated.
In answers filed in both cases, Richards denied the allegations and in an answer filed in September 2011, after the consolidation, Richards stated that he was acting in self defense in the “suckerpunched” incident and that he had not committed malicious prosecution because Tebbe actually committed the offense for which Richards had sought to have Tebbe charged.
Jerome Fjeld, a Houston solo, who represents Richards, did not return a call by press time. Richards was not reachable by press time.
After a one-day bench trial in Chris Tebbe v. Brett Christopher Richards, Englehart ruled in that Feb. 18 final judgment that Richards was liable for Tebbe’s claims for damages and $30,000 in exemplary damages and that Richards’ affirmative defenses were not meritorious.
For Keener, if his client collects on that final judgment, helping a friend will pay off not just emotionally but a financially.