Daniel J. O'Hare et al. v. Vulcan Capital, LLC et al.; No. SA-04-CA-566-H (Consolidated) No. SA-07-CA-297-H; In the United States District Court for the Western District of Texas
In February 2010 we obtained a jury verdict in San Antonio federal court holding two individuals (Kevin C. Davis and Ford Graham) personally liable for fraud and statutory fraud for entering into a settlement agreement with no intention of performing. In October 2004, after litigating a business dispute in San Antonio federal court during temporary injunction proceedings, a settlement was reached. But the settling Defendants did little to honor their contractual obligations and instead spent nearly a year stringing Plaintiffs along; they asked Plaintiffs for more time, claiming they had no money while consistently filing papers in federal court acknowledging the settlement. Ultimately, O'Hare and Stewart sued to enforce the settlement agreement. The Defendants and their new counsel then reversed course entirely. The Defendants, armed with new lawyers, argued that no settlement existed, and alternatively, that the agreement was vague, fraudulently induced, and had conditions O'Hare and Stewart failed to meet. In addition, the Defendants engaged in a campaign intended to discourage any collection efforts undertaken by Plaintiffs and their attorneys; they sought to sanction and disqualify O'Hare's and Stewart's lawyers, and filed an entirely new suit in North Carolina, which included as Defendants Stewart's young son and nephew. The lawyers from our firm fought back - ultimately, Judge Orlando Garcia denied the motions for sanctions and the motion to disqualify, and ordered the North Carolina case to be transferred to San Antonio. Shortly after consolidating the two cases, we filed a motion for summary judgment. The result: Judge Hudspeth dismissed each and every one of the Defendants' defenses, collectively calling them "remarkable." In addition, Judge Hudspeth found that the settlement was valid and enforceable, and granted summary judgment on Plaintiffs' contractual claims of $2,000,000. Therefore, all that remained to be tried was Plaintiffs' fraud claim. Shortly before the first trial setting in September 2009, Kevin Davis filed personal bankruptcy and sought to have the fraud case litigated in New York as an adversary proceeding. Plaintiffs successfully lifted the stay and persuaded the New York Bankruptcy Court to have the matter litigated in Texas. A new trial setting was scheduled for February 16, 2010. The weekend before trial, the Defendants bankrupted another entity, but we aggressively resisted efforts to further delay the trial. After nearly six years of litigation, trial began. After a three-day trial, the jury returned a verdict for Plaintiffs O'Hare and Stewart in under 90 minutes. The verdict, which found Graham and Davis equally liable for the fraud, included $1,962,000 in actual damages and another $6,000,000 in punitive damages for a total of $7,962,000, which sum is in addition to the $2,000,000 on the summary judgment and fees exceeding $1,000,000.