State Rep. Muñoz Served with a $3 Million Fine in Legal Malpractice Case

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After concluding that State Representative Sergio Muñoz Jr. ignored the fact of disclosing an affiliation to state District Judge Jesse Contreras during a case Muñoz took in Contreras’ courtroom a federal judge charged Muñoz to pay $3 million in restitutions.

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According to court record, U.S. District Judge Micaela Alvarez “ordered, adjudged and decreed”, Law Funder LLC in an almost three-year-old lawsuit to recover $2.98 million from Muñoz and the Law Offices of Sergio Muñoz Jr.

Muñoz, D-Palmview, formerly represented the litigation funding company, Law Funder. In May 2011, under the presiding judge Contreras, Law Funder continued legal services of Muñoz for representation in a divorce case.

Numerous motions were filed to disqualify or recuse Contreras because of his corporate connection with Muñoz, court documents said.

Muñoz contacted the executive editor of The Monitor and called this a private matter no further comment has been made. Multiple calls requesting comment were ignored by Muñoz and his counsel.

“At no point did defendants advise Law Funder that they had a pre-existing business relationship or a professional corporation, Contreras & Muñoz P.C., with Judge Contreras,” according to court documents.

State senior District Judge Dick Alcala, of San Antonio, on July 2012, was preceding at the hearing in which the court decided to disqualify Contreras from hearing the divorce case “because of the corporate association with defendant Sergio Muñoz Jr., that was in existence when they were lawyers together and continued through the time Muñoz appeared for Law Funder,” further court documents stated.

Alcala also disqualified Contreras “because Judge Contreras arguably had an interest in the subject matter of the litigation and the court resolved that doubt in favor of disqualification,” stated in court documents.

Law Funder “sustained a significant amount of damages,” according to court documents, which ultimately made Law Funder seek the representation of McAllen attorney Francisco Tinoco. He then therefore filed suit in federal court against Muñoz and his law firm for legal malpractice.

Court documents read Muñoz was served with a preliminary request to provide documents and failed to provide any. Law Funder then filed a motion to force Muñoz to produce, in which Muñoz “promised to act in good faith and turn over appropriate documentation.”

Muñoz was served but never responded to Law Funder’s second request to produce documents in September 2016.

“Defendants and defendants’ counsel have also failed to appear or have arrived late at three hearings held specifically for the purpose of resolving discovery disputes,” according to court documents. “Plaintiff’s counsel also informs the court that defendants failed to ‘produce a single document’ in response to the plaintiff’s subpoena duces tecum . In sum, this case was filed in federal court in December of 2014, and after almost two years, discovery has not been completed.”

Alvarez granted Law Funder’s motion.

“The court grants plaintiff’s motion,” according to court documents, Alvarez ruled. “Defendants’ answer is stricken.”

 

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